Hoi An Travel Guide
Hoi An was my favorite destination in Vietnam. I loved spending time by the river, watching the sunset, and drinking an inexpensive beer. The town is packed with picturesque historical homes, pagodas and street-side cafes. The place is extremely popular for buying clothes. You can get anything made here- from suits to sneakers. But even if you don’t want to go shopping, Hoi An makes for a relaxing destination in an otherwise frenetic country. This was also my favorite place for food in all of Vietnam!
Hostel Prices – There aren’t many hostels in Hoi An but there are plenty of cheap hotels to make up for this.
Budget Hotel Prices – Accommodation is inexpensive here with a night in a budget hotel costing from $15 for a double room.
Average Cost of Food – Street food starts at $.75 USD per meal. Food in restaurants starts at $1.50 USD and goes upward from there.
Transportation Costs – Everywhere in Hoi An is within walking distance so it’s unlikely you’ll spend much on transportation here.
Money Saving Tips
Cooking lessons – If you enjoy the food at a certain restaurant, ask for cooking lessons. These are often cheaper than the cooking schools.
Camp on Cham Island – If you’re heading to Cham Island on a diving trip, it’s possible to save money on accommodation by camping on the beach.
Eat Across the River – Hoi An is split in two by a small river. One side is very touristy, one side is very local. Move out of the main center and across the river for better food and drink deals as the locals here never get as many customers as the main city area.
Shop Around – There are hundreds of tailors in Hoi An. If you’re having clothing made, check prices with a few places before settling on one.
Top Things to See and Do
Shop at the Central Market – Hoi An’s Central Market is probably one of the best in Vietnam. The market sits on the riverside and is packed full of excellent food at rock-bottom prices. This is the place to pick up spices, souvenirs, try local food and have your tailoring done. There is also a great fish market which is worth visiting.
Visit Quan Cong Temple – The temple was built in the early 17th century to honor the Chin dynasty but nowadays it serves as one of Hoi An’s most spectacular architectural accomplishments and a thriving tourist attraction. Inside there are two huge wooden statues, one of Quan Kong’s protector, Chau Xuong and one of his adopted son and of course the gilt statue of Quan Cong himself.
Cross the Japanese Covered Bridge – The bridge is thought to have been built by Hoi An’s Japanese community in the late sixteenth century and roughly translated from Vietnamese, its name means “Pagoda in Japan.” It makes for great photographs.
Take a cooking lesson – If tasting local food isn’t enough for you and you’d like to bring a like bit of Vietnamese cuisine home with you then consider enrolling yourself in cooking lessons. Many restaurants offer lessons where you’ll first start off picking the raw ingredients then learn how to prepare the food.
Attend the Full Moon Festival – Hoi An’s Full Moon Festival is held on the 14th day of the lunar cycle each month and is probably the best time to visit the city. The streets are shut down to all traffic and are lined with brightly colored lanterns. This is a great time to party with locals as the streets come alive with folk music, plays and dancing.
Relax on the beaches – An Bang and Cua Dai beaches are both within close proximity to Hoi An and are a great place to spend an afternoon. Cua Dai is designated as one of Vietnam’s five UNESCO World Heritage sites but both beaches offer soft white sand and excellent beach side restaurants.
Take a Trip to Cham Island – Many tourists take a day trip out to Cham Island which lies just 21km from Hoi An in the South China Sea. The diving here is great and as you’re in Vietnam, it’s very cheap. Most tours include lunch and it’s also possible to include a night dive in your excursion.
Explore My Son – My Son is one of the most important sites relating to the ancient Kingdom of Champa and is said to have been Vietnam’s religious and intellectual center. Even in their ruined state, the remaining structures are impressive. The My Son ruins were designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000.
See the Fukian Assembly Hall – Built in 1697, Fukian is the grandest of the Chinese assembly halls and is a fine example of Chinese architecture. The main temple is dedicated to the goddess of the sea, Thien Hau, while the statues of Thuan Phong Nhi and Thien Ly Nhan are said to protect sailors in distress. There is a scale model of a sailboat inside too.
Boat along the river – A great way to relax for a bit and to see Hoi An from a different perspective is to hop on one of the boats that leaves from Bach Dang Street. Don’t just go with the first boat you find; there are a lot of different options and prices here.
Visit the Museum of Folk Culture – This small museum aims to preserve the traditions and dress of rural Vietnamese culture. The museum is filled with plaster statues of figures in costume, which seem a bit strange. However, there’s enough to see to give you a good idea about local culture here.
Head to the Marble Mountains – The Marble Mountains are a series of five mountains located 20 km north of Hoi An. Besides the natural appeal, they also have many pagodas, and some also served as a base for Viet Cong fighters during the war.
Enter the Old Houses – Some of the houses in Hoi An have had their interiors turned into museums, giving tourists a glimpse at what life was life for wealthy merchants in the colonial and pre-colonial period. The Tan Ky and the Duc An are two of the more popular to visit.