Hoi An. Definitely one of our top five locations on this trip, so far. The bridges, the food, the tailors, the bikes, the lanterns, the architecture…there are so many things to enjoy!
Back in the day (the early 17th century, for context), Hoi An was one of the busiest commercial ports in Southeast Asia. Now it’s a tourist hub, popular with those looking for a new bespoke wardrobe. We tried the tailoring, with good success, but don’t let this be your only reason for visiting Hoi An.
Visit for the beach
Being a coastal town, Hoi An has access to beautiful beaches out to the east of the city. While some are in better shape than others, we had a great time getting out of the city and into the sea. Both Can Am and An Bang are accessible by bike and motorbike and there is ample parking. You’ll just need to pay the beachside businesses a small fee. Ours was offset by the purchase of a large bottle of water.
Once on the beach, you can find a spot on the sand or for a few dollars enjoy a sun lounger and beach umbrella. Most sunloungers can be paid for outright or with the purchase of lunch, you choose!
Many hostels and hotels offer pushbikes for free, so there’s no reason not to head down to the beach.
Visit for a ride on a motorbike
The most popular form of transport around Hoi An. A motorbike is an affordable way to get around without wearing out your legs on a bicycle. We hired ours for two days, filled it up twice and went for many an adventure.
Driving can be hard as there isn’t a whole lot of information about the road rules, and the majority of the driving is done on the right-hand side of the road. We abided by the ‘If you’re bigger than us we will give way to you’ rule.
The center of town is blocked off from motorbike traffic for most of the day, so if you’re just up for walking the streets you may not need one. This rule makes Hoi An a delight to walk around, especially in the evenings. You may still come across the off bicycle in the streets but otherwise, it’s just pedestrians – a nice change from Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh, that’s for sure!
The motorbike meant we could explore the fringes of the city at our own pace. We spent the afternoon cruising the paved dike tops between rice fields. It lets you find some quiet away from the bustle of the market. We had a real “I can’t believe I’m racing through rice patties on a motorbike in Vietnam instead of working in an office” feeling. Check out the view…
Visit for a trip to the tailor
There are something like 600+ tailor shops in Hoi An! If you want to get some clothes made, the hardest part is going to be choosing a tailor. Our recommendation, get a recommendation from a friend about who to see. If you’re traveling through this part of the world, you’ll meet people who have been to places you’re heading and vice versa – ask for their best/worst places.
We enjoyed visiting a tailor who was recommended to us by some people on our Ha Long bay cruise. I’m yet to wear the clothes, so I won’t name the tailor until I know the quality stands up but the process was fun all the same.
Like many services in Asia, there are no price tags, so you can’t just wander and compare price. You’ll need to remember that the complexity of the garment and the material you choose will impact the price. I got two dresses and a kimono jacket for around $20US each.
Visit for the coffee culture and local food
Coffee production is a major source of income for Vietnam and to protect the local coffee industry, the Vietnamese government places restrictions on bringing coffee beans into Vietnam.That means you know you’re drinking local. You won’t have trouble finding a place to serve you coffee, there are chain cafes and owner operated joints lining the river. You can even try an egg coffee, made without milk – a throwback to when milk was a little harder to find.
Or stick to what you know and enjoy a traditional Vietnamese coffee with condensed milk.
If all that coffee leaves you feeling hungry you won’t have any trouble finding food either.
From mobile carts to street food stalls to bars and upscale restaurants there is something for everyone here. While we were visiting there was even an international food festival where chefs competed to make the best local dish Cao Lau. We ate a lot of Cao Lau and also tried some other local dishes like white rose dumplings and of course local beer!
Many restaurants offer cooking schools where you can make your own meal. We didn’t get to try one this time but it’s on our list for our next trip.
Visit for the Hoi An Night market
No two night markets are ever the same. Hoi An has a spectacular night market, partially due to its setting; right on the river, under the light of hundreds of bars and restaurants and amidst what might well be thousands of lanterns.
At the markets, there is no end of available purchasing opportunities. You’ll find clothes, food, fruit, lanterns, beer, souvenirs and more as you walk the roads. We especially enjoyed the live music put on at Belleview bar and the rolled ice cream available just outside!
Visit for the proximity to the big city
Get your fill of the big city with a day trip to Da Nang just 30 kilometers northwest along the coast.
You will at least pass through Da Nang. Hoi An has no airport or train station. Unless you come by bus, you’ll stop in Da Nang on your way.
Been to Hoi An? What was your favourite thing to see or do? Going to Hoi An? What are you most excited about? Let us know on Facebook or comment below.