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Hoi An

A Travel Guide to Hoi An

Oh Hoi An; what a charmer. Hoi An is undoubtedly one of the most picturesque towns in Vietnam, being crowned “The Best City in the World” by Travel+Leisure. With the yellow walled houses, lantern lit streets and some of the most delicious food in the country, it’s not surprising that it’s love-at-first-sight for most travellers to Vietnam. 5 trips later and I still have a soft spot for Hoi An and Central Vietnam. Hopefully this travel guide to Hoi An helps you to plan your own trip!

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links, all marked with * Booking through these links generates a small commission for me at no extra cost to you.

Hoi An at a glance

Hoi An is a small city, about ~45 minutes south of Da Nang in central Vietnam. This coastal city was originally a bustling and wealthy port, home to merchants from all corners of Asia and Europe. Different cultural influences from the city past are still visible in the ancient architecture, though Hoi An has now transitioned into a tourist hub. Visitors flock to Hoi An to buy custom made items in the hundreds of tailors, see the lanterns light up the yellow streets and to relax at the nearby beaches.

How long to stay – I recommend spending 2 days. There are a lot of things to do in Hoi An, so if you are interested in doing day trips and classes then you could spend ~5days here.

Best time of year – Feb to Oct is dry season with temps from mid-high 30°C, while Oct to Dec is monsoon season so you can expect some rain and potentially flooding if it is bad. The towns ancient infrastructure and proximity to the ocean unfortunately causes Hoi An to flood during monsoon season (2017 was particularly bad). If you’re travelling in monsoon season follow local news to keep tabs on potential flooding near the time of your trip.

Things to see in Hoi An

Hoi An has long-been a not-to-miss destination in Vietnam, and as such there is no shortage of things to do there. For a complete overview of everything there is to see and do in Hoi An, check out my Hoi An Wanderlist, but these are my favourite things to do in Hoi An.

Reaching Out Teahouse

The Reaching Out Teahouse is beautiful cafe in the heart of the ancient city, where the staff have hearing or speech impairment. You’re encourage to order in sign-language and savour the quiet atmosphere of the cafe. Profits go back into training those with physical disabilities and helping them to find work.

📍 131 Trần Phú

Order tailored items

Hoi An is a huge hub for custom clothing, with every other shop offering tailor-made items, from suits to shoes, bags to swimwear. If you have a vision for an item you would like, Hoi An is the place to get it made in Asia.

✍️  Anywhere and Averywhere has a great post with tips for having clothes made in Hoi An.

Hoi An Travel Guide

Learn to Cook

Hoi An is home to the best selection of cookery schools in Vietnam, and with the majority of them set among the rice terraces and mangrove forests, you’d be a fool to pass up the opportunity to learn some skills here.

💰 ~800k

Explore the ancient sites

Hoi An is an ancient protected city, with a large selection of ancient house and temples to explore, the most iconic being the Japanese Covered Bridge. With an ancient city ticket you get access to 5 sites of your choice.

💰 150k / 5 entrances

How to get to Hoi An

Hoi An has strong transport connections as one of the most popular towns in Vietnam, so getting there is no challenge. The bus is definitely the cheapest and most efficient option (as the nearest train and airport are in Da Nang). However I highly recommend booking a motorbike transfer if you are coming from our going to Hue in the north. The road connecting these two cities is the iconic Hai Van Pass and the drive is beautiful.

Bus is the cheapest option for travelling to Hoi An from nearby destinations. You can get buses from all the surrounding towns; from the north from Da Nang or Hue, and from the south from Quy Nhon and Nha Trang. I’ve found the easiest way to book transport in advance is through Baolau*, a search engine that compares all travel options to find the best one for you.

From Da Nang

⏰ 1hr
💰 ~110k

(see “By Plane” for the public bus)

From Hue

⏰ ~ 3.5 hrs
💰 ~ 150 – 250k

From Nha Trang

⏰ 10+hrs (overnight sleeper buses)
💰 ~ 300k

From Quy Nhon

I can’t find any information for booking the bus between Quy Nhon and Hoi An online, however this route does operate. To book you will most likely have to wait until you are in Vietnam and you can book through a travel agent or hostel.

⏰ 6+hr
💰 ~200k

The nearest train station to Hoi An is Da Nang train station, which is serviced with lines from Quy Nhon in the south and Hue in the north. You will need to get onward transport from Da Nang to Hoi An (see “by bus” for more information). I’ve found the easiest way to book transport in advance is through Baolau*, a search engine that compares all travel options to find the best one for you.

From Quy Nhon

The nearest train station to Quy Nhon is Dieu Tri which is a 20 min drive outside Quy Nhon (easy to take a taxi to).

⏰ 6 hrs
💰 250k

From Hue

⏰ 3.5hrs
💰 70-100k

From Quy Nhon to Hoi An

The roads in an out of Hoi An are really good so arriving by motorbike is easy. I drove from south to north and opted to take the smaller coastal roads. I would recommend carrying extra gas on this drive; there is a segment on the approach to Hoi An that has very few gas stations and I remember panicking that I was going to run out of gas on this stretch.

⏰ 6 hours

From Da Nang/Hue to Hoi An

From the north motorbikers have two options; stop in Da Nang overnight before driving the short 45 mins onto Hoi An or drive from Hue straight to Hoi An, skipping Da Nang. I personally love Da Nang and recommend stopping there for at least 1 night. The drive from Da Nang to Hoi An is super easy.

If you are driving from Hue then you will be driving the iconic Hai Van Pass. This is a beautiful mountain pass but should be driven with caution if you are a new driver.

Motorbiking the Hai Van Pass; Easy Rider

Even if you aren’t motorbiking or don’t know how to drive a motorbike, I still recommend doing the Hai Van Pass drive when travelling to Hoi An from Hue, and visa versa. The roads are flanked by beautiful views (mountains on one side and the ocean on the other) and it is worth getting onto the back of a bike to enjoy. You can book Easy Rider trips where you sit on the back of a bike, with an experienced driver so you can still experience the thrill of the roads! I did my last Easy Rider trip during my sisters trip to Vietnam with Hue to go Tours and our guides were simply exceptional.

💰 1 mil ($45)

Da Nang International Airport is the nearest airport, about 1hr drive north of Hoi An. It is serviced with domestic flights from the south and north of Vietnam as well as international flights, though mostly from other Asian destinations. You will need to arrange transport from Da Nang airport to get to Hoi An.

Shuttle bus

You can take a shuttle bus from the airport to Hoi An. This is one of the most efficient/budget-friendly options for solo travellers. Hoi An Express come recommended for this trip.

💰140k
⏰  every hour between 5am – 11pm
📍 Pick up from domestic and international terminals

Private car/taxi

I normally book a Grab Car from the airport as it is always set fair and reliable. If taking a taxi from the airport I recommend using the meter or agreeing on a set fare before leaving.

💰 ~350-550k depending on demand and time of day

Public bus

This is the most budget way to get from Da Nang to Hoi An. Bus #1 departs from Da Nang city, with a direct route to Hoi An. You can use BusMap to help you plan routes. Alternatively, this post details the route or you can use GoogleMaps to find your nearest stop.

⏰ every 20 minutes between 5:30am – 5:30pm
💰 30k
📍 The bus leaves from the city centre so it is not the most convenient if you are flying into Da Nang.

Getting around Hoi An

The ancient area of Hoi An is pedestrianised, making it perfect to explore on foot. Bicycle is a very popular way to get around Hoi An, with many hotels offering free bikes. If your accommodation doesn’t you can find a bicycle to rent here ($1-2). Cyclos are a popular way to explore for those who are unable to wander freely. To explore further you can use Grab or taxis.

The old city is pedestrianised so to hail a taxi or grab you will need to be out-with the ancient city limits.

What to eat in Hoi An

Hoi An is famous for a number of dishes, like cao lau, white rose dumplings and banh mi’s to name a few. Another favourite dish that I’ve only been able to find in Hoi An are wontons with mango and tomato salsa.

1️⃣ Cao Lau

Cao Lau is a local Hoi An dish that you won’t find elsewhere in Vietnam because the noodles can only be made with lye water from a local well. Cao lau noodles are thicker than normal rice noodles and topped with pork, herbs, a little broth and rice crackers.

📍Cao Lầu can be found just about everywhere in Hoi An, whether you prefer street food or a formal restaurant setting.

2️⃣ White Rose Dumplings

White rose dumplings are so-called for the way that the white rice-dough falls into a rose-like shape when they are steamed. The dumplings are filled with shrimp or pork and topped with crispy garlic.

📍 White rose dumplings can be tried in most restaurants in Hoi An, and apparently, the dumplings are all made by one family who holds a secret recipe and supplies them to different restaurants (so no matter where you try them, they’ll taste the same).

Hoi An travel guide what to eat

3️⃣ Banh Mi

It’s a bit random that Hoi An has become known for its banh mi’s, but I think a lot of that has to do with food guru Anthony Bourdain claiming Banh Mi Phuong as his favourite banh mi in Vietnam. Banh mi is a french style baguette (introduced to Vietnam during the colonial days) filled with pate, mayo, chilli, cheese, pickled veggies and meat/eggs of your choosing. They’re a staple of Vietnamese life.

I actually prefer the banh mi’s from Phi Banh Mi (his special includes avocado) so check him out, and another frequented banh mi in Hoi An is Madam Khanh.

Banh Mì Phuong📍 2b Phan Chu Trinh
Phi Banh Mi📍 88 Thái Phiên
Madam Khanh – The Banh Mi Queen📍 115 Trần Cao Vân

Coffeeshops in Hoi An

Hoi An, like the rest of Vietnam, has no shortage of coffee shops to sit in and watch the world go by. A few local chains have opened up, such as Hoi An Roastery and Cocobox, but there are also lots of cute independent coffee shops. These are some worth scouting out for a morning of people watching.

• Hoi An Roastery
• Reaching Out Teahouse
• Mango Rooms

• Hai Cafe
• Cocobox
• Vietnam Sustainable Space

Where to stay in Hoi An

Hoi An has no shortage of places to stay for all budgets. There are two main areas I recommend staying in Hoi An; just outside the ancient city (where taxis can drop you off, but still easy walking distance) or near the beach (An Bang). I also recommend finding a hotel with free bicycle hire. I always book my accommodation with Booking.com* as their genius membership gets you deals with selected hotels in each destination. Here are some of the places I have stayed at in Hoi An:

Thanh Van Hotel* (I rate this one most highly for location and value)
Long Life Riverside Hotel*
Leo Leo hostel*
Hoa Binh hostel*

Daily budget

Hoi An is one of the more expensive destinations in Vietnam, which is unsurprising as it is the most popular stop on the tourist trail.

🍜 $20

Food in Hoi An can still be kept cheap as there are lots of street food spots, such as along the riverfront, the night market, and around the fringes of the ancient city (you could eat for as little as 150k/£6.50). However, there are also a lot of nice coffee shops and restaurants you will want to try so I would budget ~500k/$21.50 realistically for food a day.

🛏 $3.50 ++

Accommodation in Hoi An can be found for every budget, with dorm beds in hostels starting around ~80k and private rooms in nice hotels for as little as ~300k. Browse all accommodation options here*.

🚗 $8 +

If you plan on taking the bus to Hoi An, you can budget less than 400k. Flights will of course be more and you will need to budget in transport between Da Nang and Hoi An. Book travel transport here*

If travelling from Hue in the north then I recommend spending more to get an easy rider transfer along the Hai Van Pass which will set you back ~1 mil ($45).

📸 ~ $60

Hoi An in an of itself is a beautiful place to explore, meaning that if you are on a tight budget you could literally just wander around and relax by the beach. But there are also so many things to do that you could also end up spending a lot, especially if you like shopping.

Attraction ticket 💰 150k ($6.50)
Cooking class 💰 900k ($40)
My Son tour 💰 300k ($13)
Make a lantern 💰 370 – 450k ($16 – 20)

Daily budget: $50 +

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Meet Frances; Scottish lass turned Vietnam expat, and creator of this space. She can be found sippin’ ice tea’s and writing about her adventures from her sunny base of Saigon, Vietnam’s southern metropolis. All with a healthy side of researching her next road trip. With 5 years of living, travelling and scooting around Asia under her belt – let Frances be your guide to travelling the region.

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