Plan your trip to a beautiful Vietnamese town with the help of this guide on all the best things to do in Hoi An!
If you’re travelling across Vietnam, then the beautiful town of Hoi An makes for the perfect place to chill out in the middle. It’s a nice change of pace from the chaos of big cities like Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.
The colourful Old Town of Hoi An is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that’s full of cultural and historical attractions. Miraculously, it managed to avoid destruction during the war with the US.
Many of the top things to do in Hoi An can be found right here in this very walkable area. Not surprisingly, it’s also the centre of tourism with plenty of options for accommodation, dining, shopping, and nightlife.
Table of Contents
- The 20 Best Things to Do in Hoi An
- 1) Go Sightseeing in Old Town
- 2) Visit a Tailor
- 3) Go on a Hoi An Free Tour
- 4) Take a Ride in a Basket Boat
- 5) Check Out the Local Markets
- 6) Eat All the Things
- 7) Take a Cooking Class
- 8) Attend a Hoi An Memories Show
- 9) Enjoy a Sunset River Cruise
- 10) Attend a Lantern-Making Class
- 11) Release a Lantern
- 12) Drink Bia Hoi
- 13) Treat Yourself
- 14) Day Trip to My Son
- 15) Visit Tam Thanh Mural Village
- 16) Hit the Beach
- 17) Take a Cham Islands Tour
- 18) Visit Tra Que Culinary Village
- 19) Take a Motorbike Tour
- 20) Hike the Marble Mountains
- Hoi An Travel Guide
The 20 Best Things to Do in Hoi An
While the town itself has plenty to keep you busy, there’s a lot to discover just a short ride away. From cycling on a rural island to exploring ancient ruins, adventure is calling.
On our month-long backpacking trip across Vietnam, Hoi An was hands down one of my favourite places. Sure it’s touristy, but it’s not that hard to break out of the bubble here.
Read on for an in-depth look at the best Hoi An attractions in and around the city. Before we get down to the nitty-gritty, though, a word about visiting the famed Old Town of Hoi An…
1) Go Sightseeing in Old Town
Kicking off our list of things to do in Hoi An is the famous Old Town. The whole area is basically a living museum with an interesting blend of cultures.
On just a short walk around Hoi An Old Town, you’ll stroll past a French colonial house, cross a Japanese bridge, and pop into a Chinese temple.
This is due to the town’s importance as a trading post back in the 16th and 17th centuries.
Figuring out what to do in Hoi An Old Town can be a bit tricky. It really is an Old Town, and the rapid development of tourism here has put a strain on the place.
First of all, every visitor needs to purchase an entrance ticket.
These cost 120,000 VND and are valid for the duration of your stay. I recommend buying the ticket straight away and just keeping it on you. Just be sure not to lose it!
Before you go griping about the entrance ticket, just know that a vast majority of the cost goes towards maintenance and renovations.
What to See in Hoi An Old Town
With your ticket in hand, you’re ready to check out some of the top things to do in Hoi An. It grants you access to five of the 22 cultural and historical sights around the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Old Town.
There are lots of things to see in Hoi An Old Town. You can choose between old houses, museums, temples, pagodas, art centres, and more.
This entire guide could be on the various sights of Old Town, but there’s so much more going on in Hoi An.
I recommend checking out the Japanese Covered Bridge first and then just wandering around the Old Town. Some of the attractions may catch your eye while others may seem boring. It’s nice to have options!
On our visit, we saw a mixture of sights spread out over a few days. Even though tickets may say they’re only good for 24 hours, no one should hassle you about it so long as you actually have a ticket.
2) Visit a Tailor
While Hoi An was once a major trading port, these days its primary industry seems to be tailoring. In fact, it seems like every other shop here is a tailor.
If you’re looking for a custom-made suit, dress, or new pair of shoes, this is the place to do it.
When it comes to shopping in Hoi An, you definitely get what you pay for. With so many shops, it’s inevitable that some of them are not the greatest quality.
Yaly Couture, BeBe, and Thu Thay are all good choices.
READ MORE: Plan your trip to Vietnam with our comprehensive Vietnam Travel Guide.
3) Go on a Hoi An Free Tour
Without a doubt, one of the coolest things to do in Hoi An is taking the free tour. This is run by local university students and is a really fun way to spend a morning.
Their popular free bike tour takes you over to a small island on a ferry. Once there, you’ll cycle around to different workshops to see how locals make a living.
These tours are a win-win for travellers and the guides. They’re studying tourism and trying to practice their English, while you’re looking for an authentic local experience.
The free bike tours operate on Tuesday, Saturday, and Sunday. You’ll just need to cover your own bike and ferry ride, which will only set you back a few bucks.
They run several other tours that are very reasonably priced as well. You can check out all the options on their website.
4) Take a Ride in a Basket Boat
Ever heard of a basket boat? I didn’t think so! It just so happens that riding in one of these is one of the top Hoi An activities.
These are basically round baskets made of bamboo that locals use to navigate the waterways in the area. On a half-day tour, you can cycle out to the village and try paddling one yourself.
Cruise through a lush forest of coconut trees, try your hand at net fishing, and then watch the locals have a cheeky race.
You can book this right here, so make sure you check it out!
BONUS – Booking ahead of time ensures you won’t miss out on the tour, and get the best price too! And just for NOMADasaurus readers, if you use the Klook discount code “NOMADS10” on the website when checking out, you’ll get $10 off your first booking!
5) Check Out the Local Markets
One of the top things to do in Hoi An is simply perusing a local market. These are the best places to shop for souvenirs at a bargain price and indulge in some delicious Vietnamese food.
The Hoi An Night Market is a popular choice among travellers. Overlooking the Thu Bon River and illuminated by hundreds of lanterns, this local market certainly is a scenic place to shop and eat!
Other than the Night Market, the Central Market of Hoi An is a great place to go to eat local dishes on a budget.
6) Eat All the Things
Speaking of eating, be sure to come hungry when you visit Hoi An! The town is famous for its cuisine and is thought of as the food capital of Vietnam.
Some of the local dishes that you have to try include banh bao vac, which means “white rose.” These delectable shrimp dumplings are wrapped to resemble a rose and they’re damn good!
If you’d like to learn a bit as you stuff your face, then why not sign up for a food tour? There’s an excellent evening walking tour where you get to sample street food, Vietnamese coffee, and enjoy dinner in a local’s home.
7) Take a Cooking Class
Do you know what’s even better than chowing down on tasty Vietnamese food? Chowing down on tasty Vietnamese food that you actually cooked yourself!
Taking a cooking class is definitely high on the list of things to do in Hoi An. There are several places offering cooking classes in Old Town.
One excellent choice is the Grandma’s Vietnamese Home Cooking Class tour. A short boat ride takes you to an island, where you’ll meet a local family.
After visiting an herb garden and learning how to make your own rice paper, it’s time to get cooking! You’ll make four dishes such as bahn xeo and papaya salad and then sit down to a feast.
8) Attend a Hoi An Memories Show
One of the top Hoi An attractions is a new theme park that’s home to the most ambitious show in all of Vietnam.
Hoi An Impressions is a theme park focused on the history and culture of the city, where all of the staff members are time-period performers. It’s also home to the absolutely epic Memories Show, which has a cast of over 500!
You can choose to visit only the park (300,000 VND) or see the show (600,000 VND for adults), or you can get a combo ticket (800,000 VND).
The park is open from 5-9 PM while the show happens from 7:30-8:45. It’s open every day but Tuesday so plan accordingly.
Better yet, just sign up for a tour that’s an excellent bargain where you do both along with a trip to the coconut forest for some basket boating.
READ MORE: Be sure to add these activities to your list of things to do in Vietnam!
9) Enjoy a Sunset River Cruise
Wondering what to do in Hoi An for a romantic evening? Look no further than a sunset river cruise!
There are a variety of options for taking a sunset cruise in Hoi An. Choose from a cocktail cruise to a private dinner cruise with a 5-course menu.
Just about everyone in town can help you get on a cruise of the Thu Bon River, but you can also book one online if you prefer.
10) Attend a Lantern-Making Class
Of all the amazing things to see in Hoi An, the bright and colourful lanterns really stand out. These are symbols of happiness, wealth, and luck and are all over the town.
You’ll see plenty of lanterns while walking around, but did you know you could also try making your own?
That’s right – there’s a great lantern making class you can sign up for to create your own homemade souvenir.
11) Release a Lantern
Walk around the Old Town in the evening, and you’ll see that one of the most popular things to do in Hoi An Vietnam is releasing lanterns in the river.
To be clear, I’m not talking about the nice lanterns that hang around town or the one you made in the class. These are small paper lanterns that you can buy for less than a dollar.
Traditionally, this only happened on the eve of the full moon. With the development of tourism in Hoi An, this now happens on a nightly basis.
It may be mostly for tourists these days, but it doesn’t make the scene any less beautiful!
12) Drink Bia Hoi
One of my personal favourite things to do in Hoi An is just sit by the river and enjoy a few glasses of bia hoi. This “fresh beer” is delivered to restaurants and bars daily in small kegs, so it’s not just a clever name.
In addition to being a crisp, refreshing brew, bia hoi is also dirt cheap. Seriously – you can get a few glasses of this stuff before your bar tab hits a dollar.
Find a riverside bar, order up a round with a few snacks, and enjoy the scenery of this gorgeous town.
13) Treat Yourself
Once in a while, you just have to treat yourself when travelling. All those long bus rides, sleepless nights in hostels, and arduous days of trekking take a toll.
Thankfully a spa day is a very affordable thing here in Hoi An.
There are tons of spas to choose from in Hoi An. Whether you’re just looking for a cheap foot massage or a luxury treatment that lasts several hours, you can find it here.
If you’d rather not spend time reading through reviews and searching for places on the ground, I’ve got something for you. The spa at Belle Maison Hadana comes highly rated and you can book a spa session online for a great price.
14) Day Trip to My Son
Unfortunately, tremendous damage was done to the temples during the war. The good news is that there’s still plenty to see here and it’s far less crowded than places like Bagan or Angkor Wat.
You have several options for visiting My Son, including just getting yourself there on a motorbike. This is a good option if you’re comfortable riding but maybe not so great for beginners.
Walk around Hoi An, and you’ll see tons of signs advertising tours to My Son. If you’d rather sort it out before you arrive, there’s a highly-rated tour you can just book online.
15) Visit Tam Thanh Mural Village
If you enjoy street art, then one of the top things to do in Hoi An is visiting the Tam Thanh mural village. This art project is a collaboration between Vietnam and South Korea, where mural villages have been a huge hit.
A group of Korean and Vietnamese artists worked together to paint over 100 of the homes here. What once looked just like every other coastal fishing village a few years ago is now a colourful work of art.
The murals have brought in tourists, which has led to increased business opportunities for locals. If you visit, consider putting your money directly into the community whether it’s buying a coffee or handmade goods.
To get out to the mural village, you can get yourself there on a motorbike, hire a taxi, or just sign up for a tour.
READ MORE: Check out these awesome things to do at nearby Da Nang!
16) Hit the Beach
Fancy a bit of sun and sand during your stay in Hoi An? Thankfully there are some excellent beaches that are just a short trip away.
The easiest beaches to reach from Hoi An are An Bang Beach (3 km) and Cua Dai Beach(4 km). A leisurely bike ride through the rice paddies will bring you to either in no time.
There are several places on the beach with chairs and umbrellas. Some charge a fee just to use them while others will let you chill for as long as you want so long as you’re buying food and drinks.
17) Take a Cham Islands Tour
While the beaches near town are fine, you’ll want to head out to the Cham Islands if you want to experience pristine beaches. They’re just a short boat ride but feel worlds apart from the town.
This chain of islands just off the coast is also an excellent place for snorkelling and scuba diving. The summer months are the best time of year to visit for underwater exploration.
If you’re visiting Hoi An between October and February, you’re SOL on this one. The monsoon season makes it too dangerous to travel to the islands so trips are suspended during this time.
On this excellent half-day tour, you’ll visit a pagoda, fishing villages, and a beach in addition to snorkelling stops.
18) Visit Tra Que Culinary Village
For foodies, one of the best Hoi An activities you can do is visiting the Tra Que Culinary Village. It’s just a short trip from town on the way to An Bang Beach, so you can easily combine both.
The village is famous for the fresh vegetables that are grown here and used all across the region. When you visit, you can try your hand at being a Vietnamese farmer for a bit.
They also have a cooking class, a restaurant, and a spa for foot massages. You can do a bit of everything by signing up for this great tour.
19) Take a Motorbike Tour
One of the most fun things you can do in Hoi An Vietnam is going for a motorbike tour. This could be a DIY trip for more experienced riders, while newbies will want to go with a guide.
The possibilities are limitless when it comes to motorbike tours in Vietnam. You can just head off on a half-day trip from Hoi An to explore the area.
If you’re really gung-ho, you can even sign up for a multi-day tour that takes you all the way down to the Mekong Delta.
When we were backpacking Vietnam, we met with an Easy Riders guide in Hoi An and headed out on a 4-day trip with him. I rode my own bike while my wife was on the back of his and our backpacks were strapped to the bikes.
During this trip we visited remote villages, rushing waterfalls, coffee farms, and so much more. It was definitely the highlight of our trip and something I highly recommend doing!
20) Hike the Marble Mountains
Last but not least on our list of what to do in Hoi An is a trip to the Marble Mountains. They’re located between Hoi An and Da Nang, a bit closer to the city.
Visiting these beautiful limestone mountains make for a great adventure. You can explore tunnels and caves, check out a Buddhist shrine, and hike to some unbelievable viewpoints.
It’s easy enough to get yourself to the Marble Mountains if you’ve got a bike. It costs 40,000 VND to enter and an extra 15,000 if you want to take the elevator instead of climbing the stairs up.
If you’d prefer to go with a group, you can sign up for a day tour of Da Nang that includes a stop at the Marble Mountains.
Hoi An Travel Guide
Now that you know what to do in Hoi An, we want to help you make your other plans as well by sharing the best accommodations and places to eat in the city.
Where to Stay in Hoi An, Vietnam
I recommend staying in any of these places, depending on your budget.
Best Budget Accommodation in Hoi An – Tribee Bana
If you’re balling on a budget but still want a nice place to come home to, look no further than Tribee Bana.
This is a great place to meet fellow travellers through the various free activities they offer. Pair that with an amazing location and tasty breakfast, and you’ve got a real winner.
There are actually several different Tribee hostels in Hoi An, so check the other locations if Bana is full.
Best Mid-Range Accommodation in Hoi An – Venus Hotel
Those seeking a bit more comfort without a much higher price tag can check out the Venus Hotel.
This place is definitely great bang for your buck, as you get an outdoor pool, nice buffet breakfast, and fitness centre for as little as $30 a night.
Best Luxury Accommodation in Hoi An – Little Riverside
Looking to splurge on your Hoi An trip? Allow me to recommend the stunning Little Riverside.
It’s not just a clever name, as this place is really located right on the Thu Bon River in the heart of Old Town.
Here you can take the shuttle to their own private beach, get a massage or steam bath in the spa, or just grab drinks and chill at the rooftop infinity pool. Life is good.
How to Get to Hoi An, Vietnam
The nearest airport is in Da Nang, which is about an hour away. The Hoi An Express shuttle bus is an efficient and budget-friendly way to get between the two at $6 USD per person. Click here to reserve online.
You can expect to pay anywhere from 300-400,000 VND for a private taxi, and may have to do a bit of negotiating. If you have a local SIM card, you can use Grab to order a ride.
Order one online before you get to town to save yourself some headaches.
The nearest train station is also in Da Nang, not too far from the airport. To take the cheap, local way, walk to the bus stop, and hop on bus #1. This only costs 20,000 VND but may take a while.
Another option is to just hop on the bus. There are lots of different hop-on, hop-off bus companies in Vietnam. Taking a bus to Hoi An means you get dropped off in town without needing to transfer in Da Nang.
Best Restaurants in Hoi An, Vietnam
- Tra Que Garden – As I mentioned, it’s well worth it to visit Tra Que Culinary Village. The restaurant here serves fresh, delicious local cuisine and is typically #1 on TripAdvisor for a reason. (Temporarily closed due to COVID – check website for updates!)
- Central Market – For the real local experience, head to the Central Market to fill up on cheap Vietnamese classics.
- Red Bean – This place is always good, but try to make it on Tuesday or Saturday for their street food buffet.
- Firefly – A good place for groups since they have lots of options – Vietnamese as well as pizza, pasta, burgers, etc.
- Nhan’s Kitchen – A bit of a walk from Old Town but worth it just for the passionfruit chicken dish.
- White Rose – The place to go to try the town’s signature White Rose dumplings.
- Mate Restaurant and Coffee – Highly-rated local place with amazing coconut coffee.
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