Hoi An lanterns in the Ancient Town in Vietnam

The Best Things to Do in Hoi An in Central Vietnam (Plus Tips for Avoiding the Crowds)

The colourful ancient port city of Hoi An is one of the top tourism destinations in Vietnam. Wondering what to do in Hoi An? Read on!

Located less than an hour away from the shimmering coastal shores of Da Nang is Hoi An, a UNESCO-listed town best known for its unique lantern-filled Old Quarter.

Bougainvillea in Hoi An Old Town in Vietnam

Visitors from around the world venture to Vietnam to explore the cobblestone paths between mustard-hued shophouses on foot or on two wheels, and to marvel as the riverside comes alive.

Lanterns and Hoi An riverside in Vietnam with text overlay Phuoc Kien Assembly Hall in Hoi An Ancient Town with text overlay Woman standing under lanterns in Old Town of Hoi An in Vietnam with text overlay Lanterns in Hoi An Ancient Town at sunset with text overlay
Hoi An lanterns in the Ancient Town in Vietnam

As the sun goes down, a kaleidoscope of lanterns illuminate the waterfront and alleyways.

Boats at Hoi An riverside in Vietnam

Beyond the bicycle-filled Old Town you will find lush rice paddies in the nearby countryside, a submerged coconut forest, ancient ruins and sanctuaries and beaches just south of the Da Nang strip.

Rice paddies in Hoi An Vietnam

Personally, we simply loved our 3 days in Hoi An. It is the type of destination where you can lean into meandering along and striking a balance between exploration and relaxation.

Cycling in Hoi An Old Town in Vietnam

Prices for boutique hotels, food and tours are extremely reasonable, and getting around was a breeze thanks to how walk-able and cycling-friendly the Old Town is.

Old shophouses in Hoi An Vietnam

Hoi An, meaning “peaceful meeting place”, offers something for every type of traveler; the ideal Hoi An itinerary consists of spending the morning exploring the well-preserved heritage sites and landmarks and sipping on the perfect coffee with views over the ancient town; indulging in the incredible and vibrant food and cocktail scene in Hoi An; and relaxing after a busy day of sightseeing next to the pool or by the ocean at a chic beach club.

Phuoc Kien Assembly Hall in Hoi An Vietnam

Here are the top things to do in Hoi An that you won’t want to miss!

Where is Hoi An in Vietnam?

View of Da Nang from Marble Mountains near Da Nang in Vietnam

Hoi An is located in Central Vietnam on the eastern coast, an hours’ drive away from Da Nang International Airport. If you are traveling from other major cities in Vietnam, it is just over an hour by domestic flight from either Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City.

Travel tips for visiting Hoi An in Vietnam

Streets of Hoi An Ancient Town in Vietnam

First time to Vietnam or Hoi An? Here’s what you need to know before you go.

Da Nang International Airport in Vietnam

✈️ The closest airport to Hoi An is Da Nang International Airport. You can apply for a 30 day e-visa from the official Vietnam e-visa website if you hold a passport from one of these 46 countries, and though the website design is clunky and outdated the website works just fine (Note: There are many websites purporting to be the “official” visa website, so be careful when you apply for a Vietnam visa online!) If you hold a passport from certain Southeast Asian and European countries you may be eligible to enter visa-free – check this guide for more details.

To be on the safe side, apply for your Vietnam e-visa 1 week ahead of your trip, as the e-visa takes a minimum of 3 working days to be processed. There have been many instances where it has taken upwards of 4-6 days and people have missed their flights. You should also ensure that your point of entry is correct in the application; if you applied for entry into Hanoi’s Noi Bai International Airport for example, you will not be allowed to enter via any other airport in Vietnam.

Vietnamese currency notes

💱 The currency in Vietnam is the Vietnamese Dong and the exchange rate is approximately US$1: 23,000 VND, 1 Euro: 25,000 VND 15,000 IDR or AU$1: 16,000 VND. There are ATMs in the airport and local banks located outside the departures hall (after you exit on the left) where you can withdraw or exchange a small sum to get you started, and then you can visit a local ATM or money exchange place once you are in Hoi An. Legitimate currency exchange shops in Hoi An advertise the rates clearly and do not charge a commission.

As the large denomination notes in Vietnam can be confusing, make sure you count your cash before leaving to avoid any later disputes. The majority of hotels, tourist restaurants and supermarkets accept credit card payments (Visa and Mastercard are often preferred over American Express in Asia), though you will still need cash to pay drivers and for any tips. I recommend getting your hands on plenty of small-denomination notes such as 10,000, 20,000 and 50,000 VND for tipping.

📱 Buy a local Vietnamese SIM card. The easiest way to do that is via Klook – you can get a 4 GB/day Vinaphone SIM card and pick it up from Da Nang airport on arrival. Buy your local Vietnam SIM card here. You’ll never get lost in the city if you have access to Google Maps!

🎟️ You pretty much never have to pay full price for admissions tickets in Hoi An as most tour operators, car charters, spas and major attractions are listed on Klook. Just click here and search for places you want to go, and book online for discounted entry or head on over here to read more about how to use Klook to book travel experiences.

People in Ancient Town of Hoi An in Vietnam

🌤️ The best time to visit Hoi An is typically considered to be during the dry months between February to June, which also means this is the peak travel season in Hoi An and the crowds can be overwhelming. From April onwards the heat starts to pick up and the mid-day sun can be sweltering, so come prepared with a hat and plenty of sunscreen if you are traveling to Hoi An in the summer months. Most people tend to avoid traveling to Hoi An from October to January as this is when the storms usually hit.

Trieu Chau Assembly Hall in Hoi An Vietnam

👚 What to wear in Hoi An: As a top tourism destination the dress code in Hoi An is generally fairly relaxed. Vacation-wear is the norm, so go ahead and pack your dresses, shorts and crop tops. Many Hoi An attractions including places in the Old Town and countryside are not shaded, so you won’t regret wearing light, breathable clothing and bringing a hat. If you plan on visiting any temples or assembly halls you should dress appropriately and wear clothing that covers your legs and shoulders, though this is not strictly enforced.

💵 Tipping in Hoi An: Tips are always appreciated by those in the hospitality industry, though not necessarily expected. We were always very happy to give anywhere from 20,000-50,000 VND to bell boys, housekeeping, drivers and masseuses for their help. In my experience, no one ever “hangs around” waiting for a tip – everyone was always very appreciative of the gesture.

🌐 Language in Hoi An: The main language spoken in Hoi An is Vietnamese, though most signs and menus will be in English as well – especially within and around the main tourism areas. Those in the hospitality sector will understand and speak English, though if you are getting a Grab car to get around there may be a slight language barrier.

Heritage buildings in Hoi An Old Town in Vietnam

🗓️ Wondering how many days to spend in Hoi An? Though Hoi An is compact and most landmarks are within a 15-20 minute drive from each other, for a first time visitor I would recommend spending no fewer than 2-3 days in Hoi An to explore the Ancient Town and beyond, and anywhere between 3-5 days if you plan on embarking on day trips to Da Nang, Ba Na Hills, the My Son Sanctuary or Hue.

🛏️ Booking hotels in Hoi An: If it is your first time to Hoi An, you should look at staying close to the Hoi An Ancient Town area. You’ll want to make sure that you choose based on location, facilities, room/property design and service quality. We stayed at and highly recommend RiverTown Hoi An Resort & Spa (formerly Ann Retreat) or you can check out some other highly-rated Hoi An hotel options here. Read on for even more Hoi An hotel options that you might want to consider.

🚁 Flying a drone in Hoi An: You must apply for a license to fly your drone in Vietnam. This process can be expensive and complicated – more details here. If you are a recreational UAV user you may want to consider leaving your drone at home.

Safety in Hoi An

Hoi An Ancient Town entry rules and ticket in Vietnam

The vast majority of visits to Hoi An and Vietnam are trouble free. Violent crime against tourists occurs infrequently, but petty crime including pickpocketing and bag-snatching are not uncommon. As you would anywhere else in the world, keep a close eye on your belongings, especially in crowded areas and if you are visiting the beach.

There are a number of common scams in Vietnam such as switching higher-denomination notes with lower ones when exchanging currency or giving change, and overcharging for services; the rule of thumb to follow is if an offer seems “too good to be true” or overly convenient, it could very well be part of a scam.

Though not a “scam” as such, if you are traveling with young children and babies to Hoi An it is common for street vendors to try to hand your children toys as many children will grab them. The vendor will then ask you to buy the toy (usually some sort of windmill on a stick or toy airplane). In this case, you should pre-emptively move your child away from the vendor when you see them approaching if you aren’t interested in purchasing the toy.

I also recommend taking certain precautions such as pre-booking airport transportation with a reliable car service and driver (or through your hotel – even if it may be more expensive), watching your drink when you are out and about, leaving all your valuables and passport locked away in the hotel safe, and letting friends and family know of your travel plans and hotel contact information. Read more about safety in Hoi An and Vietnam by clicking here and here.

How to get around Hoi An in Vietnam

To get into Hoi An you’ll need to fly into Da Nang International Airport. An airport transfer from the airport to Hoi An costs approximately 420,000 VND (under US$20) and takes approximately 1 hour from door-to-door. You can book your private Da Nang airport pick up or drop off here – remember to only use transportation providers with higher ratings, I generally only use car services with a 4.5/5 or higher.

Streets of Hoi An Ancient Zone in Vietnam

The best way to get around Hoi An is either on foot, by bicycle or by Grab (the Uber-equivalent in Southeast Asia) and metered taxis.

Bicycle rental in Hoi An Vietnam
Free bicycle rentals from Ann Retreat in Hoi An

Many hotels offer free bicycle rentals for guests, but make sure you look both ways at every intersection as right of way and traffic priority rules seem to be non-existent.

Grab rides are easy to arrange via the app (though the drivers mostly only speak Vietnamese) – we never had to wait any longer than a few minutes for a ride, and trips were often under 100,000 VND (US$4.5). For day trips I recommend getting in touch with your hotel to see if they can arrange a car and driver for you.

Another popular option for getting around Hoi An is by scooter, but you may want to consider this option carefully if you are not confident and experienced in driving a scooter – the traffic is hectic and road rules are flimsy at best. Authorities are cracking down on scooter rentals to visitors who do not hold the proper license/certification, and more importantly you may not be covered by your travel insurance company in the event of an accident.

Electric shuttles in Hoi An Vietnam

Other options include rickshaws for short rides (make sure you agree on a price before you hop in), or electric shuttles which can be organized via companies like Hoi An Shuttle Bus.

Confuscius Temple entrance in Hoi An Vietnam

In particular, I recommend going on a 60-90 minute tour with Hoi An Shuttle Bus to explore the surroundings and countryside of Hoi An – though the buggy is not allowed into the walking street Old Quarter area, we visited a number of landmarks in Hoi An that we otherwise probably wouldn’t have checked out (like the Confucius Temple just outside of the main Ancient Town).

Electric shuttle tour in Hoi An Vietnam

It was the perfect way to discover more of Hoi An and to cover a lot of ground in a short amount of time, especially as we were traveling with a toddler and the afternoons were sweltering hot. Also highly recommended if you are experiencing any mobility issues. We paid 750,000 VND (just over US$30) for a 90-minute heritage tour with a driver, and you can pay an additional fee if you need a tour guide.

Where to stay in Hoi An in Vietnam

Rooftops in Hoi An Ancient Zone in Vietnam

It’s important to be strategic when you’re choosing your Hoi An accommodation, because there is a whole heap of options – you’ll want to make sure that you choose based on location, room/property design and service quality.

Adult pool at Ann Retreat boutique hotel in Hoi An Vietnam

Looking for the best place to stay in Hoi An? While planning our Hoi An itinerary I researched for hours looking for the best boutique hotels in Hoi An, and eventually settled on the Ann Retreat (now renamed RiverTown Hoi An Resort & Spa), located a short 10-minute stroll or a 2-minute bicycle ride from the Ancient Town (also known as the “Hoi An Old Quarter”) and night market.

Living room at Ann Retreat boutique hotel in Hoi An Vietnam

Not only is it perfectly located (close enough to the main Hoi An Ancient Town attractions including the Japanese Bridge, but far from the hordes of tourists), the Executive River Suite room was extremely spacious with its own living room and balcony, and impeccably clean.

Bedroom at Ann Retreat boutique hotel in Hoi An Vietnam

The breakfast buffet is plentiful and delicious, the food is fantastic and very reasonably priced, and the pools (one for kids and one for adults) offered much-needed respite from the mid-day heat. Ann Retreat also offers a free scheduled shuttle service to its partner beach club at An Bang beach, and free bicycle rentals (including child seats if needed) for you to ride on through the Hoi An Old Town and beyond.

Lemongrass Spa at Ann Retreat in Hoi An Vietnam

The staff at Ann Retreat were a highlight – everyone was so warm, friendly, helpful and professional. The on-site spa is also fantastic and so reasonably priced – highly recommend the Hoi An signature massage and scalp massage. All in all, I couldn’t recommend Ann Retreat more highly! Click here to check rates and availability at Ann Retreat or head on over here to check out other accommodation options in Hoi An. We also considered Allegro Hoi An, Little Riverside Hoi An, and the beachside Naman Retreat which is located about mid-way between Da Nang and Hoi An.

Should you stay in Da Nang or Hoi An? Personally, I recommend staying in Hoi An even though many people opt to stay at beach resorts in Da Nang and go on day trips to Hoi An. Despite the proximity between the two, you’d still be “wasting” precious time on the road between Da Nang and Hoi An – there are too many incredible places to visit in Hoi An and opportunities to check out quiet coffee shops and cocktail bars tucked away in hidden corners. If you are craving some time by the water you can always head out to An Bang or Cua Dai beach, just a 15-minute car ride from Hoi An.

Looking for more options of where to stay in Hoi An? Here are some other alternatives that we seriously considered during the extensive accommodation research process, but did not stay at because they did not have availability for our travel dates, are adults-only (we traveled with a toddler this time) or did not have specific facilities that we needed (for example, parking, pool, kitchenette etc.). However, these hotels may be a great fit for your stay!

Allegro Hoi An: A quick 5-minute walk away from the Ancient Town and Japanese Covered Bridge, Allegro Hoi An is a luxury hotel with tastefully-decorated rooms. Reviewers love the location – close enough to the Ancient Town and Night Market, but away from the hustle and bustle. The hotel has a pool and shuttle service to the beach for guests. Click here to check availability and rates at Allegro Hoi An.

Little Riverside Hoi An: Located on the banks of the Thu Bon River, Little Riverside is a boutique hotel in Hoi An about 15 minutes away from the heart of the Ancient Town. Consistently receives glowing reviews for helpful staff, a beautiful rooftop pool, fantastic breakfast spread and clean & spacious rooms. Click here to check availability and rates at Little Riverside Hoi An.

Naman Retreat: A world-class wellness retreat with airy, stunning rooms, apartments and villas located about mid-way between Da Nang and Hoi An. Has a private beach area as well as outdoor pool. Perfect for solo travelers or couples traveling to Hoi An or Da Nang. Click here to check availability and rates at Naman Retreat.

The best things to do in Hoi An in Vietnam

Heritage buildings in Hoi An Old Town in Vietnam

Looking up things to add to your Hoi An Itinerary? There’s a lot to see and do in just 3 days in Hoi An. There’s more to Hoi An beyond the enchanting Old Quarter – here are some of the best places to visit in Hoi An as well as things you won’t want to skip.

1. Explore the Hoi An Ancient Town

People in Ancient Town of Hoi An in Vietnam

Let’s get the low hanging fruit out of the way! Hoi An is perhaps most famous for its Old Quarter, also sometimes referred to as the Hoi An Old Town or Hoi An Walking Street.

Faifo Coffee rooftop view in Hoi An Vietnam

Recognized as a world heritage site by UNESCO in 1999, this section of Hoi An was an active fishing port for four centuries; traders from Japan, China, India and beyond would set up emporiums for annual commercial fairs. Today, the Ancient Town of Hoi An is comprised of a collection of well-preserved assembly halls, houses, shrines, temples, markets and the Japanese Covered Bridge.

Quang Trieu Assembly Hall in Ancient Town in Hoi An Vietnam

Some of those structures such as assembly halls and temples remain open to tourists, and many have also been converted into shophouses for coffee shops, restaurants, tailors, souvenir shops and art galleries.

Boats at Hoi An riverside in Vietnam at night

The best time to visit the Hoi An Ancient Town is during the morning when the heat and humidity is more forgiving (bonus: crowds tend to be thinner as well), and in the late afternoon to watch the river come alive and the colours change across the sky.

In order to enter the general walking area and riverside you can buy an Hoi An Old Town ticket that goes towards maintaining the Ancient Town. This costs 120,000 VND per person. This ticket also allows you to enter 5 out of 25 sightseeing places in the old town – your ticket will be checked at the entrance and the site-keeper will then cut out a portion of your ticket to indicate that it has been used.

That being said, as there are no ticket checkpoints to enter the general Ancient Town area you can technically wander around if you do not plan on visiting any ticketed sightseeing places.

Here are some of the top places to visit in Hoi An Ancient Town:

Japanese Covered Bridge at night in Hoi An Vietnam

Japanese Covered Bridge – This small-yet-enchanting bridge is one of the top attractions in Hoi An. Dating back to the 16th century, the wooden bridge was built in the former Japanese quarter and features a small shrine area dedicated to the temple of the northern god of weather, Tran Vo Bac De. The Japanese Covered Bridge in Hoi An is currently undergoing restoration work and may be covered by scaffolding until the end of 2023. No ticket is required to visit or walk across the Japanese Covered Bridge.

Tan Ky Ancient House – The 18th century merchant house is an example of traditional family homes in Hoi An. The long, narrow house spans the length of the heritage building with doorways on either end, and features the original furniture, ornaments and antiques passed down through generations.

Phuoc Kien Assembly Hall in Hoi An Vietnam

Phuoc Kien Assembly Hall – One of several assembly halls established by the Chinese migrant community in Vietnam, this traditional space was used for gatherings, religious ceremonies and business. With its striking floral-adorned entryway and bold colours, Phuoc Kien Assembly Hall is one of the top places to visit in Hoi An.

Door guardians at Quang Trieu Assembly Hall in Hoi An Vietnam

Quang Trieu Assembly Hall – Also known as the Cantonese Assembly Hall, this assembly hall was built to serve as a meeting place and place of worship for Thien Hau. Primarily made from wood and stone, the Quang Trieu Assembly Hall features an internal courtyard and paintings of traditional door guardians on the wooden doors.

Ba Mu Temple in Hoi An Vietnam

Ba Mu Temple – The striking Ba Mu Temple Gate links two adjacent temples: the Cam Ha temple and Hai Binh temple. First constructed in the 17th century, the complex was destroyed except for the entrance gate; the gate was later restored and the grounds were also landscaped. If you want to avoid the crowds in Hoi An head to this monument as it tends not to be too busy.

Trieu Chau Assembly Hall entrance in Hoi An Vietnam

Trieu Chau Assembly Hall – Constructed in 1845, this assembly hall is quieter than the other two mentioned above and tends to be slightly lesser-visited as it is on the fringe of the Ancient Town. It was dedicated to Gods and Goddesses who protect the sea faring people.

Walking and cycling town in Hoi An Vietnam

You can walk to the Hoi An Ancient Town from Ann Retreat in under 10 minutes, or hop on a bicycle to get there in under 5 minutes. The time frame for pedestrians and non-motorized vehicles is from 8:30-11 AM and 3-9:30 PM (summer) or 9 PM (winter).

2. Visit the Hoi An Night Market

Hoi An Old Town at night in Vietnam

One of the top Hoi An attractions, head to the Hoi An Night Market across from the main Ancient Town walking street area. The night market opens from about 5 PM onwards. It’s the perfect place to visit once the heat begins to subside.

Hoi An Night Market in Vietnam

The street vendors at the Hoi An Night Market sell all sorts of trinkets, household accessories, souvenirs, clothing and street food.

Lanterns at Hoi An Night Market in Vietnam

If you want to take the quintessential “Hoi An Instagram photo” surrounded by lanterns then this is where you’ll find them. You may be surprised that there are proper, staged photo backdrops for people to take the perfect Instagram shot in Hoi An (as rarely are there lantern shops in the Ancient Town area with many lanterns framing the entryway – and if there were, they do not appreciate their entrances getting blocked by people taking hundreds of photos).

Lanterns at Hoi An Night Market in Vietnam

There are about 6 different stalls to choose from – in my opinion, they’re all about the same so go with whichever has the shortest queue. The vendors charge a small fee (10,000 VND as of April 2023) to take photos with their lanterns.

Hoi An Night Market in Vietnam

To be honest, I can appreciate the thinking behind this type of staged photo opportunity – there are just too many tourists in Hoi An, and this way everyone gets what they want without getting in the way of business and shop operations.

Ready to book your Hoi An getaway? We loved our stay at the Ann Retreat located less than 5 minutes by bicycle to the Ancient Town. Click here to check rates and availability at Ann Retreat or head on over here to check out other accommodation options in Hoi An.

3. Drink all the coffee (and take in the views)

Faifo Coffee on a rooftop in Hoi An Vietnam

It wouldn’t be a Yoga, Wine & Travel travel guide without a list of recommendations for where to go to get a cup of joe (or glass of wine – no judgement here!). Here are some incredible coffee shops in Hoi An that we loved:

Cam Coffee n More: Located just across the street from Ann Retreat is this perfect coffee retreat space. A plant-lover’s paradise, you’ll have to tear yourself away from the stunning indoor seating areas at Cam Coffee. The flat whites are out of this world (some of the best I’ve ever had), and they have a small selection of pastries and sandwiches as well.

Buttercup by Rosies in Hoi An Vietnam

Buttercup by Rosie’s: Tucked away down a small alleyway in the Ancient Town is this peaceful garden café. Complete with home-made pastas, juices and delicious flat white coffees, Buttercup is highly recommended if you need a little reprieve from the crowds of Hoi An.

Coffee at ArtBook Coffee in Hoi An in Vietnam

Artbook Cafe: Across from Ban Mu Temple gate is this quirky cafe-slash-book shop. Head out back to their garden seating area, or even better, head upstairs for a view of the stunning Ban Mu Temple.

Faifo Coffee in Hoi An Vietnam

Faifo Coffee: Often recommended as the best rooftop view in Hoi An, Faifo Coffee is located within a narrow wooden building right in the middle of Hoi An’s Ancient Town. Head to the top floor for a sweeping rooftop view across the Old Quarter. While the view is spectacular as promised, the coffee is fairly subpar so I would recommend that you purchase a cold beverage and head elsewhere for your caffeine fix – avoid the crowds of Instagrammers by heading to Buttercup by Rosie’s, just a quick 3 minute walk away.

4. Enjoy a relaxing beach day

An Bang beach near Hoi An in Vietnam

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to stay in Da Nang for a beach holiday. There are a number of beaches that are easily reachable from Hoi An! The closest beaches in Hoi An are Cua Dai and An Bang.

Cua Dai Beach near Hoi An in Vietnam

Head to Cua Dai Beach for a quieter beach experience, or Shore Club at An Bang Beach for a laid-back beach club experience.

Shore Club on An Bang Beach in Vietnam panorama

We loved the spacious seating right on the beach, and the fantastic drinks and food. Sure, you pay premium prices for the location, but the comfort and fuss-free beach experience can’t be beat.

Surfing on An Bang Beach near Hoi An in Vietnam

You can even rent a soft-top surf board if you want to try your hand at surfing on An Bang beach! We paid 300,000 VND for a soft top long board (not in great shape but fine for a fun surf).

Family at An Bang Beach in Hoi An Vietnam

To get from Hoi An to An Bang beach take a taxi or Grab for approximately 100,000 VND, or book yourself into Ann Retreat and use their free shuttle service between the hotel and Shore Beach Club. The shuttle departs on a fixed schedule three times a day (10 AM, 2:30 PM and 3:15 PM as of publishing) and you just need to register with the front desk in advance. Remember to bring your own beach towel from the hotel. You can also check out other accommodation options in Hoi An.

5. Get pampered at the spa

Lemongrass Spa at Ann Retreat in Hoi An Vietnam

When you are planning what to do in Hoi An you need to take a few important things into consideration, the first being the fairly extreme heat and humidity at certain times in the year.

Even if you do visit in the milder peak season between February and June, the mid-day heat can still be stifling – you won’t really want to be outdoors between the hours of noon to 2 PM! This is why you need a couple of good indoor activities in Hoi An as a backup for when the weather feels oppressive.

Massage table at Lemongrass Spa in Hoi An Vietnam

We treated ourselves to outrageously amazing massages at the Lemongrass Spa at Ann Retreat – the spa opens until late so you can also squeeze in a pre-bedtime massage. You can also book your massage and spa treatments via Klook here.

6. Taste the delicious food

Cao Lau in Hoi An Vietnam

The Vietnamese food in Hoi An is mouthwatering – you have to try the cao lầu, a noodle dish (udon) with sliced barbecue pork, pork crackling squares, fresh herbs and bean sprouts and just a touch of broth to keep the noodles moist.

Morning Glory restaurant in Hoi An Old Town Vietnam

We recommend eating traditional Hoi An Vietnamese food at Soul Restaurant at Ann Retreat and Morning Glory in the Ancient Town. We loved the open kitchen concept at Morning Glory, and the view of the old town from the upstairs balcony is a real treat.

Food at Morning Glory restaurant in Hoi An Vietnam

Both restaurants also have high chairs for young children.

Tok restaurant in Hoi An Vietnam

For date night or special occasions head straight to Tok Hoi An overlooking the rice paddies, just a short 10-minute taxi ride from the Old Town.

Wine overlooking rice fields in Hoi An Vietnam

The chic-yet-relaxed restaurant offers indoor/outdoor seating as well as a rooftop area for those balmy Hoi An evenings. You won’t find hordes of tourists here, we really enjoyed getting out of the thick of things and enjoying a peaceful meal surrounded by rice fields.

Tok restaurant in Hoi An Vietnam

We loved the veggie chips with cucumber raita, braised cabbage and fried chicken with fish sauce caramel.

7. Cycle through the rice paddies

Water buffalo in rice fields in Hoi An Vietnam

Though the Old Quarter of Hoi An is filled with heritage sites, you don’t have to go far to find yourself in the countryside.

Flowers at rice paddies in Hoi An Vietnam

If you’re looking for quieter places to visit in Hoi An then head east from the Hoi An Ancient Town and explore the lush rice paddies and organic farms in the Cẩm Thanh area. The farmers in Hoi An tend to harvest their fields one to two times throughout the year so the “best” time to see the lush emerald paddies is before the harvest time when the fields are stripped bare – this typically takes place in May and/or September. Read more on that here.

Tok restaurant in Hoi An Vietnam

The leisurely bicycle ride will take approximately 25-30 minutes, though you will need to be careful as there are no dedicated cycling paths and you will be sharing the road with scooters, cars and tour buses.

ℹ️ Tip: When choosing a hotel in Hoi An check to see if they offer free bicycle rentals! Click here to check rates and availability at Ann Retreat which offers complimentary bike rentals (with child seats if needed) for in-house guests, or head on over here to check out other accommodation options in Hoi An.

8. Ride a basket boat through the Bay Mau Coconut Forest

Basket boat tour at Bay Mau Coconut Forest in Hoi An Vietnam

The Bay Mau Coconut Forest is a quick 10-15 minute car ride away from Hoi An Ancient Town. The submerged coconut forest runs along a river with small offshoots that can be navigated in a small woven “basket boat“.

Coconut Basket Boat tour in Hoi An Vietnam

Set aside 45 minutes or so to slowly mosey down the quiet corridors of the coconut forest. Two adults (plus one young child or toddler) can fit in the boat with a local fisherman, who will paddle you through the forest and to certain performance areas.

Fisherman at Bay Mau Coconut Forest in Hoi An Vietnam

The wildest experience? Watching a fisherman spin the basket boat so quickly that you think he’s going to capsize, all the while with Psy’s Gangnam Style blaring furiously in the background.

Coconut Basket Boat tour in Hoi An Vietnam

I recommend heading to the Hoi An coconut forest early before it starts getting busy, and before the hordes of people descend and it becomes unbearably crowded.

Coconut Basket Boat tour in Hoi An Vietnam

The Hoi An basket boat ride including round trip hotel transfer costs approximately 600,000 VND, and we paid a small tip to the fisherman as well to thank him for the experience.

Coconut Basket Boat tour in Hoi An Vietnam family photo

I recommend booking a tour (our hotel booked us on a tour organized by Long Phu Eco Tour) that includes hotel pick up and drop off so that you don’t have to worry about how to get back – there aren’t many places where you can wait for a taxi at the Bay Mau Coconut Forest.

Basket boats at the Bay Mau Coconut Forest in Hoi An Vietnam

Book your Coconut Forest basket boat ride via your hotel, or book a Hoi An basket boat tour via Klook like this one which includes a meal and hotel pick up/drop off. Explore some other top activities and tours in Hoi An here.

9. Climb the Marble Mountains

Marble Mountains in Da Nang in Vietnam

The Marble Mountains is a group of five limestone mountains just south of Da Nang, about 30 minutes by car from Hoi An.

Gate at Marble Mountains in Da Nang in Vietnam

Each named after the five elements, the Marble Mountains is made up of a number of sprawling caves, shrines, pagodas, towers and viewpoints. The majority of the tourism landmarks are accessible via the Water Mountain or Thuy Son (map here).

Elevator at Marble Mountains near Da Nang in Vietnam

I recommend taking the elevator up (15,000 VND on top of the 40,000 VND entrance ticket) and the stairs down. The short elevator ride takes you approximately five stories high and cuts out some of the uphill walk.

Climbing steps at a cave in the Marble Mountains in Vietnam

From there, follow the signs to visit the various caves and pagodas. There are also two vistas that you can visit – a smaller peak on the left, and a higher viewpoint on the right which offers sweeping views across Da Nang.

Cave at Marble Mountains near Da Nang in Vietnam

To make the most of your time in the Marble Mountains you will want to set aside at least two hours and head there early in the morning or late in the afternoon. Wear proper walking shoes and dress appropriately as it is a religious and pilgrimage site. Avoid visiting on rainy days as the steps are carved out of the limestone and can be very slippery.

Pagoda in Marble Mountains in Da Nang Vietnam

Expect to pay approximately 700,000 VND for transportation to and from Hoi An to the Marble Mountains (including waiting time). Here is my travel guide to visiting the Marble Mountains.

10. Take a cooking class

One of the most popular things to do in Hoi An is to take a local cooking class. Unfortunately with a toddler we weren’t able to partake in one, but I’ve heard great things about the Red Bridge Cooking School. This Sabirama join-in cooking class is also highly rated, and Long Phu Eco Tour (mentioned above) also organizes coconut basket boat + cooking class combined tours.

Hoi An day trips

Hoi An is a convenient and excellent base for embarking on day trips. Here are some of your top options for the best day trips from Hoi An:

My Son Sanctuary ruins near Hoi An in Vietnam
Photo credit: deeblue via Depositphotos.com

My Son Sanctuary: My Son Sanctuary is a UNESCO Heritage Site located about an hour away by car from Hoi An. The Hindu temples and shrines date back to the Champa Kingdom from the 4th to 13th centuries.

Reminiscent of the ruins in Angkor Archaeological Zone in Siem Reap, city of Hampi in India or in the ancient capital of Polonnaruwa in Sri Lanka, the stone monuments at My Son are mostly dedicated to the Hindu God Shiva and many feature carvings portraying scenes from classic Hindu mythology.

Gate in Imperial Citadel of Hue in Vietnam

Hue: Hue was the imperial capital of Vietnam for nearly 150 years, and the city is home to a sprawling citadel, palaces, temples and royal tombs of emperors. As the city straddles the Perfume River, you can also go on a boat cruise down the river. Read my Hue day trip itinerary here.

The only downside to going on a day trip to Hue from Hoi An? You’ll need to be prepared for a long travel day as the drive will take you 3 hours each way.

Angsana Lang Co pool views panorama in Vietnam

Not keen on the long travel day? Consider stopping at Angsana Lang Co on the way for a night. This luxury beachside resort is located about mid-way between Hoi An and Hue – we visited for a destination wedding and loved the swim-up bar, excellent breakfast buffet and spacious rooms. Click here to check out rates and availability at Angsana Lang Co or read my Angsana Lang Co hotel review here.

Da Nang, Vietnam - October 31, 2018: Golden Bridge known as “Hands of God”, a pedestrian footpath lifted by two giant hands, open in July 2018 and a landmark at the famous tourist destination of Ba Na Hills in Da Nang, Vietnam.
Photo credit: CarlosNeto via Depositphotos.com

Ba Na Hills: High up in the mountains is the Ba Na Hills theme park complex. Located about 2 hours by car from Hoi An, Ba Na Hills offers a picturesque cable car ride, landscaped gardens, religious landmarks and of course – the famous “Golden Hands” walkway bridge. Get there early to avoid the crowds, the Golden Bridge in particular is known to be heaving with people!

Lanterns in Ancient Town in Hoi An Vietnam

Planning your Hoi An Trip? I recommend Ann Retreat wholeheartedly – the rooms are spacious and comfortable, the two pools (one for adults only) are glorious after a hot morning of sightseeing, the on-site restaurant serves absolutely delicious Vietnamese and Western fare, but above all the hospitality is wonderful.

The staff at Ann Retreat made our stay complete – so warm, always helpful and extremely professional. Check out the rates and availability at Ann Retreat or check out some other highly-rated Hoi An hotel options here.

We also considered staying at Allegro Hoi An (a 5-minute walk away from the Ancient Town and Japanese Covered Bridge), Little Riverside Hoi An (a boutique hotel in Hoi An with a beautiful rooftop pool) and Naman Retreat (a luxury wellness retreat located about mid-way between Da Nang and Hoi An).

Travel tips for visiting Hoi An with kids

Streets of Hoi An Ancient Town in Vietnam

Heading to Hoi An with kids? As a “city” destination with somewhat fewer resort options you may be pleasantly surprised by how family friendly Hoi An is, even if you are traveling with young children.

Eat: Most restaurants in Hoi An have high chairs, and Vietnamese food in general can be very kid-friendly – our toddler loved pho, banh mi (bread only), udon and pork in cao lau, chicken rice and all the fruit. Dingo Deli is also a popular kid-friendly restaurant in Hoi An, or head to Cam Coffee n More which has plenty of room for kids to spread out.

Childrens pool at Ann Retreat in Hoi An Vietnam
Children’s pool at Ann Retreat in Hoi An Vietnam

Stay: You may need to carefully consider your choice of Hoi An accommodation with a toddler or young children, few city hotels in Hoi An have kids clubs – I recommend staying somewhere close to the Old Quarter that has a pool to cool off from the mid-day sun. Ann Retreat has a children’s pool (no shallow area though), and they serve delicious kid-friendly food poolside. There is also a large front lawn area for the little ones to run around while you have a cold drink.

We booked a “suite” that had a separate living room area and bathroom, which meant that we could continue to watch TV or do some work on our laptops when the baby was asleep. Ann Retreat also provided a baby cot in the room at no extra charge, and had free bike rentals with sturdy children’s seats attached. Our toddler absolutely loved exploring Hoi An with us on the back of a bicycle!

Riding bicycles in Hoi An in Vietnam

Getting around: While most Grab taxis will not have a car seat available, you can request for your hotel to provide one for your airport transfers. My husband and I are comfortable riding bicycles and our kid was happy to sit in the child’s bicycle seat on the back, but you still need to be on high alert for oncoming traffic as there always seems to be a rogue scooter that appears out of nowhere. I am not personally comfortable taking our child on a rental scooter, but that is an option for some families. You will need to hold the proper international licenses to rent a scooter in Vietnam, and travel insurance that covers you in the event of an accident.

Supplies: Stock up on diapers, formula, baby food and snacks at Concung, they have all the major brands that you might be after. For imported food head to Moonmilk. You can buy diapers (often sold individually or in small quantities) at neighborhood mini marts in Hoi An, but they may not have the right size or brand.

Sunscreen in Hoi An Vietnam

Pack: Make sure you pack plenty of sunscreen, a hat and water bottle for your child. The heat is not a joke in Hoi An!

Baby carrier in Hoi An Vietnam

Gear: Unless you have a cooperative kid who is happy to sit or nap in a stroller for hours on end, you may want to consider leaving the bulky stroller at home. If you have a toddler-aged child or older who can sit safely and comfortably on the back of a bicycle, I recommend getting around by bicycle rather than on foot in Hoi An – it is so much faster. We also found it very helpful to have our baby carrier when making our way through the crowds, and saw many other parents with babies sleeping happily in the carrier down the streets of Hoi An.

Yellow wall in Hoi An Ancient Town in Vietnam

Ready to book your Hoi An trip? I recommend checking out Ann Retreat for a boutique hotel in Hoi An – the staff are so warm and welcoming, and we loved the huge and impeccably clean rooms. The staff helped us book all sorts of tours and transportation, and we made full use of their free bicycle rentals every day.

We would happily go back and would recommend Ann Retreat to couples, solo travelers and families traveling with children. Check out the rates and availability at Ann Retreat or check out some other highly-rated Hoi An hotel options here.

Lanterns at sunset in Hoi An in Vietnam

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