Hoi An is a peaceful and ancient city on Vietnam's central coast and one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country. It is easily able to cater to the tastes of the travellers from all continents.
Why not take a look at our Hoi An travel guide to really discover what this wonderful city has to offer.
Hoi An overview
Traditional, welcoming and warm-hearted, this city is very laid-back and quiet compared to the vibrancy of its main cities like Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. This is an intriguing place that is jam-packed with sights to explore and still able to retain its old world charm. Its culinary scene is rated as one of the best in Southeast Asia, while the city is also rich in cheap tailors who are able to prepare the bespoke clothes in no time.
The architecture in Hoi An is a rich fusion of European, Vietnamese, Japanese and Chinese influence that dates back to the early 16th century. In its heyday, the Thu Bon River was constantly in use by merchant vessels that were involved in the world trade activities.
This city is rich in street side cafes, pagodas and historical homes. Other great attractions to experience on the Hoi An tour packages include the pristine beaches which are easily reached on a short bicycle ride.
How to get to Hoi An
The closest airport to the city of Hoi An is the Da Nang International Airport (DAD), which is about 30 km north of the city, and based in the heart of Da Nang city. From the airport, it is possible to take a car or a minibus journey to Hoi An which can take a further 40 to 45 minutes. The cost of this trip is likely to cost in the region of 108,000d-431,000d - although this does depend on the number of passengers on board. But a great positive of taking the car journey is the very scenic coastal route that is taken and includes sights of the local rice paddies and small towns.
Other forms of transport include the train and bus services. The town of Da Nang is the closest train station, which is then a short journey to Hoi An by taxi. For the bus service this is quite restricted with most of the routes limited to the Da Nang region. However, there are a few bus tour companies that offer direct travel to Hoi An which can help to avoid making the extra stops and changes in transport.
Hoi An is a relatively small city that makes it quite easy to get around the area without too much difficulty. There are certain periods of the day that restrict motorized vehicles in the old town, and throughout this time the streets are only open to cyclists and pedestrians. Bicycles are readily available to hire and make a cheap and reliable option to get to the beaches. Additionally, many of the local hotels provide guests with a bicycle at a minimal charge.
The cyclo is a great way to get around the old town with many waiting near the Quang Trieu Assembly Hall and an hour long ride can cost about 100,000 dong.
Food and drink
Hoi An is appreciated for its diverse range of dishes. From upscale restaurants to mobile carts, the food is of a very high standard and fabulously cheap with the way wide range of must tries including the white rose dumplings, Hoi An wontons, chicken, mi quang, cao lau, and some of the finest banh mi in the country. Additionally, there are plenty of food tours and cooking classes in the local area.
Most of the hotels and guesthouses in Hoi An are within a short distance of the historic old quarter, although there aren't that many places to stay that are directory within the confines. But those are can be quite expensive.
Hoi An is a perfect destination for the top range and mid-range travellers who are able to get a very nice hotel for about $50-$100 per night. For the low-cost accommodation for the backpacker, there are plenty of dorms that can cost in the region of $10 per night, but these are usually a good 10 to 15 minute walk from the town.
This city is an extremely popular itinerary destination on the Vietnam tour packages. The prices for the hotels and guesthouses can fluctuate with the season and demand. But for those tourists willing to travel in the low season it is possible to get deep discounts if booked early and online. Plus for those that are staying at the family run guesthouses, it is often possible to get a great bargain. However the more formal establishments like the hotels are less able to give discounts and will quote the standard prices.
Hoi An sports and activities
Most of the hotels in Hoi An provide the lowest price (roughly 20,000d-40,000d per day) or complimentary bicycles for guests to ride. A relaxed bicycle ride gives access to a very scenic workout that can get you to An Bang Beach within about a 20 min ride. This is a perfect destination to completely relax and enjoy the sun. For the more adventurous and energetic, there is the opportunity to travel to the Cua Dai lighthouse and the picturesque small village that is just further on.
One of the main highlights of a tour packages in Hoi An includes exploring the 15th century trading port on the Thu Bon River. There are several types of boats to hire and can range from 30,000 dong (rowing boat) to 100,000 dong (sunset cruise to a local fishing village). A trip to the Cham Islands on a speedboat is a really fun time and easy to arrange through a travel company or hotel.
Scuba Diving and Snorkelling
A visit to the UNESCO recognized site of Cham Islands makes it possible to explore nearly 165 hectares of coral reef and over 945 species of marine life. With these islands just 25 miles off the Hoi An coastline, this is a great destination for scuba diving and snorkelling. The underwater landscape is very scenic and rich in macro life. For the less experienced divers, there is the opportunity to sign up for a PADI-certified course with prices starting in the region of 1 million dong for a single day course to 7,000,000 dong for the more complete three-day open water course.
Things to do in Hoi An
Bamboo beach huts
For the more unique accommodation in the local area, it may be worth a visit to one of the bamboo beach huts. The Under the Coconut Tree huts are situated about 2 minutes from An Bang beach and nearly 10 km from Hoi An's old town. This type of accommodation is perfect for those that enjoy the laid back atmosphere that has the open-air dormitory. This Vietnamese-run hostel is very popular and listed in many of the Hoi An travel guide must-see places and can cost about hundred 75,000 Vietnam Dong for the dorm beds or 600,000 Vietnam Dong for the private rooms.
Cua Dai and An Bang beach are relatively close to the city of Hoi An and a really relaxing place to visit in the afternoon. The beach at Cua Dai has been designated one of Vietnam's UNESCO World Heritage sites - although both of these beaches are able to offer clear waters and white sand, and are able to offer high-quality beach side restaurants. Plus, it is also possible to have the food served to you while you are relaxing on the beach.
The Hoi An tour packages with cycling in mind are a really great way to fully appreciate this charming city. The fully guided tour around the city makes it possible to see the best sites and learn about the local economy and history. A morning bicycle tour for a small group can cost in the region of 280,000 dong. Most of these tours are easily booked at your hotel, guesthouse or hostel, but it is best to include in your Vietnam tour package when planning your Vietnam holiday at Vivutravel.
The Central market is a great destination for those that love to shop. It is among the finest markets in Vietnam and is conveniently placed on the river side and perfect to buy local food, souvenirs, gifts and spices. Because of its riverside location, there are plenty of food dishes at the very affordable prices. Additionally, there is a local fish market that is really worth a visit.
Similar to many of the tourist cities enjoyed with Vietnam travel is the ability to sign up for a cooking lesson to fully appreciate the Vietnamese cuisine. Lessons are available at many of the restaurants that also include the process of preparing and picking the raw ingredients. It's even possible to start the day with a 5 AM fishing trip to catch the fresh ingredients. A 4 to 6 hour cooking lesson can cost around 550,000 Vietnam Dong.
Da Nang city
A visit to Da Nang city makes it possible to explore further out from Hoi An. This is a bigger city and is famous for its great beaches and the Marble Mountains. This city also has a very vibrant party scene that is great for the occasional night out.
The Marble Mountains range is about 20 km north of Hoi An and consists of five mountainous regions. In addition to offering the natural features, this region is also home to different pagodas, with several serving as a base for the Vietcong fighters for the duration of the war.
Explore My Son
The My Son ruins were classified as one of Vietnam's UNESCO World Heritage sites in the year 2000. This is a very potent site that relates to the ancient kingdom of Champa. Even though this site is in a quite ruined state, it is still very impressive to explore and was once Vietnam’s intellectual and religious centre.
Full Moon Festival
One of the best times to visit Hoi An is within the full Moon Festival which takes place monthly on the 14th day of the lunar cycle. The streets are lined with brightly coloured lanterns and shut down to road traffic for the duration of the festival. This is a perfect opportunity to party with the local people because the streets are lively with dancing, plays and folk music.
Fukian Assembly Hall
The Fukian Assembly Hall was built in 1697 and is a perfect example of Chinese architecture. The main temple has been dedicated to Thien Hau, who is the goddess of the sea, while other statues include Thien Ly Nhan and Thuan Phong Nhi which are believed to protect the sailor that is distressed. Additionally, there is also a sailboat at the scale model size inside the temple.
Japanese Covered Bridge
The Japanese Covered Bridge is believed to be constructed in the late 16th century by Hoi An's Japanese community, which makes a great historic destination to explore and a perfect site for taking photographs.
Museum of Folk Culture
The Museum of Folk Culture is quite small but has the job of preserving the traditions that relate to the dress of Vietnamese culture in the rural districts. It has a variety of exhibits that include figures in costumes which make it really easy to appreciate what the past culture was like.
There are several houses throughout Hoi An that have transferred the interior into a museum like state that makes it possible for the tourist to get a first-hand view for the locals in the pre-colonial and colonial periods. The most impressive old houses to visit include the Duc An and Tan Ky homes.
Quan Cong Temple
The Quan Cong Temple was built to honour the Chin Dynasty in the 17th century, but today it is a thriving tourist attraction that is able to display spectacular architecture. Inside the actual temple are statues of Quan Cong, Chau Xuong (adopted son) and one of Quan Cong’s protectors.
Tra Que Vegetable Village
A great day to cycle around the villages of Hoi An to see the rice paddy fields and farming activities before reaching Tra Que Vegetable Village to learn how to farm. An interesting tour for family.
It is so nice to walk to Hoi An's night market to shop for local sovenirs like coloful lanterns, taste delicious Hoi An's food along the Hoai River. If you are romanic enough, take the boat trip in front of the Japanese Bridge to see the ancient town in sparkling lights.
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