Hoi An, Lanterns on the river

What to do in Hoi An: Top attractions + Day trips

Hoi An is probably the cutest city I’ve visited so far. Its colorful old wooden houses are definitively a must-see on your trip to Vietnam. The whole historical center has been well preserved and is now a UNESCO World Heritage site. More than 1000 buildings have been restored, including pagodas, temples, and houses, some open to visitors, fully furnished according to the traditional style. Read on to discover Hoi An attractions and the day trips from Hoi An you can go on.

The Japonese Bridge, Hoi An, Vietnam
The Japanese Bridge

Hoi An is a perfect example of a traditional Asian international commercial port. It is also highly representative of the cultural fusion which took place over the centuries. The urban map hasn’t changed since the 17th century, and even today, you can still observe the cultural melting pot and the commercial activity of the busy city.

Temple, Hoi An, Vietnam
Temple

Cars and motorbikes being forbidden in the old town, pedestrians and cyclists will have the streets all to themselves. Stroll around and don’t hesitate to get lost, the streets have a unique charm, and you’ll be amazed from beginning to end. On your way, make sure to see all the lanterns which light up the city at night, giving it a magical vibe. If you’re there during the full moon, you’ll have the chance to witness the lantern festival where hundreds of lanterns are deposited on the river to celebrate the full moon (book a hotel room in advance because it gets really crowded for the festival).

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What to do in Hoi An – Top attractions:

1 – Cua Dai Beach

Cua Dai Beach, Vietnam, Hoi An attractions
Credit – Martin Fisch

Probably one of Vietnam’s most beautiful mainland beaches, a visit to Cua Dai is one of the best things to do in Hoi An. The beach is wide, the sand is white and the water clear. It’s the perfect Hoi An attraction to relax after a day of exploring the old town.

Another great beach and top Hoi An attraction is An Bang Beach. It’s a great place to watch the sunset and eat some barbecue or seafood.

2 – Hoi An Riverside

Hoi An Riverside is the place where the new meets the old. A stroll along the river will allow you to witness the traditional lifestyle mixed with modernity. In the morning you can go to the wet market, during the full moon, you can see the thousands of lanterns lighted up, and you can sample some local food any time of the day.

3 – The old town and its ancient buildings

Among the top Hoi An attractions is, of course, the old town. The ticket allows you to visit five places, if you want to visit more than five, you’ll have to buy another one. Everything can be visited on foot and you can either go on your own or join a walking tour.

Places to visit in Hoi An old town:

  • Ancient houses: Trần Family’s Chapel, Old House of Đức An, Nguyễn Tường Family’s Chapel, Old House of Phùng Hưng, Old House of Quân Thắng
  • Museums: Hoi An Museum, Museum of Trade Ceramics, Museum of Folklore, Museum of Sa Huỳnh Culture.
  • Pagodas and Temples: Quan Công Temple & Quan Am Pagoda
  • Art Center: Hoi An Traditional Art Performance Theatre
  • The Japanese Bridge
  • Communal Houses: Cẩm Phô, House of Tụy Tiên Đường.
  • Chinese Assembly Halls: Quang Trieu (Cantonese) Assembly Hall, Phúc Kiến / Fukian / Fujian, Triều Châu / Chaozhou Assembly Hall, Hải Nam / Hainan Assembly Hall.

4 – Cam Kim Island

Only a short ferry-ride away from Hoi An, Cam Kim Island is a great place for cycling or strolling around paddy fields. There you shouldn’t miss the Kim Bong Carpentry Village and look at some crafts.

Advice for visiting Hoi An attractions:

To visit the places open to the public, you will have to buy tickets in an accredited shop (everywhere around the old town). With one, you can visit five places of your choice. Don’t miss the Japanese Bridge, built in 1593, the market, the Phuc Kien Temple, and the Phung Hung House.

Hiring a guide for the day is also a nice way to visit and to learn more about the history of each place.

If you’re on a tight schedule, half a day is enough to visit Hoi An but 2 days is better.

It can get pretty hot, so don’t forget to bring a hat or an umbrella.

 

Where to stay in Hoi An:

I chose to stay in Da Nang because it’s a central location to many interesting places in the area, but it’s recommended to stay in Hoi An if you have time enough. Note that accommodations there are more expensive than in the rest of Vietnam and the prices tend to climb up during peak seasons. Most hotels inside the historical city are expensive, for budget options you’ll have to go a bit farther.



Booking.com

Lantern - Hoi An - Vietnam

Day trips from Hoi An:

Some agencies organize bicycle tours in the countryside, expect to visit non-touristy villages, and see incredible landscapes, mostly rice fields, and mountains in the background. You can also hire a small boat and enjoy a peaceful ride along the river.

Day trip from Hoi An to the Marble Mountains

Between Hoi An and Da Nang you can visit the Marble Mountains, of the 5 mounts, it’s only possible to visit one. Sparkled with temples and pagodas, the climb is worth it, prepare to get sweaty because there are many steep steps. The view up there is great. You can either go on your own or join a tour.

Temple in Marble Mountain
Temple in Marble Mountain

Day trip from Hoi An to My Son

Forty kilometers away is the UNESCO world heritage site of My Son, this old sacred Cham capital is rich in history and will please fans of architecture. For more info, check out this My Son complete travel guide.

You can easily go on your own if you rent a motorbike or go with a tour.

Day trip from Hoi An to the Cham Islands

Cham Island is a paradise on earth, featuring pristine beaches, virgin rainforest, and rich traditional life.

You can enjoy a day of exploration and laying on the beach or you can join a snorkeling and diving tour.

It’s one of the best Hoi An attractions and a must-visit. Check out some of the tours you can take from Hoi An here.

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