Although the Nipa Palms (Coconut Palms) have been a Hoi An tourist attraction for several years, few experiences can deliver, as they can, the illusion of ‘being the first person ever there’ – an illusion that transports one back millennia.


But this is an impossible illusion to sustain in those areas where the mangroves are choked with bus loads of tourists crammed into spinning circular bamboo basket boats with pop music blaring; little grasshoppers made from palm fronds the mass produced take-home reward.

Hooi An Coconut Palms. Nipa Palms. Hoi An Kayak Tours. Channel through the Nipa Palms.

It’s possible, however, to avoid ‘basket-boat central’ (see map) and hit out on your own. It’s even possible to control your own craft through this labrynthine wonderland and, for a time, embrace a Jurassic Park adventure.


Join with Hoi An Kayak Tours and you’ll enter relatively unexplored channels through narrow keyholes of encroaching foliage. In these areas the only sound – wildlife aside – is the gentle, slow, rhythmic swish of paddles dipping into the still, primeval waters.

Hoi An Kayak Tours. Coconut Palms

Here too, the only sight is the glorious Nipa Palm Forest itself, swarming over the Tho Bon River delta in every direction. Some channels are darker and shrouded by denser foliage than others but magically, uplifting, thick shafts of light invariably pierce the gloom here and there.


 … abruptly, around a corner was a flotilla of 30 circular basket boats transporting 80 Koreans who were either skylarking noisily or making last-minute adjustments to hair and make-up readying themselves for selfies. Meanwhile, ‘Oppa Gangnum Style’ was blasting from one of the boats … 

Hoi An Coconut Palms. Hoi An Kayak Tours. Korean tourists in bamboo basket boats.

But with Hoi An Kayak Tours it’s not all Juarassic Park. Keen kayakers are also afforded a solid workout if they want it. A good part of the 2½-hour tour traverses the Thu Bon River proper and you’ll likely pass fishermen hauling their extensive catch from boat to land alongside grazing cattle. You’ll explore new Nipa Palm plantations – a reafforestation – in the lee of the Cua Dai Bridge and feel the pull of wind and tide where the river nears the ocean.

Hoi An Kayak Tours. Fishermen clear their nets.

I was sad to leave Hoi An’s superb maze of Nipa Palms but the genuine greeting we received from the Hoi An Kayak Tour team on our return made a great end to a great day.  All said, Hoi An Kayak Tours delivered one of the most memorable experiences I’ve ever had in Vietnam.

Hrs: Easy Paddle – 9am (morning tour) and 2.30pm (afternoon tour); Coco Palm to Ancient Town – 8.30am (morning tour); 2.30pm (afternoon tour)

Price: Easy Paddle $US27; Coco Palm to Ancient Town $US32

Add: pick up from your address

Tel: +84 (0) 979 437 338; +84 (0) 916 645 858

[email protected]



Children welcome

English-speaking Guide

Group discounts available

Pick-up from home address

Kayak, water, dry-bag, life jackets transfers included

Beginners welcome

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