hoi an wanderlist best things to do vietnam old town river

Hoi An is one of the most charming and romantic towns in all of South-East Asia. The colonial streets with their yellow walls and dark wood shutters, basking in the romantic light of hanging lanterns, beckon all who travel to Vietnam. Hoi An is famed as one of the most densely populated areas of tailors, but there is so much more to this ancient city than shopping (though still an acceptable reason to visit). This complete Hoi An Wanderlist guides you through the best things to do in Hoi An.

Explore the ancient city attractions

The ancient city area of Hoi An is home to a selection of sites to explore, such as pagodas, town halls and ancient houses that remain unchanged. One ticket grants you access to 5 sites of your choosing.

💰150k per ticket that gives you access to 5 attractions
Ticket Office📍Trần Phú, Phường Minh An, Hội An (opposite the Japanese bridge)

hoi an wanderlist best things to do Vietnam Japanese covered bridge old town

Japanese Covered Bridge

Hoi An was once a bustling port with all different nationalities calling it home. Originally the town was divided along the river, with the Japanese community on one side, and the Chinese on the other. The Japanese bridge linked the two communities together, hence it has features from both cultures. It is now one of the most iconic buildings in Hoi An.

Japanese Covered Bridge📍Nguyễn Thị Minh Khai

Old houses

Being an ancient city, Hoi An is the best place in Vietnam to get a glimpse of what life looked like in the colonial past. Some of the houses in Hoi An have been maintained how they were in the past so you can see for yourself!

Duc An House📍129 Trần Phú
Tan Ky House📍101 Nguyễn Thái Học
Phung Hung House📍4 Nguyễn Thị Minh Khai


The majority of temples in Hoi An, of which there are a lot, are of Chinese origin.

Quan Cong Temple📍24 Trần Phú
Guang Gong Temple📍Phường Minh An
Assembly Hall Of Fujian Chinese📍46 Trần Phú
Marble Temple📍6 Nguyễn Thái Học
Minh Huong Assembly Hall📍Trần Phú
Cam Pho Communal House📍52 Nguyễn Thị Minh Khai

Get lost wandering around the ancient town

Going for a lazy wander around the old city is the perfect way to acclimatise. Take in the yellow washed houses, the dark wood interiors and the lanterns swinging above. Or rent a bicycle and cycle around the city (most accommodation* offer rentals for $1/2). If you can’t walk or cycle, get a cyclo! The area next to the Japanese bridge is where drivers wait for rides.

hoi an wanderlist best things to do vietnam cycling old townCycle through the Hoi An countryside

A short 10 min bicycle ride from the ancient city with find yourself in the Hoi An countryside, surrounded by rice fields and buffalos. Exploring the countryside around Hoi An is a great way to see local life in Vietnam. The land around Hoi An is very flat and easy to cycle around. This guide shares a route you can take to see some of the countryside around Hoi An, as well as a list of more adventurous tours you could book.

💰 $1-2 to hire a bicycle
⏰ 2hr +

Take a cooking class in Hoi An

Hoi An is home to some of the best cookery classes in Vietnam. Join a class to learn some of the most iconic Vietnamese dishes. I did a class with Thuan Tinh Cooking School which was excellent, though there are many others you could pick from too.

💰 $30-50 / ~1 million

hoi an wanderlist best things to do vietnam cycling countryside marketExplore Hoi An central market

Hoi An Central Market is a hive of energy, where locals come to buy their groceries each morning. You will find tailors inside and lots of shops selling straw bags and baskets around the fringes of the market.

⏰ 7-8am is the best time, though the market remains open all day.

Get clothes tailor-made in Hoi An

One of the biggest draws to Hoi An is the abundance of tailors that can make you anything from dresses and suits, to belts, bags and shoes with an insanely quick turnaround. Over the years I’ve had clothes tailormade at Bebe Tailor, and leather shoes, belts and a holdall made. Read more:

There She Goes Again ✍️ What We Got Made from Hoi An Tailors
Anywhere and Avery Where ✍️ The Best Tailor In Hoi An + Step By Step Guide To Hoi An Tailors

Relax at An Bang beach

The white sand beach at An Bang is a quick 20-minute bicycle ride outside of the ancient city, making it the perfect place to relax. The best way to experience An Bang beach is to head to one of the many restaurants which line the beach, so you can use their sun loungers. We headed to The Fisherman Vegan restaurant on my last trip and used their loungers all day.

The Fisherman Vegan Restaurant & Cafe & Bar📍Cẩm An, Biển An Bàng

You will likely be harassed by parking attendants as you arrive at the beach. You don’t need to pay for parking at the lots as you pull up to An Bang beach, if you are going to a restaurant you can park there for free. If you do want to park there do not pay more than the standard 10k.

See lanterns light up the yellow streets

Don’t skip seeing Hoi An at night. The streets are adorned with hanging lanterns and it is nothing short of magical to see them light the night sky. But it’s also cooler which makes it a great time to do some shopping.

⏰ The afternoon is the quietest, but also the hottest time to explore. Evenings are busy due to the cooler weather.

hoi an wanderlist best things to do vietnam lanterns old townMake a lantern in Hoi An

As a city adorned with hanging lanterns, it’s pretty fitting to create your beautiful silk lantern while in Hoi An. I haven’t seen classes like this offered elsewhere in Vietnam, so Hoi An is the place to learn. Hidden Hoi An offers lantern-making classes.

Browse the night market

Hoi An night market is one of the better markets I’ve seen in Vietnam, selling a range of locally made and more tasteful items. You can find lanterns, lots of silver jewellery and bags. The standard tourist items which are sold all over Vietnam are also sold here, but there is a better mix of taste and tat than you’ll find in other markets across the country. Don’t forget to bargain!

⏰ 6pm until late
Hoi An Night Market📍Nguyễn Hoàng, Hội An

hoi an wanderlist best things to do vietnam river boat rideTake a boat ride at sunset

Is there anything more romantic? A leisurely sunset boat ride allows you to soak up the atmosphere while being removed from the crowds.

💰~50k per person on the boat. I recommend tipping.
📍 Vendors offer boats along both sides of the Thu Bon River.

I know it’s beautiful to see, but please consider the environmental impact of floating lanterns down the river. The local community does weekly clean-ups along the river to remove the plastic lanterns.

Eat the local specialities

There are a number of dishes that are famous in Hoi An, like Cao Lau, white rose dumplings, the local chicken and rice. There are also a number of famous spots to eat banh mi in Hoi An, most notably is Banh Mi Phuong, which chef Anthony Bourdain professed as his favourite banh mi in Vietnam.

Tea Tasting at Reaching Out

The beautiful Reaching Out Teahouse in the heart of the Hoi An old town not only offers the perfect people-watching spot but also delicious tea and a worthwhile cause. All of the staff are deaf, and they urge you to also enjoy your tea in quiet. The whole experience is very humbling. The profits go back into the community, funding training for those with physical disabilities to develop skills that will help them to find work.

💰 Drinks ~60-80k / snacks from 30k
⏰ Weekdays from 8:30-21:00 / weekends from 10-20:30
Reaching Out Teahouse📍131 Trần Phú, Sơn Phong, Hội An

hoi an wanderlist best things to do vietnam reaching out teahouse

Take a day trip to My Son Sanctuary

My Son is a cluster of ancient Champa temples set in a mountain valley about 1.5 hrs from Hoi An. The temples are Hindu and dedicated to Shiva. They date from the 4th-14th century, around the same time as the temples of Angkor in Cambodia. Now protected by UNESCO, the temples were subject to bombing during the Vietnam-America war, destroying some of the temples.

Do a sunrise tour to see the ruins when it is quiet and cooler. My Son gets busy later in the morning.

💰tickets are 150k. We paid 150k for the bus trip there.
⏰ Half-day tours leave ~8am and returning before lunch.

If I visit again I think I’ll rent a motorbike and do a road trip, but as the roads are mostly winding, country roads you should take caution. (You can rent a motorbike in Hoi An for ~150k a day). We booked a bus tour through my accommodation and all the travel agents offer this day trip.

Planning a trip to Hoi An

Hoi An is one of the most popular stops in Vietnam, and I hope this guide has given you some inspiration for how to spend your time in this charming town.

✍️ For details on how to get to Hoi An, what to eat there and where to sleep, as well as a budget, check out my Hoi An travel guide.

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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