Hoi An has something for everyone.
Whether roaming the Ancient Town streets or cooking up a dish of tasty Cau Lau, you’re sure to find something to make visiting Vietnam memorable.
So, I’ve put together the 12 best things to do in (and around) Hoi An so you can save yourself loads of time on your itinerary.
So, without wasting more time, let’s get into the top things to do in this small city in Central Vietnam.
1. Visit Hoi An Ancient Town
How’s a stroll through a UNESCO World Heritage Site sound?
Well, that’s precisely what you get from Hoi An’s Ancient Town. And it’s sure to leave you in awe.
Iconic yellow-walled buildings, old-style tiled roofs, and a relaxing river that winds and bends between it all. Hoi An is the quaint little river town you dreamed of as a child but thought never existed.
If you’re short on time on a visit to Hoi An, you absolutely cannot skip Hoi An Old Town. You can explore by moterbike, kayak, bicycle, or even a motorboat. It’s become an integral part of the increased tourism here.
Or, even better, try and find an Airbnb for cheap in the area so you can experience it all!
2. Take a boat trip on the Thu Bon River
Slowly cruising your way along the Thu Bon River is an experience you won’t forget anytime soon.
As you float along the brown waterways, you’ll be surrounded by thick vegetation and the occasional fishermen, but plenty of serenity. And you’ll get to visit some local spots as well!
You have two options when taking a boat: book a tour or do it yourself.
If you choose a day tour or night cruise, you’ll have plenty of options in the town’s center. If you do it independently, renting a kayak or paddle board is best.
Looking for a fun off the beaten way to see Hoi An? This is it.
3. Try out the local cuisine
Vietnamese food has always been phenomenal and Hoi An’s food is renowned in Vietnam.
Hoi An has everything if you want a big bowl of noodles or the most prime seafood.
The most popular Hoi An dish is Cao Lau, made with thick rice noodles, thin slices of pork, and plenty of herbs and seasoning. And you won’t find this dish outside of Hoi An. Due to its reliance on a specific spring in the town, Cao Lau is only made in Hoi An.
If noodle soup isn’t your thing, indulge with a Banh Mi, fresh seafood, or the Banh Beo dessert!
Either way, your taste buds will be screaming with pure joy. Try and take a food tour here so you can sample all the different delights.
4. Shop for souvenirs at the markets
The markets in Hoi An are always a fun experience.
Whether you’re shopping for food or gifts, simply wandering through the cramped stalls is enough of an event itself.
But you’d miss out on some great products if you simply browse! The stalls have tons of jewelry, clothing, artwork, handmade lanterns, and much more that you can pack in your bag for a great gift — whether to yourself or a friend!
Here are a few tips for making it the best experience:
- Don’t be afraid to haggle. It’s normal at the markets.
- Scrutinize the products, especially if it’s brand-name products (they could be fake)
- Enjoy the experience and have fun!
The most popular is Hoi An central market, which is large and full of items.
So, take your time and enjoy the experience!
5. Visit the Hoi An Museum of History & Culture
Located in the center of the Ancient Town, this museum is perfect for getting your dose of Vietnamese history and culture.
Diving through Hoi An‘s history, you can see artifacts, documents, and photos from Hoi An‘s past, giving you a view of how the city has changed throughout history.
Plus, there are plenty of exhibits and staff to help answer any questions.
While you may want to avoid spending one of Hoi An‘s beautiful days inside, this museum is perfect for those rainy day activities.
6. Get a custom-fit suit
Want to be a Dapper Dan at a fraction of the cost?
Then one of Hoi An‘s many tailors is waiting to measure you up.
Hoi An has a long history of tailoring and other craftsmanship, so it’s the perfect place to grab the suit you’ve always wanted. You can select from various fabrics and styles, then work with the tailor to get your sizing right.
Typically, you can find a suit in the $200-$500 range, which is a steal compared to custom suits in most countries.
So, take advantage and set yourself up in style!
7. Take a cooking class
Want to take Hoi An‘s Vietnamese cuisine home with you?
Then one of its many local cooking classes can teach you how to make them as if you were a culinary chef.
Learn from a local how to perfect the distinct flavors and add a few new recipes to your belt.
Best of all, you get the whole experience in a cooking class. Head to the local market to find and buy your fresh ingredients, then back to the cooking school, where you’ll begin preparing everything. The typical dishes include spring rolls, pho, banh mi, or cao lau.
Then, in the end, you get to taste all your expertly-cooked dishes. Not a bad way to learn and experience more about Hoi An, right?
8. Relax on An Bang Beach
There are plenty of beaches for you to choose from in the area.
Whether you head to Da Nang or stay in Hoi An, you’ll have some gorgeous white-sanded beaches ready to enjoy.
But, this Hoi An beach is the perfect place to sunbathe, take a stroll, or dive into the cool waters of the South China Sea. Plus, there are plenty of bars and restaurants nearby, so you can enjoy your vacation to the fullest.
Whether you want to relax or do water sports, An Bang Beach is a great place to do it.
9. Go to a lantern-making class
Lanterns are a Hoi An specialty.
As you roam the streets, you’ll see lanterns hanging around more than street cats.
But why not make one yourself?
Luckily, you can! With a lantern-making class, you get firsthand experience from an expert. Learn the history, technique, and why lanterns are essential in the area.
There are few places where signing up to make a lantern sounds exciting, but Hoi An is one of them.
10. Explore the My Son ruins
Near Hoi An, the My Son ruins are a perfect day trip from Hoi An if you’ve done everything within the city.
Dating back to the 4th century, the remaining Hindu temples have been turned into UNESCO World Heritage Sites. And it’s worth checking out.
Nestled in the thick jungle, the sculptures and carvings give you a glimpse of the area and its history. While it’s not as grand as Angkor Wat, it’s a lovely little brother to the ruins.
You can explore the ruins yourself or book a tour from Hoi An to make things more stress-free.
If history is your jam, then the My Son ruins are perfect.
11. Visit the Japanese Covered Bridge
How could you visit Hoi An without visiting the famous Japanese Covered Bridge?
This bridge was built by Japanese merchants in the 16th century and has stood in the center of Hoi An ever since.
When you look at it up close, you see designs, patterns, and characters etched into it. Take the time to appreciate the detail and beauty of making the bridge. You won’t be the only one, though. This is a popular tourist attraction, so get there early!
Not a bad way to enjoy the culture of Hoi An, right?
12. Tour the Tra Que Vegetable Village
I had the privilege of living right next to Tra Que Village during my time in Vietnam.
And I always enjoyed wandering around their gardens.
The area is an agricultural hub, and you’ll notice immediately as you walk past the various vegetables that line the garden. As you walk, you’ll see the farmers moving from row to row, taking care of the plants.
If you want to experience the garden fully, book a guided tour. You’ll learn about the history and best practices for gardening. Some offer cooking classes as a pairing so you can combine two excellent experiences into one!
So, if you’ve got a green thumb, a visit to Tra Que Vegetable Village should be top of your list.
There are plenty of things to do in Hoi An, and listing them all would turn into a novel. Traveling to Vietnam is such a worthwhile bucket list item to check off. Hoi An is just one of the many vibrant cities to visit. You should include it in a package tour along with Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh that can make the trifecta of a perfect vacation.
However, with this list, you’re ready to hit Hoi An’s old streets and enjoy your trip to the fullest.