Hoi An is a town to fall in love with! We were looking forward to getting there for a long time. Our expectations were exceeded. It’s a quiet, partly motorbike and carfree town which invites you to stroll through the historic streets and enjoy the art you can find here on every corner.
Lets see how you will get the most out of your stay in Hoi An.
How to get there
Plane or Train
The closest airport and train station are in Danang. From there you can take a bus or taxi to get to Hoi An. The drive from the city center will take about 40 minutes.
We took a plane from Hanoi to Danang, stayed there for two nights and continued then by taking a grab.
Most of the long-distant buses don’t stop directly in Hoi An. Depending if you travel from north or south you will have to change in Hue or Nha Trang to continue to Hoi an. Taking a bus to Danang is maybe easier as they go more frequent. From there it’s not far to Hoi An.
How to get around
Hoi An Sidecar Tour
We got the great opportunity to explore Hoi An in a sidecar provided by Hoi An sidecar tours! We are convinced that this is the best and most adventurous way to get to know this area. On our first morning in Hoi An we got picked up at 9am right in front of our accomodation. We never sat in or drove with a sidecar before so this was really exciting for us! Our driver, who was called Sau, did a great job with handling the old russian style sidecar. Phy was our navigator, drove in front and made sure that we were fine through the entire adventure.
The tour led us out of town and directly to the rice fields. Once you catch sight of this lush green you cannot help it but fall in love with. In the light of the morning sun we enjoyed the ride through the countryside watched the farmers getting busy. We stopped several times to enjoy the view and this unique scenery.
When passing a vegetable farm, we got out and Phy led us through the beds showing us exotic herbs and trees. Further on we stopped at a local farmer to watch his water buffalo. It was impressive to see this animal, which we haven’t seen before. Phy taught us that the water buffalos are a big help at the beginning and at the end of the dry season. They are supporting the farmers during the harvest and to prepare the fields.
They really let us enjoy this adventure and the scenery and didn’t watch the time which made it even nicer for us. It’s the perfect family activity and suitable for kids. The sidecar is big enough to comfortably fit an adult and a child. Our little one liked it a lot, got all excited in the beginning and fell asleep after a while of the soothing sound of the old machine.
Next time we will definitely check out their Wheels & Waterways and Village Experience tours. Over a half day these tours will bring you out of town through palm forests, past local fishermen, photogenic villages, vegetable farms and a country market to have local coffee. You will also have the great opportunity to learn about the art of mat weaving, shrimp farming or vegetable gardening. We think that really sounds great and is definitely worth a try if you have the time!
Hoi An town is great to explore by foot. The nice difference to other vietnamese cities is that it is a lot more quiet and less busy. At least as far as the traffic is concerned. Cars and motorbikes are not allowed to enter the center of the old town from 8am to 11am and 3pm to 9pm.
Hoi An contains more than 800 historic buildings which contribute to its special charme. You have to buy a ticket for 120,000vmd to enter the old town but we had to search a while to find where to buy it and didn’t get controlled by just strolling around. Still make sure to keep your ticket with you during your entire stay in Hoi An. The ticket gives you the opportunity to enter five of twenty-two sightseeing places within the old town. You can always buy more tickets if you want to see more.
For exploring the town we would not recommend a bike as the streets are crowded with pedestrians. The town is small enough to walk through. If you get tired you can always take a rest in one of the many inviting cafés or restaurants. There’s also the opportunity to let yourself drive around in a bicycle taxi.
For exploring the surroundings, going from or to town from your accomodation or for visiting te beach, a bike is a good option. Almost every hotel, hostel or homestay will offer bikes for a small daily rent, some of them even have seats for children.
We bought our ticket for the old town at the Information Center at Bach Dang 62. Besides our travel book and the map we got in the ticket office, we got recommended a great app. The app is called tale.city and tells information about all the ancient buidings and hotspots. The Information Center is quite in the center of the old town from where you can start your sightseeing tour.
This bridge was constructed in the 1590s by the Japanese community. The bridge is still in it’s original shape, thanks to it’s solid construction. The most famous japanese bridge in Vietnam is the one in Hoi An so it’s definitely worth a visit. The statues of a monkey and a dog guard the bridge as the construction started in the year of the monkey and finished in the year of the dog. Also a lot of Japan’s emperors were born in these years. The roof used to be a shelter against the rain.
You can cross the bridge and continue walking through the street, it’s a lot calmer on the other side!
Tan Ky House
This is an old house built by a local family. It’s wonderfully preserved and will make you curious about the traditional life in Hoi An. The architecture of these old buildings is always more or less the same. Entrances are in the front, a courtyard to bring light and nature into the home and the kitchen in the back. Living and sleeping areas can be found upstairs but you cannot walk up in this house. On the wall you can discover marks of the floodings through the last centure. The biggest flood in 1964 covered almost the whole ground floor.
Museum of Folk Culture
This museum is located in another old traditional family house. The house has a lenght of 57 metres and 9 metres wide. The museum consists of two floors and just visiting the upper floor made it already attractive to us. Getting more insight of the life of local people and being able to admire the style and the view from the balcony!
The museum shows traditional art pieces, gives an insight in the countrylife and teaches you about traditional folclore activities. Sometimes locals show handicraft shows where you can see the traditional art of making lanterns or silk goods.
There are two night markets in the old town of Hoi An. The bigger one is located at the An Hoi Peninsula in the Nguyen Hoang Street. The other one you find along the Thu Bon River at Bach Dang street. As soon as the sun sets, the town wakes up once more and busy nightmarket-life starts.
Hoi An is well known for traditional appareal, tayloring, silk products and lanterns but you will find a lot more products on the market. Don’t forget to taste yourself through the street food too 😉
Where and what to eat
Hoi An has its typical dishes which you should try! Most of the restaurants offer banh vac, banh bao, cao lau or hoah thanh to just mention some of them. The market offers a good variety of street food which is cheap and casual. There are also countless restaurants, cafés and bars if you want to have a seat somewhere, maybe even at the first floor with view over the river.
We are big fans of markets and usually prefer this experience. Don’t forget to try the vietnamese “pizza” or to treat yourself with a banana pancake. As much as we like markets, in Hoi An we also had to enjoy some of the inviting diners.
The best Cao lau we ate at the Vinh Hung Restaurant. The portion was huge and the price perfectly fine.
What do to around Hoi An
Hoi An itself has so much to offer, we could have easily stayed there for a few weeks. Just enjoying the special flair of the town is something we could have done some more days. With sightseeing, history, stopping at a lot of restaurants and maybe some shopping you can easily keep yourself busy for three days. Still there are some things you should not miss.
My Son are the ruins of Hintu temples which were built and inhabited from the late 4th century till the 13th century. That’s the longest period of development of all temple complexes in Southeast Asia. Most of the temples are dedicated to Cham kings and Shiva.
Sadly most of the over 70 temples got destroyed by the US Army in the Vietnam War but a lot of restauration work is taking place.
It’s definitely worth a visit if you haven’t seen similar temples in Cambodia or Laos so far. It can get very warm and busy there so if you are an early bird we would recommend a sunrise tour!
An Bang Beach
This beach is only 3km east of Hoi An and known as one of Vietnam’s most enjoyable beaches. Our time there was too short to go there and also did we enjoy the beach in Danang a lot. But if you have the time, rent a bike and go there! For everyone who likes snorkeling or diving, the nearby Cham Islands offer the opportunity to do so.
Danang is a great spot for some tours and has a lot to offer. If you have the time stay there for a few nights to explore the city and to enjoy the beach. We will tell you more in another aticle!
We absolutely loved Hoi An and would definitely recommend to go there! It’s different to other cities in Vietnam as the old town is very touristic. There are shops and restaurants everywhere. Nevertheless you can have a great time there if you just go with the flow and enjoy the flair. And if you need some distance of the mass of people you take your bike or hop on a sidecar to get out to the beautiful surrounding.
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