Certainly, many of you may think that it is very touristy, and they are absolutely right. We cannot catalog Hoi An as the most authentic city of the Vietnam; on the other hand not even the city of Sapa it was. Hoi An is to be taken "as it is", you must appreciate it for the sensations it transmits as you walk through its alleys in the evening.
You feel like a tourist, it is true, but reading the dictionary I do not see negative meanings to this word. You have to be able to give it the right weight and love Hoi An for what it is: a splendid Vietnamese town with a very touristic soul. It is impossible to argue that Hoi An is ugly.
If you are planning a trip to Vietnam, you cannot miss at least one night in Hoi An in your itinerary.
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This beautiful Vietnamese town is a perfect starting point to make excursions also in the interior. Not only that, there are many activities to do in the city. Here are the ones I recommend, private tours that will save you a lot of time in the organization phase:
- Finally, if you want to immerse yourself in Vietnamese culture, I recommend you this tour with Vietnamese cooking class or this: a workshop for how to create the classic lanterns of which the city of Hoi An is famous.
Many arrive by train, but an excellent alternative would be to land on Danang. Speaking of which, if you fly to this city near Hoi An, I recommend you to book the shuttle service that will take you directly from the airport to your hotel in the city . I used this service and it was really comfortable.
Hoi An is located 30 km south of the city of Da Nang, a city that is very important in terms of national connections. If you want to quickly reach the center of Vietnam by domestic flight, you can only choose "Da Nang" as your destination airport. Alternatively there is also an airport in Hue, but it is much more distant.
The city of Hoi An in 1999 it became a Unesco World Heritage Site. There are many cultures that have passed through its commercial port, which was important between the XNUMXth and XNUMXth centuries. Chinese, Japanese, but also Dutch, Portuguese and French, have influenced the local culture. The architectural styles that characterize the buildings of the old district of Hoi An, in fact, present contaminations of styles linked to other cultures.
I don't want to go too far into cultural explanations that you can find in any printed Vietnam travel guide ; Instead, I wanted to give you some advice on what to do and how to visit Hoi An.
Everyone praises the evening Hoi An, I also enjoyed it very much Hoi An daytime.
To visit the cultural points of interest in Hoi An Old Town, you need to purchase a multiple entry ticket which allows up to 5 entrances from the 21 sites included in Hoi An Ancient Town. There are several points within the neighborhood where it is possible to buy the ticket; in case you don't find them, ask any shopkeeper who will show you the exact place.
The cost of the ticket is 120.000 dong, about 5 euros, a very low price that allows you to finance the maintenance of the site, as well as to preserve it adequately. 85% of the proceeds are reinvested in refurbishment works.
Together with the ticket you are given a map with the various points of interest in the city. Each has a different color according to the type of structure / monument. My advice, having to choose, is to vary. Try to choose different types among the various cultural sites, or rely on the itinerary proposed on a guided tour in the “tour” section of this article.
In case you would like to have a look before your departure, even while visiting the city, here is an interactive map that gives you an overview of all of Hoi An.
Reading on the Hoi An official tourism website that you can find HERE, the ticket must be bought even if you only choose to walk around the city without visiting any monuments. Once purchased, always carry it with you even in the following days as it is valid and allows you access for the entire stay in Hoi An.
Among the various attractions, do not miss the Japanese Covered Bridge. It is the undisputed symbol of the city. An arched bridge made of wood and stone that connected the Japanese quarter (located to the west) with the Chinese quarter (located to the east). The bridge also houses the little one Chua Cao temple.
The charm of Hoi An can also be admired during the day. It is not made up of the illuminated lanterns but of the chaotic daily life of the Vietnamese. A horn soup and the screams of the market. Yes, because on the east side, right at the entrance to the city, you will find the general market ed the fish market, two excellent examples of Hoi An's daily life.
So let's get to the most iconic aspect of Hoi An: the illuminated lanterns!
From sunset to 23pm, Hoi An becomes one of the most beautiful romantic cities I've ever seen. It is certainly a "romantic" a little pushed because it is artificial, but the boats that pass on the Thu Bon river which reflects its lights, the streets illuminated everywhere by lanterns of different colors, the restaurants that begin to welcome people ... of the night Hoi An a very quaint town.
If you want to live it to the fullest, the advice is to get to town early. Eating at 21pm is considered late. Once you leave the restaurant you would already find the first lanterns off, the city tends to go out at a certain time. At 23pm you will find many restaurants that are already closed and therefore no longer illuminated. I couldn't understand it, and instead it is. Ergo, try to better enjoy the evening soul of the city by anticipating the times.
The perfect “combo” would be to spend an evening eating street food in the night market across the river.
Most hotels in Hoi An will allow you to use your bike to get around. An absolutely interesting solution to discover the surroundings of Hoi An. Not just Old Quarter, Hoi An is also to be discovered among the rice fields and in the villages just outside the city center. A nice way out of Hoi An's small, though intense, tourist chaos.
Tip: visit the city by bike on this tour
When I started building my itinerary in Vietnam, Cham islands they were a fixed point. Few talked about it, few had gone and there was information only on English sites: perfection!
I even wanted to spend 2 nights there. A homestay, the tranquility after 15.00 (the last boats leave the Cham towards the mainland around that time), sun, sea and few people. Too bad that, as you know, if you have read my other articles on Vietnam, that luck did not turn to my side and consequently failed to discover this little paradise.
If you are planning to visit Hoi An, consider the Cham Islands as well, possibly opting for this same day speedboat tour .
Le beaches of Hoi An they do not shine in beauty. Forget the Caribbean beaches or those of the Andaman islands in Thailand. Vietnam is certainly not the ideal destination for those who want to live exclusively by the sea. The best area would be, perhaps, that of Phu Quoc but even in this case it depends on the seasons. In August it is not ideal.
That said, the An Bang beach it is pleasant, certainly touristy but… who cares, just move a few tens of meters from the main entrances to the beach to find all the tranquility you need.
The advice is to move to the establishments in the north. Keep the sea on your right and continue past the first establishments. You will find other "bathrooms" with more space between the umbrellas, ridiculous prices and less chaos.
Another tip -> if you are not afraid of heights try paragliding. One minute of adrenaline tens of meters above the sea. You will have a great view over Hoi An and a beautiful memory. The cost is affordable, if I'm not mistaken around 25/30 euros for a couple.
Ok, imagine the scene: hot, very hot, thirsty, very thirsty… what's better than that a refreshing lotus flower drink! While wandering around Hoi An during the day, you will need to make a stop and, tasting this drink, may be the best choice to regain some strength.
It is a drink that is served with ice and a lotus flower. It is very sugary, a shot of life to resume the discovery of Hoi An. You can taste it HERE.
My Son is a monumental complex, made up of ruins, located a short distance from Hoi An. This Unesco world heritage site suffered numerous bombings during the Vietnam War and now few buildings have remained in good condition. An excellent excursion if you want to break the “relaxing holiday” rhythm that you can enjoy in Hoi An.
Hoi An allows several solutions. I was very happy with the Windbell Villa (click to see it) . It is located on one of the two islands opposite the historic center of Hoi An, approximately 1 km from the old quarter.
Translated into times: 20 minutes on foot, 5 by bike, 2 by car. The hotel is slightly outside the center and has a swimming pool where you can relax until late.
Alternatively, you could sleep directly in the center of Hoi An -> discover the solutions
Or, if you have no interest in discovering the city of Hoi An, you could sleep in an accommodation near the sea so you can reach An Bang beach more easily -> discover the solutions .
Small tip: if you arrive by plane in Da Nang, when you book the hotel I suggest you ask if they have a pick-up service from the airport. Prices are usually in line with those of a normal taxi service.