Quick Guide to Hoi An Attractions
When the full moon has passed and the shopping and the Old Town sites have been done, what else does Hoi An have to offer? Don’t be fooled by the small-town charm, there are plenty of Hoi An attractions to keep visitors busy. Go a bit deeper and take in some history at the lesser-visited pagodas around town.
Relax on the secluded beaches of Cham Island or get crafty with bamboo and paper-mache at Taboo Bamboo and Timing Masks. With options for the whole family, Hoi An has plenty of attractions that are sure to keep you interested.
Around Hoi An
Whatever you do, if you have the opportunity to attend a Lune Production – Lune Cirque – do not miss it. For an hour or so you will be be totally absorbed by the drama and poignancy of traditional Vietnamese life in a unique way that will live with you long after the lights are turned up. The shows are genuinely world class in music and energetic, dramatic performance.
Lune Production has created an amphitheater in Hoi An that stages very Vietnamese shows which draw from the Cirque du Soleil tradition. Ha Noi and Ho Chin Minh City also stage Lune Production shows in their respective Opera Houses and other venues.
Hours: shows start 6pm
Address: Dong Hiep Park, An Hoi Islet
To Book: Lune Production
Grab some friends and put your IQ to the test at Hoi An’s locked in game. With 60 minutes on the clock, the challenge is tackling puzzles and keeping your cool in this creepy escape room. A great option to escape the heat of the sun, this is a unique experience that you won’t forget! Escape IQ is genuinely creepy and real live actors add plenty to keep you on your toes in a very fast-paced and thrilling event.
Escape IQ really does fill a gap in the market in Hoi An … go now, you won’t regret it!
Recommended for ages 14+ and groups of 3-5 people.
Hours: 10am – 10pm (last booking at 9pm)
Address: 15/4 Thoai Ngoc Hau
A short walk from the Old Town, Hoi An’s Water Puppet Show is an entertaining prelude to dinner and fun for all ages. Set under the stars in amphitheater-styled seating, this energetic and frequently humorous 45-minute show presents a series of fables and stories on Vietnamese village life through colorfully hand carved puppets. There are unicorns and fairies, the odd boat race and dragons amidst smoke and spectacular lighting.
With or without kids, Hoi An’s Water Puppet Show is highly recommended and for the best seating arrive around 15 – 20 minutes early.
Add: 548 Hai BaTrung (near corner of Ly Thuong Kiet and Hai Ba Trung)
Tel: +84 (0)235 386 1327; +84 (0)941 378 979(hotline)
Full Moon Lantern Festival
Many tourists and visitors flock to Hoi An’s Old Town to see the candle lit river and smell the incense on the breeze for the Lantern Festival. The festival falls on the night of the full moon, a sacred time for the heady Buddhist/Confucian mixture in Vietnam and Ancient Hoi An provides the perfect setting.
The dazzle of floating candles on the river is delightful and it’s enchanting to walk through the Old Town by the light of paper lanterns with no scooters whizzing past and the street lights off.
Grab your small bills and get ready to barter at Hoi An’s famous night market. For those wishing to take home a piece of Hoi An’s lantern-lit charm, the Night Market on An Hoi Islet is the go-to place for inexpensive souvenirs and street food.
The prices of the Night Market are heavily inflated, even compared to the souvenir storefronts scattered around the Old Town. Be prepared to barter down by at least half of the initial quoted price, and even further if you are buying a collection of gifts.
Add: Nguyen Hoang Street on An Hoi Island
The Amazing Race
Get your team and come find out the hidden gems throughout Hoi An. You will need to find clues and hints to discover your destinations and the tasks that you will need to accomplish. Part game/part tour. This will be unlike anything you have done before! Decipher clues, use an obscure map and get resourceful. This race will test your knowledge, wits and ingenuity! You will learn new Vietnamese phrases, make local cuisine, and navigate the portions of Hoi An not seen by the average tourist.
See the Amazing Race website to book and for more details.
Meeting Place: Japanese Bridge
The Great Outdoors
Spin yourself around in the tipsy world of Vietnamese basket boats. Hewn from sturdy bamboo and vietnamese ingenuity, these watertight baskets will have you bobbing down the river like a fisherman of yesteryear. Hired from town, you can explore the quiet waterways that surround Hoi An in traditional style.
Cruise into silent waterways with massive palms shading overhead and if you push your guide away from the tour groups the only sounds will be the rhythmic paddling and the soft swish of the trees. This peaceful dream world seems so far from the bustle of the streets of Hoi An – as therapeutic as a good massage.
Approx. Add: Tran Nhan Tong, Cam Thanh
Spend the day snorkeling and exploring the lovely and unspoiled marine-protected Cham Islands, the least developed islands in Vietnam. Experience the islands as a day trip from Hoi An or an overnight stay in one of the rustic island homestays. Also the best spot for scuba diving enthusiasts.
On dry land ancient Champa culture is on show as is a pagoda or two and an intriguing graveyard.
Day tours go for around 600-700,000 vnd (ask your hotel or any travel shop). Four homestays provide overnight accommodation and dive tour operators are listed here.
One of Hoi An’s best activities on your own or with friends, bicycling in Hoi An is a great way to explore or get from A to B. Structured bicycle tours are also available and provide a stimulating opportunity to discover what Hoi An and its surrounds offer beneath the surface. Rice fields, duck farms, fishing villages and glorious beaches are just minutes away.
Kayaking/Paddle Boarding in Hoi An
There are myriad options in Hoi An for kayakers and paddle boarders. Take in the scenery with an organized tour with Hoi An Kayak Tours or have at it yourself. No experience is required and there are kayaking adventures for all levels of expertise. Organised tours start with the Easy Paddle tour for beginners but more experienced paddlers can opt for the 24km Full Day Cam Island tour.
You can explore relatively remote channels through narrow keyholes of foliage in what seems to be primeval waters in a Jurassic Park experience or take on the broad waters of the Thu Bon River in and around the impressive Cua Dai Bridge.
Add: pick up from your address
Tel: +84 (0) 979 437 338; +84(0)916 645 858
A UNESCO world heritage site under an hour from Hoi An city center, the My Son ruins are some of the only remaining constructions of the ancient Cham Empire in Vietnam. Better done with a local guide, My Son is a popular day trip for tourists wanting to learn more about South East Asian history.
How were the ancient buildings of the Hindu sanctuary at My Son put together apparently without mortar yet they have lasted millennia? How can it be that the bricks used in the restoration have already weathered more quickly than the originals? Why were the Cham people Hindu anyway? To tackle these mysteries and also take in the bomb craters that pockmark this great heritage site go to My Son!
Hours: 6.30am – 5pm
Parasailing at An Bang Beach
Fly high at An Bang Beach (at the southern end) with what could only be described as ‘a rollercoaster in the sky.’ Accommodating two, the parachute lifts you up off the beach and into the sky for a ten minute flight.
While expensive, parasailing is a great activity for the adrenaline junkie or anyone looking to get a better view of Hoi An and the surrounding countryside.
Hours: 9am – 5pm
Add: An Bang Beach (southern end)
The Marble Mountains’ religious significance and amazing views make it one of Hoi An’s most famous and popular destinations. Below the surface, a complicated system of caves and tunnels interlaced with pagodas, shrines and gigantic statues make this an unforgettable experience. But go early to avoid unbearable heat during the summer months as well as the hordes of tourists all year round.
Entrance ticket: 40,000 vnd
One-way elevator ticket: 15,000 vnd
Map: 15,000 vnd
Hours: 8am – 5pm
Add: between Da Nang and Hoi An (coast road)
Ba Na Hills
An hour and half outside of Hoi An, Ba Na Hills offers a theme park experience coupled with a resort and spa that can be enjoyed by the whole family. Constructed on the site of a French colonial hill station, Ba Na Hills is now a European-themed park for families to enjoy a bit of Europe in Vietnam complete with the thrills and spills of its fun park.
With over 1.5 million visitors a year it can get packed at certain times so if you want to avoid the peak hour crush and the cable car queues at day’s end, and see what’s on offer at at your own speed, consider staying the night!
Book through a local travel agent or hire a car and guide through the official booking office:
Add: An Son – Hoa Ninh, Hoa Vang prefecture
Water Buffalo Riding
It could be your best photo from Vietnam — you, conical hat askew, astride a water buffalo up to its knees in muck. Head out into the rice paddies where you will find cheeky locals charging a dollar for a photo on top of their beloved buffalo. Many tours also include water buffalo riding as part of their experience.
Unlike elephants that need to be tamed before they can be ridden ( a horrible process), water buffalo have been ‘domesticated’, having been crucial to rice farmers’ field ploughing and other tasks for millenia. As they can grow to weigh in at 2,500 pounds or so, they’ll barely notice you’re there as they relish a stroll in the muddy rice paddies with you on board.
Tra Que Vegetable and Herb Market Garden
Tra Que Vegetable and Herb Gardens are on the itineraries of many tours in Hoi An but there’s nothing stopping you visiting the area yourself. The farming methods are organic, using seaweed from the river in an age-old process and the city’s vegetable sellers get their produce from Tra Que.
If you do take a tour you’ll be shown how the herbs and vegetables are cultivated by local farmers. You can roll up your sleeves and have a go yourself if you want to and you’ll also be invited to eat in a local family house before you leave. This tour is typical of those on offer.
Add: Either side of Hai Ba Trung between Hoi An City and An Bang Beach
Tam Thanh Mural Village
Visiting Tam Thanh is much like Dorothy stepping out of black and white into technicolor Oz. This little village explodes out of pastoral sepias into pinks and blues, yellows and deep violets. The main street is a kaleidoscope where every house has its own unique color and character. Murals of local people decorate the larger walls and smaller paintings trail down the alleyways inviting visitors to explore.
The first of its kind in Vietnam, this painted village strives to boost local tourism and bring a new vitality to an otherwise sleepy corner of the province. With the blessing of the local people, the volunteer artists have been able to turn garden-variety construction into a cohesive work of living art.
Add: Off the road (coastal) to Tam Ky
Most people visit Monkey Mountain to feel the immensity of nature, its sweep and its transformative power. And if you take the mysticism out of it they come for a rip snorter, killer view (as long as it’s a clear day because the peak is often in cloud). Some come to look for the Red-shanked Duoc as well, after which the mountain is named, but few are successful.
Lower down is the magnificent Lady Buddha, serenely overseeing the waters around Da Nang. Almost twice the size of Rio’s Christ the Redeemer (67-meters), this Boddhisattva of Mercy is a spiritual protector from natural disasters, especially typhoons. Behind her is the very impressive Ling Ung – Bai But Pagoda and half way up the mountain is a magnificent Banyan Tree (800+ years).
Art and Craft
Owner Tan kicks old-school Vietnamese bamboo construction up a notch at Taboo Bamboo. Hidden away in the verdant outskirts of the Coconut Palm Village, Taboo Bamboo is an inspiring setting for making your own unique bamboo creations under the guidance of a third generation bamboo craftsman.
It’s all bamboo with Tan. He has even made a functioning rotary phone and a car out of bamboo. And, if that’s too old school for you, he’s also created a bamboo cellphone case! If you like, you can make your own bamboo bike by booking into one of his five-day workshops.
Hours: 7.30am – 5.30pm
Add: Thanh Tam Dong, Cam Thanh
Thanh Ha Pottery Village
If you’re looking for a different experience in Hoi An, head to Thanh Ha Terracotta Park and Pottery Village to paint your very own souvenir Vietnamese theater mask. With pot making and a little bit of history in between, this is a fun day for adults and kids alike.
Like Gulliver start off with a walk through the Lilliputian garden display at the Thanh Ha Terracotta Park – from the Taj Mahal to the Sydney Opera House in miniature. Then move through the intriguing museum and finally into the village to throw your own pot – a great hands on experience for the kids.
Add: Thanh Ha Terracotta Pottery Park, Nam Dieu
Tel: +84 (0) 235 3963 888
Timing Mask Workshop
A family business headed by patriarch Mr Phong Bui, the Timing Masks Workshop aims to preserve one of Vietnam’s oldest cultural activities: the art of mask making. Fun for all ages, an afternoon at the Timing Masks Workshop is a great family activity with a handmade takeaway to remind you and yours of your trip to Hoi An.
Tip. Ask the staff to mount your mask on a basket it really touches it off and looks amazing. The extra $US 3 more is worth it.
Add: 66 Bach Dang Street, Hoi An Old Town
Tel: +84 (0)235 395 9159
Hoi An has a reputation as a center for culture and the arts in Vietnam and it is true that a number of artists and writers have been drawn to this beautiful town because of the gentle pace of life, the light, the variety of landscape, the architecture and the vibrant culture. There are several galleries in Hoi An and any number of shops flogging paintings of uneven quality. To help you through this morass check out our Quick Guide to Good Galleries.
By the way, if you buy from one of the galleries we have listed, always ask if they can give you a certificate of authenticity. Vietnamese artists are now making a splash on the international art scene and the prices are rising. One day, it may be worth a lot of money!
Vinpearl Land Nam Hoi An
The Water Park is the main attraction featuring ‘extreme water games’ like the Tornado and the Giant Boomerang that replicate being caught in a tornado and falling down a waterfall respectively. But fear not, there are many gentler games too including the lazy river, wave pool and kids’ pool. There’ also a zoo that can only be observed by boat – the river safari – and sure, while most animals are not caged, calling it a wildlife sanctuary is just silly. There are 39 wild species on show including Bengal tigers, antelopes, kangaroos, rhinos, giraffes, zebras.
An extensive retail area of considerable variety and an amusement park with twister and tower rides also loom large. All in all a great venue for an all-day or half-day family outing.
Hours: Hang to call 19006677
Add: Thanh Nien Street, Binh Duong, Thang Binh, Quang Nam
Play Zone for Kids
Got young, restless children who need to work off some of that boundless energy? Well truck along to the seriously cheap indoor children’s play area – Play Zone for Kids; corner of Cua Dai and Tran Nhan Tong. From trampolines, climbing apparatus and play houses to ball pools and play cars – it’s as good as you’ll find in any country. Bright fluorescent green and with a couple of giant crickets painted on the front you can’t miss it.
Play Zone for Kids is clean and modern with plenty of excitement but be mindful, as it’s still unknown to most tourists, the Vietnamese staff has no English. Nothing a bit of body language can’t handle – and it’s so cheap!
Hours: Monday – Saturday: 4pm – 9pm; Sundays and Public Holidays: 3.30pm – 9.30pm
Add: Corner Cua Dai & Tran Nhan Tong
VinKE (That’s Eduta!nment), Da Nang is a must for families with kids. Inside there’s a brightly colored jungle play gym, arcade games, bumper cars, imaginative play rooms, and a 5D-cinema that will plunge you into a world of virtual reality. But those who’ll be most amped in this haven of excitement are young kids.
Career role-playing opportunities with authentic dress to match compete with arcade games and rides and generally win the day. Meanwhile adults can chill in the cafeteria while their kids explore the many options in this safe space..
Hours: 9.30am – 10pm
Add: Vincom Centre, 910A Ngo Quyen, Q Son Tra, Da Nang
Inside, Helio has two floors of amusements including: an ice-skating rink, go-Kart racing, rollercoaster rides, duck-pin bowling (like ten-pin bowling but smaller balls with no holes), 150 arcade games, karaoke rooms, a Ballocity Play room and a food court featuring 5 different world cuisines, as well as bakery and coffee shops. There’s much to do but the stand out for smaller kids, by far, is ‘Helio Kids’ – designed to send imaginative play off the Richter scale.
If you’ve got kids and half a day to spare, Da Nang’s Helio Center is definitely worth a visit. While all the signs at Helio Center are in Vietnamese, the staff has good English.
Hours: 5pm – 10pm (Mon-Fri); 8am – 10pm (Sat – Sun)
Add: 2/9 Street, Da Nang City
Rock Climbing Hoi An
Thrill seekers will be glad to find an adrenaline fix in the center of town. At Rock Climbing Hoi An, you can scale a 15-meter wall like Spiderman (if he’d had a harness and an attendant to secure him), practise Batman-like descents into a safety net on the multi-level zipline and jump around the bouncy castle ’til your heart’s content or pilot an electric car. Then it might be time to give your kids a turn.
😉Top off your exhilarating afternoon with an ice-cream at Café Sua – all the best superheroes do.
Note: Little English is spoken but prices start as low as 10,000vnd and stretch to 80,000vnd for the zipline/highwire and 100,000vnd for the most expensive rockclimb.
Add: 43-47 Ly Thuong Kiet
Vinpearl Land Ice Skating
Vinpearl Land Ice Skating Rink is fun for all the family and well worth a visit when the heat’s overwhelming. Situated on the top level of Da Nang’s Vincom shopping mall, this ice rink is as good as any you’ll find around the world. There are polar bear and penguin skating aids and experienced ice-skating staff on hand to help with any jittery skaters.
If you’re not into skating there’s viewing seats inside or you can alternatively sit outside sipping coffee or a beer from one of the many coffee shops or restaurants while watching your kids kick up an ice storm.
Add: 910A Ngo Quyen, Q Son Tra, Da Nang
Tele: +84 (0)236 399 6688