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Hoi An Travel guide – The Ultimate Guide to Visit Hoi An, Vietnam

May 20, 2024

Hoi An, a charming ancient town located in central Vietnam, has long been a popular destination for travelers seeking a glimpse into the country’s rich history and culture. With its well-preserved traditional architecture, picturesque riverside setting, and delectable cuisine, Hoi An offers a unique and immersive experience that captivates visitors from around the world. Whether you’re planning a romantic getaway, a family vacation, or a solo adventure, this ultimate Hoi An travel guide will help you make the most of your time in this enchanting destination.

Things to know before visiting Hoi An

Hoi An, Vietnam

Hoi An, Vietnam

1. Where is Hoi An?

Hoi An is situated in the Quang Nam province of central Vietnam, approximately 30 kilometers south of the city of Da Nang. The town lies along the banks of the Thu Bon River, just a few kilometers from the South China Sea. This strategic location has played a significant role in Hoi An’s history, as it was once a major trading port and a hub for international commerce.

2. How to get to Hoi An, Vietnam?

Arriving by Plane

The closest international airport to Hoi An is Da Nang International Airport, located approximately 30 kilometers north of the town. From the airport, you can take a taxi, book a private transfer, or use a ride-sharing service to reach Hoi An. The journey typically takes around 45 minutes to an hour, depending on traffic conditions.

Arriving by Train

Another option for reaching Hoi An is to take a train to Da Nang and then transfer to a taxi or bus to reach your final destination. The train journey from major cities like Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City can take several hours, but it’s a scenic and comfortable way to travel.

Arriving by Bus

Several bus companies offer direct services to Hoi An from cities and towns throughout Vietnam. This can be a more budget-friendly option, especially for travelers on a tight schedule or those looking to explore the surrounding areas.

3. The Best Time to Visit Hoi An

The best time to visit Hoi An is generally considered to be during the dry season, which runs from February to August. During this period, the weather is warm and sunny, making it an ideal time to explore the town’s outdoor sights and enjoy the bustling riverside atmosphere.

That being said, Hoi An can be visited year-round, and each season offers its own unique charms. The rainy season, from September to January, can bring cooler temperatures and occasional downpours, but it also means fewer crowds and a more tranquil atmosphere. The Lunar New Year (Tet) celebrations in late January or early February are also a popular time to visit, as the town comes alive with vibrant decorations, traditional performances, and lively festivities.

4. Check Vietnam Visa Requirements

Before traveling to Hoi An, it’s important to check the current visa requirements for Vietnam. Depending on your nationality and the purpose of your visit, you may need to obtain a visa in advance or apply for a visa upon arrival.

The Vietnamese government offers several visa options, including tourist visas, business visas, and e-visas. It’s recommended to research the visa requirements well in advance and plan accordingly to ensure a smooth entry into the country.

Things to do & What to see in Hoi An

Japanese Covered Bridge, Hoi An

Japanese Covered Bridge, Hoi An

Hoi An is a treasure trove of cultural and historical attractions, and there’s no shortage of things to see and do in this charming town. From exploring the well-preserved architecture to indulging in the local cuisine, here are some of the top highlights and must-visit destinations in Hoi An.

1. Explore the Ancient Town

The heart of Hoi An is the Ancient Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is renowned for its well-preserved traditional architecture and historical buildings. As you wander through the narrow streets, you’ll be transported back in time, with sights like the iconic Japanese Covered Bridge, the vibrant Hoi An Market, and the colorful merchant houses lining the riverfront.

2. Visit the Lantern-Lit Old Town

One of the most enchanting experiences in Hoi An is exploring the Old Town at night, when the streets come alive with the glow of hundreds of colorful lanterns. The town’s ancient architecture is beautifully illuminated, creating a magical and romantic atmosphere. Take a leisurely stroll, browse the lantern shops, and soak in the lively ambiance of this historic district.

3. Discover the Iconic Hoi An Bridges

Hoi An is renowned for its unique and visually stunning bridges, each with its own distinct history and architectural style. The most famous is the Japanese Covered Bridge, a 400-year-old structure that is considered one of the town’s most iconic landmarks. Other notable bridges include the Chua Cau (Bridge of Lights) and the Lai Vien Kieu Bridge, both of which offer stunning views of the Thu Bon River.

4. Admire the Ornate Temples and Pagodas

Hoi An is home to a rich tapestry of religious and cultural sites, including a number of beautifully preserved temples and pagodas. Some of the most notable include the Quan Cong Temple, a stunning Taoist temple known for its intricate wood carvings, and the Chuc Thanh Pagoda, a historic Buddhist pagoda with a distinctive architectural style.

5. Immerse Yourself in Local Culture

Hoi An’s vibrant culture is on full display through its many festivals, workshops, and community events. Attend a traditional lantern-making workshop, witness a colorful dragon dance performance, or join in the festivities during the Lunar New Year celebration. These immersive cultural experiences offer a unique glimpse into the heart and soul of Hoi An.

6. Explore the Surrounding Countryside

Hoi An’s charm extends beyond the boundaries of the Ancient Town, with a lush and picturesque countryside waiting to be explored. Consider taking a bicycle or motorcycle tour to discover the region’s scenic rice paddies, traditional villages, and tranquil waterways. You might even stumble upon a local family home or a charming riverside cafe.

7. Enjoy the Beaches and Coastal Areas

Hoi An’s coastal location grants easy access to some of Vietnam’s most beautiful beaches. Take a day trip to the stunning Cua Dai Beach, where you can relax on the golden sands, go for a swim, or try your hand at water sports. The nearby An Bang Beach is also a popular spot, known for its laid-back atmosphere and stunning sunsets.

Must-Eat Specialty Dishes in Hoi An

Specialty Dishes in Hoi An

Specialty Dishes in Hoi An

Hoi An is renowned for its vibrant and diverse culinary scene, offering a unique blend of Vietnamese and international flavors. From traditional street food to upscale dining experiences, the town is a true haven for food lovers. Here are some of the must-try specialty dishes in Hoi An.

1. Cao Lau

Cao Lau is the quintessential dish of Hoi An, and it’s one that you simply can’t leave the town without trying. This noodle dish features thick, chewy noodles that are made using water from a specific local well, giving them a unique texture and flavor. The noodles are served with sliced roast pork, crispy croutons, and a flavorful broth, creating a symphony of tastes and textures.

2. Banh Mi

The Vietnamese sandwich, known as Banh Mi, is a beloved street food that you’ll find in abundance throughout Hoi An. These baguette-style sandwiches are filled with a variety of ingredients, such as roast pork, pâté, pickled vegetables, and fragrant herbs. The Banh Mi in Hoi An is often considered one of the best in the country, with many vendors proudly showcasing their family recipes.

3. Hoi An Speciality Dumplings

Hoi An is famous for its diverse array of dumplings, each with its own unique fillings and preparation methods. Some of the must-try varieties include Banh Bao Vac (also known as “white rose” dumplings), Banh Vac (shrimp dumplings), and Banh It Tran (small, round dumplings filled with pork and shrimp).

4. Mi Quang

Mi Quang is a regional noodle dish that originated in the Quang Nam province, where Hoi An is located. This hearty dish features broad, flat rice noodles served in a flavorful broth, topped with a variety of proteins such as shrimp, pork, or chicken, as well as fresh herbs and crunchy peanuts.

5. Wonton Soup

Hoi An’s take on wonton soup is a local specialty that should not be missed. The wontons are delicately wrapped and filled with a delicious combination of minced pork, shrimp, and fragrant herbs, floating in a savory broth that is often infused with turmeric or other spices.

6. Che

Che is a traditional Vietnamese dessert with a wide variety of sweet, colorful, and often texturally complex preparations. In Hoi An, you’ll find an array of Che vendors offering unique concoctions, from the classic Che Bap (corn pudding) to the more inventive Che Chuoi (banana in coconut milk).

Best Hoi An Accommodation

Silk Luxury Hotel Hoi An

Silk Luxury Hotel Hoi An

Hoi An offers a diverse range of accommodation options, from charming boutique hotels and historic inns to modern resorts and budget-friendly hostels. Choosing the right place to stay can greatly enhance your overall experience in this enchanting town. Here are some of the best places to consider for your Hoi An visit.

1. Historic Inns and Boutique Hotels

Hoi An’s historic center is home to a number of beautifully restored inns and boutique hotels that offer a glimpse into the town’s rich past. These properties often feature traditional Vietnamese architecture, meticulously preserved details, and a warm, intimate atmosphere. Some of the most renowned options include the Hoi An Chic, the Ancient House Resort, and the Silk Luxury Hotel.

2. Riverside Resorts

Capitalizing on Hoi An’s picturesque riverfront setting, many resorts in the area offer stunning views and easy access to the town’s attractions. The Sunrise Premium Resort & Spa, the Palm Garden Beach Resort & Spa, and the Victoria Hoi An Beach Resort & Spa are all popular choices for travelers seeking a luxurious and relaxing stay.

3. Budget-Friendly Accommodations

For travelers on a tighter budget, Hoi An also has a variety of affordable hostels, guest houses, and budget hotels that provide clean, comfortable, and conveniently located accommodations. Some well-reviewed options include the Hoi An Sincerity Homestay, the Hoi An Pho Hoi Riverside Lodge, and the Hoi An Trails Resort.

4. Unique Homestay Experiences

Immersing yourself in the local culture is an essential part of the Hoi An experience, and staying in a traditional Vietnamese homestay is an excellent way to do so. These intimate accommodations offer the chance to interact with friendly host families, learn about their daily lives, and enjoy home-cooked meals in a genuine, residential setting.

5. Luxury Villas and Apartments

For travelers seeking more privacy and space, Hoi An offers a range of high-end villas and apartments that provide a luxurious home-away-from-home experience. These accommodations often feature private pools, stunning river or garden views, and top-notch amenities, catering to the needs of families, groups, or those seeking a more exclusive retreat.

Some Suggested Itineraries for a Tour in Hoi An

To help you make the most of your time in Hoi An, here are a few suggested itineraries that cover the town’s must-see sights and experiences:

1. One-Day Highlights Tour

  • Start your day with a stroll through the colorful Hoi An Market, where you can browse the local produce, street food stalls, and handicraft vendors.
  • Cross the iconic Japanese Covered Bridge and explore the well-preserved historic buildings in the Ancient Town.
  • Visit the Quan Cong Temple and learn about the town’s rich cultural heritage.
  • Enjoy a leisurely lunch at one of the riverside restaurants, sampling local specialties like Cao Lau or Banh Mi.
  • In the afternoon, explore the charming side streets, browse the artisan shops, and experience the magic of the Old Town at night.

2. Two-Day Itinerary in Hoi An

  • On the first day, follow the one-day highlights tour and immerse yourself in the history and culture of Hoi An.
  • On the second day, venture out of the Ancient Town and explore the surrounding countryside. Take a cycling or motorcycle tour to discover traditional villages, rice paddies, and the Tra Que Vegetable Village.
  • In the afternoon, visit the beautiful Cua Dai Beach or the nearby An Bang Beach to enjoy the coastal scenery and relax.

3. Three-Day Itinerary in Hoi An

  • Spend the first two days following the one-day and two-day itineraries to cover the main sights and experiences in Hoi An.
  • On the third day, take a day trip to the nearby Cham Islands, a UNESCO-recognized archipelago known for its pristine beaches, snorkeling, and traditional fishing communities.
  • Alternatively, you could also visit the ancient ruins of My Son, a UNESCO World Heritage Site located just an hour’s drive from Hoi An, to learn about the Champa Kingdom’s rich history.

4. One-Week Itinerary in Hoi An

  • Spend the first few days exploring Hoi An and its surrounding areas, following the previous itineraries.
  • Dedicate a day or two to exploring the coastal areas, including the picturesque Cua Dai Beach and the charming fishing village of An Bang.
  • Take a day trip to the Cham Islands or the My Son Sanctuary to immerse yourself in the region’s cultural and historical heritage.
  • Spend the remaining days relaxing, indulging in the local cuisine, and exploring the vibrant arts and crafts scene in Hoi An.

Shopping in Hoi An

Hoi An Handicraft Workshop

Hoi An Handicraft Workshop

Hoi An is a shopper’s paradise, offering a wide array of unique and handcrafted goods that make for perfect souvenirs and gifts. From traditional textiles and ceramics to custom-made clothing and leather goods, the town’s markets, boutiques, and workshops are a treasure trove for discerning shoppers.

1. Hoi An Market

The central Hoi An Market is a bustling hub where you can find a diverse range of local produce, handicrafts, and souvenirs. Haggle with the friendly vendors and discover unique items like hand-woven baskets, handmade lanterns, and artisanal ceramics.

2. Tailored Clothing and Accessories

Hoi An is renowned for its exceptional tailoring services, with numerous shops and workshops offering custom-made apparel, from suits and dresses to shoes and bags. Take advantage of the town’s skilled artisans and have a piece of clothing or a leather accessory created to your exact specifications.

3. Silk and Embroidery

Hoi An is celebrated for its rich textile traditions, and you can find a wide variety of exquisite silk products, from luxurious scarves and shawls to stunning wall hangings and home decor items. Many shops also offer embroidery services, allowing you to personalize your purchases.

4. Ceramics and Pottery

The region surrounding Hoi An is known for its skilled ceramic and pottery artisans, and the town is home to numerous workshops and galleries showcasing their intricate and visually stunning creations. From functional tableware to decorative sculptures, these handcrafted pieces make for wonderful souvenirs.

5. Lanterns and Handicrafts

Hoi An’s iconic lanterns are a must-buy item for many visitors, and you’ll find an array of designs, sizes, and materials to choose from. Additionally, the town is renowned for its skilled artisans who produce a wide range of other handcrafted items, such as woven baskets, wooden carvings, and lacquerware.

FAQs

1. What is the best way to get around Hoi An?

The compact size of Hoi An’s Ancient Town makes it an incredibly walk able destination, and many visitors choose to explore the historic center on foot. However, for those who want to venture further afield, renting a bicycle or motorbike is a popular and convenient option.

2. Is Hoi An safe for solo travelers?

Hoi An is generally considered a safe destination for solo travelers, with a low crime rate and a welcoming, friendly atmosphere. As with any travel destination, it’s always important to exercise basic safety precautions, such as being aware of your surroundings and keeping your valuables secure.

3. What is the weather like in Hoi An?

Hoi An hasa tropical climate, with two distinct seasons: a wet season from September to January and a dry season from February to August. The average temperature in Hoi An ranges from 25°C to 30°C, making it a pleasant destination to visit throughout the year. However, the best time to visit Hoi An is during the dry season when you can enjoy sunny days and clear skies.

4. What are some cultural etiquettes to keep in mind in Hoi An?

When visiting Hoi An, it’s important to respect the local customs and traditions. Here are a few cultural etiquettes to keep in mind:

  • Dress Code: While Hoi An is a tourist-friendly town, it’s essential to dress modestly when visiting temples or pagodas. Avoid wearing revealing clothing and opt for respectful attire that covers your shoulders and knees.
  • Shoes Off: When entering someone’s home or a sacred place, it’s customary to remove your shoes as a sign of respect.
  • Greetings: A simple “Xin chào” (hello) and a smile can go a long way when interacting with locals. Learn a few basic Vietnamese phrases to show your interest in the culture.
  • Respecting Elders: In Vietnamese culture, elders are highly respected. Use polite language and gestures when speaking to older individuals.

By observing these cultural etiquettes, you can show respect for the local customs and create positive interactions with the people of Hoi An.


In conclusion, Hoi An is undoubtedly a gem of Vietnam, offering a perfect blend of history, culture, and charm. From its well-preserved Ancient Town to its mouthwatering cuisine and vibrant shopping scene, this picturesque town has something to offer every traveler.

Before visiting Hoi An, make sure to familiarize yourself with its location, transportation options, visa requirements, and the best time to visit. Once you arrive, immerse yourself in the local culture by exploring the historic sites, savoring the delicious dishes, and indulging in some souvenir shopping.

Whether you’re planning a one-day highlights tour or a week-long adventure, Hoi An will captivate you with its beauty and authenticity. So pack your bags, set out on an unforgettable journey, and discover the magic of Hoi An for yourself.

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