Hoi An, a city so full of colour, culture and life and is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Vietnam or even the world for that matter.
The ancient town is surrounded by exceptionally colourful colonial buildings, endless restaurants & bars, fantastic shopping/tailoring opportunities and a contagious atmosphere. By night, the told town turns magical with an array of beautifully coloured lanterns lighting up the sidewalks and night markets. It’s impossible not to love this picturesque town! If not for anything above, but for the food!
Hoi An is the city to eat and a lot of it! There are so many restaurants, it was unbelievable. “Why can’t we just have more room?” We found ourselves talking to our stomachs more than once trying to convince them it was time to eat again. The food in Hoi An was some of the best we’ve eaten in Vietnam, just be prepared to pay the higher price tag for the restaurants in the centre of the old town.
The Perfect Hoi An 3-Day Itinerary
Below we’ve outlined our 3-day itinerary in Hoi An which can easily be mixed and matched as it suits you.
Day 1: Exploration & Tailor Made Clothes
If you’ve just come off an overnight bus you’ll immediately jump straight into the Hoi An way of life by noticing how busy the streets are, even at 6:30 am. Shop owners are setting up shop, the markets are in full swing, motorbikes are zipping in the street and you can smell the noodle soups being made. It always amazes me how life in Asia starts as early as 4:00 am. Head to your hotel to try and get an early check in. If the rooms are available, you should be able to check in with only a small charge (ours was only $5).
If you can’t check into your hotel, jump on a bike (or walk) and head to Rosies for breakfast, right by the famous Japanese Bridge in a small hidden alleyway. They have delicious smoothie bowls, amazing crispy French toast and proper coffee.
Continue your exploration over the Japanese Bridge and into the old town with this self-guided walking tour. Walk the colourful streets, photograph the houses, become orientated with the town and take in all the possible restaurants to eat at for your next meal!
If you’re planning to get anything tailor made, do so today so there is plenty of time for alterations. You’re spoilt for choice with tailors in Hoi An, it’s slightly overwhelming! For the best service and quality at a decent price, stop by Kimmy’s Custom Tailor, just outside of the old town. Unsure? See their stellar reviews here. This could take anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours depending on how many items you’re getting. Take your time, it’ll be worth it!
Insider Tip: If you need to ship anything, don’t do it at the tailor. Head to the local post office in a small lane (Bưu điện Trần Hưng Đạo, 47 Trần Hưng Đạo, Minh An, Tp. Hội An, Quảng Nam) as it’s half the cost to send internationally.
After all these measurements, it’s time for lunch. Are you looking for one of the most delicious Bahn Mi sandwiches in the whole of Vietnam? Great. You should. Jump on your bike and grab some lunch at Banh Mi Phuong (Phuong’s Bread) and order the BBQ Bahn Mi. From the outside, you can’t tell this is a restaurant but step in and be prepared for one of the most delicious Bahn Mi in Vietnam! Crispy on the outside, soft and delicious on the inside. They are so tasty & so cheap 20,000 VND (less than $1 people!). I’m sure you’ll want a second. Do it. No one’s judging.
If you haven’t already, check into your hotel and book yourself in for a cooking class for tomorrow! Spend the afternoon relaxing on the river, getting lost in the alleyways and visiting one of the famous houses such as the Tan Ky House.
End your day with dinner at one of the most popular restaurants in town; Morning Glory. They have a very extensive menu from local delicacies to classic and everything in between. A really great place to try Cao Lau and White Rose Dumplings. Time for bed, it’s been a big day!
Day 2: Cooking Class, Massage & Night Markets
Rise and shine early to enjoy a light breakfast at your hotel before setting out for a cooking class at 8:00 am. A definite must do for all food lovers in Hoi An! There are many different classes to choose from but we strongly recommend Hoi An Eco Cooking Class which runs a half day tour until 1:30 pm.
You’ll visit the local morning markets, take a boat ride in a classic coconut bamboo boat and learn all about the Vietnamese cuisine in a very well organised setting. You can see our experience here. No need for lunch today, you’ll be filled to the brim with all the glorious dishes you cooked!
The cooking class will drop you wherever you request so why not grab a 60-minute relaxing massage at White Rose Spa for 350,000 VND ($14 USD).
Spend tonight roaming around the Old Town to admire all of the beautiful coloured lanterns, stroll through the night market (located just over the river) and pick yourself some souvenirs to take home. Watch your bags and don’t forget the buy one of those amazing lanterns! Once you’re done shopping, grab dinner at either Hola Tacos (Mexican) or MIX (Greek) for something different. Or go local.
If you’re in the mood to party, Tiger Tiger Bar is the place to be and where almost every backpacker is found. 2 for 1 drinks, loud top 40’s music and free shisha and/or vodka if there’s more than 3 of you. Don’t drink too much, you still have one more day of adventures!
Note: Based on your alteration needs (if any) you’ll need to schedule a time sometime in your day to go back for your second fitting.
Day 3: Bike Tours & Beach
By now you’ve seen the old town (and hopefully aren’t hungover this morning!). It’s time to venture out to the countryside, the rice fields & Tra Que Vegetable Village. There are a bunch of companies that run these tours with prices varying greatly.
If you happen to be here on a Tuesday, Saturday or Sunday, it is worth checking out Hoi An Free Tours which is a half day tour to Kim Bong Village and is run by university students wanting to practice their English. It’s just $4 USD for the bike rental, boat and donation to the local community. A pretty sweet deal for a 4-hour tour right?
If you’re not here on one of those days, jump on any of the other bike tours with Heaven and Earth Bicycle Tours or Hoi An Fun Tours. OR if you’re comfortable on a motorbike, roam the rice fields on the stretch of road between the town and the beach yourself.
After you’ve ridden around the countryside, you’re no doubt boiling hot. Keep your bike (or grab one from your hotel, if you were on tour) and head towards An Bang Beach, just 4km down one straight road from the Old Town. This long stretch of beach is clean and the water is quite calm. It is unbelievably hot in the summer months (June-August) so be sure to grab yourself an umbrella. Enjoy the afternoon relaxing on the beach and have a cocktail or two at La Plague Restaurant & Bar before heading back to town before it’s dark. The crappy bicycles will likely have no lights on them.
Insider Tip: You will have to pay for parking at the beach but the parking lots a little further back from the beach give you a free water with the 10,000 VND parking fee.
Spend the rest of the evening doing what you ever you enjoyed most. Don’t forget to collect your tailored goods, bike around the town, do some more shopping & soak up the incredible atmosphere of Hoi An.
For your last night, why not spend it eating Cao Lau, Hoi An’s signature dish like a local in one of the many side alleys. Mr Ty has been making Cao Lau and only Cao Lau for 20 years. Find him at Ty Cao Lau in a small alley, (just off Phan Chu Trinh St). Embrace the plastic chairs, it’s the way of life in Vietnam!
Where to Stay in Hoi An?
Everything is easily accessible in Hoi An and only a short bike ride away. There aren’t too many hotels in the centre of the old town and if they are they’re definitely on the $$ side.
Here are some of our suggestions:
- Minh Phat – Local homestay with large rooms, good breakfast and free bike rental. Private Room USD $15.
- Tribee Cotu – Very well located, clean hostel with breakfast included. Private Room USD $17/Dorm $7 USD
- Sunflower Hostel – Backpacker hostel with party atmosphere and pool. Private Room USD $18/Dorm $6 USD.
- Coconut Garden Homestay – Slightly further away from the old town but amazing rooms, staff and great value. Private Room USD $13.
- Hoi An Silk Boutique Hotel and Spa – Great location, gym, pool, good breakfast. Private Room USD $45
- Anantara Hoi An Resort – Looking to splurge? Private Room USD $300.
Have more time in Hoi An?
There are plenty more trips to consider!
- Consider a trip out to Cham Islands to go snorkelling, diving, visit a pagoda and the local fishing villages. Tours run from the city daily and cost 650,000 VND ($28 USD) for a full day (7:30 am – 2:30 pm). It’s best to book 1-2 days in advance.
- Half Day trip to My Son Sanctuary, 42km south-west of Hoi An. My Son is UNESCO World Heritage site dating from the 4th to 13th centuries and is now believed to be the longest inhabited archaeological site in Indochina. Tours can be booked anywhere in the city centre or you can take yourself on a motorbike. Note: Don’t buy this tour or any tour on Viator, you’ll pay 3x the amount!
- Jump on the back of a Vespa Bike and explore the countryside, rural villages and the outer skirts of Hoi An.
- Visit the Thanh Ha Pottery Village just 3km west of the town. Watch how these women work whilst making plates, bowls, ornaments and the infamous clay whistles. You can also have a turn at the equipment.
How to get to Hoi An
Due to its central location, Hoi An is very accessible from either the North or the South of Vietnam.
Photo Credit: Vietnam Railways
- Train: There is no train station in Hoi An. The closest train station is in Da Nang 45 minutes North. From here you can reach Hoi An by taxi or the local yellow bus. They run every 20 minutes and should cost 25,000 VND ($1.10 USD) but beware of paying 5x this amount. The Vietnamese really take us foreigners for a ride sometimes (no pun intended). Check out the most up to date train schedule on The Man in Seat 61.
- Bus: The most convenient way to reach the centre of Hoi An. Buses arrive from Da Lat, Ho Chi Minh City, Hue & Nha Trang. We recommend using The Sinh Tourist. Tickets can easily be purchased online.
- Flight: The nearest airport is in Da Nang which has domestic connections from Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and Hue with Vietnam Airlines and VietJet Air. A taxi from the airport to Hoi An will cost approx 450,000 ($20 USD).
How long to spend in Hoi An?
We spent 4 days but could have easily spent another 2 or 3. Not everyone has the time to spend a week here or there but realistically, we really don’t recommend spending any less than 3 days. If you’re anything like us, you’ll likely extend your time in this town. And there’s nothing wrong with that!
- Expect to have dinner early. Restaurants close as early as 9:00 pm. Some stay open till 10:00 pm or 11:00 pm but don’t bank on it. The Old Town ends early so don’t be a night owl and expect a meal too late. We learnt this the hard way.
- Always count your change, unfortunately, we were shortchanged more than once.
- The best way to get around the old town is by bicycle during the day, but walking at night. The streets are can be very busy and navigating them with a bike can be a pain.
- Watch your belongings closely at the night markets.
- Make use of the free bikes at your hotel. They may not be amazing quality but hey, they’re free!
- Don’t go to the beach in the middle of the day in summer (June – August). Unless you’re under an umbrella. Jacob’s flip-flops melted in the heat. God only knows what was happening to our poor skin!
- Don’t bother with the super-lax “entry fee” to the Old Town if you’re not planning to go inside any of the historical sights.
Don’t miss out on the beautiful Hải Vân Pass to Hue, one of the most famous roads in Vietnam. Jump on the back of a motorbike with an experienced driver and let them do the work (Hue To Go Tours) or for experienced riders, you can rent your own bike and have them drop your luggage to Hue.
The day trip took just over 6 hours (it’s up to you how long or short you want to take). We passed through incredible scenery, beautiful mountain ranges, rice fields and coastal roads. It’s definitely the way to go if you’re heading to Hue! We loved it!
If you have anything else to add, feel free to comment below and let us know!
Married Days Survived: 829