Hoi An is a stunning fishing village located on the Central Coast area of Vietnam in the Quảng Nam Province. The main draw for visitors is the beautifully preserved UNESCO Ancient Town area running alongside the serene Thu Bon River.
The narrow streets and abundance of beautiful hanging lanterns will make you feel like you’re visiting the Vietnam of centuries past. With a recent annual increase in visitors, lots of exciting new restaurants, shops and resorts have sprung up meaning there’s plenty to explore for everyone in Hoi An.
When planning to travel in Vietnam, make sure Hoi An features on your itinerary.
How to Get to Hoi An
Just 25 km (15 miles) to the north is the rapidly developing city of Danang. This provides easy connections to bus, rail and air travel from the rest of Vietnam and beyond.
A much needed extension to Danang International Airport is set to open in 2017 which will open up the area to even more flights from the surrounding countries.
From Danang Train Station you can travel north to Hanoi or south to Ho Chi Minh City on the country’s main coastal rail line. Sleeper trains are a comfortable yet cost effective way to get around Vietnam.
You can take the local bus from Danang to Hoi An for 18,000 VND ($0.80 USD) per person but beware they will try and charge non-locals much more! Otherwise a local taxi will cost you around 500,000 VND ($22 USD) or airport pickups can be arranged with most hotels and hostels.
Where to Stay in Hoi An
There’s a plentiful supply of accommodation in Hoi An to suit all budgets from backpacker hostels to high-end resorts. If you choose to stay in a hostel, check out this best hostels in Vietnam guide which lists the features and prices of the best hostels in the country. In Hoi An, beds go for $4!
We would recommend staying just to the north of the Ancient Old Town area. This district has a good range of small friendly guesthouses and homestays. Most will provide free bicycles, and cycling into the historic centre is a great way to explore it, just be careful to avoid some of the busier roads!
Jolie Villa Hoi An Homestay: We stayed here for 4 nights and were treated like family. The ladies that run the homestay are very friendly and always on hand with advice on the best spots to eat and drink in Hoi An. Click here to book Jolie Villa, and to check out reviews.
Rent an apartment: If you’re looking to stay around for a little longer maybe consider renting an apartment in Hoi An. We found a great place to rent and stayed for 1.5 months, around 3 km from the town centre.
There’s a great expat community in both Hoi An and Danang so help and advice is easy to come by. We’d suggest joining a Facebook group or check out a site like hoiannow.com. For more information on renting a house in Hoi An, check out this post by Never Ending Voyage.
Where to Eat in Hoi An
Hoi An Market Food Hall
To the eastern edge of the Old Town area you’ll find the main market selling everything you could desire. In the food hall located here you can grab a tasty bowl of the local speciality, Cao Lau, for just 20,000 VND from one of the many stalls.
Don’t miss the delicious and cheap smoothies on offer as well.
Minh Hien Vegetarian Restaurant
There are a few veggie options in Hoi An but we found this to be the best. There are two branches of Minh Hien and if you can visit the newer one to the north of the center as it is much quieter.
There’s a great selection of fresh Vietnamese style dishes with a vegetarian twist and don’t miss the freshly brewed beer for a mere 3,000 VND ($0.14 USD).
Hoi An Kebab Shack
If you’re craving some western style food after all those bowls of Pho (noodles) check out the Kebab Shack. Here you’ll find much more than kebabs at very wallet friendly prices all dished up by British expat Tim.
What To Do in Hoi An
Full Moon Lantern Festival
If you can, be sure to time your visit to Hoi An with the famous monthly Lantern Festival. Traditionally held on the 14th day of each lunar month it celebrates the spirits of deceased ancestors and wishes are made as lanterns are released onto the river.
The Old Town is closed to traffic and comes alive with performances, lights and delicious street food. Join in by releasing your own lantern into the river whilst making a wish or take a boat trip in a Sampan to escape the crowds along the water’s edge.
Be aware that tourists and locals alike come to enjoy the festival and it can get very busy by the bridges. We recommend heading further along the riverside in either direction for a calmer festival experience.
Old Town & Japanese Bridge
The star attraction of Hoi An is the old town itself. The streets are a treat to wander around at any time but we would suggest taking a stroll before 9am – which is when the tourist shops open. Late in the evening when the lanterns are glowing and things start to wind down a little is a great time to explore and take stunning photos.
The Japanese Bridge, originally built in the 16th century to join the Japanese community to the west of the town with the rest of Hoi An, is beautifully illuminated at night time and well worth seeking out.
Around 20 km off the coast sits the Cham Islands. This is a popular spot for snorkeling and diving during the dry season and are best visited during July and August.
Get in touch with Cham Island Divers or Blue Coral in Hoi An to see about tours and diving trips out to island. They even have an overnight option where you can camp on the beach underneath the stars.
An Bang Beach
If you’re in need of a little beach time then one of Vietnam’s best beaches is not far away. Just 4km from Hoi An, An Bang is an expansive stretch of sand framed by magnificent Marble Mountains making it the perfect spot to chill or splash around.
With a fantastic combination of history, beauty, beaches, great food and a UNESCO listed Old Town, Hoi An really is a great spot to drop off the traveller trail when heading north or south in Vietnam.