When it comes to Vietnam, the vast majority of travelers agree on two things: the country’s cuisine is delicious and the most beautiful city in Vietnam is Hoi An.
Small, quiet, with a unique architecture and very pleasant to walk around. It is really worth stopping there during your trip to Vietnam. And to make sure you don’t miss out on any of its charms, here are the top 10 things to see and do in Hoi An :
1. Old Town Hoi An
Hoi An was an important historical enclave thanks to its trading port centuries ago where great Chinese and Japanese merchants settled. The ancient part of the city has been preserved almost intact for 200 years, which means that in 1999 it was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
A well-deserved title because it is a real wonder! Walking through its streets full of yellow houses with Chinese influences full of colorful lanterns is something you must do when visiting Hoi An.
We recommend you to get up early to enjoy the city calmly and quietly. Hoi An is a quiet city in the morning, you will only find its people shopping carefree at Cho market. Of course, be prepared because at sunset, the city fills with people.
2. Japanese Bridge
The old town is the great jewel of the city, full of centuries-old buildings that have remained standing all this time, surviving even wars. Walking around here is like traveling back in time: colonial houses from the French era, temples, pagodas, lanterns… and also a good handful of cafes, restaurants and stores. It doesn’t surprise us at all that it has been declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco.
One of the most famous sights in Hoi An’s old town is the Japanese Bridge, a covered wooden bridge that has become the symbol of the city. It was built by the Japanese who resided in the city around the year 1590, to connect their neighborhood to the Chinese side, which was on the other side of the river.
The truth is that the bridge is more beautiful from the outside than crossing it, which is also difficult. To cross it, you’ll have to buy a pass worth 120,000 VND (a little less than 5 €), which allows access to five attractions in the city (the ones you choose), including this bridge, and that it is worth it.
Curiosity: you will see statues of dogs and monkeys on the bridge. The reason? According to legend, its construction began in the year of the dog and ended in the year of the monkey.
3. Try the local gastronomy
Besides its beautiful buildings and temples, Hoi An is known as one of the gastronomic capitals of Vietnam. Moreover, there are many local dishes that you must try. Specifically, we recommend these 3 dishes:
Cau Lau – A rice noodle dish served with pork, carrots, bean sprouts, croutons and soy sauce.
White Rose: a kind of rice dumpling, steamed and stuffed with shrimps.
Won Ton : of Chinese origin, this dish is made with fried rice dough, stuffed with pork. Here it is served with a sauce made of tomatoes, peppers and onions.
And everything will taste better when you discover that for about 0,15 € you can drink a cold bia (draft beer) today.
4. Visit one old house
According to UNESCO, there are 1,107 historic buildings in Hoi An, of which more than 20 are open to the public for viewing. The city is full of old houses, stores and traditional workshops that are kept almost intact.
Many of these houses and temples are worth spending time to get to know them carefully. Fortunately, there is a combination ticket (Hoi An Old Town Ticket) that includes 5 tours, which you can choose according to your preferences. The Hoi An Old Town Ticket costs about 120,000 VND and you can buy it at different agencies in the city. This is a perfect option to get to know these monuments at a cheaper price.
Some of the most beautiful and interesting traditional houses you can visit with the Hoi An Old Town ticket are:
Phung Hung’s old house
Quan Thang old house
Duc an old house
Old house of Tan Ky
With this ticket, you can also visit various temples and pagodas. The following stand out:
Fujian Chinese Congregation Hall
Guang Gong Temple
Ba Mu Temple
Phuoc Lam Pagoda
Chuc Thanh Pagoda
Pagoda of Phac Hat
5. visit the Precious Heritage Art Gallery Museum
If you like photography, you can’t miss this museum-exhibition room where the French photographer Réhahn exhibits his work. This artist has dedicated much of his life to getting lost in the most remote and rural places of Vietnam, depicting many faces and scenes of the daily life of all ethnic groups in the country.
The photos are incredible and in the museum, they contain a lot of information about the customs and lifestyle of the ethnic minority groups. They also exhibit their traditional clothes among which some almost unique works. The entrance is free and it is open from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm.
6. Tra Que vegetable village
About 3 kilometers from the center of Hoi An is the vegetable village of Tra Que, the village formed more than 300 years ago and is now famous for the work of vegetable cultivation. In this commune, more than 200 family members cultivate vegetables on a land area of approximately 40 hectares.
They grow more than 20 different types of vegetables depending on the weather. All the vegetables are organically grown, so the vegetables in the town are clean and have a good yield. In the village, there are bike tours from Hoi An old town to the village to learn how the vegetables are grown.
And cooking the typical dishes of the city with the products they harvest from the vegetable fields is a unique and very interesting experience for all travelers.
7. Take a trip to My Son
About 40 km from Hoi An are the ancient ruins of My Son, once one of the most important religious centers in the region. Perhaps if you have already visited archaeological sites such as Bagan, Angkor, Sukhothai or Borobudur, these may seem rather poor, but if you think back and apply a little imagination, a visit to My Son will be wonderful! It helps a little to do it with a guide…
There are now more than 50 temples (some in poor condition and others almost swallowed by nature), all built between the 4th and 14th centuries, almost nothing!
8. Visit the Marble Mountains
This set of 5 mountains, also known as “The Mountains of the Five Elements”, are famous for their caves and tunnels, which were used by both monks to carry out their cults (you can see shrines with statuettes and religious images), as well as guerrillas to hide or store weapons.
The most important and the only one accessible is mountThuy Son, where you will have to climb some steps to cross caves, shrines and lookouts (don’t miss the Huyen Khong cave). The marble mountains are about 20 km from Hoi An, and you can get there by cab, bus, motorcycle rental or half-day trip, like this one.
9. Cross the famous “Golden Bridge.”
If you have Instagram, this bridge held by two huge hands will seem like a lot. And that’s because since its inauguration in 2018, its image has been circulating like wildfire 😉 What you may not know is that the bridge is part of a theme park ( Ba Na Hills) located nearly 70 km from Hoi An. You can go there for free (entrance costs about 25 €) or take a private car
Beyond the bridge, there are several attractions to enjoy, but it is clear who is the protagonist that has captured the hearts (and photos) of millions of people.
10. Make a custom-made suit
Hoi An is the capital of shopping in Hoi An. You will find a multitude of tailors. They can make a suit or a dress in a few hours. The process consists of 4 steps: design, measurement, testing and removal. This does not vary in any store. What varies is the price, but hey, you pay for quality… Some of the most recommended tailor stores are Bebe Tailor , Yali Couture or Kimmy Tailors .
How much does it cost to make a custom suit in Hoi An
Ok, but how much does a custom made dress or suit cost in Hoi An? It obviously depends on the type of suit/dress and especially on the quality of the fabric and the patterns chosen. A dress (for special occasions) costs about 50-100 USD and a men’s suit (jacket, pants and shirt) costs about 90-250 USD. In more casual stores you can order more formal dresses for about 10 USD and suits for about 40 USD, but of course the quality is not the same.
11. Take a boat ride
Thu Bon River is one of the great attractions of the city and yes, when the sun goes down, the river goes down too… It’s very crowded :-p It won’t be a romantic boat trip alone, but it doesn’t matter: it’s a touristy one, yes, without a doubt, however it’s one of the best things to do in Hoi An. We have no proof but no doubt either.
The boat trip costs about 100 000 VND (4 €)
12. Lazing around at An Bang beach
You’re hot and you’d like to take a dip in the water, but your hotel doesn’t have a pool? Well, go to the beach! Although we have to warn you: it won’t be one of the most spectacular beaches in Asia (the bar is very high here), but if you want to enjoy a few hours of relaxation and swimming in the sea, it might be worth it. The nearest beach is Cua Dai Beach, about 4 km away, and another one a little further away and popular is An Bang Beach . You can get there by cab, motorcycle or even by bicycle.
And off the coast of Hoi An are the Cham Islands, a group of 8 small islands where you can snorkel or dive. The largest and most inhabited island is Hon Lao, where you can also spend a relaxing day, enjoying its small beach and relaxed atmosphere. It is recommended NOT to visit the islands between October and February, when the waters are rougher.
13. Visit Hoi An at night
When night falls, Hoi An reveals its most beautiful face: the warm lights of the stores and the silk lanterns in thousand colors flood everything, filling the streets with life. Moreover, the air starts to smell of food (ohhhh, everything in Vietnam is delicious) and it’s the best time to discover the other side of this beautiful city. Don’t miss a night stroll downtown!