Hoi An Best Things To Do: Recommendations from Local Experts

It is no coincidence that Hoi An is in the list of must-visit places once in the lifetime of many travelers. Located by a river, it’s borned to welcome people from the rest of the world, to exchange the cargo in the past and now, to visit. This charming ancient trade port is dominated by ochre yellow color of the walls, brown color of moss-covered tiled roofs, pink color of bougainvillea flowers and reddish temples. It looks like a painting but much more energetic. After the disappearance of the sun, Hoi An’s streets and river comes to life thanks to uncountable lanterns and an abundant street food scene.  

From the sunrise to midnight, Hoi An has so many things to do and this guide reveals the best among them. So, first-time travellers feel much easier to design a perfect itinerary for themselves or check out the one covering all of the highlights yet. We highly recommend reading our guide to Hoi An attractions to know exactly all you can see and do in the city.

Read also:

Table of content

Best Things to Do in Hoi An Ancient Town

Having Tailor Made Suits

In the past, Hoi An was a main stopover in the Maritime Silk Road. Merchants from different parts came to it to seek high-quality silk, brocade and fabrics. Although it lost its role from 19th century, tailoring and weaving traditions are still alive, and nowadays in town, there are hundreds of tailors at work. That’s why Hoi An is nicknamed “Vietnam’s capital of tailors”.

Having a tailor made suit or dress in Hoi An is a must for many travelers. Apart from cheaper prices than home, they absolutely see a variety of fabric, quality, and style in shop houses across the town. Local tailors do things quickly, with a tour around within 24hrs for simple garments and 2 to 3 days if having more requirements. Sweet, friendly and helpful service is another thing people love. Due to excellent copy ability, the customers just need to show their favorite patterns on the internet and visit again for the final fitting soon.

Read details in Guide to Hoi An tailors

Visit Hoi An’s Iconic Landmarks

Hoi An Old Town becomes a world heritage site due to being an exceptionally well-preserved traditional Asian trading port. Commerce in it was busy from 15th to 19th century and declined after that due to hard accessibility from the sea. Since then, this melting pot has been nearly unchanged, with many historical and religious buildings that are worthy to visit. The Japanese Covered Bridge is most iconic, the symbol of cultural exchange between three nationalities – Japanese, Chinese and Vietnamese. Other unmissable places are the assembly hall of the Chinese Fujian community, Old house of Tan Ky (a merchant) or the gate of Ba Mu Temple. All of them require a fee to enter that is included in “Hoi An Old Town ticket”.

Read details in Hoi An Ancient Town’s Attractions

Hoi An Lantern Full Moon Festival

This monthly celebration is one of the things in Hoi An that is known by travellers around the world. It takes place on the full moon, particularly 14th day according to the lunar calendar. During the night, visitors will see an incredibly colorful world of millions of lights from lanterns hanging up in streets and paper lanterns down the river. Locals believe that luck, high security and happiness come soon to life for themselves and beloved ones. Folk games and singgings are also performed under fairy moonlight, making the atmosphere in town so lively. By the water, visitors may buy a paper lantern, let it float and make wishes like anybody nearby. A stroll around the town at this time definitely is amongst the best things to do in Hoi An.

Read details in Hoi An Lantern Festival

Cooking Class

Learning how to cook some Vietnamese traditional foods is a fun activity in town. Under the instruction and explanation from the local chief, visitors will have much knowledge and skills. Not all about that, hands-on experiences with different ingredients, recipes and utensils are other interesting things to expect. Before the class time, some schools design a visit to the market, to allow learners to see the variety of local procedures and interact with local sellers. In the end, everybody can sit and enjoy delicious dishes just made together. Hoi An has the best cooking classes in Vietnam, take part in it and you will know that is true.

Read details in Hoi An’s cooking classes

Hoi An (Nguyen Hoang) Night Market

After the sun goes down, this place is filled by pedestrians who move from the Old Town nearby. It comprises over 150 stalls stretching along a street, with the “entrance” in Nguyen Phuc Chu Rd. Apart from the chaotic, vibrant atmosphere, visitors come here to seek delicious street foods, affordably-priced souvenirs and lightful lantern shops to photograph. If don’t shop around, the visit may not be long but actually worth it. During high tourist seasons, trendy live music from restaurants or riverfront bars deserve a stop to enjoy and have a light dance.

Read details in Hoi An Night Market

Handicraft Workshops

Hoi An town was a center of diverse handicrafts for many centuries. Today, successors of the artisans still continue and pass down knowledge and skills to the next generations. They also open workshops and share that to travelers who want to make souvenirs by hand and bring them home then. All of the possibilities now are about lanterns, bamboo root sculpture, masks, pottery and leather items. The “best seller” is lantern making class in which the learners are allowed to pick size, shape, color and pattern. It’s suitable for every member of the family.

Read also: Handicraft workshops in Hoi An

Tasting Street Foods

Around sunset and evening, Hoi An old town and nearby night market are a street food paradise. Local foodies love to wander around and try different tasty bites, such as barbecued pork skewers, water fern cake, clear dumplings, mango cake, sweet soup, more. If liking to get insight into most typical dishes and know all secrets about them, should explore with a local guide. Organized food tours are a lot to book in town.  

Read also: Hoi An street foods

Best Things to Do in Hoi An’s Beaches and Islands

Swimming and Sunbathing in An Bang Beach

An Bang is the best beach in Hoi An, nearest from the Old Town. It boats of clean, soft sandy expanses by clear and shallow water during the sunny months. That are ideal to swim, lie in the sun and return with a tanned skin. Sun beds and chairs are also many to get one and relax with such a pretty view. Blue skies, white clouds, blue greenish sea, white sands, purple Cham islands and green vegetation make a picture-perfect scenery. Along the coast, it’s easy to take a nice cocktail from the bartender or seafood dishes in cool breezes. At night, live music is on.

Read details in Travel Guide to An Bang Beach

Scuba Diving in Cham Island

Cham Island is a marine park, Unesco biosphere reserve near the coast of Hoi An. It’s well known for rich marine life and some hundreds of coral species that make a wonderful beauty of nature under the sea. Scuba diving is the best way to discover this colorful, magic world and it’s available in some licensed operators. Instead of a high speed canoe, divers are transferred to diving spots by a wooden boat. And, instead of crowds of tourists, they only see friends on the same trip. If would like to join an underwater trek, request to double the experience on the day.

Read details in Cham Island Diving

Watching Sunrise in Cua Dai Beach

Cua Dai is the “happy ending” of a fine sandy coastline from Da Nang to the mouth of the Thu Bon River. It provides the best sunrise scene in town that nobody should not miss out on. The viewers can expect a golden sea, orangish skies, purple islands, fishing boats, flocks of birds, groups of exercisers and coconut palms. It’s really mythical, silent and mesmerizes any romantic soul.  

Read also: Cua Dai Beach


Best Things to Do in Countryside around Hoi An

Cycling around Cam Kim Island

Surrounded by Thu Bon River, Cam Kim is an island with rural villages, green gardens, rice paddies, handicraft making households, hidden temples and Kim Bong carpentry village. Thanks to these things, travelers will see a real Vietnamese countryside with unspoiled scenery and nearly authentic lifestyles. Bikes are the perfect option to tour around and free to stop anytime and anywhere. If riding a bicycle, travelers feel everything at a slower pace and sure, it’s friendly to the environment.

Read details in Cam Kim Island

Basket Boat Tour

Basket boat (thuyền thúng) is unique to Central Vietnam and fisherman villages there. In Cam Thanh coconut village, people use it to access the largest water palm forest of the region, to collect leaves and fruits, and catch fishes. Now, they also convey visitors to get there, to explore and see the works that they do everyday. The ride is fun, right from the first moments when the passengers have to keep balance on a shaking vessel. Before landing, local men show their “basket boat dance” (spinning the boat in a music background). This activity is one of the best things to do in Hoi An because it provides slices of rural life and a chance to be closer to nature.

Read details in Hoi An Basket Boat Ride

Farmer Experience in Tra Que Herb Village

Tra Que vegetable village is small but tranquil, located between the Old Town and An Bang beach. Every local knows it because the farmers here produce the highest quality vegetables and herbs. Some Hoi An’s specialty foods require that ones as must-have ingredients, like cao lau noodles. They grow the plants organically, based on traditional knowledge and techniques taught by their father and grandfather. Today, visitors can learn right in the gardens. It’s possible to expect many farming experiences such as tilling the soil, transplanting baby vegetables, fertilizing by swamp weeds, watering by a shoulder pole. The childrens absolutely love to do it.

Read also: Tra Que Vegetable Village



Best Things to Do in Hoi An to Know Local Industry

Thanh Ha Pottery Village

Not far from the Old Town, people in this village have been producing potteries since 16th century. In the past, their products were for exportation. Nowadays, the artisans will guide visitors how to make a clay pot or vase by processed soil and a manual potter’s wheel, in their house. The experience is a fun time with mud and laughs. In addition, shopping opportunities are also many in the paved lanes of the village.

Read also: Thanh Ha Pottery Village


Best Things to Do in Hoi An on the Water

Basket Boat Tour in Palm Forests

This is one of the most popular water activities in Hoi An. In Cam Thanh village, locals use a basket boat (or round boat) to take passengers around an interlaced network of small canals inside a large palm forest. It could be found anywhere else in the region. During the ride, the “captain” may show how to catch fish by the rob and net, and make accessories by leaves. In the Vietnam war, communists hid in the forest to escape from attacks of the American army.

Read also: Hoi An basket boat ride

Sunset Cruise on Thu Bon River

Thu Bon is the largest river in the province, running west-east down from the Annamite Range. Downstream, Hoi An town stands by the widest body of water where the sunset reflection is so brilliant. If don’t plan to see from a rooftop bar or the top of bridges, getting a boat is another best way to enjoy. Travelers just need to approach Old Town’s waterfront, pay a ride and then have the chance to capture mind-blowing pictures throughout the cruise.  

Read also: Hoi An river cruise

Kayak Tours

Unlike other water activities, travelers will go across the rivers by themselves. A local guide will make the way, through palm forest, hidden canals, fishing villages where you can meet fishers at work and peaceful lands along the banks where people herb buffaloes. There are some off-the-beaten-track options to choose from, such as sunrise ride to a fish market, sunset ride or around the flooded Old town. Thus, if taking this experience, travelers will see or see up close scenes of daily life of people who reside in riverine villages.  

Read also: Hoi An Activities


Best Things to Do in Hoi An on Wheels

Bicycle Tours with a Local Guide

Everybody can make a bicycle tour by themselves across the countryside of Hoi An. But if following a local guide, it’s a different story. In his/her itinerary, he or she will select backroads where the traffic is low, to lead the way to rice fields, little-known old buildings and especially local families. There, travelers have a chance to interact with different members and learn about their life. In some houses, the owners teach how to make the handicraft product they are making (to earn for living). That product may be noodles. After learning skills and doing them by hand, travelers may try a delicious noodle bowl cooked by women in the family. Without a guide, these experiences are missed or never known.

Read details in Cycling Tour in Hoi An

Jeep or Motorcycle Tour to Hai Van Pass

Hai Van Pass is 45 km north of Hoi An town, famous globally for a lengthy, winding route along the spectacular coast. It’s one of inspirations for the content of an episode in the Top Gear – a reputable motoring programme series. A ride up and down there is really cool, loved by so many travellers who have an adventuring soul. Motorbike is the most popular choice because it’s easy to hire and drive. If not confident, there are lots of tours providing a local experienced ride for yourself. For a little bit more special, expedition on the jeep allows people to have free hands, to photograph or make videos.

Read also: Travel guide to Hai Van Pass


Best Shows and Performances

The Hoi An Memories Show

This is the star of all cultural shows in Hoi An and only outdoor one. It’s introduced to the audience for the first time in 2018, and then tickets soon sold out. With a participation of 500 people, the largest art visual performance in Vietnam is it, no others. Stunning historic stories and typical slices of Vietnamese culture are narrated in artistic languages, accompanied with great music and amazing costumes. Outside of the stage, visitors can see Asian buildings to photograph, restaurants and beverage stalls.

Read also: Hoi An Memories Show


Best Things to Do in Hoi An that Give Back to Hoi An

Reaching Out’s Workshops and Classes

The Reaching Out is a social enterprise in Hoi An, aiming to train and create jobs for local disabilities. Apart from “silent tea house”, it also opens an art and craft center where travelers will meet an artist and learn his/her skills to make a handicraft object. In the same place, there are numerous elaborately-crafted souvenirs and accessories to buy, and of course, give back again to the townies. 


Related Posts

Featured Tours and Experiences

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>