Hoi An is a town located on Central Vietnam’s coast, it is famously known for its well preserved UNESCO World Heritage old town and winding canals.
Whether you want a quiet city break or a beach location Hoi An is the perfect spot for both. This First Timers Guide to Hoi An will ensure you see all the best bits this town has to offer.
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How to Get to Hoi An
There are plenty of ways to get to Hoi An such as bus, train, plane or scooter!
The train is another option if you would prefer to have some space to move around. Vietnam has an excellent railway service that runs from Ho Chi Minh to Sapa in the north. You can check the schedules or speak to your accommodation as they can sometimes arrange for you.
Or you can fly! There is an airport located in Da Nang and its often a quick and easy flight from many other points within Vietnam, check out Skyscanner for the most up to date prices. Although convenient this can be the most expensive way to travel!
💡 If you decide to fly or get the train ensure you have arranged transport to Hoi An once you arrive in Da Nang, either speak to your accommodation or book a Grab!
You can get sleeper buses from either Ho Chi Minh or Hanoi, check out the schedules on 12GoAsia. These can be quite long, for example a bus from Da Lat can take around 15 hours and from Phong Nha around 8 hours. But they are the cheapest way to travel for those on a budget!
💡 If you are travelling from Hue a great option is to travel to Da Nang via the Hai Van Pass. This is a famous route just over 100km, that takes you along the coastline through beautiful landscapes such as Bach Ma Mountain. You can either arrange an easy rider or scoot yourself down.
Where to Stay in Hoi An
We stayed at the Terracotta Homestay & Hostel, located just outside the main town in a nice and quiet local neighbourhood. The host and her family were very welcoming and happy to help us with anything we needed from booking transport to our next destination and renting a scooter.
The good size rooms are located within the host’s house, we stayed in a deluxe double room with private bathroom.
There are also 5 dogs which were happy to greet us every time we arrived back after a day exploring.
‼️ Bikes are provided for you but Terracotta Homestay is quite far out of the main town to cycle everyday. We hired a scooter from the homestay and it took us about 10 minutes to get into the centre.
The hostel is clean and modern with good size rooms and as it is also a bar you get a free drink everyday which makes it a great place to meet other travellers and exchange stories and travel tips!
What to Do in Hoi An
Wander The Ancient Town
Ancient town is one of the main tourist attractions in Hoi An and is a UNESCO world heritage site. It gives you a little glimpse of what life might have been like in an Asian trading port.
The buildings throughout are extremely old and the age of the ancient town varies with parts dating back to the 15th century. Construction throughout has then been continued and developed as a port up until the 19th century.
The ancient town is a very pretty space within Hoi An, it is filled with lanterns and draped in vines. The textures of the old crumbling buildings give it so much character, you can really feel the history and essence of this ancient space. It is hard to walk around and not be transported back in time to ancient Vietnam.
Shop Hoi An’s Night Market
Full of vibrant colour and hustle and bustle the night market is a wonder for 5 senses.
Located across the canal from the main town the night market is easy to get to, you can either scoot across and park up or walk over.
If you are looking for gifts or souvenirs this is the place to visit, there are stools selling everything from savoury snacks and sweet treats to handmade trinkets and lanterns that are lit up and glow beautifully against the architecture.
If you’ve explored the night market for all your trinkets and are still peckish then head to the food market for some street food or a Banh Mi.
Eat at Banh Mi Phuong
‼️ This place is incredible and somewhere you have to visit to try the famous Banh Mi’s.
Made famous by Anthony Bourdain’s visit, Banh Mi Phuong truly lives up to the hype.
From the outside you wouldn’t think twice about this hidden gem, the only thing that gives it away is the queue of tourists and locals waiting for their Banh Mi’s.
The combination of their sauces, fresh vegetables and meats are the reason they are so popular. Everything is cooked every morning and the ladies here make Banh Mi’s all day until they are sold out!
When you enter you’ll see a menu above the door to the seating area with lots of different options, there is a lot to choose from but I recommend going for the traditional pork and roast chicken with cheese – these were our favourites.
Relax at An Bang Beach
Located 20 minutes from Hoi An’s centre An Bang beach is the perfect getaway from the town centre and a lovely way to relax when the sun comes out.
If you would like to sit on a lounger on the beach then you will have to choose a restaurant to eat or drink from throughout the day, to do this drive along the beach road looking at the menus until you decide where you would like to stay for the day.
However, if you are happy to set up on the sand then just park up and head down to the beach finding somewhere to sit for the day.
🙋🏻♀️ I recommend visiting The Deckhouse, they have sun loungers located on the beach or seating up in the restaurant overlooking the sea.
Drinks are relatively priced here but the food is a little on the expensive side, everything however is very tasty and well made.
There are many locals on the beach selling souvenirs, fruit and jewellery. If you do not wish to buy anything then just politely say no thank you, however, if there is something that catches your eye be prepared to haggle for it.
Mingle at Shamrock’s Irish Bar
Just along from the night market is Shamrock’s Irish Bar, if you fancy a drink from home or a chat with some other travellers then this is a great place to go.
The Irish bar has an excellent atmosphere, like most other Irish bars you know that you can count on it to have a good night.
They also have live music on certain nights and other events going on so keep an eye on the boards outside.
Eat at Restaurant & Cafe Tuan
Restaurant & Cafe Tuan is located just outside of the main town. Run by Vicky and her family this welcoming and friendly restaurant holds the number 2 spot on Tripadvisor.
There is plenty to choose from on the menu, from local cuisine to western style food that is all cooked fresh to order.
After we ate our food we had a good chat with Vicky the owner and she recommended some great places for us to visit while we were staying in Hoi An, she also gave us a good guide to how much things should cost to ensure we didn’t get ripped off.
💡 For the first timers in Hoi An, make sure you spark up a conversation with Vicky as she will be able to help you with any questions you have about the area and recommend some good spots to visit.
Get some Handmade Clothes
Hoi An is famous for its tailoring, the streets are lined with different options all offering so many incredible designs and fabrics.
Two Ladies Tailor was recommended to us by Vicky at Restaurant Tuan, it is a very well known tailor in Hoi An and has great reviews on Tripadvisor.
If you are thinking of getting some clothes made then make sure to visit on your first day as the staff here will need at least 24 hours to get your designs created.
People Watch at Dudu Cafe
Nestled deep in ancient town Dudu Cafe was a random find but one I highly recommend for a quick refreshment before you go on with your exploring.
The juices are freshly made and you can really taste it. I loved the Hoi An Sunset, a homemade lemonade with fresh passion fruit seeds in it.
They also have freshly made pastries to choose from as well as some lunch options.
Hoi An is a must visit in my opinion, the chilled vibe mixed with great food, friendly locals and scenic streets make it so unique. I hope this first timers guide to Hoi An helps you to make the most out of your time here.
Looking for more things to do during your stay in Vietnam? Then you’ll want to check out these posts: