Top Ten Things to See in Hoi An
As Chosen by the Hoi An Now Team
What are the top ten things to see in Hoi An? 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 nearby My Son or Marble Mountain. Relax on the secluded beaches of Cham Island or take on the eerie Jurassic Park-like Nipa Palms by kayak or basket boat. Simply cycle anywhere at all and you’ll unearth traditional Vietnamese life in the raw as long as you get off the beaten track.
Lune Production shows, in the spirit of Cirque du Soleil, are genuinely world-class and should not be missed and the Water Puppets are great fun. With options for the whole family, Hoi An has a wonderful store of things to see.
Yes, the choice is large and varied but after considerable debate the Hoi An Now team settled on the following Top 10 Things to See in Hoi An! If you want to explore even more options check out our Quick Guide to Attractions.
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.
Bicycling in Hoi An is a great way to explore the river delta and its traditional lifestyle. Rice fields, duck farms, fishing villages and glorious beaches are just minutes away. Structured bicycle tours are also available or you can explore by yourself. See Cycling to An Bang Beach: Scenic Route, Cam Kim Cycle Tour or Alternative Hoi An Cycle Tour in tours to get you started on your own discovery tours.
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.
Spin yourself around in the tipsy world of Vietnamese basket boats or hire a kayak to explore the Jurassic Park world of the coconut (nipa) palms skirting Cam Thanh Island. 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.
Hoi An’s beaches remarkably still have plenty of elbow room although they deserve just as much attention as the popular shores of Phuket and Bali. At the two main beaches – Cua Dai and An Bang – away from the resorts, you can grab a deckchair under a thatched umbrella for the day if you simply buy a drink. As the local beach stretches all the way to Da Nang why not sniff out your own private paradise?
Tourists flock to Hoi An Old Town to see the candle-lit river 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 Hoi An Old Town provides the perfect setting. Delightful and enchanting, walk through the Old Town by lantern light with no scooters whizzing past and the street lights off.
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.
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, which is pock-marked by bomb craters, is a popular day trip for tourists wanting to learn more about South East Asian history.
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. See the links below for tour options.
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.