Hoi An Travel Guide
January 1, 1970
by Stan Verhoeven
Hoi An is probably one of the nicest places you will visit traveling through Vietnam. The combination of the old city with all its lanterns and the beach at the other site, makes it a perfect spot to stay a little longer during your trip through Vietnam. With plenty hotels, home stays and hostels and even more delicious restaurants, this Hoi An Travel guide will help you to find the perfect places for you to visit.
How to get in Hoi An
You can get in Hoi An by bus, train, taxi, airplane and motorbike. The fastest way to get to Hoi An is to fly to Da Nang and take a taxi to Hoi An. You can probably find many cheap flights from Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi to Da Nang. A taxi from Da Nang to Hoi An is a 45 minute ride and will cost you about $20. The bus from Da Nang to Hoi An is of course much cheaper and also a good option.
Hai Van Pass
If you have the time and you are traveling through Vietnam from north to south or the other way around there is a much better way to get to Hoi An: drive the Hai Van Pass!
I would advise you to take a plane or train to Hue (depends where you come from), stay there for one or two nights to explore the city and then drive with a scooter or motor from Hue to Hoi An. This is one of the most beautiful rides of Vietnam and a great experience. Don’t worry about your luggage or returning the vehicle, there are many motorbike rentals in Hue that offer a one way trip and bring your luggage to Hoi An. If you don’t want to drive yourself, you can also sit on the back of one of the famous Easy Riders.
Where to stay in Hoi An
If you have only one or two nights in Hoi An the best place to stay is near the old town. If you have three or more nights (I strongly recommend staying at least three nights) the best place in my opinion is exactly in the middle between old town and the beach.
Around this location there are many good hotels with a swimming pool, complementary breakfast, free bicycles and free shuttle service to the old town and to the beach. This all will cost you just about $25 a night. Vietnam in general, and especially Hoi An is one of the best places to get some affordable luxury. Of course there are also many cheaper options like cosy homestays or hostels and much more expensive luxury resorts.
What to do in Hoi An
One of the unique things about Hoi An is its romantic atmosphere. When the sun goes down you will see all the lanterns in the streets of the old town. So an absolutely must do when you are in Hoi An is just to walk around in the old town between 6 and 9 pm and enjoy what you see.
Day activities in Hoi An
During the day there are several things you can do:
- Go to the beach. (An Bang beach is nearby, quite beautiful and has a lot of nice restaurants / beach bars)
- Get yourself a tailor-made suit. There are many tailors in Hoi An and compared to other places you will get a good quality tailor-made suit at a very low price. So if you are looking for a tailor-made suit for a bargain Hoi An is the place to be.
- Rent a scooter to explore the little villages around Hoi An by yourself. You will find authentic pottery, farmers and fishermen on your way while driving through the most beautiful rice fields.
- Go to a yoga class. There are several yoga studios around Hoi An. One of the best is Nomad Yoga. They offer good classes for beginners and more advanced yoga practitioners.
- Go Sailing. If you know how to sail you can rent a Top Cat at the Victoria Hoi An beach resort for about $35/hour. It is great fun and there are not many places in Asia where you find this opportunity.
- Take a cooking class. There are many restaurants that offer cooking classes where you learn to make some of the most delicious Vietnamese dishes.
Hoi An best restaurants
On TripAdvisor you can find over 700 restaurants in Hoi An. Imagine that probably the same amount of restaurants is not even on TripAdvisor. So more than enough choice, but how do you know what to choose?
Best local dishes in Hoi An
Local specialties you should try when your are in Hoi An:
- Cao Lau – Pork broth with thick noodles, slices of pork, bean sprouts and green vegetables.
- Banh Xeo – Local crispy pancake you wrap with basil and mint and dip in peanut sauce.
- Banh Bao Vac – White rose dumplings – a nice appetizer of shrimp or pork wrapped in rice dough.
If you are looking for the real local feeling and great local taste, you should definitely go to the market hall in the old town. There are many small restaurants that offer the best food for very reasonable prices. One of the popular restaurants here is Mrs. Thu because she has great stuffed squid and is a wonderful person. Most of the others restaurants in the market hall are also worth to try.
Popular restaurants in Hoi An
If you are looking for a more fancy restaurant in the old town, Morning Glory is a good option. The pork belly is one of their specialties. Another good and little more upscale restaurant is Home Hoi An (almost next to Morning Glory) which offers a great atmosphere and excellent food, wines and service. For both restaurants you have to make a reservation since they are very popular.
Another restaurant which is not in the old town but worth to mention is The Claypot Restaurant. This restaurant is nearby your hotel if you stay were I advised you and offers great food for very reasonable prices.
Fine dining in Hoi An
Last but not least you should go to Aubergine49 for a fine dining experience for a bargain. Although the place doesn’t look that great and the waiters really do their best, but don’t have the knowledge of how to create a fine dining experience, the chef is absolutely great. Choose the three course set menu for $25 and you will get food that can compete with some Michelin star restaurants.