Hoi An was my favorite destination in Vietnam. I loved spending time by the river, watching the sunset, strolling through the old town, and drinking inexpensive beer. The town is packed with picturesque historical homes, pagodas and street-side cafes. It’s extremely popular for buying hand-made clothing. You can get anything made here – from custom-made suits to gowns to sundresses to leather boots to sneakers. But even if you don’t want to shop, Hoi An makes for a relaxing destination, in an otherwise frenetic country. After all, a day at the beach is only a 15-minute bike-ride out of town. This was also my favorite place to gorge on Vietnamese food (don’t miss trying the cau lao that Hoi An is known for!).
Top 5 Things to See and Do in Hoi An
1. Explore My Son
2. Relax on the beaches
3. Take a cooking lesson
4. Take a bicycle tour
5. Shop at the Central Market
Other Things to See and Do
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1. 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.
2. 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.
3. Experience Da Nang city
Located about 30-minutes from Hoi An, Da Nang is a bigger city (where you’d fly into). It’s famous for it’s Marble Mountains, great beaches, and a pretty active surfing scene. There is also an extravagant party scene here that it good for a night out once in a while. Some hostels will help groups of guests arrange transportation to and from Da Nang for the night, just ask!
4. 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!
5. 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 there is great and because 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.
6. 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 colorful 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. Entrance to this site and 4 others (on the same day) are 140,000 VND.
7. 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. Admire the town from the water and overlook the colorful views of the waterfront. Don’t just go with the first boat you find; there are a lot of different options and prices there.
8. 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 the local culture here. Admission fee is 35,000 VND.
9. Relax with some yoga
There are only a few yoga studios in this relaxing city. If you want to take a class from a foreigner, you’ll spend around 250,000 VND per class, but if you go to the Vietnamese-run Annem Yoga Studio, you can get 12 classes for 500,000 VND. Even if you’re not a yogi, the atmosphere here lends itself to the centered-exercise.
10. Head to the Marble Mountains
The Marble Mountains are a series of five mountains located 20km 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.
11. 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. Going into homes, old and modern, will give you a glimpse into how locals live their life day-to-day. I highly suggest checking it out. The Tan Ky and the Duc An homes are two of the more popular ones to visit.