Guide

Tips & Essentials – Hoi An Travel Guide from the People Who Know

Welcome to Hoi An and to your guide! Here you can find the answer to all your questions, curiosities and confusions. Before we get down to the details here are our ‘Top Tips’…

1. First things first; the roads. Although not a patch on the life and death obstacle course of Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City, Hoi An’s drivers live and drive by the same ethos. Be you pedestrian, cyclist or motorcyclist, always remember that no where is safe! Traffic goes both ways down both sides of the road, no one looks before they leap, traffic lights are really more of a suggestion than a law and in this battlefield, size matters. For a comprehensive survival guide, click here.

traffic hoi An Old Town
Noi Rang Market. Secret Market Money

2. Beware, the 500,000 and 20,000VND notes are very similar, as are the 100,000 and 10,000 – double check what you are handing over and what you are getting back!

3. Always check your bill, the Vietnamese do. It is often miscalculated. Don’t worry, you won’t cause any offence by taking a second look.

4. If you venture into the markets, try to avoid buying convenience items; toilet paper, coffee etc. You will see the glee in the store ladies face as she rips you off. These kinds of items can be purchased at a mini mart for a much more reasonable price. The further form the Ancient town you go, the more agreeable the price will become.

Hoi An Central Market Egg Lady
bicycles and electric bikes, buy in hoi an, Vietnam

5. Hoi An is a sleepy town, between 12 and 2pm they’re snoring and buying anything often requires a wake up call. Try between 4-5pm, its busier and you’re less likely to get ripped off.

6. Hiring a bike? Think its road worthy? Think again! Always check brakes, tires and lights before you ride off. It is very possible nobody else has!

7. Getting clothes made up? GET THE TAILOR TO WRITE DOWN THE AGREED COST. There have been many cases of the tailor arguing that you didn’t understand and the cost they give once the garment is made is double the price! Find the best tailors in town here.

 

8. If you get a sim card, take your passport. They will not give you one otherwise.

banner material tailors

9. Running out of petrol and no petrol station in sight? Fear not, for bottles of petrol are sold at many corner shops. Ask for ‘Mot chai xang’ (Mawt chai sang) – or write down the Vietnamese written here. A big plastic bottle of petrol costs around 20,000VND.

Currency

Don’t be caught out, Hoi An isn’t quite there yet as far as credit cards go.  For things like massages, tailors, souvenirs and many restaurants you will usually be asked to pay cash so always take enough with you – and BEWARE of the Same Same BUT VERY DIFFERENT!  See currency notes. below

Tips and warnings, Hoi An travel guide, musts, Vietnamese Dong notes, VND, hOI aN, Vietnam

Notes

The 500,000VND and 20,000VND notes are very similar as are the ten and the hundred.

Be particularly vigilant if you have been drinking and whatever the time of day, do not let anyone rush you when you are dealing with money.

A Quick Cost Guide to Hoi An

 

Below is a valuable price guide for common items in and around Hoi An. Keep in mind that prices will likely be more expensive at hotels, resorts, and in the heart of Old Town.

   

Basic items

  • Raincoat/poncho: 10,000VND  (pay no more than 15,000VND)
  • Flip Flops: 40,000-80,000VND  (cheap ones from market no more than 40,000VND, designer are more expensive)
  • Drip Coffee Filter: 20,000VND + small coffee bag 30,000VND
  • Conical Hat: 30,000VND  (pay no more than 40,000VND)
  • English language newspaper: 40,000VND
  • Sunglasses: 80,000-100,000VND per pair
  • Souvenir T-shirts: 80,000-120,000VND (depending on quality, pay no more than 140,000VND except for an authentic 100% cotton provider)
  • Tiger Balm: 20,000 – 30,000VND
  • Fruit & Vegetable Prices: see Market Prices with Ha
  • Water: 7-10,000VND (small); 15,000VND (big)
  • Soft drinks: 10,000VND (can/small bottle);  20,000VND (big bottle)
  • Beer: 15,000VND (can)
  • Peanuts: 10,000 VND per bag
  • Quail eggs: 15,000VND per bag

Accommodation

Budget accommodation at hostels and budget hotels starts at about 300,000 VND/ night. From there you can find accommodation to suit any preferences and needs you may have, with most middle-of-the-road hotels averaging about 1,000,000 VND/ night. For top end hotels and resorts check out our ‘sleep’ page.

Hoi An Sports Bargames room 6, Hoi An

Food

Street food is a delicious and authentic way to satiate your hunger, and it’s cheap! Most dishes will set you back between 25,000 and 35,000 VND. Restaurant fare will start at about 40,000 VND and goes up from there. Western dishes will be slightly more expensive, starting at about 90,000 VND. For reviews and advice on the best food in town head to our ‘Eat’ page.

cocktail happy hours, hoi an

Transportation

Hoi An is a small and very walkable town, but if you need a ride, fear not, because transportation is hugely affordable. Bicycles are often free with your hotel stay, but can also be rented for about 25,000 VND/day. Motorbikes are available for about 100,000 VND/ day or 1,000,000/ month. Taxis will get you anywhere you need to go in the town for about 50,000 VND or to the beach for 70,000 VND. For more information about transportation in Hoi An, check out our transportation guide.

Palm Garden, Hotel Room, Hoi An

Entertainment

There are countless options available for activities and tours– spanning nearly every price point. Cooking classes average about 500,000 VND and local tours vary depending on length and destination, but can certainly be found for less than 1,000,000 VND per person.

nomad-cafe-hoi-an-food-1

Drinks

Come for the culture, stay for the beer prices! Fresh beer, brewed locally will set you back a whopping 4,000 VND per glass. For the bottled local brews you can expect to pay about 20,000 VND. Cocktails start at 90,000 VND and wine at 120,000 VND per glass. Find everything you need in our ‘Drink’ guide.

Traffic and bikes Hoi An Old Town, streets
Ha Ba Trung Petrol garage to AVOID, Hoi An
Chemist, Hoi An, pharmacy
Thit Cay, dog Restaurant sign, Hoi An
hoi an now mascot for tips and pointers

This Petrol Station

It’s on Hai Ba Trung (just before the rice paddies heading towards An Bang). These guys are notoriously crooked and will charge you double and treble what it costs to fill up your tank. Do not argue with them – they can be nasty, whether you are male or female these mongrels will take you on. Do not go here.

(Note) Most garages in Hoi An are fine but before the garage attendant fills up your tank check the pump meter is on zero. The average motorbike tank should cost around 80,000 VND to fill up and a liter of petrol from one of the corner stores should cost around 20,000 VND.

Chemists who overcharge

Oh Lordy, Lordy – whenever I walk towards a chemist I can almost hear them chanting: ‘and another sucker comes my way, and another one does and another one does…’  Whilst some chemists know no bounds in their overpricing, many are honest and very decent people – you just have to know who they are.

Binh Thuan Pharmacy, 115 Tran Hung Dao (near intersection with Hai Ba Trung) is recommended.

The owner is Ms Linh who worked for 7 years with the largest pharmacy in Hoi An before opening her own shop.  She has a good range of medicines and will phone other pharmacies if she hasn’t got what you need.

The Chemist Price Test for Honesty:

A strip of Codeine costs around 7,000 VND, a strip of allergy tablets around 40,000 VND.  Live with it if they charge you a ‘little’ bit more but if they charge like a wounded bull, nod politely and go elsewhere.

Thit Cay is a Dog Restaurant Some people like to try dog meat.  That is fine.  However, know the dogs are often a family pet stolen from a backyard.  They are tortured horrifically before being killed: legs are broken, some skinned alive and … worse.  Apparently the brutality makes the meat tender.  Many more Vietnamese lose their pets to dog thieves than expats and are just as sickened by these barbaric practices.

Tailors recommended by your hotel.  Frequently hotels are getting a commission which you end up paying for. It’s not always the case but if anyone is very pushy you can assume this is what’s going on.  There are plenty of tailors around.  See our shopping section.

Buy a Simcard

Buying a SIM card is easy in Vietnam. Look out for electrical shops with the following signs: ‘MobiFone, Viettel and Vinaphone’.  A small amount of money on your card will last a long time.  Start with 100,000 VND ($5) and see how that goes.  You can put more money on your SIM card from most corner shops.

Avoid buying the card from your hotel, like everything else it will cost you more.

To check how much credit you have left:  dial *101#

Xe Oms (motorbike taxis) and after dark.    

Hoi An late at night is not as safe as it once  was so BE CAREFUL.

Drinking too much can make you disorientated and vulnerable and there are those who will take advantage of this.  And, if drink makes you belligerent, you would be wise to stay at home.

Increasingly stories are emerging of skirmishes with drug addicts and Xe Om drivers outside late night venues or Xe Om drivers trying to force people to use their services.  These Xe Om drivers can be very aggressive.  You need to be vigilant and should not travel anywhere on your own, if possible.  If you need to go it alone, make sure someone knows about it and also knows where you are going.

If your hotel or homestay is a relatively short distance: walk!

There are so many things cheaper in Vietnam.  Food and drink, transport, tours and tailors – these are all the obvious ones but there is so much more.  For an overview of what will save you bagfuls of bucks, have a look at our Cheap as Chips guide.

Tailor Made Clothes

You simply cannot visit Hoi An without getting something tailor-made just for you. You’ll find the prices are inexpensive (but vary with the quality of the tailor) and the turnaround is lightning fast. For a list of a few of our favorite tailors, check out our tailor reviews.

clothes Hoi An, designer clothes, HOi An, vietnam, accessories

Art Galleries


Not long ago the only art available ‘artwork’ in Hoi An was cheap water paintings depicting rural scenes of girls in ao dai wearing traditional Non hats sold by touts on every corner. But like everything Hoi An the times, they have a-changed.  These days, there is a thrilling art scene emerging  and for the astute art collector opportunities abound to buy something original and truly beautiful.  From stunning paintings to wooden artifacts, and photographs – Hoi An is the place to buy for anyone with a keen eye. For an overview of what’s around see our Quick Guide to Art Galleries.

material, hoi an, tailors, clothes, fabric, cotton, linnen, price of tailors

Custom Leather Goods

Always fancied having a leather duffle but couldn’t justify the cost? Look no further! In Hoi An you can have duffles, purses, bum bags, wallets, and more all custom made to your specifications for a fraction of the cost back home.

mask for art and craft category post

Avoid Getting Angry

 The Vietnamese consider Westerners to be a very polite society and it comes as a big shock to them when foreigners lose their tempers.  Apart from it not being a good look, you also lose face which won’t get you very far in Vietnam.

Vendors

Vendors are everywhere. They sell everything from practical items such as sunglasses and peanuts, to the odd chopstick gift set and flying wooden dragonflies. If you are not used to haggling, now is your chance. While at times these vendors can become a nuisance, they are all actually really nice people, so please bite your tongue and be polite if you are not interested.

Check Your Bill

Checking your bill in Vietnam is not considered rude. Watch, next time you’re in a restaurant, how a Vietnamese person scrutinizes their bill.  It’s not so much that people are out to deceive, it’s more to do with a rather haphazard, slap-dash approach to detail with a ‘roughly that’ll do’ attitude. (As the adoptive Australian mother of a Vietnamese child I am registered on some paperwork as a German male. My visa card has only part of my name and there’s more.)

So check everything and do not automatically assume someone’s been trying to con you – most of the time it is a genuine mistake.

Wear Some Clothes!

Wearing skimpy clothes gets you a lot of attention, so if you don’t want smirks, licentious dribbles or disapproving stares cover up.  Vietnam is not the place for nudity.  Please respect the conservative local culture – even if bikinis and budgie smugglers are the norm back home.  It’s not polite to embarrass your hosts.

Capture

Free Vietnamese Classes 

Want some basic Vietnamese language while you’re here in Hoi An?  Well head on down to the Lifestart Foundation for their free Vietnamese classes.  ‘Our aim is to provide basic terms and phrases to help visitors and new comers navigate their way through shopping, restaurants, greetings and that sort of thing’, says Karen Leonard, Lifestart Foundation founder.

 

‘We’re offering free classes as our way of paying it forward and welcoming visitors to Hoi An’, says Leonard.   ‘It is also in the spirit of our organization where all of our project work is delivered to the disadvantaged and disabled community free’.

 

 Class times: 11am and 4 pm (Note: classes require a minimum of 2 people to run; you need to book)

Add:  14 Nguyen Thai Hoc Street, Hoi An

Tel:    +84 (0) 988 159 846         

 

For more information on the free language class visit: free classes

For more information about the Lifestart Foundation, visitwww.lifestartfoundation.org.au

Basic Vietnamese to Use in Hoi An

Vietnamese is a tricky language to master, but it’s a good idea to try and master a few phrases. There’s no guarantee that you’ll be understood (accent is everything!), but you’re sure to get a smile for trying. Also, using a little bit of Vietnamese is one way to save yourself from getting (as) ripped off.

Hello                                 Xin Chao (sin chow)

Goodbye                          Tam Biet (tap bee-it)

Yes                                    Co (cah)

No                                      Khong (khom)

Thank you                      Cam On (cam un)

Where is the toilet        Nha ve sinh o dau?

                                           (nya vi sing uh dow)

How much is it?            Bao nhieu? (bao new)

That’s too expensive    Dat qua (dat quwa)

Let’s make a deal          Giam gia (zam za)

I have one already        Co roi (ga roi)

Two beers please          Hai bia (hi bee-a)

free vietnamese classes at Lifestart, hoi an, vietnam

POST OFFICE 

Hoi An Post Office, Vietnam

HOI AN POST OFFICE

Add:     6 Tran Hung Dao St

Tel:      0510 386 3333 (hotline)
Hrs:      7am – 8pm (every day)

BANK OFFICES

Banking Hours

Whilst some banks open on Saturday morning, the majority operate 5 days a week (Monday to Friday).  Don’t get messed around by the hours!  The Vietnamese like their ‘nghi trua’ (2 hour lunch break) and the banks are no exception.  Bank Hours: 7.30am – 11.30am & 1.30pm – 4.30pm.  Always take your passport to the bank for any transactions!

See the link nearest Hoi An bank for a more comprehensive list of banks than the one below:

bank vietcombank, hoi an

Vietcom Bank

642 Hai Ba Trung Street (near corner of Tran Cao Van Street)

Asia Commercial Bank (ACB) 

66 Tran Hung Dao

Viettin Bank 

4 Hoang Dieu St., Hoi An Town

Dong A Bank

592 Hai Ba Trung Street

6 Tran Hung Dao Street

There are many ATM’s scattered around Hoi An so withdrawing money is relatively easy.  Or is it?  The limit for most withdrawals is 2 million dong which can become a costly affair when you take in banking fees.

So where can I withdraw more?

At the time of writing, the MB (Military Bank) ATM on the corner of Hai Ba Trung & Ba Trieu Streets will let you withdraw five million. This stretch of road (Hai Ba Trung between Tran Hung Dao & Ly Thuong Kiet Streets) is also where you’ll find many of the major banks.

The best way to withdraw large amounts of money is to visit your nearest Hoi An Bank.

VISA OFFICE

See our visa section for details on visas as well as the newly-introduced, 30 day E-visa (only for certain countries, however).

Online agents (with reasonable reputations) 

Vietnam Visa Centre
http://www.vietnamvisacenter.org/
(managed by English locals in Vietnam & recommended by Lonely Planet)

Vietnam Visa Central
http://vietnamvisacentral.com/
($US 17 for a 3 month DL (tourist) visa on line (one of the cheapest on-line sites around)

Ms Chi
Facebook Page: Chi’s Café
Contact: http://www.chiscafe.com/
(recommended by Saigon Expats)

Ms Vui
Bivina Services Ltd.Co
Mobile: +84 (0) 904 701 899
(Work permits, Temporary Resident Cards, Extending Visas, Car & Motorbike licenses etc..)
Email: [email protected] / [email protected]om.vn
(used by Hoi An Now staff)

Chloe Visas
Ms Chloe: +84 12345 15683
Email:[email protected]
(used by several Hoi An expats)

Hoi An Agents

Mr Hung: +84 (0)905 718 886 (Hoi An)
(the ‘Go To Man’ for visa extensions, he is used by many expats in Hoi An. Note: he only deals with tourist visas)

Mr Dung: +84 (0) 982 513 347
Email: [email protected]
(another extremely well-connected ‘Go To Man’ in Hoi An. He assists with visas – Temporary Resident Cards – only), drivers’ licenses, setting up companies, marriage paperwork; i.e. anything you may need help with. He also teaches Vietnamese to English speakers. While his services are not that cheap, he is very successful in getting things done.)

Visa Hoi An (Tuong Vy) : +84 (0) 975 280 625
Add:  77d Nguyen Duy Hieu, Hoi An
(Tourist visas, Business visas, extensions and more…)

Ms Hoa : +84 (0) 917 481 496 (Da Nang Tours)
Email:  [email protected]

Food

Aubergine 49, best restaurant, hoi an, western

Apart from Vietnamese food, Hoi An has cuisine from many corners of the Globe – and it’s cheap!  You will find Greek, Vietnamese, Japanese, Chinese, Italian, hamburger joints and so much more.  For a complete guide see our Restaurant Section.  We also have a Quick Guide to Vegetarian Food and for those who hunger for the taste of ‘home’ check out our Quick Guide to International Food.  

Drink

Guide to Cocktail Happy Hours, hoi an, Mango Rooms

There are many bars in Hoi An but which ones to choose?  To make it easier we have compiled a Quick Guide to Bars.  For coffee lovers it’s good news, Hoi An has an explosion of wonderful coffee shops; enjoy finding your favorite and if you’d like to see where the Vietnamese like to go, see our Quick Guide to Cafe Viet.

Street Food

Hoi An’s most popular regional specialties such as Cao Lau (Hoi An specialty noodles), Mi Quang (another specialty noodle for the Quang Nam province), and Com Ga (chicken with rice) in addition to Vietnamese staples such as pho and bun are sold in many of the street stalls with their plastic chairs, but not all dishes are served all day as each dish tends to have a particular time of day when it is traditionally served. The central market stalls sell these simply but very tasty dishes at fixed prices of 20,000VND – 40,000VND per plate/bowl. This should be your guideline if purchasing similar, singular dishes from other vendors in town. Banh Mi should cost approximately 10,000VND (with a meat or scrambled egg filling). Do not pay more than 15,000VND in the street. For more info on Hoi An street food prices see: Street Food Prices with Ha.

Streets restaurant, Hoi An

A Beginners Guide to Bartering

Noi Rang Market. Secret Market Money

‘I hate bartering, life would be so much easier if prices were listed.’

‘I just feel everyone’s out to rip me off.’

‘It’s exhausting having to constantly battle for the price!’

 

Cam Kim Owl Bags

These are frequent complaints from tourists and expats. But here’s the thing, bartering is an intrinsic part of Vietnamese culture. A friend in Hue once told me her mother went to the same fruit seller for 30 years. They were friends and even though they both knew the prices they bartered every day as if they’d just met for the first time. To learn how to haggle like a pro, just keep reading….

 

hoi an now mascot for tips and pointers

DO

  • Smile, engage in conversation and be pleasant with the seller, they are only trying to make a living after all.

 

  • Begin bartering at 60-65% of the original asking price.

 

  • Have a rough idea how much you want to spend and what your limit is. If you really can’t make a deal in the end you can still always walk away.

 

  • Go up in small increments, around 10,000VND at a time – depending on the original price.

 

  • Enjoy the experience, this really is part of the culture here so soak it all in!

 

  • Remember that some of these people really do make very little money and have families to support, don’t be stingey; come to an agreement that is good for both parties

DON’T

  • Be ostentatious; keep flashy jewelry and designer clothes to a minimum. If not the seller WILL over-inflate the price.

 

  • Ask out of curiosity, nothing frustrates a seller more than a person asking and just walking away without even trying to make a deal. Browsing doesn’t really exist here!

 

  • Get defensive or aggressive, its nothing personal after all, just business.

 

  • Argue over small change, a few thousand Dong won’t make much difference to you at the end of the day. 

 

  • Engage in a lengthy battle just to walk away empty handed, its fun to barter but don’t waste your time and theirs. You can almost always come to some agreement.
night-market-hoi-an-shopkeeper-2_opt

A GOOD SCENARIO OF THE BARTERING PROCESS AND SOME TIPS:

Tourist: How much is this?
Seller: 200,000. I’m honest believe me, this is the real price.
Tourist: Okay, my friend bought this for less, what’s your real price, I don’t want to play the game. Can we just do this quicker? (Smiling!!!)
Seller: Okay, okay, 180,000vnd just for you, this is the last price.
Tourist: Okay, 130,000.
Seller: No, no 180,000 is my last price.
Tourist: Okay, 150,000.

If there is no sale, smile and walk away. If they chase after you, as can happen, try not to be annoyed. It’s not always to do with you finally getting the right price – the seller may actually really need the money.

*INSIGHT* 

Most shop-sellers work very, very hard, for long hours, 7 days a week. They do not earn a lot of money and life can be really, really tough in low seasons. Shop-sellers are usually very nice people.  From their point of view they cannot understand why foreigners haggle over small amounts of money like 10,000vnd when we have so much more than them. 

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