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- Welcome To Hoi An
- Things To Do In Hoi An
- Day Trips from Hoi An: Ba Na Hills and Da Nang
- Food in Hoi An: Local Dishes, Restaurants, and Cafes
- Where To Stay
- Getting To and Getting Around Hoi An
- Get a SIM Card in Hoi An
- Hoi An For Digital Nomads
- Safety & Tourist Scams in Hoi An
- Travel Insurance
- Vietnam's e-Visa
- Other Vietnam Travel Guides
- And That's A Wrap
Welcome To Hoi An
Hoi An is a buzzing small town known for its energetic night markets and traditional lanterns which light up the city after nightfall. I spent a month exploring the north, centre, and south of Vietnam — and of all the places I visited, Hoi An was by far the most charming city in the whole country — arguably even in the whole region of South East Asia. You can see culture, colours, and happiness oozing from every corner of this small town.
I spent a week in Hoi An slowly exploring its nooks and crannies and loved every minute I spent there. It sure is much slower compared to the bigger cities such as Hoi Chi Minh City and Hanoi but that’s what makes it so special and charming.
Hoi An, along with the rest of Vietnam, is super budget friendly and affordable making it an amazing destination for backpackers and digital nomads alike.
Keep scrolling to explore everything from what to do to where to stay in this post!
Things To Do In Hoi An
Once a month, on every full moon night, Hoi An hosts a beautiful lantern festival that breathes new life into the city. When it's time for the Hoi An Lantern Festival, the whole town goes through a magical transformation. As the sun begins to set, the lanterns and the moonlight take over, and the celebration begins.
Like Thailand’s full moon party, this event can get very touristy and cramped — but it’s said to be a lot of fun and worth adding to one’s bucket list. I’ve put this as #1 because if you’re still planning your trip, try to include it around a full moon night.
Japanese Bridge Boat Trip
The Japanese Bridge is one of the most famous landmarks in Hoi An. At night, the canal under the bridge is filled with boats with colourful lanterns making the whole scene feel like a movie. This is one of those must-do experiences in Hoi An!
Again, remember to negotiate the prices of the boat rides here as they 100% will quote a higher price than you should be paying.
Night & Day Markets
Every night of the week, at the brink of sunset, Hoi An starts preparing for its night market and begins to come alive. Situated across the Japanese Bridge, Hoi An’s night market is filled with stalls selling beautiful handmade lanterns, street foods, clothes, trinkets, and souvenirs.
Similar to the night market, the day market is located in a different part of the city. The vibes and energy levels of the night market and day market are vastly different, offering unique experiences.
While the night market has more buzz, I personally found better souvenirs and gifts at the day market in a relatively relaxed fashion.
Hoi An is filled with temples and you can spend a whole afternoon going around and visiting the beautiful temples in the vicinity. Among these temples, I recommend checking out the Quan Cong Temple and the Ba Mu Temple Gates.
For easy access to a variety of temples within walking distance, you can conveniently purchase tickets that will give you access to a handful of temples in the area, all within walking distance.
Coconut Boat in Cam Thanh Village
Only 15 minutes away from the centre of Hoi An, Cam Thanh is a hidden gem that offers a unique glimpse into traditional Vietnamese rural life. Imagine the sun on your skin, the breeze in your hair, and the sound of slow water as you explore lush green coconut groves on a traditional bamboo boat. That's the magical experience awaiting you at the Coconut Village of Cam Thanh in Vietnam!
Cam Thanh is a true haven for nature lovers, adventure seekers, and anyone looking for an escape. Surround yourself with the coconut palm forest's stunning scenery as you drift downstream. No doubt Cam Thanh is very touristy and cheesy but it’s so much goddamn fun! The experience is worth it for sure!
Note: The locals here are likely to take you for a ride and charge you more than you should be paying. Remember to always negotiate and find out the prices of these coconut boat rides from reliable local sources rides before booking.
To make your experience easier with all the haggling, you can book a full Cam Thanh day through Get Your Guide.
Precious Heritage Art Gallery Museum
Precious Heritage is an art, photo, and fashion gallery that beautifully showcases the authentic subcultures of the different tribes in Vietnam.
The stories of Vietnam told through these art pieces are worth experiencing on a slow day. While it's not a must-do, it provides an excellent opportunity to immerse yourself in the vibrant local art and culture scene of Hoi An and Vietnam.
Day Trips from Hoi An
Sun World Ba Na Hills
Sun World Ba Na Hills is its own fascinating world an hour away from Hoi An. It’s a cultural fantasy theme park located in the misty hills of Central Vietnam.
Ba Na Hills has some amazing views, especially from the long cable car ride it takes to get to the top. Once you arrive, you’ll find yourself end up exploring its various Asian and European-themed sections — almost making you question if a reality like this could exist in Vietnam. It’s a blend of fun, absurdity, and fascination all rolled into one.
Among its many attractions, the Golden Hands Bridge steals the spotlight. Suspended amidst the misty clouds, this bridge is supported by a giant sculpture of hands, creating an unparalleled experience as if you're being cradled by a cloud giant. Imagine watching Jack and The Beanstalk come to life before your very eyes!
And that’s not all - the mist and fog of Bana Hills add to the dreamy vibe, making you feel like you’re in a whole new world. It’s no wonder the Golden Hands Bridge is one of the most Instagrammable places in Vietnam!
Just 45 mins away from Hoi An is Da Nang, the big big city in the area. If you ever crave a change from Hoi An’s small-town feel and need some big-city action, Da Nang is your answer!
Travellers usually debate between staying in Hoi An or Da Nang because they both offer great and unique experiences. Personally, I opted to stay in Hoi An and take a day trip to Da Nang. However, I have many friends who did the opposite - they stayed in Da Nang and visited Hoi An just for sunset and the night market. That too is an option to consider.
If you get the opportunity, don't miss out on the hospitality of Hoi An's bigger sibling, Da Nang.
The Food Scene in Hoi An
Hoi An boasts a delicious subculture of Vietnamese cuisine that is definitely worth exploring during your visit. Vietnamese cuisine is already renowned as one of the best in the world, and Hoi An has its own set of unique and delightful dishes.
And let's not forget about Vietnam's famous coffee culture! Hoi An, like many other cities in the country, embraces this coffee obsession with a strong cafe culture. Without a doubt, you’ll be to find a trendy cafe within a 2 min walk from wherever you are in Hoi An.
Local Dishes To Try In Hoi An
Cao Lau is a sweet & savoury noodle-based dish that’s local to Hoi An. Cao Lau usually consists of pork and greens on a bed of noodles made from rice that has been soaked in lye water. Cao Lau is usually topped with bean sprouts and crispy rice crackers.
Cao Lau was legit my favourite dish in all of Vietnam - I 100% recommend trying this!
White Rose Dumplings
White Rose Dumplings are delicate and translucent steamed dumplings made from rice flour dough. The dumplings are filled with a mixture of minced shrimp or pork, along with spices and herbs. The name "White Rose" comes from the unique folding technique used to shape the dumplings, which resemble a white rose when cooked.
These dumplings are typically served as an appetizer or a snack and are often accompanied by a dipping sauce made with shrimp broth, chilli, garlic, and lemon. They are a specialty of Hoi An and can be found in many local restaurants and street food stalls in the city.
Recommended Cafes & Restaurants
Châu Kitchen & Bar
Delicious food in the heart of Hoi An with great vegetarian options. Arguably the best meal I had in Hoi An!
A Little Kitchen / Nho Oi Cafe
This place was so good I came back twice! Their lunch and cafe menus are absolutely delicious.
A humble homestyle restaurant known for its Cao Lau. This is where I first tried Cao Lau and fell in love with it.
A busy cafe close to the Japanese Bridge known for it’s vast selection of Vietnamese drinks.
Such a vibey cafe with a range of delicious beverages and an awesome view from the rooftop!
Where To Stay
If you want to be right in the heart of the action, definitely stay in the Old Town — ideally, around the Japanese Bridge.
Riverside & Beach Areas
Alternatively, you can consider staying by the Riverside and Beach Areas if you’d like to keep away from the noise of the Old Town.
Getting To and Getting Around Hoi An
The closest airport to Hoi An is Da Nang Airport, which serves as the main gateway for travellers visiting this beautiful city. Once you land at Da Nang Airport, you'll find several convenient transportation options to get to Hoi An.
Ridesharing with Grab
One popular choice is using ride-hailing services like Grab, providing a hassle-free and reliable way to reach Hoi An from the airport. I’ve mentioned Grab a few times in the post already because it’s such a key app in South East Asia. When you arrive in Vietnam, I strongly recommended downloading the Grab app. Grab is your local rideshare alternative in Vietnam, and it’s arguably better than Uber. Rides here are not costly at all in comparison to global standards. Whether you need to travel short distances within the city or cover longer routes, Grab will be your go-to transportation solution.
In South East Asia, Grab tends to offer a GrabBike option in which a rider on a scooter comes to pick you and it’s such a thrilling local experience!
Alternatively, you can opt for a local taxi, which can easily be found at the airport terminals. Both options offer a comfortable and relatively quick journey to your destination.
Taxis are pretty easily accessible all around Hoi An, but make sure they’re charging you a fair price.
It is also smart to get the number of a local taxi driver. I had a deal with a local taxi driver who said he’ll always charge me less than the estimated Grab amount which was super useful.
For a more budget-friendly option, taking a bus is also feasible. Hoi An is a well-frequented stop for many bus routes connecting various cities within Vietnam. Buses offer an opportunity to experience local travel and witness the scenic landscapes as you journey towards Hoi An.
Rent a Motorcycle or a Scooter
If you're looking for more flexibility and convenience, renting a motorcycle or scooter is a great choice. It grants you the freedom to explore the surrounding areas and nearby attractions with ease. However, ensure you have the necessary license and practice caution while riding.
Rent a Cycle
Cycling is a popular and enjoyable way to navigate around Hoi An. Many hotels and rental shops offer bicycles, allowing you to leisurely explore the city at your own pace, while also blending in with the relaxed local lifestyle.
Get a SIM Card in Hoi An
Also, remember to get a local SIM card in Vietnam. Telecom providers have fast and reliable internet with generous data plans at a very low cost. Definitely get a local SIM here.
When you enter Vietnam, I strongly suggest you purchase a SIM card right there and then. It’s highly convenient and affordable — you’ll be spending up to $15 to get multiple gigabytes of 4G data per day (yes, per day!). In all likelihood, purchasing a local SIM on your travels is better than activating your existing provider’s roaming plan.
Popular mobile providers in Vietnam include Viettel, MobiFone, and Vinaphone. You can conveniently find kiosks at the arrival area of the airport offering SIM card packages.
Hoi An For Digital Nomads
Hoi An offers a relaxed atmosphere for digital nomads, allowing you to take your time exploring the city. I spent 7 days working remotely from Hoi An and loved every bit of it! 7 days may be too much for traditional travellers, but for a digital nomad, it is a good amount of days to see the whole city as well as get a good amount of work done.
Wifi & Connectivity
Hoi An’s wifi infrastructure is consistently fast and reliable. Moreover, the cost of living is very low in comparison to other major international digital nomad hubs. If you’re on the go, Vietnam has really affordable SIM card plans giving you multiple gigabytes of data per day.
Cafes & Workspaces
Hoi An has tons of cafes to work from with delicious varieties of Vietnamese teas and coffees, most with fast and reliable internet connections.
Additionally and more importantly, there is one and only one official workspace in Hoi An called 'Hub Hoi An' and it has A+ reviews. It’s a little away from the city in the middle of the fields but all remote workers are absolutely in awe of this place!
Safety & Tourist Scams in Hoi An
While Hoi Anis generally a safe country for travellers, it's essential to keep a few things in mind. The locals are exceptionally friendly and approachable, always ready to lend a helping hand whenever needed. If you stick to the main tourist areas, you are unlikely to encounter any issues.
Just beware of the Motorcycle Mafia (more below👇). Other than just don’t do anything super careless and you should be fine.
The Motorcycle Mafia
If you’re in Hoi An, you’re safe getting a cab, a Grab, or a GrabBike anywhere in the city. However, whatever you do, do not get on anyone’s scooter or motorcycle for a ride. It’s common for them to take tourists to the wrong location and intimidate them to give them money.
Though this is uncommon in the main area of Hoi An, it is particularly common outside the city midway to the beach, particularly around Mad Monkey Hostel.
Whatever happens, do not get on someone else’s motorcycle, always get cabs or Grabs.
Always Negotiate in Vietnam
Haggling is critical in most South East Asian cultures where prices aren’t regulated by corporations such as taxi drivers, tour guides, small business owners, and street vendors.
Travel Insurance with Genki
Over the course of my week in Hoi An, I was riding scooters and spinning on coconut boats. While I'm always taking part in such adventurous experiences throughout my travels, these come with a certain degree of risk, particularly for solo travellers like myself.
To stay protected, I always make sure I’m covered by insurance. For my last couple of travels, I’ve been using Genki for my insurance. Genki is an insurance company that is literally dedicated to Backpackers and Digital Nomads. They’ll have you covered for every country with a flexible month-to-month plan and no long-term commitment.
Obtaining an e-visa for Vietnam is an essential step for citizens of most countries. The processing time for an e-visa typically takes up to 10 business days. It's important to note that entry into the country without a valid e-visa is not permitted, so it's crucial to complete this process well in advance of your travel dates.
When applying for an e-visa, it is necessary to specify your designated port of entry. You must enter Vietnam through the port that you indicate during the application process.
Note: As immigration rules can vary from country to country and may undergo changes over time, I suggest you double-check the visa requirements for Vietnam from an official source when you plan your trip.
Other Vietnam Travel Guides
If you’re planning a trip to Vietnam, check out these guides I created on Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.
And That’s A Wrap!
Hoi An is undoubtedly one of the cutest and most charming places I've ever visited in the world. You'll be sure to love it when you visit! It's one of those cities that can be enjoyed by all types of travellers - solo travellers, backpackers, digital nomads, vacationers, romantic couples, as well as families.