Hoi An, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is a beautifully preserved ancient town located on Vietnam’s central coast. Known for its charming streets lined with colourful lanterns, well-preserved architecture, and rich cultural history, Hoi An offers visitors a unique and enchanting experience. This comprehensive guide will help you make the most of your visit to this captivating town.
Getting To and Around Hoi An
- Flights: The nearest airport to Hoi An is Da Nang International Airport (DAD), located about 30 kilometers away. It is well-connected to major cities worldwide, as well as domestic destinations within Vietnam.
- Buses and Trains: Hoi An is accessible by bus or train from other cities in Vietnam, with the nearest train station in Da Nang.
- Local transportation: Hoi An’s compact Old Town is best explored on foot or by bicycle. Motorbike taxis and regular taxis are also available for exploring the surrounding areas.
Top Attractions in Hoi An
- Hoi An Ancient Town: Wander through the narrow streets of this well-preserved historic town, admiring the architecture and soaking in the atmosphere.
- Japanese Covered Bridge: This iconic 18th-century bridge, featuring intricate carvings and a small temple, is a symbol of Hoi An and a must-see attraction.
- Assembly Hall of the Fujian Chinese Congregation: A stunning example of Chinese architecture, this hall is home to a beautiful temple dedicated to the sea goddess, Thien Hau.
- Hoi An Central Market: A bustling market where you can find a variety of goods, from fresh produce and local street food to souvenirs and handicrafts.
- An Bang Beach: Just a short distance from Hoi An, this beautiful beach offers a relaxing escape from the town’s busy streets.
Activities and Experiences in Hoi An
- Lantern Making Workshop: Learn the art of traditional lantern making from local artisans and create your own colorful lantern to take home.
- Cooking Class: Discover the secrets of Vietnamese cuisine by participating in a cooking class and learning how to prepare local dishes.
- My Son Sanctuary: Visit this UNESCO World Heritage site, an ancient Hindu temple complex located about an hour’s drive from Hoi An.
- Thu Bon River Boat Ride: Explore Hoi An from a different perspective by taking a leisurely boat ride along the Thu Bon River.
- Tailor-made Clothes: Hoi An is renowned for its skilled tailors, who can create custom-made clothing and accessories at affordable prices.
Local Hoi An Cuistine
Hoi An’s culinary scene offers a variety of local specialties, such as Cao Lau (thick noodles with pork and greens), Banh Mi (Vietnamese sandwich), and White Rose (shrimp dumplings). Enjoy these dishes at street food stalls, local eateries, or upscale restaurants.
Best Places to Stay in Hoi An
Hoi An offers a range of accommodations to suit different budgets and preferences, including guesthouses, hostels, boutique hotels, and luxury resorts. Popular areas to stay include:
- Hoi An Old Town: For easy access to the town’s main attractions, shops, and restaurants.
- Riverside: For a more tranquil experience along the Thu Bon River, with boutique hotels and charming guesthouses.
- Cua Dai and An Bang Beaches: For a beachside stay, with options ranging from budget-friendly accommodations to high-end resorts.
Tips for Visiting Hoi An
- The best time to visit Hoi An is during the dry season (February to May), when the weather is more pleasant and there are fewer tourists.
- Hoi An’s Old Town is pedestrian and bicycle-friendly, so consider renting a bike to explore the area with ease
- Learn a few basic Vietnamese phrases to help you navigate the town and connect with the locals. Simple phrases like “hello” (xin chào), “thank you” (cảm ơn), and “how much?” (bao nhiêu tiền) can be helpful.
- Dress modestly when visiting temples and religious sites to show respect for local customs and traditions.
- Visit Hoi An during the monthly Full Moon Lantern Festival, when the town comes alive with colorful lanterns and traditional performances. Note that during the festival, electric lights in the Old Town are turned off, creating a magical atmosphere.
- Be aware of potential scams, such as overcharging for taxis or cyclo rides. Research reputable transportation providers and negotiate prices beforehand.
- Don’t forget to purchase an entrance ticket for Hoi An’s Ancient Town, which covers admission to several attractions, including the Japanese Covered Bridge and select assembly halls.