Beginners Guide to Hoi An: 10 Things To Do

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Things to Know Before You Go:

Why Visit Hoi An?

Hoi An is an oasis in Vietnam that was much welcomed after 5 hectic days in Ho Chi Minh City. Hoi An in English translates to “peaceful meeting place” and I could not agree more. Our plan was to stay three days and we ended up staying a week and a half – I would have gladly spent a month here though! I’d recommend staying at least two days but many more if your time allows! The history, colorful architecture, and  of course the lanterns make Hoi An the perfect stop on your Vietnam Trip.

How to get to Hoi An?

Hoi An is a quick half hour taxi ride from the Da Nang International Airport. We arranged a shuttle through our Homestay which cost us around 400,000 VND ($18 USD).

Where to Stay in Hoi An?

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Ancient Town. Transportation in Hoi An is cheap and easy and the town itself is relatively small so you will be close to everything wherever you stay. Hoi An is also great for walking around which means you will be fine if you don’t stay directly in the Ancient Town. We ended up staying in a Homestay that was halfway between the Ancient Town and the beach. It was a perfect location! It was only a short 2.5km bike ride to Ancient Town and 2km to the beach!

1) Walk around Ancient Town 

Grab your camera’s because Hoi An’s ancient town is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been, and perfect for anyone who loves to take pictures! Hoi An’s ancient town became a UNESCO heritage site in 1999 which includes the iconic Japenese Covered Bridge – which is amazing to see both day and night!

Top Attractions to See in Ancient Town:

  • Japenese Covered Bridge
  • Assembly Hall of the Fujian Chinese Congregation
  • Tan Ky House
  • Tran Family Chapel
  • Museum of Trading Ceramics

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Ancient Town Entrance Ticket Costs: 120,000 VND ($5 USD)

This ticket has five tear-off coupons which allows you to get into different sites. It is valid for the entire length of your stay (whether that is days or weeks). 

2) Eat at Morning Glory

This famous restaurant is seriously delicious! It has a ton of authentic Vietnamese dishes and is in the heart of Ancient Town. Bonus: it is very reasonably priced.

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Make sure to try the white rose (a Hoi An specialty of  steamed dumplings with pork filling wrapped in wanton wrappers shaped like roses).

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3) Stay at a Homestay 

Lila Homestay was the highlight of our trip. The family was so kind and instantly made us feel at home. With so many huge hotels popping up around Da Nang and Hoi An it is important to remember to support local families!

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Homestay Price Per Night: 355,000 VND ($16 USD)

4) Visit the Beach

Hoi An has two main beaches: An Bang Beach and Cua Dai Beach. Cua Dai beach is the closest beach to Hoi An and has a ton of beach resorts near it. Just a heads up, a lot of this beach sitting area is reserved for the resorts and you will most likely get asked to moved. An Bang is a bit further out but worth the visit. You can rent a beach chair from a bar for around 50,000 VND ($2 USD) to 80,000 VND ($3.50 USD).

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5) Visit My Son SanCtuary 

My Son (beautiful mountain in Vietnamese) is about an hour drive away from Hoi An and is dubbed the ‘mini version of Angkor Wat’.  This UNESCO heritage site has been a place of worship since the 4th century. Unfortunately, the bombing that occurred during  the Vietnam War has destroyed most of the buildings, leaving only a few clusters left.

Tip: Go early if you can!  The sunrise tour is a bit more expensive but you are almost guaranteed the place to yourself!

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Tour Cost: 80,000 VND ($3.50 USD)

Entrance Fee: 150,000 VND ($6.75 USD)

Opening Times: 6:30AM to 5:00PM

6) Marble Mountain and Monkey Mountain

I’m combining Marble Mountain and Money Mountain because on most tours you do both! Marble Mountain lies about 7km from Da Nang and is filled with Buddhist Shrines, tunnels, and caves. If you are feeling up to it you can climb to the summit which offers amazing views!

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Monkey Mountain (Son Tra Mountain) is located about 12km north of Da Nang. A 67 metre-tall white statue of the Goddess of Mercy can be found here along with the Linh Ung Pagoda. This beautiful mountain is home to the rare red face monkey (hence the name) but unfortunately we were not able to see them!

(We went with Hoi An Eco Coconut Tour – Monkey Mountain and Marble Mountains Tour).

Tour Costs: 580,000 VND ($26 USD) per person which included lunch

Monkey Mountain and Linh Ung Pagoda: Free of Charge

Marble Mountains Entrance Fee: 20,000 VND ($0.90 USD) – this was included in our tour along with the elevator cost

7) find a great coffee shop

There are seriously soooooo many great coffee places around Hoi An! Take a look at my other blog post about my top 3 favorite coffee spots in Hoi An here.

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8) Go shopping

Hoi An is famous for shopping and affordable tailoring services. The streets of Hoi An Ancient Town are lined with stores and makeshift stalls selling jewellery, bags, traditional apparel, and shoes.

Recommendations: I got a custom made leather bag from Friendly Leather Bags that I love! And Sam got his custom tailored suit from Bebe Cloth Shop that he loves.

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9) Lantern Festival

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The Full Moon Lantern festival takes place on the 14th day of each lunar month and always draws huge crowds to Hoi An. But don’t freak out if you aren’t in Hoi An at this time of the month, as every night there is a crowd around river and locals selling lanterns and offering boat rides.

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Lantern Costs: Between 5,000 VND and 25,000VND ($0.23 USD and $1.13 USD) depending on how much you want to negotiate.

Boat Ride: Around 100,000 VND ($4.50 USD)

10) Bike Around the Rice Fields 

Biking around Hoi An is one of the best ways to see the town! We rode our bikes everyday and loved it! Our homestay offered free bikes for us to use but renting them is also super cheap. There are also a bunch of biking tours you can do but honestly just grab a bike and a map and do it yourself!

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MUST TRY FOOD FOR GRAZERS:

  • White Rose – Hoi An specialty of  steamed dumplings with pork filling wrapped in wanton wrappers shaped like roses
  • Banh Mi – Vietnamese sandwich
  • Cao Lau – Famous local dish made with noodles, pork, and local greens

Alternative Options:

Here are a few other ideas if you are not interested in the above suggestions – there are plenty of ways to fill your time in Hoi An!

Take a Cooking Class

You definitely can’t visit Vietnam without eating lots of local Vietnamese food, so why not learn how to cook your own? There are so many options for cooking classes in Hoi An and they are very easy to book (typically priced are around $30 USD).

Go to the Spa

It seems like there is a spa at every other shop in Hoi An. If you are in Hoi An for a few days I definitely recommend spending a couple hours relaxing and getting pampered! I had a manicure and pedicure at The Magic Spa which was amazing! I also got a traditional Vietnamese massage at The Ginger Spa. I highly recommend both spas!

Cham Islands 

This beautiful island (made up of 8 small islands) is just off the coast of Hoi An and is a popular place to go for snorkeling and diving. The best time for travelling to Cham Island is from March to August when the weather is nice. You can book tours at a couple of the diving shops in Hoi An but these trips are usually pretty expensive.

Helpful tips:

3 Dragons Sports Bar & Restaurant 

If you happen to find yourself in Hoi An when your favorite sports team is playing I highly recommend checking out 3 Dragons Sports Bar & Restaurant. It has a great atmosphere, cheap drinks, and plays all of the games!

Military Bank

Most ATM’s in Hoi An only let you take out a small amount of money (max 3,000,000 VND – $135 USD). It is super annoying to always be taking out money and getting charged a huge ATM fee on top of it. Military Bank will let you take out 9,000,000 VND ($405 USD) and can be found at a few locations around Hoi An.

Avoid Camel Travel Bus

If you are planning on taking a bus trip to/from Hoi An definitely avoid Camel Travel. This company is notorious for being awful. It has bad driving, drivers who yell, dirty seats, and they pick up locals who will sleep in the aisles. Our homestay booked us on their bus for our trip to Hue. Our homestay was trying to be nice and save us money (80,000 VND or $3.60 USA) but our ride ended up being the worst part of our entire trip.

Have you ever been to Hoi An? Am I missing anything? Thanks for reading!

One thought on “Beginners Guide to Hoi An: 10 Things To Do

  1. stephanie says:

    I spend 8 days in Hoi An last year and loved this town!
    The restaurants and beaches are amazing.
    I did not know about the mountains….ive written it down for the future..if I ever go back 🙂
    x

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