Hoi An Self Guided Walking Tour (Hoi An By Yourself)

Hoi An old town is friendly for pedestrians, especially during the time that motorized vehicles (scooters, cars, etc) are prohibited to move around its heritage quarters. That is safe for tourists and they also enjoy the charm and atmosphere of the Unesco world heritage town.

During the ”walking hours”, people are allowed to ride bicycles also. However, the best way to visit Hoi An is still by foot. While roaming around it, visitors can see up close century-old buildings, trading quarters with colorful lanterns, bustling markets, street foods, vendors, life of locals and even sunrise or sunset. In addition, it’s easier for taking pictures and talking with people. So, there is no doubt that a walking tour (by yourself or with a local guide) is a must in Hoi An.

In this article, we recommend the best route for self guided travelers, in order to fully explore Hoi An ancient town. Highlights or points of interest on each street are also provided, to make sure that everything is known. They may be historical sites, museums, theatres, workshops, shops, street street spots, and more. Generally, they represent different sides of the town and live within it.

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Table of content

Brief History Introduction of Hoi An Ancient Town

Hoi An is a historic trading port in central Vietnam. It’s firstly inhabited by people who owned the Sa Huynh culture (1,000 BC – 200) and then Cham people. The Chams lived and established a port city in the same area (it’s called Champapura). Archaeologists found good-quality products that are produced in Persia, China and other countries.

From 15th to 19th centuries, Hoi An played its role as a major destination for merchants in Southeast Asia. They came from many countries, including China, Japan, France, Netherland, England, and more. And they seek local products such as silk, spices, ceramics. Wealth of the town was at its peak in 17th and 18th centuries. That is the reason why the most grand buildings were constructed in this golden period, including many religious spots. Due to being a meeting place between different nationalities, the culture here is mixed and becomes unique in Vietnam. Portuguese catholic missionaries also arrived in Hoi An to introduce their religion.

Sadly, in the late 19th century, the commerce in Hoi An town declined and its role was gradually replaced by Da Nang harbour. One of the reasons that caused this turning point is Nguyen king’s decision in which he requested ships from the west to stop at Da Nang before moving to Hoi An. He might be worried about missionary activities and military power of the westerners. Later, the French built an airport, train station and a state-of-the-art transport network, making Da Dang better for business.

In 20th century, the French and Americans chose Hoi An to be the capital city of Quang Nam province due to its strategic location. In 1950 (after the Vietnam war), this town lost its administrative and political role when the leaders decided to base in Tam Ky city. By that, they could have a stronger focus on preservation of Hoi An because many pressures were removed.

In 1999, the Hoi An ancient town was inscribed as a Unesco world heritage site thanks to its unique and outstanding values. Since then, it has been known by tourists all over the world. There is no doubt that now, this charming town is a top place to visit in Vietnam.

Read also: My Son Sanctuary Travel Guide

The Best Area to Walk: Hoi An Ancient Town

The Hoi An ancient town is the best area in Hoi An to explore by walking. It’s a 30-hectare area and is home to more than 1,100 buildings on the bank of the Thu Bon river. Interestingly, the local house’s walls here have the same color, yellow.  Remains of different nationalities, from east to west, are still visible and well protected in this grid plan town. It’s also famous for colorful lanterns and blooming bougainvillea, making it so photogenic. Furthermore, Hoi An becomes lively and spectacular when it’s filled by shimmering lights of lanterns. With a slow pace, walking allows visitors to enjoy the beauty.

As the historic core of modern Hoi An, it’s absolutely convenient to get there from the hotel. Then, travelers can have a free walk through its historic quarters, sightsee cultural landmarks, try delicious foods and take some nice pictures. Specifically, the city designates the heritage to be friendly to pedestrians and bicycle riders. Many hours a day, motorbikes, cars and other motorized vehicles aren’t allowed to move around. That’s so wonderful!

Read also: Beaches in Hoi An

The Best Time to Walk: Non-Motorized Vehicles Hour

The best time to walk around the Hoi An ancient town is within “non-motorized vehicles hour” or simply, walking street hours by locals. In the morning, it’s from 9 to 11:30 and in the afternoon and evening, from 3 to 9:30. During these periods, motorcycles, cars and whatever used motor to move are not allowed to go around. It’s not difficult to see people walking with their bikes in town.

So, the good time to start a Hoi An self-guided walking tour should be in these pedestrian-friendly times. Travelers will feel safe while roaming around streets and taking pictures. Bicycles and cyclos still move through crowds, but with a pace that is not too fast. We recommend walking through laneways to avoid the traffic, even scammers and look at more authentic life of locals (especially when you you with kids). It’s possible to reach everywhere in Hoi An’s old town by these backstreets.  

However, visiting Hoi An in the early morning (particularly before 9 pm) is still stunning. Somehow, it’s better than the rest of the day if travelers want to see the real life of the locals. Local people have breakfast and coffee on the street or bustling markets and vendors with exotic products are what they look for. If coming to the town earlier, the sunrise or sunbeam definitely supports amazing pictures. In the afternoon onwards, Hoi An is so touristy.

Read also: The Best Time to Visit Da Nang

Hoi An Ancient Town Entrance Fee & Ticket

Main article: Hoi An Old Town Ticket

Hoi An Old Town Entrance Fee

The cost of Hoi An old town entrance fee is 120,000 Vietnamese dong (around 5,2 US dollars). Local tourists or Vietnamese passport holders pay less, 100,000 VND (around 4,3 US dollars). This entry fee is charged for tourists who visit the Unesco world heritage site area only (see the map below to know the boundaries). It’s important to raise funds to preserve the heritages and give back to locals.  

Inclusions of Hoi An Old Town Entrance Fee

If holding a Hoi An old town ticket, tourists can “officially” enter the Unesco-inscribed world heritage site area. In addition, there are more than 20 places around the town where they can visit, to learn about history, unique local culture and architecture. This list includes the Japanese covered bridge – the emblem of Hoi An, five Chinese assembly halls and one Chinese temple, five museums, two family temples, communal houses and Quan Cong temple. At 66 Bach Dang street, the Hoi An traditional art performance theatre, a cultural show is provided. It’s absolutely interesting to watch.

Ticket holders only can sightsee 5/20 places. Besides the theatre, we recommend going to the Japanese covered bridge, Fujian assembly hall, Tan Ky house, and a museum that has a theme you are interested in.   

Where to Buy Hoi An Old Town Ticket

Tourists can come to counters (booths) in main roads leading into the world heritage area or walking streets. Right by the Japanese bridge – Tran Phu street’s entrance, there is one. See the map below to know the nearest seller to you.

Read also: Hoi An Entrance Fee (All Places)

Hoi An Self Guided Walking Tour: Our Suggested Route

We recommend starting the walking tour from the Precious Heritage Art Museum Gallery by Rehann photographer at 26 Phan Boi Chau St. This is the best known private museum or gallery in town thanks to amazing pictures and the traditional costume of all ethnics of Vietnam. It opened in January 2017.

After that, travelers should walk along Phan Boi Chau St (known as the French quarter) and then turn right to enter Hoang Dieu St. At its crossroad with Tran Phu St, can buy a ticket. Don’t forget to take a free map there. The Fabric/Cloth market is just a few steps away from this place. Travelers can spend time at a tailor and get some bespoke clothings like suits or dresses.

Just walking along Tran Phu St, through the Japanese covered bridge and then along Nguyen Thi Minh Khai St until seeing the Japanese red-seal ship. This is exactly 1-kilometer-long walk. Travelers will pass by Chinese temples, Hoi An central market, and museums (use your ticket to stop at wherever you like to see!). The Fujian assembly hall is the most popular place.

Cong Nu Ngoc Hoa is the next street, and after the wooden bridge, just walking along Nguyen Thai Hoc St. This walk is in the opposite direction to the first one. In the end, travelers can go to the Hoi An central market, to see diverse merchandise and taste local dishes. Outside, fresh vegetables, herbs and fruits are sold. Those who love photography definitely hunt for some unique pictures.

The best walk may be from Hoi An market to An Hoi bridge, on Bach Dang St running along the river. In the sunset or evening, that is fantastic. Then, going across the bridge (not Japanese bridge) and coming to the other bank. The busiest night market is there and it’s perfect to end the walking tour with a cold beer in Nguyen Phuc Chu St.

Read also: Visit the Golden Hands Bridge by Yourself

Highlights on Tran Phu Street

Tran Phu street is 700 meters long, between the Japanese covered bridge and the Hoi An fabric market. In some periods, it’s called the Japanese bridge road. Historically, the first trading quarter of Hoi An port was established. In the rainy season, it’s not flooded thanks to it’s on higher ground. These are highlights on Tran Phu street that visitors should not miss:

– Chinese temples and assembly halls: Cantonese Assembly Hall (176 Tran Phu), Fujian Assembly Hall (46 Tran Phu), Quan Cong Temple (24 Tran Phu), Hainan Assembly Hall (10 Tran Phu), Tuy Tien Duong Minh Huong Temple (14 Tran Phu)

– Mot iced herbal tea: 150 Tran Phu, the most special local beverage made of different fresh ingredients (lemongrass, ginger, tea leaves, etc), giving a refreshing flavour to drinkers. Eco-friendly grass straws are used.

– Kazimierz Kwiatkowski memorial statue: to commemorate a Polish architect and conservationist who stayed in central Vietnam many years, to preserve local cultural heritages, especially My Son and Hoi An.

– Rooftop coffee shops: Two popular places are Faifoo Coffee at 130 Tran Phu, 92 Station at 92 Tran Phu. At their top, visitors can see the town from above (higher view from 92) and have some kool pictures. Faifoo is firstly opened in Hoi An.

– Museums: Museum of Sa Huynh Culture (by the bridge, 149 Tran Phu), showcasing relics dated back from 1,000 BC in Hoi An, and Museum of Trade Ceramics (80 Tran Phu) with a collection of ceramic produced for exportation, including discoveries from shipwrecks. Ticket is required. Museum of Spices (57 Tran Phu) will be opened soon.

– Hoi An central market: visitors can see a well where people have used fresh water to drink, and the front of the market, a popular photo spot. In the late afternoon, street food vendors are around here, selling delicious pork barbecues wrapped in betel leaf.

Tran Phu (1904-1931) is a Vietnamese male revolutionary and the first general secretary of the Indochina Communist Party ever. He was borned in Phu Yen and died in Saigon (now Ho Chi Minh city), both in the south of Vietnam.

Read also: Hoi An Basket Boat Ride

Highlights on Nguyen Thai Hoc Street

Nguyen Thai Hoc street stretches 550 meters from An Hoi bridge (Bach Dang street) to the Hoi An central market. On the map, it’s parallel to Tran Phu street in the north and the river to the south. Because there are a lot of lanterns in it, its nickname is the “lantern town”. These are highlights in Nguyen Thai Hoc street:

– Tan Ky House: this merchant’s house was built in 17th century, and is one of the best preserved houses in Hoi An. Visitors will listen to history from a guide (a family member) and see an architecture that has been nearly unchanged since its birth. The entrance is by a main street while another door opens to the river where boats upload/load the cargo. This house is a must see in town.

– Diep Dong Nguyen House: at the four-way intersection of Le Loi street, this house is originally a medicine plant shop owned by the Diep family. Later, people sell lamp oil, silk and books. Although the house doesn’t open for tourists, its front alone is also interesting to see and photograph.   

– Museum of Traditional Medicine: a collection of 200 artifacts is showcased in two storeys of this house. Visitors have a deeper knowledge about traditional medicine of Vietnamese and the Chinese (called thuoc nam and thuoc bac respectively).

– Museum of Folklore: visitors have an insight into different folk performances, art, handicraft and professions in Hoi An. It’s opened in 2005, and stands by the cyclo riders station.

Nguyen Thai Hoc is a Vietnamese revolutionary who was the founding leader of the Vietnamese Nationalist Party (1927). He is borned in 1902 and died in 1930 after being captured and executed by French colonists. Him and other members of the party led the Yen Bai mutiny but then failed.

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Highlights on Bach Dang Street

Bach Dang street is 750 meters long, running along the Hoai river (or Hoi An river). To the west, it encounters Cong Nu Ngoc Hoa street at a wooden bridge and on the other side, Hoang Dieu street at the Fabric market. It’s also a quay where boats and ships dock, from past to now. Because of being right next to the river, this lovely waterfront is frequently flooded during the rainy season. No doubt, it’s the most photographed street of Hoi An. These are points of interest in Bach Dang street:

– The Hoi An Traditional Art Performance Theatre: visitors can use “Hoi An old town ticket” to enter and watch a show of several performances. Each watcher has a card to try how lucky he/she is in a traditional game called Bai choi.

– (At night) Lantern boats and sellers: travelers and photographers really enjoy strolling around Bach Dang street after the sunset, to see and take pictures. There are some ticket booths here to buy tickets for lantern boat rides that will be in 20 minutes. Read further details in Hoi An lantern boat ride on Hoai river.

– (At night) Night market around the Central market: more than 100 stalls open to sell a variety of goods after sunset. Visitors may buy similar things but with a cheaper price than the famous night market on Nguyen Hoang street (on the other side of An Hoi bridge). Street foods are available.

– Rooftop restaurants: some venues have a balcony or rooftop overlooking the canal and nearby quarters, providing the best view ever in Hoi An. On the menu, it’s possible to see Vietnamese and western cuisines, besides various beverage options.

– Performances of Bai choi: Bai Choi is declared to be world’s cultural intangible cultural heritage by Unesco in 2017. Now, it’s live every night in an open-air stage by An Hoi bridge. Besides locals, tourists also have a chance to join this folk bingo game and listen to Vietnamese songs from artists. The host speaks English.

About the name of the street, Bach Dang is a river in northern Vietnam (somewhere not too far from Halong bay). Here, Vietnamese people defeated Chinese invaders twice and Mongolian invaders once. The invaders accessed the capital city of Vietnam (now Hanoi) by this river because it’s the shortest waterway from the sea. For that reason, it represents heroic stages in history and many streets are named the same, especially riverside ones.

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Highlights on Nguyen Thi Minh Khai Street

Nguyen Thi Minh Khai is a 350-meters long street, with a point as the Japanese covered bridge. Historically, it might be the Japanese town while the opposite side (Tran Phu st) was the China town. Its name is a female revolutionary borned in 1910, one of the leaders for the Indochina Communist Party and executed in 1941 in Ho Chi Minh city by French colonists. She was the wife of Tran Phu. These are points of interest in Nguyen Thi Minh Khai street:

– The Japanese red-seal ship: Nagasaki authorities gave this merchant sailing ship to Hoi An in 2017 as a gift, to celebrate the friendship between Vietnam and Japan. A red wooden gate nearby is also built.

– Cam Pho communal house: this Vietnamese village’s temple is used to worship the communal god (called thanh hoang lang) and to celebrate communal activities, like festivals.

– Nguyen Tuong family chapel: each family has one chapel to worship the ancestors in Vietnam (the whole village has one too). This belongs to the Nguyen Tuong family that has many members who served for the kings with a high ranking. The next generations are also very talented, including famous writers, poems and more.

Read also: Hoi An Pottery Village

Highlights on Le Loi Street

Le Loi is one of the main roads in Hoi An. It starts from the intersection of Tran Hung Dao street, near the Hoi An museum and ends at the river. Its name is a king who led Vietnamese people to defeat the ruling Chinese in 15th century. He became the emperor and the founder of Le So dynasty. The country’s wealth reached its peak in many aspects, during this era. There are points of interest in Le Loi St:

– Hoi An communal house: known as the Elephant temple because it has a couple of stone elephants before the entrance. It has been used to worship the ancestors of the Vietnamese Hoi An village.

Read also: Hoi An Temples and Pagodas

Highlights on Cong Nu Ngoc Hoa Street

Cong Nu Ngoc Hoa is 350 meters long, running by the edge of Hoai river. On the map, it’s parallel to Nguyen Thi Minh Khai street to the north. At one point, tourists can enter it from Cao Hong Lanh street and Song Hoai square, and at the other point, from the Japanese covered bridge. These are highlights that visitors should not miss:

– (At night) Outdoor dining places: Here, there are many tables set on the riverbank, allowing people to have a dining experience with a pretty view. That is a scene of uncountable lanterns, numerous boats, shimmering floating lanterns and chaotic crowds. The atmosphere is really engaging and happening. Food options include all Hoi An local specialty dishes (such as cao lau noodle, grilled pork with rice papers, etc) and are prepared in the kitchen of inner restaurants. Alcohol drinks are not available.

The name of the street, Cong Nu Ngoc Hoa is Ngoc Hoa princess in Vietnamese. Her life is linked to the history of Hoi An trading town. She is one of childs in Nguyen Phuc Nguyen lord’s family, and is married with a Japanese merchant in 1619. One year later, she lives with her husband in his hometown Nagasaki to run a business. Nowadays, local people there still memorize this couple in their traditional festival. They represent the partnership and friendship between Vietnamese and Japanese.

Another famous marriage in the area is between Huyen Tran, a Vietnamese princess and Che Man, a king of Champa kingdom. After it, the land is owned by Vietnamese people as the wedding present.

Read also: Thu Bon River Cruise

Highlights on Hai Ba Trung Street

Hai Ba Trung is a long road in Hoi An, connecting the Ancient town and An Bang beach, through some residential areas and rice fields. Walking area is between Phan Chu Trinh street and Bach Dang street (the river). The endest section is a small laneway, with a fresh-water well that is still in use. These are things not to miss along Hai Ba Trung street:

– Ba Mu temple gate: the last surviving temple used to worship Thien Hau, goddess of sea. Recently, it was reconstructed and quickly became famous then in social media. By night, it comes to light. Here, visitors can buy “Hoi An ancient town ticket”.

– Phap Bao pagoda: the largest Buddhist temple in the oldest part of Hoi An. Today, this peaceful place functions as the headquarter of the local Buddhist association. By that, the most important events (such as Buddha’s birthday) are solemnly celebrated here. Monks are living in houses by the main hall.

Read also: The Best Cao Lau in Hoi An

Highlights on Hoang Van Thu Street

Hoang Van Thu is a short road, stretching from the All-Chinese community assembly hall (Hoi quan Trung Hoa) to the river. It’s lined by bougainvillea and rangoon creeper flowers. These are points of interest in Hoang Van Thu street:

– Banh beo Ba Bay: a well-known street stall run by Ms Bay (meaning “seven”), selling banh beo – steamed rice cake in ceramic bowls, served with shrimp paste, topping and fried shallot, eaten with fish sauce and chilli. Additionally, banh bot loc or clear dumplings are also sold here, including for vegetarians. See other Hoi An food specialties.

– Cyclos: introduced into Vietnam in French colonial time, today cyclos become a popular vehicle to get around tourist cities. Each person pays 150,000 VND at least from the rider, to tour the town in 20 minutes. This ride is appropriate for elders who can’t walk too much or those who like to discover by a different way. Taking photos isn’t hard.

Hoang Van Thu (1906-1944) is one of the leaders of the Communist party of Indochina that was later unified with others to be the Communist party of Vietnam. He is a Tay people, in a farmer family. In 1943, he was captured by French and then jailed in Hoa Lo prison before being shooted.

Read also: How to Visit the Golden Bridge from Hoi An

Guided Hoi An Ancient Town Walking Tour

The best way to explore Hoi An ancient town is by foot and with a local guide. Your new friend, the guide will tell many stories and history and explain the local culture on the tour. Sure, just helping to deepen the understanding of visitors about Hoi An. Somehow, if traveling by yourself, you may miss them or not know many details like that. Text us in whatsapp number +84968009827 or email centralvietnamguide@gmail.com for an arrangement of “guided Hoi An ancient tơn walking tour”. Thank you!

Read also: Hoi An Private Car and Driver

Hoi An Ancient Town Tour Guide

If you need a private tour guide who is well-spoken in English, friendly and knowledgeable, please text us in whatsapp number +84968009827 or email centralvietnamguide@gmail.com. We can help.

Read also: Hoi An Tour Guide

Hoi An Self Guided Walking Tour Map

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