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The beautiful city of Hội An in Vietnam is definitely one of the most popular destinations amongst lots of Southeast Asia backpackers. There are so many things to do in Hoi An, a city with so much vibrance and atmosphere. Follow this Hoi An guide to find out about the best of Hoi An.
HOI AN GUIDE
Is Hoi An worth visiting? How many days in Hoi An is enough?
Absolutely yes, you can’t go backpacking Vietnam without visiting Hoi An. The buzz and charm of the city is somewhat addictive so I can’t really say how long is enough, but one day in Hoi An certainly isn’t. It’s the sort of place you want to get stuck in and just chill out. I ended up spending 4 days here – check out my Hoi An itinerary so you can make the most of your time exploring Hoi An.
How to get to Hoi An?
I can’t start at Hoi An guide without talking about how to get there! The two most popular ways to get to Hội An are by bus or motorbike. If you are travelling Vietnam North to South you will most likely be coming from Hue. The 126km distance from Hoi An to Hue can easily be completed by a 3 hour bus journey, or you could take the scenic Hai Van pass on a motorbike. If you don’t fancy driving yourself, check out the Hoi An / Hue Easy Rider.
If you are travelling Vietnam south to North you will likely come from Nha Trang or Da Lat. Both of these destinations are a bit further away so you will have to take a night bus. Dalat to Hoi An takes around 12 hours. There is the option to fly to Hoi An as Danang Airport is near Hoi An.
Where to stay in Hoi An?
The best hostels in Hoi An are some of the best hostels in Vietnam. Hoi An old town is one of the best areas to stay in as this is really the tourist hub of the city, so most of the backpackers in Hoi An will be here. If you are looking for a hostel, Love.ly Hostel has to be one of the best places to stay in Hoi An. The staff there are absolutely amazing and it’s the perfect place for solo travellers, as there’s such a friendly and social atmosphere. When you first arrive a member of staff will give you a map of Hoi An, highlighting all the best places for you to go!
What to do in Hoi An
Visit Hoi An Night Market
The Hoi An night market is definitely a cut above the rest! With all of it’s bright lights, vibrant lanterns and hundreds of street stalls, ancient town Hoi An really comes to life at night. If you are wondering whether or not Hoi An is safe at night, it’s much busier in the evening than it is in the day. Despite being super busy every night, I think this is what really makes the atmopshere. The night market should definitely be top of your list of things to do in Hoi An.
When I spent 4 days in Hoi An I went to the night market every night – check out my itinerary for Hoi An here.
Learn to Cook Like a Local
There are an abundance of cooking classes available throughout Hoi An, just ask at your hostel / hotel or do some research beforehand. I managed to get in on a free spring roll making class at Tribee Kinh Hostel where you made your own fresh and fried spring rolls to enioy. Definitely check if this hostel is hosting any free events like this when you are in the city – you don’t have to be guest there to attend!
Cycle to the Beach
There are three beaches in Hoi An to choose from – Bang Beach, Hidden Beach and Cua Dai Beach. In my opinion the best beach in Hoi An is Hidden Beach. It’s around 20 minutes from the old town to Hidden Beach on a bicycle, which is much quicker and more fun than walking. If you use the walking directions on your phone map you’ll be taken through the rice paddies, making cycling in Hoi An a much more pleasant experience.
Bike parking and renting a beach chair is free at Hidden Beach and there’s a small shop to buy food and drink from. It’s the ideal place to spend a day relaxing, so for this reason I think it’s the best Hoi An beach.
Have an Outfit Tailor Made
There are so many well rated to tailors to choose from in Hoi An, since the city has become a sort of tailoring ‘mecca’. Bebe Hoi An is the original tailors and is therefore the most expensive. I went to a place called Five Seasons and they did a great job – everything was made to measured, fitted and adjusted in just 24 hours! I hadn’t planned to do anything like this when I was travelling but once you get to Hoi An. It’s definitely a unique experience and I love that no one else in the world has got this outfit. My two pieces cost me 50USD.
Find out more about some of the best tailors in Hoi An here.
Make Your Own Lantern
This was one of my favourite things to do in Hoi An. There are a few places to go lantern making but I would recommend The Lantern Lady. You can find it opposite the Thai Kitchen in Old Town Hoi An. It costs 90,000 VND (£3) to cover your own lantern or 120,000VND (£4) to start from scratch by building the frame. The class takes around 1-1.5 hours. Once you’ve finished the lantern folds up so it’s easy to carry around.
Explore Ancient Town Hoi An
This UNESCO World Heritage site is small enough to get around on foot. There are a few notable buildings here including Chinese temples, the Old Japanese bridge, pagodas, wooden shop-houses, French colonial-houses and old canals. There are so many small shops are here selling souvenirs, food and handmade gifts so it’s the perfect place to go shopping in Hoi An.
Try Cao Lao
If you’re looking for some unique food in Hoi An be sure to try Cao Lao. This Vietnamese noodle dish is specific to Hoi An. The rice noodles are soaked in lye water giving them a different colour and texture to other noodle dishes. Traditionally it is made with pork but I had a lot of vegetarian Cao Lau.
Best Places to Eat in Hoi An
Finally on the Hoi An guide – how to eat your way around Hội An Vietnam. If there’s one thing you won’t struggle with it’s eating in Hoi An! Banh Mi in Hoi An is said to be some of the best in Vietnam, so trying some of this national dish is definitely a must do.
Bamboo Restaurant – found at the back of Tribee Kinh hostel this is a really nice spot for cheap Asian food.
Phi Banh Mi – just down the road from Love.ly Hostel this Banh Mi place gives you the option to add avocado to any of your sandwiches for an extra 5k (approx. 15p). Find Phi at 88 Thai Phien Hoi An.
Night Market – every night between 6pm and 10pm you will find some great street food stands selling lots of cheap options, both sweet and savoury. And you can certainly try some slightly ‘different’ foods if you wanted to!
Khoai Tai Quong – I stumbled across this little restaurant behind the night markets. As it is away from the main street it’s a lot cheaper than all the food joints on the river front. I had the best Cao Lau here for only £1!
Bahn Mi Phuong – according to Anthony Bourdain this shop sells the best Bahn Mi in Vietnam. Subsequently there is always a queue outside the shop. Definitely go and try it out for yourself whilst in Hoi An. Find Bahn Mi Phuong at 2B Phan Chau Trinh Hoi An.
Nia Fruit and Juice Bar – this place is tucked away not too far from the night market and the Old Japanese Bridge. Their fresh juices and smoothies contain no added sugar and are a HEAP cheaper than those at home. I would definitely recommend the guava juice. You can find Nia at 86 Duong Phan Chau Trinh – opposite Baba’s Kitchen.
Queen Bahn Mi – another Bahn Mi legend found in the streets of Hoi An. This Bahn Mi place in particular had great veggie options and amazing fruit juices on offer. Complete your Bahn Mi hattrick and visit them at 115 Tran Cao Van Street.
Banana Leaf Café – this little place overlooks the river and sells crepes with blue cheese and camembert! Check it out for yourself at 84 Bach Dang Street Hoi An.
Ba Dam – this ‘buffet style’ restaurant sells only vegan foods and is so cheap! I had a Cao lau with fake meat, a steam bun, a ‘ham’ burger and a drink for under £2. Definitely put this place near the top of your list of things to do in Hoi An.
Travelling from Hoi An
To conclude this Hoi An guide you’re sadly going to have to leave this beautiful city. Your next destination is likely going to be Hue, Dalat or Nha Trang. Both the Hoi An to Nha Trang bus and the Hoi an Dalat bus take between 12 and 14 hours. The Hoi an to Hue bus takes just 3 hours. Or you could of course take a flight from Danang Airport, just 40km from Hoi An.
I hope this Hoi An guide proves useful to any budding travelling hoping to visit Hoi An! If you want to make sure you get the best of Hoi An, check out my 4 day itinerary.
Enjoy your trip!
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