Hoi An Things Not to Miss: A Guide to Must Do in Hoi An

In fact, there are so many things to do in Hoi An, one of the 10 best cities in Asia by Travel + Leisure in 2021. It has a lantern-filled town, with tranquil countryside and sandy beaches in close proximity. Each “place” provides different things, allowing travelers to know or experience different slices of culture and nature. Off its coast, Cham Islands is widely known for one of Vietnam’s best marine lifes and fantastic activities under the sea. Due to a large number and variety, travelers are not easy to pick what they should do and must do. Yes, this takes time to research and decide.

This article lists all things not to miss in Hoi An to help you easier plan the itinerary for the trip ahead. Just note and arrange them, you may complete the traveling days without much effort. We also recommend reading our article Hoi An Travel Guide before arriving at the city. It covers everything you need to know, from see, do, eat, sleep, rejuvenate to travel around.    

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Table of content

Best Historic Sites in Hoi An Ancient Town

Hoi An Ancient Town is a world heritage site, a must see in the region. Of course, everybody comes here and loves wandering around, both in the daytime and evening. Tourists need to buy a ticket to pay for the entry into this part of Hoi An. It covers 5 places where visitors have the chance to see the best preserved remains of a prosperous trade port from 15th to 19th century. There are bridges, old houses, temples, pagodas, assembly halls, family chapels and museums. Definitely, visitors will learn a lot about local history and culture. The theatre at 66 Bach Dang St allows you to know better different Vietnamese traditional arts. It’s active several times of the day. Thus, visiting the survivors of Hoi An town is a thing not to miss for any travellers.

Read also: Hoi An Old Town Travel Guide, Hoi An Old Town Ticket, Hoi An Ancient Town Attractions


Hoi An Tailors (Custom Made Clothings)

A fashionable personalized suit or dress is a must to bring home for many travellers when they visit Hoi An. The town is known as Vietnam’s capital of tailors, so it’s really easy to see a valued shop and start the measurements. Apart from a diversity of fabric quality, source and style, the service is one of things that visitors love most. It comes from friendly, professtional, helpful and responsible staff. The turnaround is quick, about 24 hours for simple garments and a few days if the items have more requirements. When the customers are busy, an appointment somewhere else outside of the shop is possible. Additionally, local makers are able to exactly copy traveler’s favourite models that are shown on the phone too. Shipping home is available in any tailor shops, with affordable rates. Lastly, compared to other cities across the country, the price for custom made clothings in Hoi An is good value for money.

Read also: Hoi An Tailors

Hoi An’s Night Markets

Shopaholics definitely know this place, a souvenir and gift paraside in town. It opens from the sunset to the last visitors left, and has over 150 stalls set up along pedestrian-only Nguyen Hoang St. The best known thing to buy here is the lantern, varying in size, shape, color and price. Lantern shops are easily seen from the entrance, with bright and colorful lights. These are perfect backgrounds for instagram pictures which will be nice memories about Hoi An. On the street, there are so many local products for sale, from wood carvings, sculptures, paintings, fake accessories, postcards, conical hats, clothings, leather items, footwears, local candies and cakes to potteries. All are reasonably-priced.

Read also: Hoi An Night Market


Hoi An Old Town at Night

Hoi An Lantern Festival

Hoi An town by night is famous for a mind-blowing scene of countless hanging lanterns that are varied in size, shape, color and location. That’s why it’s a thing not to miss for all travelers. Not all about silk lanterns in ochre yellow quarters, paper lanterns with a candle are also dropped down the river nearby. All before the eyes of visitors is surreal, wow-making. The “best” night is on the full moon when the Lantern Festival takes place (the 14th day of each lunar month). At this time, more lanterns are lit up due to electric lamps not encouraged to be used. While touring around, there are so many photo opportunities.

Read also: Hoi An Lantern Festival

Lantern Boat

Lantern boat is a highlight in Hoi An Old Town after the sun goes down. Walking along the waterfronts, travelers will see many sampans to board and view millions of twinkling colorful lights while slowly cruising the river. There are many photo opportunities, especially to take pictures with both hanging lanterns on the shore and glimmering paper lanterns floating on the water. The passengers are given a paper lantern too, to light up by themselves and drop it down. This ride is an experience that should not be missed when visiting Hoi An.

Read also: Hoi An Old Town Boats


A Cooking Class or Handicraft Workshop

Hoi An Cooking Classes and Schools

Cooking schools and classes are numerous in town, including options for vegans and travelers who frequently work in the kitchen. No matter what, a class provides fun hands-on experiences and much knowledge about local cuisine. Some typical Vietnamese traditional dishes and specialty foods are picked by the local chief to teach during its time. Before learning, learners may have a visit to the market and there, the chief introduces local ingredients and shopping culture. In the end, everybody can sit together and taste things that are just made. All members in the family can participate in this activity.

Read also: Hoi An best cooking classes

Handicraft Workshops in Hoi An

Hoi An used to be a large workshop where different handicrafts were produced over centuries for both local use and exportation. Today, many traditions are still passed down from father to son, such as pottery, carpentry. Artisans also open classes in town to guide visitors how to create things with traditional materials and skills. The most attended one is about lanterns, one of Hoi An’s symbols. From the instructions of the artisan, travelers can make souvenirs to bring home by their own hands. That are definitely very meaningful to themselves and their loved ones. Other classes are about bamboo root carving, leather, coffee, mask, more.

Read also: Handicraft workshops in Hoi An


An Bang Beach

4 km north of the Old town, this is the best beach package for travelers. It provides clean sand spaces to lounge, plenty of sun chairs to relax, clean water to swim and lots of sun in summer time. Along the seafront, there are numerous restaurants, local eateries and massage rooms. It’s perfect to have a delicious fresh seafood platter as the main, devine cocktail with cool breezes around the hair and sound of waves. Live music is active in several nights. Late night bars and backpacker pubs are handful in the village or by the coast of Tan Thanh.  

Read also: Travel guide to An Bang beach

Hoi An’s Best Food Specialties and Coffee

Cao Lau

Cao lau is the signature noodle dish and only found in Hoi An. The main ingredient is the brown noodles (sợi cao lầu) made by special techniques that require fine locally-sourced rice, water from an ancient well and wood ash from an offshore island. After placing the noodles in the bowl, the makers add thinly-sliced char siu pork, blanching bean sprouts, squared crackers, raw vegetables and little bold sauce. Herbs must be from Tra Que village (3 km from Old Town). Locals say that this specialty food is influenced by Japanese and Chinese cuisine.

Read also: The best places to eat Cao Lau in Hoi An

Banh Mi

Like Cao Lau, Banh mi (aka Vietnamese sandwich) can’t be missed in any visits to Hoi An. It’s a crunchy bread filled with homemade pate, different kinds of meats, raw vegetables and sauces. This everybody’s favorite is sold in restaurants and pavement stalls across the city, from morning to late night. No other local foods than banh mi means that diners have to stand in the queue to wait for trying. The best known places are Banh Mi Phuong and Madam Khanh, not far from walking streets of the Old Town. The first was praised by Anthony Bourdain (a reputable American chef) as the best banh mi of the world. It opened a new restaurant in South Korea recently.

Read also: The best places to eat Banh Mi in Hoi An

White Rose Dumplings

Bánh bao bánh vạc (white rose dumplings) is unique to Hoi An. Meaning that travelers have a chance to taste it in Hoi An only. Made by many generations of a local family in town, this dish has really nice flavours that everybody all wants to try.

Street Foods

Street foods in Hoi An are in abundance, from breakfast, lunch, pre-dinner, dinner to late night. In the Old Town, travelers are easy to see vendors selling bánh bèo (water fern cakes), bánh bột lọc (clear dumplings), chè (sweet soup), tàu hũ (tofu), bánh xoài (“mango cake”), bánh tráng nướng (grilled rice paper) or bánh ướt cuốn thịt nướng (fresh rice papers and barbecued pork skewers). On the middle day (15th) of each lunar month, vegan dishes are mostly sold. Trying them allows you to know better local cuisine and culture.

Read also: Hoi An Street Foods  


Coffee was introduced into Vietnam by the French and later, became a part of daily life of locals. In the early morning, travelers can have breakfast and then enjoy a cup of traditional coffee just like townies by Japanese Bridge. Robusta is used and dark-roasted, so the taste is better, strong and sweetened by condensed milk. In later times, tourist coffee shops open and in their menu, both traditional and western style are served. Arabica beans are popular in these houses. It’s absolutely possible to get an egg coffee – Vietnam’s special or coconut milk coffee – the best choice on hot days. 

Read also: The best coffee shops in Hoi An 


The Hoi An Memories Show

Debuted in 2018, Hoi An Memories is the largest outdoor visual art performance in Vietnam. It tells different stages in history of the town and the country, and cultures, giving the audience a great time at night. 500 professional dancers are in charge of performing in the graceful music, all wearing traditional dresses. In addition, before or after the show, travelers can wander around Hoi An Impression Theme Park to entertain, eat and drink.   

Read also: Hoi An Memories Show

Basket Boat Ride

Basket boat (round boat or Vietnamese coracle) is a unique invention of Central Vietnamese fishermans in the colonial time. Now, it’s extremely helpful, especially to move in shallow, small rivers and canals. In Cam Thanh (east of the town), travelers have the chance to travel on it around a maze-like waterway network inside lush palm forests. There, Vietcong communists hide away for some decades before the country is unified. Learning how to catch crabs by rob, fishes by net, watching people spinning their boat in an eventful music background are other experiences. All of these things allow us to know better the daily works of local inhabitants and explore a well-protected nature reserve.

Read also: Hoi An Basket Boat, Hoi An Coconut Village


Cam Kim Island Bike Tour

Cam Kim Island is the most untouched piece of countryside near Hoi An town. It provides green, breezy rice paddies, small villages, lush gardens, nearly unchanged rural lifestyles, friendly locals and handicraft making traditions. Traveling on wheels of a bike, motorcycle or bicycle, is the best way to explore all of that. Tourists can plan a self-guided trip by themselves, without much difficulties, but experts recommend participation in an organized tour. Following a local guide, peaceful backroads, scenic spots, hidden temples, a visit to households where the chance to know the life of members are provided.  

Read also: Cam Kim Island, Cycling tours in Hoi An


Tra Que Vegetable Village Farmer Experience

Tra Que village is between the Old Town and the beach. It’s famous for organically-grown vegetables and herbs that are, for locals, the ones with best quality in town. These green ingredients are a must in some Hoi An local food specialties, such as Cao lau noodles. Here, visitors can be a farmer and join his/her daily works and learn traditional skills that are not found anywhere else. He/she may make the way to tour the village and introduce a variety of local plants. Cooking class, herb massage, go fishing and cycling are other popular activities in this peaceful piece of the countryside.  

Read also: Tra Que Vegetable Village


Cham Island Underwater Activities

Read also: Travel Guide to Cham Island Hoi An

Snorkeling or Scuba Diving

These are two popular activities that travelers book to discover the magical, colorful underwater world of the Cham Islands. Snorkeling is covered by daily tours by canoe from Hoi An’s harbours in the mouth of Thu Bon River. In these packages, scuba diving is optional. There are a couple of certificated diving operators in town, providing the best offers from modern equipment and professionally-trained staff. The best time to dive and explore is from March to September, with the best between June and August. Other times are not great due to typhoons and heavy rains.

Read also: Diving in Cham Island

Underwater Trekking

Having an underwater trekking is something different if I would like to discover marine life of the Cham Islands – a Unesco world biosphere reserve. It’s arranged by one tour operator only – the Sea Trek based in town. No where else across the region, travelers have the chance to have an experience the same, so it’s definitely a thing not to miss in Hoi An.


Instagrammable Spots and Iconic Landmarks

Pictures in instagrammable spots and iconic landmarks across the Old town are one of the best reminders about Hoi An. Ochre yellow walls, lantern streets and shop houses, lanterns at night, Japanese covered bridge, Chinese temples, tailor shops, and more can’t not be excluded in the visit around there. Street foods are also sold by vendors on the pavement and under flowering trees. Those are ideal places to photograph and post on social media. Fruit hawkers wearing casual clothings, with a conical hat on the head and a yoke on the shoulder, are really loved by instagrammers.

Read also: Hoi An instagrammable spots


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