The Old Town’s cultural sites and the coast are probably the most popular Hoi An attractions, but there’s plenty more to see if you go just below the surface! If you’re looking for things to do in Hoi An that you can arrange by yourself, you’ll find a great selection of local attractions for the whole family in Hoi An.
We couldn’t miss out the famous Old Town and its famed tailoring, nor the area’s beaches or great choice of spas. But alongside those famous highlights, you’ll find cooking classes, theater shows, workshops, countryside trips and adventures into Da Nang and beyond. Fascinating cultural sites like Marble Mountain and My Son are rightly famous and the breathtaking panoramas available at Monkey Mountain (Son Tra) and Hai Van Pass provide unforgettable experiences.
Check out our favorite Hoi An attractions below.
Hoi An’s Old Town district is the area’s premium attraction, a romantic little quarter filled with vibrant colors, sounds, textures and tastes. Simply wandering round the myriad of streets which are full of restaurants, cafes and arts & gifts is a perfect start.
After that you can take in various historical sites, especially the Chinese Assembly Halls, the famous Japanese Covered Bridge, traditional dwellings in the shape of Phung Hung Old House and Tam Ky Old House and the Museum of Folk Culture. You’ll also find the Museum of Hoi An just outside the Old Town itself.
A boat ride is also a real highlight. Short tours can be taken at will and longer tours are best booked in advance. They also sail at night which is a magical experience when the whole of the Old Town and its river is lit up by lanterns. This is especially the case on Full Moon Festival night!
Look out for Hoi An’s electric Shuttle Buses – if you’re staying outside the Old Town they’re a great way of getting there from the coast and there’s also a mini-tour that circumnavigates the town itself.
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One of Hoi An’s many joys is its proximity to the coast! It’s reassuring to know that, no matter how toasty the weather might get, one of the Hoi An beaches is only a short distance from wherever you are.
Hoi An’s premium beach attraction for visitors is An Bang, with Cua Dai further south, and the quieter Hidden Beach and Tan Thanh nestled between the two. Just across the water you’ll see Cham Island a short boat ride away – a wonderful tourist attraction in itself!
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Thanh Ha Terracotta & Pottery Village
If you’re looking for a different experience in Hoi An, head to Thanh Ha Terracotta 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 great attraction in Hoi An for adults and kids alike. The area is beautifully situated on the river, across the water from Cam Kim, and also has a museum, places to make or buy souvenirs and plenty of cafes and rest points.
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Awesome Monkey Mountain
People come to Monkey Mountain, Da Nang to feel the immensity of nature, its sweep and its transformative power. They come to experience time standing still, and to feel closer to God and God’s mysteries, even if that’s not how they’d put it. The peak of Monkey Mountain features some of the steepest inclines in SE Asia and its roads cut through miles of lush rainforest.
The mountain is named after the very rare, Red-shanked Duoc and it is also home to the imposing Lady Buddha. At 67m, the statue is almost twice the size of Rio’s Christ the Redeemer and is a spiritual protector from natural disasters, especially typhoons. Behind her is the impressive Ling Ung – Bai But Pagoda, an active monastery and pilgrimage site, especially for domestic tourists.
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Ba Na Hills Mountain Resort
European architecture, much of it medieval, on top of a 1,487-metre high Vietnamese mountain. Wow! For this alone, Ba Na Hills Mountain Resort is worth a visit. Not quite a Hoi An attraction but well worth the day trip, Ba Na Hills near Da Nang is a big drawcard for visitors to Central Vietnam.
Take in the spectacular entrance by cable car and see the new Golden Bridge supported by giant hands before heading to the Fantasy Park where fun for all the family can be had. Ba Na Hills has a little something for everyone from garden labyrinths to elevated pagodas to rollercoasters and, as it’s still a work in progress, it’ll be interesting to watch how it develops.
Ba Na Hills has hotels and restaurants and a beautiful pagoda at the top of the highest peak in the complex. 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!
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Hai Van Pass by Motorbike
Acclaimed as one of the great coast roads in the world, travelling the Hai Van Pass by motorbike doesn’t disappoint. When traveling between Hue and Da Nang/Hoi An, Hai Van Pass is not to be missed – otherwise make a day trip of it.
The road snakes along the hillside, weaving back and forth through a series of hairpin bends, steep inclines and breathtaking scenery until you reach its famous summit. Here the fortifications date back to the Dai Viet Kingdom and to Emperor Minh Mang’s rule. Historically, Hai Van was the physical division between the Champa and Dai Viet Kingdoms, and the imposing gate-like structures at the summit were used as a border crossing. It is the natural frontier between north and south Vietnam, and one of the best mountain passes you’ll ever drive or be driven on!
Read our guide to travelling the Hai Van Pass by Motorbike
Marble Mountain Marvel
Only 20 minutes from Hoi An by bus or hired car, the Marble Mountains are the perfect destination for history lovers or anyone looking to get a better view of the central Vietnamese plain from above. 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.
The Marble Mountains’ site is also famous for its sculpted marble statues that range widely in size and price at nearby venues.
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Best done with a local guide to pick up the complex story, My Son is a popular day trip for tourists wanting to learn more about South East Asian history. A UNESCO world heritage site under an hour from Hoi An city center, the My Son ruins are some of the few remaining constructions of the ancient Cham Empire in Vietnam. There would be a lot more but bomb craters all over tell another more recent story from the American War. Many statues were beheaded by the French in a bizarre fit of trophy taking as well at some point but My Son remains a fascinating Hoi An attraction for all those with an interest in history and culture.
Read our guide to My Son
Tam Thanh Mural Village
Visiting Tam Thanh Mural Village 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.
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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.
Nguyen Thi Minh Khai has more art shops and galleries than you can count. Apart from those reviewed here, they contain copied or derivative designs and ideas aimed at charming innocent tourists. If you love it, buy it – the work is cheerful and cheap.
Other prominent streets with galleries are Tran Phu, Nguyen Thai Hoc, Bach Dang and Phan Boi Chau.
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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 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.
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Hoi An Memories
Hoi An Memories Show is an open-air theatrical extravaganza involving a cast of 500 in an arena that can seat 3000. It’s comfortably the largest and most ambitious show anywhere in Vietnam and Hoi An’s premier theatre attraction. It showcases Vietnamese culture through an historical lens; a lens leaning heavily on Hoi An’s rich past as a multi-national trading port – since the 1500s a meeting place for East and West.
The setting is sprawling and magnificent, grandly depicting the nearby mountains, the sodden river flood plains that typify Vietnam and the old port of Hoi An. The music is exquisite, the lighting hi-tech and the choreography superb. Come early or hang around afterwards and check out the Impression Theme Park as well, it’s worth it.
Find more on Hoi An Memories Show review.
Theme Parks & Games
Art in Paradise: Danang
Have you ever wanted to come face to with King Kong, fly with fairies or take a trip through Venice on a gondolier? All this can be yours at Art in Paradise Danang 3D Museum, but grab your camera because it’s all about photos and capturing the moment.
Impressively run, this massive interactive visual playground spanning two floors will have you laughing out loud from the moment you enter to the moment you leave. Inside are 9 themed zones where walls and floors have been meticulously hand-painted by talented South Korean artists to create stunning optical illusions that trick the eyes into thinking you are in the scene.
Read our guide to Art in Paradise
Vinpearl Land Nam Hoi An
This 62.4-hectare park still has plenty to offer and is a terrific day out for those with kids or for those who want to let their inner kid out. Vinpearl Land Nam Hoi An has six basic attractions: Waterworld, River Safari, Bird Park, Hoi An Cultural Land, the massive Adventure Land fun park and the Indoor Gaming Room. Interspersed between these worlds you’ll find some quite good souvenir shops, clothes shops, restaurants plus outside entertainment.
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Ba Na Hills
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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.
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Taboo Bamboo Workshop
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.
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Just spend one night in Hoi An and you’ll see how important lanterns are to the town and its people. You’ll see them everywhere in the Old Town, on its buildings and boats, as well as on many dwellings around the area itself. No visit to Hoi An should be without a lantern-making class, regardless of your age! Lots of different classes are available and in most you’ll be able to make your lantern from scratch, choosing the style, colour and material. As lanterns fold up nicely, they also make great souvenirs to take back home after your holiday.
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Thanh Ha Terracotta & Pottery Village
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Hoi An has its very own links course as part of the Vinpearl Nam Hoi An Resort, facing the beach. The course is suitable for golfers of all levels and the lush settings are a paradise for anyone who enjoys swinging an iron or two.
You’ll also find a great courses between Da Nang and Hoi An, there are a number of golf resorts too and award-winning Ba Na Hills is also nearby.
Indeed, Da Nang, Hoi An, and Hue are connected to each other by new coastal roads and tunnels. Together they make up Vietnam’s Golf Coast. Vietnam’s recognition as an up-and-coming golf destination is no secret, but the Vietnam Golf Coast ups the ante even further.
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Whether you’re an expert chef or feel dizzy whenever you set foot in your kitchen, cooking classes are tremendous fun and one of Hoi An’s most popular attractions. Food is an important part of Vietnamese culture, with Hoi An having its own dishes that are unique to the area. You’ll find a great deal out about local culture and food traditions, hear some stories, meet local people, and get to eat everything you prepare. Oh, and you’ll also surprise yourself with your own cooking.
Find out more about Cooking Classes
Bicycling in Hoi An
Cycling is a great way to get around Hoi An and the surrounding countryside. It’s a wonderful means of seeing the real Hoi An away from the crowds, to see farming and fishing up close, at your own pace. See Cycling to An Bang Beach: Scenic Route, Cam Kim Cycle Tour, and the Alternative Hoi An Cycle Tour to get you started on your own two-wheeled adventures.
There are also plenty of organized tours that help you explore the countryside and its people and food, See Bicycle to explore further.
Visiting during a festival in Vietnam is a perfect way experience the country’s culture, traditions and history first-hand. Below you’ll find an overview of all the major Vietnamese festivals and public holidays, with a special focus on Hoi An and Central Vietnam. Specific dates may change depending on the year, so bear this in mind if you’re planning your trip around a particular Vietnamese celebration.
Find out more about Festivals in Vietnam
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