Hoi An is rated as one of the best cities in the world. Explore the beauty of Hoi An by visiting these 7 top spots recommended by locals and veteran travelers.
When you think about Vietnam, big cities like Ho Chi Minh or Hanoi will come to your mind. However, Vietnam is a large country with lots of undiscovered gems waiting for you to discover. One of such gems is Hoi An, a small city with a rich history, lovely scenery, and great landmarks that are worthy of your visit.
Hoi An is 30 minutes to 1 hour away from Da Nang International Airport. If you arrive at Tan Son Nhat Airport, Ho Chi Minh City, you can take a flight to Da Nang, catch a train, or try the open-tour bus. However, do note that Hoi An is more than 800 km away from Ho Chi Minh and the train trip will take 17 hours. Trains with a hard and soft bed are available to make your journey more comfortable. If you want to take the bus, be careful as some buses stop at Da Nang, not Hoi An. Ensure that the tickets you hold have “Hoi An” printed.
Once you arrive at Hoi An, you may want to take a rest. Hoi An hotels come at various prices. Hence, you should browse online hotel booking sites such as WorldRoamer to find the best deals. Nowadays, cheap hotels in Hoi An offer great amenities and are strategically located so that you can access tourist attractions easily. Top hotels in Hoi An are also available, though the title of “best Hoi An hotel” is still up for debate.
So, what are the main attractions of Hoi An that make it unique from other cities in the world? Let’s look at them in this article.
1. Ancient Town
Ever since the city of Hoi An (once known as Faifo) was established, the heart of this city is decidedly the Ancient Town. By buying a ticket for VND 120,000, you can visit various old landmarks and museums that preserve the heritage of the Vietnamese people. The symbol of Hoi An is the Japanese Covered Bridge Pagoda that you can cross for free (ticket is required to visit the pagoda inside it).
The ticket to the Ancient Town also gives you access to four museums inside: Museum of Folk Culture, Museum of Trade Ceramics, Hoi An Museum of History and Culture, and Museum of Sa Huynh Culture. Each museum’s collections are unique; for example, the Museum of Trade Ceramics’ collection includes ceramics not found in any of the old houses. There are also three old houses located in this town, namely Phung Hung House, Quan Thang House, and Tan Ky House. Eight generations inhabit Phung Hung House, and Tan Ky House has architectural influences from Japan and China. The roof of Tan Ky House also has Chinese poems written on top of it.
Aside from the house and museums, this town also has numerous congregation halls built by the Chinese, which makes sense as the town was originally a centre of trade back in the day. Cantonese Assembly Hall, Fujian Meeting Hall, and All-Community Meeting Hall can be found here.
2. Hoi An Central Market
Think you have upped your bargaining game? Visit Hoi An Central Market to test it! Feel free to shop the Vietnamese way and get the freshest produce of the day. You can also buy various traditional non-food items, from accessories to woven baskets, in a separate market building inside. However, do note that the region can be prone to flooding, and thus, it may be hard to visit the market at certain times.
When shopping in Hoi An Central Market, don’t forget to try Vietnamese food at the street food stalls. You can order easily with English menus and clean food displays. Classics such as banh mi sandwich and com ga chicken rice are available, as well as Hoi An specialities like cau lao breakfast bowl, which consists of noodles with vegetables and pork.
3. An Bang Beach
Rated as one of the 100 best beaches in the world by CNN in 2016, the scenery in An Bang Beach is a sight to behold. With an endless choice of restaurants, late-night bars, and other laid-back activities, this particular 4 km beach practically never sleeps. You can reach the beach by ordering a motorcycle or car taxi using the ride-hailing app, or by the shuttle bus provided by your hotel. If your hotel is nearby, you can even rent a bike and visit the beach in the Vietnamese way.
As mentioned before, you can enjoy sunbathing and swimming on the beach during the day and unwind with delicious lunch at various restaurants available. The beach will start to be crowded after 4 PM, after which tourists and locals alike will come to enjoy the sunset and the night. If you want to enjoy the night with them, you can do so at the beach itself, or at a bar of your choice. Live performances are often available to make your day more complete.
4. Cham Islands
Consisting of eight islands off the Hoi An coastline, every island there has its natural charm that draws people to visit. The natural charm is protected by Vietnamese law – it is recognised as one of Vietnam’s marine parks and managed jointly by Vietnamese and Danish government. However, most tourists flock to Hon Lao island which offers the most activities due to its number of beaches – yes, you read it right, this small island has seven beaches, with different activities available at every beach.
To start, visit Bai Chong beach where you can swim comfortably and enjoy the beach view. Want some silence and quality me-time? Say hi to Bai Xep beach. If you fancy lunch with fresh fish you catch yourself, visit Bai Lang beach. You can even take perfect holiday photos worthy for your Instagram feed in Bai Bim beach. The rest of the beaches in this island are also beautiful.
5. Hoi An Silk Village
Ever wondered where your silk apparel comes from, and how to make it? You can visit Hoi An Silk Village to explore the world behind silk – from preparation to marketing. Featuring some natural eye-candies such as mulberry trees, horticulture farms, and lotus ponds, this village is located within a resort complex and spa.
In this village, you can see how the locals make silk using ancient manual tools, probably passed down from generation to generation. You can also visit the silk museum, which documents traditional costumes from all 54 ethnic communities in Vietnam. At the end of your trip, you can buy traditional silk products to support the locals. While the silk products available in the shop are priced a bit higher than other shops in Hoi An, they look so gorgeous it’s a sin not to buy one!
6. Kim Bong Carpentry Village
To reach Kim Bong Carpentry Village, you can take a boat trip across Thu Bon river. In this village, you can see the mastery of the Vietnamese people when it comes to processing woods. There are three main production modes in this village, which are construction, shipbuilding, and normal carpentry. The wooden constructions of the Kim Bong people stand tall and proud even until today in several Vietnamese homes as a family worship house.
Want some carpentry souvenirs to take home? You can buy them directly in the village at affordable prices. The products sold here are varnished and have very high quality as the Kim Bong people take pride in the quality of their product.
7. Thanh Ha Pottery Village
Okay, we are cheating here. Technically, Thanh Ha Pottery Village is located just outside Hoi An. However, the location is still within the vicinity of Hoi An, so we are writing a bit about this village here. For centuries and generations, the people of Thanh Ha have perfected their mastery in pottery craft. As the tourism wave hit Vietnam, the village has evolved to be one of the prime tourist attractions without sacrificing their identity.
The main attraction here is a pottery course. By paying a small entrance fee, you can visit the villagers’ house and you will be invited to join them as they make pots and ocarinas. Most villagers are patient with you as you fiddle with the pottery machine. Afterwards, you can buy your creation at an affordable price and head straight to the terracotta museum to find out more about the village’s heritage.
That’s it for the recommended spots in Hoi An! Ready to start exploring? Make sure that you have a good itinerary to make every single second of your visit memorable. If you travel with friends and family, make sure that your schedules don’t collide before booking any flight ticket, accommodation, and activity ticket. We believe that a well-planned trip will make the trip more fun for everyone, so start planning right now and see you in Hoi An!