Things to See and Do in Hoi An
When it comes to things to see and do in Hoi An there’s something for everyone. You can cycle through the serene countryside or take a stroll along the lively river banks of the Old Town, wander the cobbled side streets in search of secret haunts or visit famous landmarks like the Japanese Covered Bridge. This ancient little town is packed with captivating sights, attractions, galleries, tours and plenty more.
If you’ve done just a few minutes’ research on what Hoi An has to offer, your bucket list will be brimming with things to do, see and experience. But if you’re still short of ideas and wondering which activities and events are worth your time, then try our quick guides and our Top 10 Things to See in Hoi An and Top Ten Things to Do in Hoi An.
In Search of a Special Hoi An Event?
Your Hoi An itinerary can be as unique and varied as you wish. Spend the night in a resort near the beach or stay in a cheap-as-chips, meet-the-locals homestay overlooking an expanse of rice fields … as well as anything else you could possibly imagine in between.
You may be paralyzed by the abundance of options, scratching your head over what’s worth your time. If so, why not take a break from all the thinking and planning, and let our two-day itinerary lead the way. Our suggestions on what to do, see and eat, will help you make the most of your time in this incredible town, catching a glimpse of both past and present. For more ideas try 0ur Insiders’ Top 10 – it reveals the activities and places that top the lists for those who’ve been around the block a few times.
If you prefer to ditch the checklists and enjoy a bit of spontaneity while travelling, then make sure you check out at our Special Events Calendar or Monthly Events Calendar to see what events and highlights should not be missed while you’re in Hoi An.
Maybe you know exactly what your stay in Hoi An is going to look like but you’re not quite sure how you’ll get around, then take a look at our informative and detailed Guide to Transportation.
Exciting Hoi An Attractions
Hoi An is swimming in bucket-list-worthy things to do – climb up Marble Mountain, ride in a Vietnamese basket boat or simply watch the glorious sunset over the rice fields. Take a peak at our Top Ten Things to See in Hoi An for some of the most popular options.
Houses dating back centuries in the picturesque Old Town host an array of coffee shops (coffee culture is huge in Vietnam and Hoi An is no exception), from trendy hipster joints to creaky old works of art. There’s a range of silversmiths, designer boutiques and specialty tea shops as well, plus more art galleries and tailors than you can shake a stick at.
Whether or not you are interested in buying souvenirs, trinkets or food, a visit to one of the markets is a fabulous experience. The Night Market on An Hoi is the most touristy with dozens of stalls selling lanterns, homewares, bags and jewelry, while Hoi An Central Market, Tiger Market and Ba Le Market are interesting places to observe locals trading fresh produce in their natural element.
For those looking for a bit more action, there are many interesting ways to fill your day. If you’re feeling creative you can sign up for Timing Masks Workshops, where you’ll have a go at painting your own traditional Vietnamese theater mask, or head over to Thanh Ha Terracotta Park and Pottery Village where you can admire the clay replicas of famous landmarks from around the world including the Taj Mahal and Statue of Liberty or craft a clay souvenir of your own to take home.
If you’re not one for sightseeing, visiting markets or exploring historical landmarks, you may want to escape to one of Hoi An’s glorious beaches, only a short cycle or cab ride away. Not only can you find pristine spots where you can bathe in sun and laze away the afternoon, but with a little exploration you may discover an unspoilt and uncrowded area all to yourself (and a handful of locals at most). Diving is a popular pastime for tourists and many expats, with Hoi An Diving Center offering courses ranging from complete basic to instructor certification. Sea Trek, the new kid on the block, can lower you to the ocean floor with its ingenious helmet diving system, no previous experience required. You don’t even have to be able to swim!
Hoi An Old Town
Hoi An’s Old Town district is probably its most alluring attraction, a romantic little quarter filled with vibrant colors, sounds, textures and tastes. Here you can explore various historical sites, the most famous being the Japanese Covered Bridge which was built in the 1590s and remains one of the most photographed bridges in Asia.
For the full Hoi An experience, make a wish and release a lantern onto the Thuo Bon River, or take a boat ride amidst the shimmering evening lights. If you’re wandering the town at night, don’t forget to browse the Night Market on Nguyen Hoang with almost fifty stalls serving both locals and tourists alike.
Kid’s aren’t usually too keen on being dragged around cultural and historical sights, so you’ll be thankful that there is plenty to entertain the young ones in Hoi An and surrounding areas. This includes a handful of entertainment centers such as the Helio Center, VinKE and Playzone for Kids which provide games and activities (click on kids guide link below). Possibly the most thrilling attraction is the water park at Vinpearl Land Nam Hoi An, south of Hoi An proper, just the other side of the Cua Dai Bridge. There’s also an animal sanctuary there that can only be viewed from river boats.
If your kids are into art and craft on the other hand, you can get the whole family involved in some arts and crafts at The Timing Masks Workshop or Thanh Ha Pottery Village mentioned earlier.
The Hoi An Water Puppet Show always goes down a treat and a boat ride in the Coconut Palms waterways is an exciting adventure for all. Ba Na Hills is a delightful day out where you can ride on the world’s largest gondola to a magical medieval hilltop town filled with amusement rides, wine tasting and indoor rock-climbing wall.
Our three-part Hoi An for Kids Guides – Land, Water and Further Afield – share all you need to know about making your stay in Hoi An both suitable and enjoyable for children of all ages.
Fascinating Hoi An Tours
The best way to see Hoi An is by bicycle, with well-made roads and pathways throughout the town and even through the rice fields. If the budget doesn’t quite stretch for a guided tour, it is easy to make your own cycling tour using free bikes supplied by your hotel; otherwise you can rent one for a minimal daily fee. Popular routes around town include the scenic route to An Bang Beach where you can cool off in the ocean before heading back to town, the alternative Hoi An tour, or get away from the crowds and explore Cam Kim.
Hoi An guided tours led by an expert English-speaking guide are an excellent way to delve into the history and beauty of this region. Most places of interest can be visited either by private tour or in a group – group tours are always cheaper and a great way to meet other travelers if you are on your own. Some of the exciting tours that are available on a daily basis include a trip to the Cham Islands, Cam Kim Island, kayaking tours and the My Son ruins. You can also take a walking photography tour to learn more about how to take those perfect shots of the beautiful Old Town. Check out our Quick Guide to Tours for more information on how you can see all that this region has to offer.
Great Photography Tour
Probably some of the best and most interesting tours you can do in Hoi An are guided cycling tours. There are an increasing number of fantastic adventures that offer something for everyone and also incorporate food, history and photo-worthy landscapes. Try a ‘Food by Bike’ tour so you can sample Central Vietnamese specialties, or get out of town with an all day countryside tour including lunch.
If you want to take it easy, have a lot of fun, and see Hoi An at the same time, try Hoi An Highlights Sidecar Tour – suitable for all ages.
Hoi An Cooking Classes
Having tried the exquisite local dishes in Hoi An, you might want to learn how to whip up a meal or two yourself. Cooking classes are a fun and affordable activity to do alone or with friends, and a great way to get close to the local culture and its flavors. You’ll spot advertisements for classes everywhere you go but knowing which one to go for can be tricky. Many have been tried and tested by staff at Hoi An Now, so follow our advice and pick one that’s right for you.
Great Cooking Class Tour
Massage and More
Staying in Hoi An longer than a few days will most likely afford you some time to treat yourself to a relaxing massage, facial or body scrub at one of the highly affordable spas around town. Hairdressers, barbers and beauty salons are also very cheap offering a wide array of services from haircuts to waxing to eyelash extensions.
Spiritual travelers may be interested in crystal healing or a clairvoyant reading, and there are unique spots like Essensian where you can pick out the perfect essential oils and flower essences. Those who are staying long term may like to keep in shape by visiting one of the gyms or yoga studios in Hoi An such as SuperFit or Nomad Yoga.
Other treatments and services available in Hoi An include cosmetic dentistry, optical examinations and you can even get a vegan tattoo at 1984 Tattoo Studio – all of which are guaranteed to come at a fraction of Western prices.
Tying the Knot
Tying the knot overseas can be exciting, glamorous and wildly romantic, but it can also wind up feeling overwhelming and stressful when you’re not quite sure which services to access. Hoi An is the perfect setting for a fairy-tale wedding so don’t let planning anxiety get in the way. Book a wedding planner with Hoi An Events Weddings to help minimize the stress and create a unique and unforgettable day of your dreams.
Hoi An Festivals
Vietnamese love their festivals and if you’re lucky enough to visit Hoi An during festival time, you’re in for a cultural and visual treat. The most important festival of all is Tet, the Vietnamese New Year, which is held at different times of year according to the lunar calendar lasting up to seven days. You can find more information about what to expect in our First Timer’s Guide to Tet.
Another notable festival that you may have the opportunity to experience is the Hoi An monthly Lantern Festival held in the Old Town. The Lantern festival is held each month on the 14th day of the lunar calendar. The Old Town is transformed into a magical quarter packed with local food, cultural activities, musical performances, and colorful silk lanterns. Motorbikes are banned and at 8pm all fluorescent lights are switched off to bring out the mystic glow of the floating lanterns. This traditional event, bursting with colors and sounds, is sure to be a memorable experience, so make sure it’s part of your itinerary during your time in Hoi An.
It may be a little harder to reserve your favorite accommodation during any of these busy and popular festival periods, so make sure you book well in advance.
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.
However, there are so many shops selling paintings, drawings and lacquers in town that it is hard to tell the copy art from the original work. See our Quick Guide to Good Galleries to help you quickly get to the best of the local artists.
Volunteering in Hoi An
Volunteering with one of Hoi An’s local charities or NGOs is something that will be greatly appreciated by the locals. If you would like to give back to this fantastic community, either by volunteering your time or making a cash donation, there are a number of organizations that need a hand. Since many families cannot afford to pay for schooling, charities like Lifestart Foundation and Children’s Hope in Action provide educational sponsorships for local children in order for them to achieve their dreams, as well as assisting families in need. The Kianh Foundation transforms the lives of children with special needs.
Sadly, all good things must come to an end, and when it’s time to head home you can easily book an airport transfer to take you from Hoi An to Da Nang Airport.
If you’re fortunate enough to have some more time to explore Vietnam and haven’t made any plans yet, we’ve got some great advice about where to head to next. For those heading north, Da Nang is just a short drive away, then you have Hue and the magical Paradise Cave in Phong Nha National Park which is an absolute must for nature lovers. Down to the south, there are lovely spots to relax away from the touristic crowds such as Quy Nhon and flashpacker favorite Life’s a Beach just down the coast.