Looking for the best the best things to do in Hoi An?
Hoi An, located on Vietnam’s central coast, was my favorite city I visited in Vietnam. It’s very clean, beautiful, and has great food! Not only is Hoi An a city that should not be missed on your Vietnam trip, but you should also carve out at least 3 days (if not more) to fully enjoy it Believe me, you won’t want to leave! There are so many things to do in Hoi An- keep reading for my recommendations!
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Getting to Hoi An:
Motorbike/Car: If you’re coming from the North, you should definitely take the scenic Hai Van Pass coastal highway from Hue to Hoi An. I highly recommend taking the guided motorbike tour along the Hai Van Pass with Le Family Riders. Check out the details in my other blog post: Hai Van Pass: Vietnam’s Epic Motorbike Day Trip.
Plane: If you’re short on time, and coming from Ho Chi Minh City or Hanoi, you can take a cheap flight into the Da Nang airport. Hoi An is only about a 45 min taxi/Uber ride from there. (Yes- they have Uber there!)
Train/Bus: You can take the overnight train or sleeper bus to Da Nang/Hoi An as well.
Best Things to Do in Hoi An:
1. Wander the Lantern-Lined Streets of Hoi An Ancient Town
Honestly one of the best parts of Hoi An is just walking around the streets aimlessly. In the Ancient Town district, the streets are closed off to cars and are pedestrian-only, which is nice. Colorful lanterns line the streets, and there are cute local shops and cafes at every turn.
There’s also the river area, where at night the bridge is lit up and you can buy a floating lantern for about 10 cents, make a wish, and push it off into the water.
The bars and nightlife are right across the bridge, and are really fun, including the “Mr. Bean Bar” pictured below.
2. Take a Cooking Class
Taking a cooking class is one of the top things to do in Hoi An, and there are lots to choose from! I highly recommend Hoi An Eco Cooking Class. This half-day class includes a visit to the market, a bamboo boat ride, and a cooking class where you learn to make a variety of Vietnamese dishes, all for only $32 USD!
First, they will pick you up at your hotel and bring you to the local market to show you where they source all of the ingredients for the day.
After you’re done exploring the market, they’ll bring you to the cooking class location-a nice, clean, open-air environment set up with tables and stations for the creation of each dish. Before you start cooking, though, you first get to go on a bamboo boat ride through the river to check out the local fisherman bringing in their catches of the day.
Next, you’ll begin the cooking process. You learn how to make Pho, rice paper (and spring rolls), Fish Sauce, Banana Flower Salad, Bánh Xèo, and more! And the best part is, you get to enjoy eating it all once you’re done. If you’re trying to decide what to do in Hoi An, a cooking class should definitely be on your list! However, you should book ahead of time as the classes get booked up fairly quickly.
3. Get Clothes Tailor-Made
One of the most popular things to do in Hoi An is to get clothes custom-made, since Hoi An is famous for their tailors. People come from all over the world to get clothes made for a fraction of the cost of what it would be elsewhere! There are a ton of tailors to choose from, which can make the process a bit overwhelming. But as long as you do some research beforehand, you will be fine!
The tailors in Hoi An can make pretty much anything you want. If you’re looking for a suit, wedding dress, ball gown, etc., definitely make sure you go to a nicer place- you get what you pay for!
My boyfriend got a suit made at A Dong Silk and was super happy with how it turned out. He got a suit with an extra pair of pants and 2 shirts for about $350 USD.
When you walk in the store, you can pick from the huge library of fabric they have on the shelves and begin the fitting process. You get to customize every detail of the suit- even down to what fabric you want for the inside pocket and what style buttons you want. Make sure you think about what you want ahead of time! You can also bring in pictures for examples, and they have iPads in the store in case you want to peruse Pinterest to find something in particular you want them to make.
Expect to come back to the store for additional fittings 1-2 times after your first visit. Also- they keep your measurements on file in case you find yourself needing another suit a few years later- they can look you up, make you one and mail it to you!
If you don’t need or want something fancy, you can always just stop in a smaller shop to get something cute/trendy made for you, which is what I did. I went to Kim Thien (right around the corner from A Dong Silk) and got black jumpsuit and a patterned long-sleeve romper made for only about $30 each. This only required one fitting- she had some samples hanging in the store that I liked and tried on, and she then measured me so that she could make one to my size. I came back the next day and she had it ready!
There are also a plethora of shops making leather goods. My boyfriend got some brown leather shoes made from a place called 09 Shoes– they turned out great! They measure your foot and you get to pick the shade of leather that you want. Expect to come back for 1-2 fittings for this as well.
I got 2 pairs of leather sandals made from a smaller shop right down the block from where we were staying (DK’s Hotel) called Puppy. Since sandals are a lot easier to make to size than close-toed shoes, I didn’t have to come in for additional fittings. Also, they were only $15 each! Definitely recommend.
4. Eat a Bánh Mì!
If you’re trying to decide what to do in Hoi An, eating a Bánh Mì should be top of your list. A Bánh Mì is a baguette with pork/ham, veggies & herbs, and pâté. Hoi An is known for having the best Bánh Mì sandwich in the world (Anthony Bourdain said it himself!).
The famous Bánh Mì place where Anthony Bourdain ate is called Bánh Mì Phuong. While it was really good and well-worth a stop, I actually liked another place better- called Bánh Mì Queen. I recommend checking out both places!
What Not To Do in Hoi An:
1. Don’t waste your time going to the beach
Hoi An is pretty close to the beach, so for our trip I had booked a hotel on the beach for one night so that we could check it out on our last day. However, when we got there we were so underwhelmed and missed the city of Hoi An so much that after an hour, we checked out and came back to the hotel we had been staying at in Hoi An!
If you don’t live near the beach, or if you have a lot of time to spend in Hoi An, perhaps it would be a nice day trip. But there’s really not much going on there, the water isn’t clear, and the beaches weren’t the cleanest. Don’t waste your time going out there- there are plenty of great things to do in the actual city of Hoi An!
2. Don’t do the Cham Island Day Trip
You will probably see the day excursion to Cham Island being offered from your hotel/hostel, however I read a bunch of reviews from people who said that its not worth it and is underwhelming (similar to the beach reasons I noted above). If you’re looking for a tropical getaway, Vietnam really isn’t the place (check out Thailand for that!)
Where to Stay in Hoi An:
Now that you know the best things to do in Hoi An, next step is deciding where to stay! We stayed in a private room at DK’s Hotel, and I highly recommend it.
The staff that work there are super friendly, and hang out outside on the front patio interacting with guests. We got a lot of recommendations from them on things to do in Hoi An, and had great conversations! Also, they offer one free Bia Hoi beer per day. Bia Hoi is local light draft beer popular throughout Vietnam. The free breakfast is great, too (get the pancake)! It’s only a short 5 minute walk from the hotel to Hoi An Ancient Town, so the location was great as well.
If you don’t stay there, I recommend getting a hotel close to Hoi An’s Ancient Town. I know there are a few hotels that offer free bicycle rentals, as I saw people riding them around, which may be a good option if you are further from town.