Hoi An – Vietnam’s Everybody’s Darling

General information about Hoi An

A trip to Vietnam would not be complete without a visit to Hoi An. Hoi An also has a lot to offer. Surrounded by rice terraces, located on the beach and the well-preserved old town attract thousands of visitors every year. In addition, the city is also an ideal place to have custom-made clothes made. The small town with its nearly 75,000 inhabitants also simply invites you to linger.

Hoi An

The popular town of Hoi An is located on the coast of central Vietnam on the South China Sea barely 30 km south of Da Nang. Hội An was once the largest port in Southeast Asia, located on the Silk Road. Hoi An also has a relatively well-preserved old town, which is also the center of the town. Since 1999, this has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site as an example of an excellently preserved Southeast Asian port city from the 15th to 19th centuries. As Hoi An was the most important port on the South China Sea, several cultural influences met here, which still characterize the image of the old town today. There are Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese and the European colonial style.

Top sights Hoi An

Hoi An has something to offer for everyone. The town invites you to many different activities. The highlights of the town can be ticked off in a few days. However, we recommend planning at least 4 days for Hoi An to soak up the vibe of the city. We have put together our favorite places in Hoi An. If you want to see the sights of Hoi An from the inside, it is well advised to buy the tourist pass, it includes the entrance to various sights. This costs 120,000 VND (+/- 5 €).

1) Stroll through the old town of Hoi An

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the well-preserved Old Town offers a wealth of historic buildings, temples and bridges that reflect the rich history and culture of the region. Visitors can admire the famous Japanese Bridge, known for its unique architecture, or explore the Old Chamber of Commerce, once an important site for international trade activities. The Chinese Assembly Hall is another notable structure, appreciated for its ornate design and cultural significance. In addition, there are numerous stores selling handmade lanterns, silk clothing, leather goods, ceramics and other local products that visitors can take home as souvenirs. The narrow alleys and cobbled streets of the Old Quarter also invite visitors to take leisurely strolls, enjoying the charming architecture and relaxed atmosphere. Overall, Hoi An Old Town is a vibrant center full of history, culture and unique charm to discover and experience.

2) Have dresses or suits tailored.

Hoi An is also an ideal place to have inexpensive dresses or suits tailored. This works best if you think about exactly what you want to have beforehand. Julian had 2 suits tailored along with shirts, 2 pairs of linen pants and Naomi returned with 3 tailored dresses. We are still enjoying the clothes today. The quality of the clothes is quite good. One tailor stands out – Mr. Xe. He is known beyond Hoi An as he is an absolute perfectionist and is also interested in his customers leaving the store happy. We were highly satisfied with all the dresses. At best, plan some time as most dresses need touching up.

3) Cycling through the rice fields by bike.

Hoi An also invites you to cycle through the rice fields and the surrounding countryside. Whether over the Thu Bon River or simply along the rice fields. Many of the accommodations offer their guests bicycles for rent. Who decides to cycle should start early in the morning, otherwise it could be too hot.
Tipp: Tests the wheels beforehand – Julian’s seat post broke out while he was riding and he landed with his soft parts on the spinning tire while he was still riding, ramming the bar into his thigh.

3) Hoi An culinary experience

Also due to the different influences, Hoi An has also developed quite a bit in terms of cuisine. Most dishes can be found on every corner of the city. In the evening, there are several Vietnamese barbecue restaurants that offer your delicious skewers. Among the dishes that are typical of Hoi An, we noticed 3 in particular. Of course, you can also find all the Vietnamese classics in Hoi An.

Küche in Hoi An

Bánh mì:
One of the most popular street foods in Vietnam. In few dishes is the colonial influence more noticeable than in Banh mi. This is a type of sandwich, which was unsurprisingly introduced by the French. The baguette-like bread comes with various fillings, often meaty mixed with fresh and pickled vegetables, fresh cilantro and a sauce. According to Anthony Bourdain, the best bánh mì in Hoi an is at Bánh Mì Phượng.
Let’s put it this way:
The bánh mì there is already damn tasty but the artificially created hype around the Lagen was quite on our nerves. In addition, we find it uncool when such an unfair advantage is created over the other stores, because a well-known chef once said that there is the best here. Add to that the stressed out staff and mass handling in the store. I would recommend Madam Khanh – The Banh Mi Queen as an alternative, at least as delicious and not so hype.
Cao Lau
Also a dish you should not miss. Served with fresh herbs, bean sprouts, pork, crackers and leafy vegetables on a bed of rice noodles. The pork is marinated beforehand, sautéed and sliced thinly. The rice noodles are a bit more al dente and slightly yellowish in color than the usual ones.

Cao Lau
Cao Lau

Bánh Bao Bánh Vạc (White Rose Dumpling)
Another dish that you can find on every corner in Hoi An. Unfortunately, we can not say much about the taste, because we both have not tried it. It is a dumpling steamed and filled with minced shrimp and pork. Since neither of us eat fish, we didn’t try it.

4) Relax on the beach of Hoi An

Admittedly, Hoi An is not now known as the beach stronghold of Vietnam. But still, the beaches are ideal to endure the almost unbearable midday heat of Hoi An. We went with the borrowed bike to the “An Bang Beach” and cycled along there further south to the other beaches. We treated ourselves to a coconut so we could use the beach chairs for free and relax a bit. Since the beaches are all next to each other, you can easily choose the most beautiful.

Mit Kokosnuss am Strand

5) The photo gallery of Réhahn

French photographer Réhahn has focused mainly on photographing the elderly. His pictures represent different ethnicities and transport emotions in a unique way. We were very impressed by the photos. There is also a moving story to each photo. The works can also be purchased as postcards or prints on site.

Réhahn Fotografie Ausstellung
Some works by Réhahn

Accommodation in Hoi An

Where there are many tourists, there are of course also many accommodations. We stayed at the Hoi An Rustic Villa and were very excited. There is a small pool to refresh. Proportionally one of our more expensive accommodations but really worth every penny. The night cost just under 450,000 VND for a great room including breakfast. Likewise, the rental of bicycles was included in the price. We recommend as always to contact the accommodation directly, you can do that at +84 93 544 11 17.

Hoi An tourism

If you decide to visit Hoi An be prepared for one thing – lots of tourists! Although the city retains its charm quite well, it would be naive to think that you have the old town to yourself. The rickshaws seem to be especially popular with the Chinese. These like to be cycled in large columns through Hoi An.

Rikscha-Kolonne in Hoi An

Arrival & Departure Hoi An

From Hué to Hoi An:

The easiest way to get from Hué to Hoi an is with a stopover in Da Nang. You take the bus from Hué Southern Bus Station to Hué, which takes about 2.5 hours. From Da Nang Central Bus Station you continue towards Hoi An. The travel time is again similar. In total, you should expect about 5 hours of travel time.

From Ho Chi Minh City to Hoi An:

To get to the south of the country there are several possibilities. Since we try to avoid flying, bus and train remain. The train is a bit faster and takes about 17 hours. To take the bus you have to get to Tra Kieu. This takes +/- one hour, depending on the means of transport. The cheapest are the minibuses. The train runs several times a day. The bus takes +/- 24 hours and there are also several departures daily. The buses are couchette buses and run overnight.

Frequently asked questions about your visit to Hoi An

Hoi An is known for its well-preserved Old Quarter with historic buildings, temples and bridges, including the Japanese Bridge and the Old Chamber of Commerce. Other popular attractions include the Old Quarter with its colorful lanterns, historic meeting houses, handicraft museums, and boat and bicycle tours along the Thu Bon River. A visit to the nearby My Son Temple Ruins, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is also recommended.

The easiest and most common transportation option from Da Nang to Hoi An is by cab or shuttle bus, which takes about an hour. There are also public buses, which are a cheaper option. Another popular option is to ride a motorcycle or bicycle along the scenic coastal road “Hai Van Pass”. There is also the option to hire a private driver or a motorcycle cab.

There are several beautiful beaches near Hoi An, including An Bang Beach and Cua Dai Beach, both about 5-7 kilometers from the old town of Hoi An. An Bang Beach is known for its relaxed atmosphere and offers a variety of beach bars and restaurants. Cua Dai Beach is wider and less crowded, but the beach area can vary depending on the season. There are also more secluded beaches such as Hidden Beach or Ha My Beach, which are a little further from the city.

There are many activities to do in Hoi An, including exploring the old town with its historic buildings, temples and bridges, taking a boat trip along the Thu Bon River, cycling through the surrounding rice fields and villages, visiting handicraft stores and markets, learning the traditional cooking of Vietnam at a cooking class or relaxing on the nearby beaches. There is also the possibility to participate in a lantern workshop, where you can learn the art of lantern making and design your own lantern.

There are several markets in Hoi An, including Hoi An Market, also known as the Central Market, which is located in the Old Quarter and offers a variety of fresh produce, spices, souvenirs and handicrafts. There is also the Hoi An Night Market, which is open every evening and offers local delicacies, clothing, accessories and more. An Bang Market, located near An Bang Beach, is known for its fresh seafood and fish specialties. There is also Tra Que Vegetable Market, which specializes in growing fresh vegetables and offers visitors the opportunity to learn more about local agriculture and help out themselves.

Hoi An is located in central Vietnam and has a tropical climate with hot and humid summers from April to September and mild, dry winters from October to March. Average temperatures are about 28-35°C in summer and about 18-24°C in winter. The rainiest period is from September to December, while February to April are usually sunny and dry. It is advisable to check the weather before your trip and pack appropriate clothing.

There are a variety of accommodation options in Hoi An that are affordable for backpackers. Budget accommodation options include hostels, guesthouses and budget hotels in and around Hoi An Old Town. There are also some homestays and Airbnb options that can be cheaper than traditional hotels. It is advisable to research in advance and make bookings well in advance to get the best deals. Outside of the Old City, there are also some budget accommodations near the beaches of An Bang and Cua Dai. An excellent value is the Hoi An Rustic Villa where you pay just under €20 for a room. There is a small pool, breakfast is included, and free rental bikes.

Hoi An is known for its handicrafts and offers a variety of souvenir options. Popular souvenirs from Hoi An include handmade lanterns, silk clothing and accessories, leather goods, hand-painted ceramics, intricate embroidery, local coffee and tea, spices and herbs, and handmade jewelry. The Old Quarter of Hoi An is a popular place to buy souvenirs, but there are also other markets and stores in the area that offer a wide range of traditional Vietnamese handicraft products.

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We are Julian & Naomi and we love to travel the world and immerse ourselves in other cultures. We have an adventurous, spartan, sustainable and reflective travel style. In our opinion, the greatest adventures are experienced when you do things on your own and try to live like a local. The taste of a country is best captured on the road
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