Escape the chaos of Ho Chi Minh or Hanoi and head south to Hoi An, Vietnam. Hoi An in English translates to “peaceful meeting place” and we’d have to agree with that. Hoi An is an oasis in Vietnam and our personal favorite city in Vietnam. We’d suggest spending at least two nights in Hoi An or many more if your time allows.
We suggest as many days as possible in Hoi An, at least 3 days or a week if you can. You can get a 4-star Hoi An hotel for as low as $25 so why to stay a few nights? When you visit this beautiful city, here are the top things to do in Hoi An Vietnam.
Best Time to Go To Hoi An
Deciding when to travel to Hoi An is one of the most important tasks when planning your vacation. Although Hoi An is a tropical climate, there are certain months that are better than others.
The rainy season in Hoi An is from September to January, and you can expect tropical storms and potential flooding during these months. Although the rainy season is still a popular time to travel, you should be aware that typhoons and floods could potentially impact your trip.
December and January are the coldest times to visit Hoi An. During the day, the weather is pleasant and in the mid-70s. However, at night, it can dip to below the 60s.
The dry season in Hoi An is from February to July. February and March are the most comfortable times to travel. There is little rainfall and lots of sunshine without unbearable humidity. For this reason, many people believe that late winter/early spring is the best time to visit Hoi An.
If you don’t mind the heat, then you can visit Hoi An during June and July, when flights and hotels tend to be cheaper than other times of the year.
Related Article: Top 13 Vietnam Destination
Top Things To Do In Hoi An Vietnam
1. Take A Hoi An Cooking Class
It’s hard not to fall in love with the Vietnamese food in Hoi An. Why not take a cooking class in Hoi An to learn how to cook your favorite Vietnamese food?
Learn how to cook a mouthwatering meal with a cooking class in Hoi An! There are dozens of classes and cooking schools to choose from. Best of all, most classes are combined with different types of cultural activities.
Sabirama Cooking Class is a fully immersive experience centered around Vietnamese culture. Start your day with a tour of a local market before heading off on a boat cruise. Then you’ll head back to the kitchen, where you’ll whip up beef noodle soup, chicken curry, and sticky rice cakes.
The chefs at Hoi An Eco Tour will take you out fishing before you cook. You’ll head out on a boat and learn how to catch fish using a traditional bamboo basket. Whatever you catch, you’ll cook.
The Red Bridge Cooking School offers engaging cooking classes for eager or amateur chefs. During your class, you’ll browse the local markets before spending a few hours on a boat cruise. In the afternoon, you’ll whip up a variety of classic Vietnamese dishes with your findings!
We took our class at our favorite Hoi An restaurant instead of a traditional cooking class for a 10th of the price. At Cafe 43 we paid just $5 per person plus the menu price for whatever we learned how to cook. In our Hoi An cooking class, we learned how to cook papaya salad, fresh spring rolls, chicken chili lemongrass. Our cooking class was just the two us and cost less than $20 USD for a private cooking class in which we made 3 of our favorite Vietnamese dishes.
Related Article: Getting Fat For $5 A Day In Vietnam
2. Explore Hoi An Ancient Town
Hoi An’s ancient town became a UNESCO heritage site in 1999 as a well preserved Southeast Asia trading port. One of our favorite things to do in Hoi An Vietnam is just wondering down the streets in Ancient Town, don’t forget your camera!
There are several Airbnb listings right in Hoi An old town that are much cheaper than hotels, and you’ll have a ton more space renting an apartment vs a hotel room.
Airbnb first-timers, if you sign up through my referral link you get $40 credit when you book your first trip! –>> sign up here! If you already have an account register a second account for your travel partner to get $40 off your next trip.
3. Try Hoi An’s Famous White Rose Dish
Try the local specialty in Hoi An called white rose. White rose is similar to a dumpling that is filled with shrimp or pork, topped with fried garlic and served with sweet dipping sauce. It’s super tasty and a must eat when traveling to Hoi An.
4. Get A Custom Suit Or Dress Made At A Hoi An Tailor
How would you like to return home with a perfectly fitted suit or pair of pants? As one of the stopping points on the Silk Road, it’s no surprise that Hoi An is known for tailoring clothes. There are hundreds of tailor shops in the city that allow you to design a suit, dress, or anything else you can imagine.
Be Be Tailor is one of the most well-known shops in Hoi An. The clothes are made right there on-site, and you can even take a tour of their production room. They’ve been in business for over 15 years and have delighted more than 70,000 customers.
A Dong Silk is another shop that has become quite famous over the last few years. Although they tend to be more expensive than other tailors, you can rest assured that the quality of your clothes will help them last a lifetime.
- Be Be Tailor
- 05-07 Hoàng Diệu, Cẩm Châu, Hội An, Quảng Nam, Vietnam
- Daily: 8 am – 9:45 pm
- A Dong Silk
- 40 Lê Lợi, Phường Minh An, Hội An, Quảng Nam, Vietnam
- Daily: 7:30 am – 9:30 pm
Related Article: Hoi An Tailors
5. Visit The Banh Mi Queen
Vietnamese’s famous sandwich the banh mi, the word which simply translates to bread, but your mouth will translate it to the best sandwich you’ve ever had. The best banh mi in Hoi An is from the banh mi queen, she lives up to the name.
This cute little old Vietnamese grandma is serving up one of the tastiest sandwiches in Hoi An. She has one thing on the menu, you don’t really even order you just sit down in her house and she brings you a banh mi sandwich. I suggest stopping by the banh mi queen and having a $1 sandwich to fuel your day of things to do in Hoi An.
6. Drink 15 Cent Beers
Who can pass up 15 cent beers? Our favorite restaurant Cafe 43 had 15 cent beers of their special homemade Vietnamese beer, it was pretty tasty for 15 cents. Homemade Vietnamese beer is easily found in the city, so make a day of day drinking your way around Hoi An Vietnam.
Related Article: Must Do Things in Hanoi
7. Relax On Cua Dai Beach
Just 5km outside of the Hoi An Vietnam is Cua Dai beach located on the South China Sea. We suggest riding a bike from Ancient Town Hoi An, as its a relaxing bike ride passing by rice paddies and the Thu Bon riverbank. Go for a walk along the 3km sandy beach or rent a beach chair for the day and enjoy the sunshine. There are tons of bike rentals in Hoi An, our hotel Hoi An Prince hotel (we paid $15 a night) rented bikes for $1 a day.
There are several hotels right on the beach, check specials on Agoda.com we’ve seen some as low as $15 a night.
8. Take the Hoi An Free Bike Tour
Another fun and one of the free things to do in Hoi An is the Hoi An free tour by bike. Every Sunday students volunteer and offer a free Hoi An tour. The Vietnamese students want to practice their English and this is a perfect way to do that.
The tour is limited to 20 people, we emailed in advance to save our spot. Just show up at the meeting point with a bike or they have bikes for rent for a reasonable press. Click here for more information. If you enjoyed the tour the guides would appreciate any tips, we tipped 100,000 dong ($5 USD).
9. Visit The Full Moon Lantern Festival
Try and time your visit to Hoi An during the Hoi An full moon lantern festival. On the full moon of every month the streets in Hoi An’s ancient town off their lights, and the streets are shut down (no traffic) and the light is replaced with colorful lanterns floating down the river.
The streets are packed with locals and tourists lighting lanterns and sending them down the river, we chose not to light a lantern in Hoi An.
Related Article: Hoi An Lantern Festival
10. Slurp A Bowl Of Cao Lau
Cao Lau is another dish only found in Hoi An Vietnam that is definitely worth the try. Cao Lau is a soup with chewy thick noodles, mint, basil, peppers, bean sprouts, pork, lime, and some deep-fried croutons for some crunch on the top. All these flavors together make this dish amazing.
11. Rent a Bike and Explore the Rice Paddies and Countryside
Cruise along the banks of the Thu Bon River or explore the charming villages of Hoi An with a relaxing bicycle ride. The city of Hoi An is practically made for cycling, and it’s a pleasant, slow-paced way to discover some hidden treasures. A bike ride allows you to soak in the scenic beauty of Vietnam while taking you to places you might not be able to reach by car.
Cycle through Cam Kim Island and stop to see traditional mat weaving and rice winemaking. Visit Cam Thanh village for stunning river views. Then head to Tra Que vegetable village to learn about the history of the rice paddies while seeing how locals grow vegetables.
Most hotels and resorts have bikes that you can rent for the day. However, there are several shops in the city with a fixed gear or mountain bikes available for rent.
12. Relax by the River
Flowing through the heart of Hoi An is the Thu Bon River. Dotted with hundreds of bungalows and boats, the Thu Bon River is one of the most significant symbols of Vietnam. Not only does it serve as the primary water source for the surrounding farms and villages, but it’s also the center of life in Hoi An.
The best time to visit the river is first thing in the morning before it becomes overcrowded by commuters and fishermen. As the sun rises and the mist clears, you’ll have the opportunity to experience the tranquil and soothing atmosphere of the lake.
During the day, we recommend taking a boat tour. Visit Bach Dang, Cua Dai Beach, and even Moc Kim Bong village. You might even stop at a floating market to purchase fresh vegetables or have a bowl of hot noodle soup.
13. Japanese Bridge
Dating back to the 18th-century, the Japanese Bridge is one of the biggest attractions in Hoi An. This 60-foot bridge is one of the defining symbols of Vietnam and can even be seen on the 20,000VND note.
The bridge itself is a stunning piece of architecture. Inscribed above the door are three Chinese symbols, which were carved by the Nguyen Phuc Chu Lord himself when the bridge opened. There are also sculptures of dogs and monkeys representing the animal years when the bridge was built and completed.
14. Lantern Market
Stroll through one of the most picturesque markets in the city at the Hoi An Night Market. The market is instantly recognizable by the hundreds of glowing lanterns that illuminate the night sky. The Thu Bon River in the background adds to the vibrant and magical atmosphere of the market.
Here, you can purchase different lanterns in all shapes, sizes, and colors. Besides lanterns, the market is teeming with different shops and food stalls. With over 50 different vendors, you’re guaranteed to find a unique souvenir to take back home with you.
Choose from delicate silks and hand-painted ceramics to knock-off purses and small electronics. It’s also a great place to stop for a snack and cold drink while admiring the lanterns by the river.
- Address: Nguyễn Hoàng, Phường Minh An, Hội An, Quảng Nam, Vietnam
- Hours: Open Daily 4:30 pm – 10 pm
15. Visit Cham Island
For a relaxing day trip, venture over to Cham Island. This small archipelago is home to eight small islands and is a recognized UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve.
Once you step foot on one of the tropical islands, you’ll have plenty of activities at your disposal. Spend the day snorkeling or diving in the crystal-clear waters of Bai Cong Beach, or work on your tan under the swaying palm trees on the Bai Bac Beach.
The Cham Islands are only 30 minutes away from Hoi An by boat, so there’s no excuse not to visit them during your trip!
16. Take a Street Food Tour
Snack your way through the hidden alleys and narrow streets of Hoi An on with a street food tour. Your guide will take you to several different food vendors, where you can indulge in a wide variety of traditional Vietnamese dishes.
Experience local specialties like Cao Lau Noodles, Bahn Mi sandwiches, spring rolls, and coconut pancakes. Not only will you get to sample these mouthwatering treats, but you’ll also have the chance to interact with the chefs and owners.
Don’t listen to the guide books or online reviews; let a local guide take you to the best family-run restaurants and off-the-beaten-path cafes for a memorable culinary experience.
17. Sunset Boat Ride on Thu Bon River
There are very few things more romantic than an evening boat ride along the Thu Bon River. As you step aboard your private wooden boat, you’ll be treated to one of the best views in all of Hoi An. Sit back and enjoy the pristine beauty of the river while the sun sets in the background.
If you’re looking for something a little more upbeat, you can join a sunset boat tour in a restored fishing boat. Here, you’ll be able to eat freshly prepared snacks while sipping on an ice-cold beer or beverage.
There are also several boat companies that organize dinner cruises. To top it off, you’ll be entertained by live music while you sail down the majestic Thu Bon River.
18. Egg Coffee
When you’re in Vietnam, you must try a glass of delicious egg coffee. This drink is made with egg yolks, coffee, sugar, and condensed milk. Besides the addition of egg yolks, it’s not too different from its more popular relative, Vietnamese coffee.
Egg coffee originated in Hanoi but is now served all over the country. You can try a glass for yourself at one of the many cafes in Hoi An.
Day Trips from Hoi An Worth the Trip
1. Visit Sun World Ba Na Hills and See the Famous Hand Bridge
Located 2 hours from Hoi An in the Trường Sơn Mountains, Sun World Ba Na Hills is a French-style resort with dozens of fun and entertaining attractions.
There are several rides, like the Alpine Coaster and Guinness World Record-breaking cable car that is guaranteed to please your inner adventure seeker. Other attractions include a wax museum, 4D Race experience, 95-foot drop tower, and tons of restaurants and shops.
However, Sun World Ba Na Hill’s newest and most eye-catching attraction is the 490-foot Hand Bridge. This floating bridge looks like it’s supported by two enormous stone hands. As you peer over the sides of the bridge, you’ll have panoramic views of the spectacular Nui Chua Mountains.
Come to take photos, admire the views, and soak in the beauty of the scenic landscape. While you can visit Sun World Ba Na Hills just for the day, we recommend staying for the weekend in order to make the most of your time in the mountains.
- Address: Hoà Phú, Hòa Vang, Da Nang, Vietnam
- Hours: Open Daily 7:30 am – 9 pm
- Entrance Fee: 750,000 VND (adult), 600,000 VND (reduced)
2. Day trip to Da Nang
Visiting the coastal city of Da Nang makes a great day trip from Hoi An. Located just 30-40 minutes by car, Da Nang is Vietnam’s third-largest city. Between the gourmet restaurants, rolling hills, and sun-kissed beaches, there’s something for every type of traveler in Da Nang.
Head to My Khe Beach to enjoy surfing, sunbathing, or swimming. With 20 miles of sandy coastline, My Khe Beach is a great place to soak in the outdoors.
You can also climb the Marble Mountains, a cluster of five limestone and marble hills. Explore the hidden caves and grottos or climb to the top for dramatic views over the city.
If you’re in the city, stop by to see the Da Nang Dragon Bridge. Constructed in the shape of a dragon, this bridge is the longest of its kind and is said to bring good luck to the country.
3. Day trip to My Son Ruins
My Son is located roughly 25 miles outside of Hoi An. However, it feels like an entirely different world. This UNESCO World Heritage Site has 70 abandoned, crumbling temples that date back between the 4th and 14th centuries.
During this time, My Son was believed to be the religious grounds and burial site for the Cham royalty. The complex is considered to be home to some of the most sacred Hindu temples in Vietnam.
Over the past few centuries, the orange ruins have become overgrown with lush foliage, which adds to the mysteriousness of the area. Come and take photos, learn more about Vietnamese history, or just admire the architectural beauty of the temple ruins.
With the mountains bordering the complex on two sides, it’s one of the most beautiful places to see near Hoi An.
- Address: Duy Phú, Duy Xuyên District, Quang Nam Province, Vietnam
- Hours: Daily: 6:30 am – 5:30 pm
- Entrance Fee: 150,000 VND per person