Hoi An is a place that has be high on my list for a long time. I dreamed of seeing the iconic yellow-painted walls with bright pink bougainvillea hanging over them, the famous lanterns that are strung through the city, and the river filled with small wooden boats that cuts through the old town. That’s why I knew that this stop needed to be my longest in Vietnam – And so, I began planning my itinerary to spend five days in Hoi An.
When I began planning I realized there are endless things to do in Hoi An that you could spend weeks there. But since our itinerary allowed for five days in Hoi An, I was determined to make the most of it. And I came up with this comprehensive guide of all the things to do in Hoi An (and eat!).
See Also: A Complete City Guide to Hanoi.
how should you spend your five days in hoi an? read on to find out!
where is hoi an located?
Hoi An is in central Vietnam, about 45 minutes outside of Da Nang, along Vietnam’s eastern coast. Located close to the coast, it is also surrounded by mountainous terrain and you can easily see the mountains in the distance. This make for some seriously beautiful views.
how to get to hoi an?
Most people arrive in Hoi An via Da Nang. Depending where you are coming from, there are many ways to get to Hoi An. Here are some tips on how to get to Hoi An from some of Vietnam’s largest hubs:
How to get to Hoi An from Hanoi: We arrived to Hoi An from Hanoi by plane (via Da Nang). Because we only had two and a half weeks in Vietnam, we opted to fly because it was the most efficient way to get from Hanoi to Hoi An. We arranged for a driver to pick us up at Da Nang airport and drive us to our hotel in Hoi An for roughly 275,000 VND or 12 USD. Hotels are often eager and willing to help arrange these services, so reach out to your hotel to arrange it prior to arriving in Da Nang. Alternatively, you can take the bus or the train from Hanoi (it takes about 12-14 hours, so many people opt to take this journey overnight and sleep on the way – and you save on accommodations for a night!).
How to get to Hoi An from Ho Chi Minh City: You can arrive from Ho Chi Minh City the same way as Hanoi – by plane to Da Nang, bus, or train.
Between these major hubs, you can also hop on buses or trains (and in some places, planes). Generally speaking, with transportation in Vietnam, I have found that it is always best to consult your hotel or hostel to help you make these arrangements and to make sure you don’t get scammed when booking private cars, buses, or trains.
A note on taxi scams: I would advise against using taxis in Vietnam, especially with airport pickups, because they have been known to scam tourists. If you’re looking for a safe taxi service, download the Grab app (Vietnam’s version of Lyft or Uber). You can confirm your ride through the app to ensure you are getting a fair price for the service.
things to do in hoi an
wander through the old town
Let’s start with the most obvious one because reality is, you’ll likely spend tons of time in the Hoi An Old Town. Deemed a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the epicenter of Hoi An is straight out of a Vietnam postcard. Wander around the yellow-walled streets, down the alleyways… and just get lost. Stumble upon temples and browse the shops. My favourite shop is Sunday, where they have the most perfect handmade goods (and very Instagram-friendly walls, shown below). If you’re interested in shopping, I also love Mui the Label. Make sure you stop to grab a Vietnamese coffee at one of the charming cafes, and just people watch. Hoi An Old Town is the perfect place to do it.
Price to Visit Hoi An Old Town: 120,000 VND or 5 USD per person. At the entrances to the Old Town, you’ll notice ticket booths. While they don’t enforce ticket sales, they will check that you have a ticket if you want to visit the temples scattered throughout the Old Town. Even if you don’t intend to visit temples, be a responsible traveller and buy a ticket. It is a very small price to pay that goes back into the preservation of the Old Town so others can enjoy it for years to come.
gets clothes tailored
My custom tailoring experience was one of my favourite memories in Hoi An. Because we were visiting during the Lunar New Year, many tailors were closed, and our options are limited. I decided to connect with Bebe Tailor, the most famous tailor in Hoi An. I was a bit skeptical to work with Bebe Tailor because they have been known to be a bit expensive versus other tailors. But, I decided to try it out and got two dresses made.
In the end, I am so happy I chose Bebe. They were true professionals and their attention to detail and level of craftsmanship was first class. They were able to create both dresses in 24 hours (with two fittings in between), using premium materials, they turned out perfect. Never have I ever had such perfectly fitting clothing before and they truly understood my vision.
The price tag wasn’t “cheap” at 200 USD for both dresses (Sebastian also got a custom shirt made for 40 USD). But compared to the cost of a custom service at home, this was still very reasonable. And the experience itself was so special. I’ve never loved a vacation souvenir more!
If you’re looking for cheaper options, here’s a few that others recommended to me: Yaly Couture, Ca Li Tailor, and IZI Wear.
visit the best hoi an temples
There are loads of beautiful temples scattered throughout the centre of Hoi An. They weren’t particularly busy while we were there in January (with the exception of the Japanese Bridge), but I have been told they can get really crowded during peak season… So make sure to head there early. Here’s a few of my favourites:
- Cantonese Assembly Hall
- Phuc Kien Assembly
- The Japanese Bridge
- Pháp Bảo Temple
- Chùa Long Tuyền
Don’t forget that these are places of worship and please dress appropriately (that means covering your shoulders and knees).
Price to Visit Hoi An Temples: You will need to buy a ticket at the entrance to the Old Town for 120,000 VND or 5 USD per person. With this, you can visit five attractions.
bike around the hoi an rice fields
Biking around the Hoi An rice fields was so fun – in fact, we did it twice. The rice fields outside of Hoi An are beautiful, with paths zig-zagging throughout them so you can easy navigate your way through. We spent so much time biking through the lush green fields, stopping frequently to admire the horses, water buffalo and locals working in the fields – while rarely ever running into anyone else. It amazed me that this seemingly hidden gem, where locals lived their very normal lives tending to their rice farms, existed only a short bike ride from the busy city centre.
Take a look at this map below for suggested where to bike in the Hoi An rice fields, as well as marked locations of some of my favourite spots to capture photos. Note: If you put directions in Google Maps, they will lead you down the busy Ha Bai Trung street. Avoid this street and cut up through the rice fields through the entrances marked.
visit the best beach in hoi an
On the other side of the Hoi An rice fields, you’ll find the best beach in Hoi An: An Bang Beach. By bike, you can easily reach the beach, where you’ll be able to rent a chair. We opted both times to rent our beach chairs at Seaside (we paid 60,000 VND, or less than 3.00 USD, and the spot also offered full-service beach side drinks and food, wifi, and a bathroom).
While you’re at An Bang Beach, make sure you check out Sound of Silence Coffee Shop. I had heard a lot about this spot prior to visiting An Bang Beach, and this cutesy little coffee shop was a fantastic beach side escape for iced coffees. If you’re looking for a good photo spot on An Bang Beach, you can find the swing shown above outside the Sound of Silence beach entrance.
Note: I wasn’t able to locate Seaside on Google Maps, but I have pinned the location of it in the map at the end of this article. However, the easiest way to get there is to head to Sound of Silence Coffee Shop, and head down the pathway to the right side of the shop toward the beach.
visit the hoi an night market
The Night Market in Hoi An is where the city comes alive. Here you’ll find stalls lit up with the famous Hoi An lanterns lining the side of the street. There are tons of vendors selling all kinds of souvenirs and many street food joints, too.
We bought a few souvenirs for friends and family here (make sure to haggle – we were typically able to knock 30-40% off the starting price). My only real regret is that I couldn’t fit a lantern in my backpack to bring home with me (if you’re travelling with a suitcase, buy one – they are beautiful).
While you’re visiting the Hoi An Night market, you can take a ride on the river in one of the beautifully decorated boats. I was skeptical to do this, because it looked very touristy. But then on our very last night this Vietnamese women followed us around for fifteen minutes trying to convince us to get into her boat. We were so impressed by her hustle game that we gave in and went for a ride (for roughly 100,000 VND or just over 4 USD). Seeing the river lit up at night was beautiful, but I honestly wouldn’t be quick to do it again. It was just as pretty looking at it from the shoreline.
take a class at the best cooking class in hoi an
One of my absolute favourite mornings in Hanoi was spending a morning with Hoi An Eco Cooking Class. The experience was hands-on and immersive. And I am still dreaming about the food! We’ve tried to recreate it at home… but it just isn’t the same (guess that means I need to book a flight back to Hoi An).
But seriously, I couldn’t imagine a more fun morning and it was an easy highlight. We made our own rice paper over a burning hot fire, rolled fresh spring rolls, fried sizzling pancakes, and just had so much fun. This was also an allergy-friendly cooking class in Hoi An for anyone travelling with nut allergies in Vietnam. If you have any allergies reach out and ask if they can accommodate. I was so impressed by their hospitality.
Important Tip: Use the correct link to book the class (there are some imitations out there that hotels will point you toward because they earn commissions). Make sure you FOLLOW THIS LINK to book directly with Hoi An Eco Cooking Class on their website (feel free to tell them that I sent you, if you want).
Read my blog post for a Full Hoi An Eco Cooking Class review here (coming Soon).
get lost in the hoi an central market
We loved Hoi An Central Market. It was chaotic and fun and full of so many delicious smells. Walk up to any stall, ask them to cut open a piece of fruit for you, and just wander around admiring the sights, sounds, and smells. It’s a serious sensory overload.
If it were up to me, I would have made a pit stop for fresh dragon fruit and mangoes here every single day. Unfortunately, we were travelling in Hoi An around the beginning of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak, and World Health Organization was strongly urging travellers in Asia to avoid visiting open markets. So, after the first day we listened to WHO’s orders and (albeit reluctantly) stayed away.
get a taste of local life at tra que vegetable village
Right outside of central Hoi An lies Tra Que Vegetable Village where locals tend to their immaculate gardens. These farming village was so cool to see, with locals using traditional Vietnamese practices to harvest the land. We only had time to ride our bikes around the village and admired daily life. But, if I were to do it again, I would have opted for a more immersive experience at the farm by taking a tour.
If you’re interested in getting a full hands-on agricultural experience with the best Tra Que Vegetable Village tour, I’ve heard awesome things about this tour with Backstreet Academy where you get to be a farmer for a few hours. You even get to eat a meal made from the locally grown organic ingredients.
visit the my son sanctuary
We loved the My Son Sanctuary, which is located roughly an hour from Hoi An. The ruins were spectacular. And while many have been kept in good condition, evidence of the Vietnam War was apparent in damage. In fact, there were craters surrounding the ruins from bombings. It is UNESCO famed cultural landmark in Vietnam that, in my opinion, should not be missed.
What is the best time of day to visit My Son Sanctuary? Most tours leave Hoi An or Da Nang around 8:00 in the morning, which often means that My Son Sanctuary is very crowded by 9:00 am. We originally planned to visit when it opened for sunrise, at 6:00 am, but I had heard that it has begun to get busier in the morning as a few tour providers have begun to offer sunrise tours. Based on this, we opted to visit in the mid-afternoon, before closing. We arrived at My Son Sanctuary at around 2:00 pm and it was not busy at all. JACKPOT. The only downside to this plan is that it is very hot at My Son Sanctuary. While the heat was tolerable for us in January, I am not sure I would feel the same way during the warmer months. If I were to return to Vietnam in the spring or summer, I would opt to visit My Son Sanctuary at sunrise.
How to get to My Son Sanctuary? We opted to pay for a private driver drive us to/from My Son Sanctuary because we weren’t interested in having a tour guide and wanted to explore at our own pace. This service cost us about 35 USD. Alternatively, you can book a group tour (this is by far the cheapest option). I wouldn’t recommend taking the morning tours that leave around 8:00 because the sanctuary will likely be very busy. In my opinion, sunrise is your best option for a tour. If you’re interested in a sunrise tour, check this one out. Alternatively, there are many people who ride scooters out to the sanctuary. After passing by many amazing local villages and wishing I could make a pit stop, I was envious of the people brave enough to make this journey by bike. But, we weren’t feeling personally confident enough to make this trek by scooter (maybe next time?).
hop around to the best coffee shops in hoi an
It’s no secret that my coffee obsession is REAL. And Vietnamese coffee sits at the top of my list for some of my favourite coffee ever. That’s why I was so excited to visit Hoi An, which is really a coffee-shop-lovers paradise. Take some time to slow down and enjoy the best coffee shops in Hoi An. Here’s a few of my favourites:
- 92 Station: For the best views of the city, 92 Station is your spot. Head up to the patio on the third floor and be welcomed by the best rooftop views paired with a Vietnamese coffee or fresh juice (or both!).
- Faifo Coffee: Faifo is a very popular spot in Hoi An for rooftop views, but if you ask me, my previous recommendation (92 Station) is better. Not only did 92 Station have better coffee, but it is a lot less busy than Faifo, which has been known to have people literally lining up to take photos on the roof. Even still, the rooftop patio here is great if you can manage to stop when it isn’t busy like we did.
- Sound of Silence Coffee Shop: Located along An Bang beach, you can enjoy coffee next to beach at this cutesy spot. I highly recommend the mango-infused cold brew for a unique and refreshing coffee flavour.
- Mot Hoi An: Not coffee, but Mot is home to Hoi An’s most popular iced herbal teas. Seriously – this iced tea is the real deal. You’ll probably notice groups of people lined up to grab a famous tea for only 10,000 VND (less than .50 USD), beautifully garnished with a leaf, rose petal, and bamboo straw.
- Wake Up Coffee: Another great little coffee shop with big open windows, perfect for people watching alongside the busy Hoi An streets.
- The Espresso Station: MY FAVOURITE COFFEE SHOP IN HOI AN. This spot is a bit hidden down an alleyway, and offers such a cool patio ambiance and really unique coffee and drinks that are seriously works of art. We spent a couple hours on the patio sharing four drinks between the two of us (because we couldn’t make our mind up about what we wanted). My favourite drink was ice cubes made of frozen coffee topped with cacao powder, and served with hot creamy milk that you pour overtop.
- Reaching Out Teahouse: Also not a typical coffee spot, but I love Reaching Out Teahouse so much we went here twice. This traditional teahouse is operated by deaf workers and all communication is done through writing and the use of small blocks with words like “thank you” written onto them. The ambiance of this place is beautiful, and the tea is fantastic (and served with delicious homemade cookies and biscuits). I also loved the fresh juices here – you must try the lime juice and add a bit of liquid ginger to it.
take a trip to the Tam Thanh Mural Village
Full disclosure: We didn’t go here. But I really wanted to after hearing so many wonderful things about it. Since were in Hoi An during the Lunar New Year (Tet), it meant that many drivers and tour operators were taking time off with their families. So when we tried to arrange time to visit this village, it became too complicated to fit it into the schedule.
But, based on what I’ve heard, I would highly recommend visiting this spot. The local town is covered in murals and I’ve also heard the nearby beach is beautiful and not touristy. Located roughly an hour away, you can arrange a driver through your hotel, ride a scooter, or take a tour. Here’s a link to a tour that will take you out to the village (cost is only about 16 USD per person for a five hour excursion).
The Best Hotel in Hoi An
Looking for the best hotel in Hoi An? How about a hotel in Hoi An with a pool? Or a hotel in Hoi An with free breakfast?
Well, I’ve got the perfect spot. MaiChi Villa was easily our favourite hotel (errr, should I say homestay?) we stayed at in Vietnam for so many reasons. It had a beautiful pool, massive rooms, and a huge breakfast all included in the price. The hotel only opened a few months ago, and it was brand new in every way. The facilities were beautiful, and the host family could not have been more sweet and helpful.
Finally, MaiChi Villa is also so optimally located, a quick 8-10 minute walk from the Old Town. And they provide free bikes so you can easily bike everywhere else you need to go. I seriously cannot recommend this hotel enough.
Where to Eat in Hoi An
Hoi An is quite literally full of hidden gem restaurants and has so many must-local dishes that I couldn’t get enough of. Here’s a few of my favourites (and things you should try at each).
Mot Hoi An: famous for the herbal tea described above, but we loved the food here too!
Madam Khanh - The Banh Mi Queen: get the classic banh mi with pate - yum!
Banh Mi Phuong: anthony bourdain said this was the best manh mi in the world
LeFe dining place: mid-range but so good with accommodating sebastian's nut allergy that we went twice; try the "shrimp lettuce wraps" and fresh spring rolls, shown below
ganesh: if you're looking for something different, they have some of the best indian food ever
ben bi bubble tea: didn't eat here, but loved the matcha bubble tea
sea crab: looking for a lunch spot near an bang beach? this is a good spot for cao lau
Com Ga Ba Minh: a local favourite for the popular hoi an chicken and rice dish
white rose restaurant: for famous white rose dumplings
dingo deli: all day brunch and western food (like pizza)
rosie's cafe: very popular/trendy brunch spot searching mostly western brunch options