Hoi An is in the bucket list of most travellers who plan to visit the Central part of Vietnam. It’s a lovely old and small town located downstream of a large river and by the ocean. Not only agriculture and fishing, this place had become prosperous by international trading for over 400 years, before turning into a backwater town. In 1999, Unesco added it in the world heritage site list, due to being “an exceptionally well-preserved example of a traditional Asian trading port”. Since then, people around the planet want to visit Hoi An and explore attractions and cuisine. In a recent year, it attracted nearly 5,5 millions of visitors.
This article emphasizes things to do in Hoi An, and group them up in different categories, to make travelers easier to choose. There are experiences from the best preserved trade port of the region, peaceful countryside around it, sandy beaches to coral islands off the coast. Yes, the destination has all for the upcoming holiday, so why not? Check out the content below to find out what you like most to do, and start your love for Hoi An.
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- The Best Time to Visit Hoi An
- 2 Days in Hoi An – An Itinerary
- 3 Days in Hoi An – An Itinerary
Best Things to Do in Hoi An – Our Choices
Sightseeing the Hoi An Ancient Town
In the heart of the city, Hoi An Ancient Town is a Unesco world heritage. By a river, this old trading port has over 1,000 timber houses, the Japanese bridge, Chinese temples, markets, museums, and lantern streets. A fee for the entrance fee is must for any visitors, pricing 120,000 VND and covering the entry to 5 ticketed places. Wandering around, stopping to explore centuries-old buildings and learning about local history and culture is absolutely a stunning thing to do. See more information in our article to Hoi An Ancient Town’s attractions.
Getting Tailor-Made Garments
Hoi An is known as Vietnam’s capital of tailors. It has hundreds of tailors whose know-how is passed down from their fathers and grandfathers. Its lantern quarters are filled with tailor shops where travellers love to make fashionable custom-made suits or dresses. Fabric, model, style and quality are all diverse. Local makers are widely famous for a quick turnaround, in common, half of a day for simple clothes and a few days for more sophisticated ones. Shipping home service is available at most places. Read our article for Hoi An tailors for further details.
Underwater Adventures in Cham Islands
Off the coast of Hoi An, Cham Island is a marine park with one of the highest marine biodiversity in Vietnam. In 2009, it became a Unesco world biosphere reserve, and since then, has been known better by travellers. Snorkeling is the most popular activity to discover this gorgeous underwater world with an inclusion of day tours from Hoi An. Diving is designed for a small group of tourists who book it in professional diving organizers. Sea trekking and squid fishing are also available here. See more information in travel guide to Cham Island.
Visiting the Hoi An’s Beaches
Hoi An’s beach is a part of the finest sandy coastline in Vietnam that stretches from miles to miles. Two best known spots for swimmers are An Bang and Cua Dai, 4km and 5km respectively from the Old Town. Both are nearly unspoiled, providing clean expanses backed by palms and clear water without rocks. While the northern section – An Bang has lots of sun beds, beachfront restaurant-bars, and tourist venues in nearby fisherman villages, the southern section – Cua Dai has most seaside resorts. Water games are available throughout sunny months in the first tropical paradise. Read our guide to Hoi An’s beaches for more information.
Hoi An Lantern Festival
Monthly held on the 14th day of each lunar month in the Old Town, this festival draws plenty of locals and tourists. Its highlights are uncountless shimmering lantern lights from above the head down to the river. Together with exciting open-air activities, the town is so atmospheric. Lanterns are the perfect background for amazing social media pictures that are never missed by instagrammers. See further details in our guide to Hoi An Lantern Festival.
Hoi An Night Market
This must-visit attraction at night opens after the sunset until the crowds disappear, in the island opposite to the Old Town. There are over 150 souvenir and food stalls, arranged along a walking street named Nguyen Hoang. It’s not hard to seek affordably-priced objects to bring home, local street foods to try from vendors or lantern shops as the gorgeous background to take pictures. So, strolling around here is one of the best things to do in Hoi An. Read everything about it in our travel guide to Hoi An Night Market.
The Hoi An Memories Show
With the participation of 500 actors and actresses, this is the largest outdoor visual art performance in Vietnam. Debuted in 2018, now it has become one of the most sought-after things to see for travellers in the city. It comprises 5 stages in which the history and culture of the Vietnamese and Hoi An are amazingly told. Outside of the audience’s seats, there is a theme park called “Hoi An Impression” that provides nice buildings with inspiration from Asian civilizations, open-air activities and restaurants. See more information in our guide to Hoi An Impression Amusement Park.
Basket Boat Ride in the Coconut Village
This experience is only in Hoi An, and its Coconut Village (aka Cam Thanh). It’s a stunning ride on a bamboo basket boat through maze-like waterways in the palm forest where Vietcong communists hid in the American war. The local “captain” also shows something in his/her daily life, like making accessories by leaves, catching crabs or fishes by net. See details in our guide to Hoi An basket boat ride.
Cycle through the Countryside around Hoi An
Countryside around Hoi An harbours windy rice fields, peaceful villages, lush gardens, poetic rivers, traditional handicraft communities, and hidden religious sites. Daily life of locals here has nearly unchanged up to date. The best way to view the scenery, see and understand these rural things is with a bicycle. Not just riding around, guided cycling tours also provide the chance to interact with local inhabitants, such as learning skills to make handicrafts. Read our articles for Cam Kim Island, Tra Que Vegetable Village and Hoi An Coconut Village to know deeper.
Street Food Tour – Guided or Self-guided
Street foods in Hoi An are diverse, authentic flavours and of course, delicious. Trying them is one of the best ways to get insight into local culinary culture. Dusk and the evening are most ideal to start the food safari. Travellers often wander around the Old Town and Night Market, and sample what they see from the vendors. In general, the price is cheap and the portion the makers serve is usually not much. No doubt, it’s great to eat different dishes without worrying about getting full soon. If traveling with a guide, he explains everything about each dish, see the best experiences in our article for Hoi An’s food tours.
Hoi An Cooking Class
Cooking class in Hoi An is an hands-on experience in which the local chief instructs travellers to make Vietnamese foods by themselves. Before the cooking time, a visit in the market is organized, to allow learners to know different ingredients and local shopping culture. The bulk of small ages can join to cook with their parents. When the last dish is completed, everybody can sit together, try and share opinions about what they just made. See more details and the best schools in our guide to Hoi An’s cooking classes.
Traditional Handicraft Workshops
Travelers have many choices of handicraft workshops to start to make the first souvenir by themselves to bring home. The signature class is about lanterns – one of the best reminders about Hoi An, and that’s why, it’s booked a lot. If seeking hands-on experience in creating bamboo sculpture, mask, pottery, leather or coffee, all are possibilities now in town. See further information in our guide to Hoi An’s handicraft workshops.
Fun Things to Do in Hoi An
Thanh Ha Pottery Village
Than Ha Pottery Village (Làng gốm Thanh Hà) is 2,5 km to the west of the city center. Its inhabitants have been producing clay products since 15th century when the town was a trade port. Local potteries are known for two special characteristics: without firing and glazing. When visiting, little travellers and parents have the chance to learn how to make their own item by themselves, such as a pot, ware. The mini class is instructed by local artisans in their workshop (house) from scratch, by the clay taken up from nearby river bed. In another corner, Thanh Ha Terracotta Park provides a fun visit, with stunning miniatures of wonders from all over the world. See more information in our guide to Hoi An Pottery Village.
Farmer Experience in Tra Que Vegetable Village
Tra Que village (Làng rau Trà Quế) is 3 km north of the city center, famous for organically-grown vegetables and herbs. Between the best beach and the Old Town, this piece of countryside is in the list of places to go for many travelers. Here, activities allow you to understand local farming techniques (like how to plant and water baby vegetables) and cuisine via a cooking class. All families can participate and have fun memories together. See details in our article about Tra Que Vegetable Village.
In Hoi An, travelers have lots of tour options for an outdoor adventure that is with a bicycle, motorbike, jeep, side motorbike or boat. Their common characteristics are the focus on peaceful countryside and pretty outskirts beyond the city. The furthest distance travelers will reach is in day trips to Hai Van Pass – the best coast road or My Son Sanctuary – world heritage site. On the itinerary, backroads are priorities to avoid hustle and bustle, noise, and see closer authentic life and sceneries. Read more information in articles as following below:
- Hoi An Motorbike Tours
- Hoi An Cycling Tours
- Jeep Tour in Hoi An
Photo Tour and Workshop
The Hoi An Photo Tour has many options for travelers who love to expand their horizons in photography and also capture memorable pictures in Hoi An. Tours and workshops are available for both smartphone and camera, the Old Town and surrounding countryside (villages, fish market, etc). Some of which focus on skills with food and in the evening guided by an expert photographer. See more information in official webpage in hoianphototour.com.
Kayaks and Standup Paddle Boardings
The light-blue sea and interlaced river system in Hoi An are ideal to paddle a kayak or board. The Hoi An Kayak is the only organizer at the moment, in arranging kayak tours and rentals. See all about it in its official webpage hoiankayaktours.com. Heading over to An Bang beach, travelers may find and hire good boards, and then move through the water. Sunrise is the best time to do this outdoor activity due to gentle waves and gorgeous beauty of nature. Read our guide to Hoi An’s activities for more information.
Visiting the Hoi An Silk Village
Hoi An Silk Village (Làng lụa Hội An) is a museum where visitors will have the chance to learn about local silk industry. In the past, boats of foreign merchants anchored Hoi An to seek and buy this high quality product. Here, stages to produce it are showcased, from growing mulberry trees, raising silkworms to final steps. In-house guides definitely tell interesting stories in each stopover. A collection of 100 impressive Ao dai – Vietnamese traditional long dresses is also seen, giving visitor’s experience an awesome bonus.
Things to Do in Hoi An Ancient Town
Cyclo Ride around the Town
Getting a slow ride on the cyclo (xích lô) – a three wheeled vehicle with a passenger seat in the front, is fun and special. It allows travelers to join the traffic and see lantern streets and daily life of people around the town. Different from a bicycle cruise, travelers have free hands to take pictures or make videos. To have this experience, visitors can go to the Museum of Folklore to book a rider, and it often lasts 15 minutes.
Lantern Boat Ride at Night
This experience is loved by travelers because it gives a great opportunity to enjoy the brilliant beauty of lanterns and the town at night. The boat cruises along the canal at a slow pace, to allow passengers to feel most and photograph. Lighting a paper lantern and dropping it down in the water is one of their favourite things to do. Locals often make wishes then.
The Precious Heritage Museum Hoi An
This private gallery and museum exhibits amazing artworks taken by Rehann, a French photographer who lived in and loved Vietnam. No surprises that visitors will amaze and admire his talent, and diversity of culture, people and nature of the country. Apart from photos, traditional costumes of every ethnic are also seen. Each has a different story about how the gallery owners meet and collect. During the visit, folk music which represents the hometown of ethnics are on, and give so much emotions. The doors open for free.
Hoi An Central Market
Hoi An Central Market is the largest trade center in town, including fresh, dried and cooked foods, cooking utensils, souvenirs and gifts. Not just to see and photograph, this place is a food mecca to both locals and tourists. Diners easily find signature and specialty dishes of the town here, such as cao lau – “Vietnamese udon” or Mi quang noodles with authentic flavours. The first stall of the owner of world-famous Banh Mi Phuong today is the side of Tieu La Rd. See all you need to know in our guide to Hoi An Central Market.
Sunset Cruise on Thu Bon River
At the end of the day, a mesmerizing sunset on Thu Bon River south of the town is one of the most awaited things. It’s a killer scenery that is highly recommended by travel experts, websites and bloggers. Boats are easy to see in Bach Dang St. A ride downstream or upstream is quite the same. If moving towards the sauce before the sun goes down, travelers can stop and meet artisans at work in Thanh Ha and Kim Bong handicraft villages. After dusk, lanterns lit up and the town looked so amazing if seen from the board. See further details in our guide to Hoi An river cruise.
Taste and Learn about Vietnamese Coffees
Hoi An Old Town is known for many coffee shops where the baristas make both traditional and western coffees. Other common features of the venues are atmospheric spaces and using the beans imported from the largest coffee cultivation area – Tay Nguyen. Same same but different, each top-rated place provides drinkers differences, such as view, quality and variety of the beans. See the best coffee shops in our guide here to pick one for yourself. No matter what, you have a chance to know the local coffee culture.
Things to Do in Hoi An at Night
Hoi An Full Moon Lantern Festival
This most famous, iconic cultural celebration in Hoi An is held monthly in the Old Town, in the full moon. According to the lunar calendar, it’s in the 14th day of the month (ngày rằm). During it, visitors can’t take their eyes from such an amazing scene of uncountable colorful lanterns in town. Folk games, floating paper lanterns on the river, chaotic markets, and more are other things to expect. See more information about this best thing to do in Hoi An at night here.
Cultural Shows in Hoi An
Hoi An Impression show, water puppet show or Hoi An Lune Center’s show is a good idea to enjoy the night. The best known one is the first – Vietnam’s largest outdoor visual art performance with 500 actors and actresses. History and culture of the country and the town are re-told to the audience while it occurs. Just debuted recently, but now watching it has become a must-do activity in the evening in Hoi An. See information of all three shows in our guide to Hoi An’s cultural shows.
Hoi An Impression Theme Park
The Hoi An Memories show is a part of this amusement park – the only one in Hoi An town centre. On a separate river island, this provides many entertainments, from buildings with typical architectures across Asia to outdoor games, singgings and dancings performed by professional artists. Here, there are also restaurants and beverage stalls, to have foods and drinks during the visit. Read our guide here to know more information.
Lantern Boat Ride in Old Town
Not only from the streets, travelers also have the chance to enjoy the wonderful scene of Hoi An town at night from a boat. Approaching the riverfront, it’s easy to see a boat and start the ride. Don’t forget to light up a paper lantern, put it down by the water by yourself, and take pictures!. It’s an iconic memory about Hoi An. Read details in Hoi An Old Town Boats
Nightlife – Bars in Hoi An
A perfect night out can’t exclude an awesome drink in a bar or pub by the river. Known as “Pub street”, Nguyen Phuc Chu Rd is the most popular traveler’s choice. Parties there can last until midnight, later than the venues inside the Old Town. Social atmosphere, happy hours, free shots, music from DJs, drinking games, pool tables, and more are what to expect. 5 minutes walk from the street, the Deck Hoi An on the top of a hotel is the highest in town. Incredible sunset view from poolside seats with a divine cocktail on hands, is definitely the find of many thirsty souls. Read further details in our guide to the best bars in Hoi An.
Things to Do in Hoi An’s Beaches and Islands
Coastline of Hoi An is long, sandy, swimmable and free from rocks. Along it, there are many beaches with warm water and fine sands. Two most visited stretches of coast are An Bang – the end of Hai Ba Trung Rd and Cua Dai – the end of Cua Dai Rd. During the sunny months, beach goers can see and join water sports, such as paragliding, jet skiing, parachuting, surfing, standup paddleboarding or banana boat. Due to erosion, it becomes most ideal to soak into the sea or lounge in the sun. At night, live music in seafront restaurants is a must for dining. Read out articles to An Bang Beach and Cua Dai Beach for further details.
Off the coast, Cham Island is a marine park with one of the largest underwater biodiversity in the country, especially fishes and corals. It’s known by all local divers. Snorkeling, no matter if it is a day tour or separate, is the most popular activity. Travelers will get a mask, jump from the canoe and discover a regulated spot by themselves. Scuba diving is a perfect choice for those who like to explore places that are little visited by tourists. It’s run exclusively by some fully-certificated tour operators in town. Trekking under the sea requires less skills, so every swimmable person can. On the other hand, the island has palm-lined sandy beaches to swim, sunbathe or relax in cool breezes from the sea.
Things to Do in Hoi An with Kids
Hoi An Lantern Making Class
Lanterns are one of Hoi An’s icons that were introduced by the Chinese when they arrived at the town to do business and start a new life. They are formed by a bamboo frame, covered by silk or fabric and foldable. Your little ones can join a class in which they may make their first Vietnamese handicraft object ever. Local artisans will instruct from scratch, with simple skills that not too challenge them. The color, size and shape of the lanterns depend on their favourites and likings.
Read also: Hoi An lanterns
Thanh Ha Pottery Village
This village is not far from the Old Town, around 10 mins by car or taxi. It’s famous for pottery production from 16th century and today, the tradition becomes a national intangible cultural heritage. Each member of your family has the chance to learn how to make a clay product by him/herself, with the soil processed already. The artisan will instruct to form it by a manual potter’s wheel. Besides knowing local skills, touching hands on the wet clay is a fun time.
Read also: Thanh Ha pottery village
Tra Que Vegetable Village
Farming experience in Tra Que vegetable village is one of the best choices for your kids. They will learn a lot about how to grow plants from locals while wearing a daily costume of farmers. That includes preparing the land, transplanting, watering by traditional shoulder pole, fertilizing by natural weeds, and more. The variety of vegetables and herbs in gardens here also is nice to know (because new or strange) and get surprised because of their uses. Apart from education, this is a great chance to allow all members to do things and have fun together. It’s possible to join hands-on cooking class, to cook several Vietnamese foods or relax with a herbal massage.
Read also: Tra Que vegetable village
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