14 best things to do in Hoi An City, Vietnam

With many beautiful scenes of villages, rice fields, and ancient architecture, Hoi An is the stopover for international tourists in their journey to discover Vietnam.

Walking along the streets in the old town, enjoying local food, and taking a boat on the Thu Bon River are unforgettable experiences when traveling to Hoi An. Also, there are many exciting activities when you visit the land that used to be the most prosperous commercial port in Southeast Asia.

Here are the best activities to do in Hoi An.

1. Walk in the old town at night

Walking in Hoi An Old Town
Walking in Hoi An Old Town at night

With this simple experience, you just need to step into the old streets and watch ancient houses, colorful lanterns making the old town glowing at night.

You will feel like you are lost in a party of light, creating a charming picture that combines the tranquility of ancient architecture with the rustic image and the bustling life.

Perhaps the most beautiful spots are still the banks of the Hoai River, where light streaks sparkle on the water. Hoi An is even more picturesque when the late-night comes. At that time, there are fewer tourists on the roads, and the old town will have an ancient and quiet style.

2. Release the lotus lights on the river

When the night comes, besides just watching, you can join in the light party on the river bank by decorating it.

 An engaging experience that many guests like to do is drop lotus lights on the Hoai River. You will be able to release small sparkling lights into the river, with the hope that the lamps will bring luck and peace to relatives and friends.

Besides lanterns, lotus lights have gradually become a feature of Hoi An Ancient City. The lotus lights made of paper are simple in design but colorful. They are handcrafted products from the hands of the locals, bearing hope and good luck to the guests when wishing with the lights on the river.

3. Enjoy Hoi An Cao Lau specialties

Cao Lau Ba Le Hoi An
© Cao Lau Ba Le

Cao Lau is a famous Hoi An food that anyone coming here should try. The origin of the name of this dish is quite interesting. In the past, when traders came to Hoi An, they had to enjoy the food on the high floor so that they could look after their goods. Since then, this dish has been named Cao Lau (meaning high-floor food).

A bowl of Cao Lau Hoi An contains all kinds of delicious tastes, a sense of pasta, sour- sweet-spicy- acrid of raw vegetables, the aroma of fish sauce and soy sauce, and crispy pork skins and rice papers.

You can enjoy this dish at Ba Le restaurant 49/3 Tran Hung Dao Street, or Cao Lau Ba Be restaurant at 19 Tran Phu Street, Hoi An. Besides, you can find at some restaurants along Bach Dang Street that also serve Cao Lau.

4. Take a boat ride on Hoai River at night

Hoai River is a branch of Thu Bon River that flows through Hoi An Old Town. For the local people, the Hoai River is like an inseparable symbol of the old town.

If you are tired of walking, you can take a rest by using the boat service on the river. It is interesting to float on the colorful sparkling water of the romantic Hoai River in the heart of Hoi An.

Taking a boat to see the old town at night and releasing the lotus lights are very popular activities for many tourists, especially couples. Along the two sides of the river are ancient houses with a lot of colorful lights emanating from the lanterns, adding to the poetic beauty here.

But, one thing that you should note is that the boat is small, so you should sit carefully and wear life jackets when you are on it.

5. Experience the quick measured-made service

Tailor Hoi An
Many guest like messured-made clothes. | ©Bebe Tailor

Hoi An has a lot of things to attract domestic and foreign customers; one of which is tailor-made shops, making shirts, shoes, bags, suits, dresses, and Ao Dai.

Typically, the measured-made service in Hoi An is so quick within a day. You can experience professional services for fashion clothes, shoes, or bags with great fast.

The entire experience was a whirlwind wonder to me. I was amazed by the speed, precision, and professionalism being displayed. And as the team constructed my clothing…

Kavi Guppta wrote on Forbes

After only about 4 hours, the tailor shops in Hoi An can deliver a pretty fashionable dress or suite for you. The fashion style in Hoi An is unique, trendy, and the price ranges from 350,000 – 2.3 million VND (equivalent to 15 – 100 USD).

6. Taste a cup of coffee in Hoi An

After hours of walking in Hoi An, you should stop at a coffee shop along the Hoai river bank to sip a cup of coffee and immerse yourself in the ancient space.

An address to see the Hoai River and taste Vietnamese coffee is the second floor of the Cargo Club restaurant (109 Nguyen Thai Hoc). From the high position, you can have a beautiful view of the river and the surrounding neighborhood.

If you like to have beautiful pictures, then Bosgaurus Coffee Roasters (105 Nguyen Thai Hoc), where two symmetrical rectangular doors become a famous check-in spot. These two windows are located at the back gate of the cafe, overlooking Bach Dang Street and Hoai River. With the ancient style, the two doors of the shop become a great place to take pictures and enjoy coffee in Hoi An Ancient Town.

7. Relax and swim at the beaches

an bang beach hoian
An Bang is one of the beautiful beaches in Hoi An. | @dakong_pic_

There are many beautiful beaches in Hoi An. The highlight one is Cua Dai beach, stretching white sand and coconut trees for relaxing.

Also, An Bang beach is one of the famous beaches in Hoi An, where is good for relaxing and swimming. An Bang beach is suitable for those looking for a free and quiet space. Besides, you can taste a lot of fresh seafood while spending time at the beach.

It is interesting when you lie on the beach, listen to the sounds of waves, and look at the beautiful color of the ocean. Also, taste a local beer and chat with friends and relatives can be a great experience for your holidays in Hoi An.

8. Visit old houses

Ancient houses are invaluable heritages that Hoi An has preserved well from urbanization and destruction from nature. Every rainy season, Hoi An often gets flooded, even in a few years, the whole first floor submerged in water. But, the houses still lives with the locals until now.

But through the time, the old houses are still intact as the original design. In which, Tan Ky ancient house is famous for many visitors. This first house has been recognized as a national monument in Hoi An. And it is the place where many heads of Vietnam and the other countries had come to visit.

Besides Tan Ky, Hoi An also has the ancient house of Phung Hung, Quan Thang, Toc Tran. When visiting these houses, you have a chance to study the typical design of the old houses and the lifestyle of the owners.

9. Take beautiful photos in Hoi An Ancient Town

Hoi An Ancient Town
The beautiful photo of Hoi An Ancient Town | ©nguyenkhacqui/pixabay

Your journey can be forgotten quickly if you do not have any souvenirs or images to remember it. Thus, taking commemorative pictures in Hoi An is an exciting experience that almost anyone wants to do.

Every corner on the old streets in Hoi An can give you beautiful frames. You can test your photography skills in many places, including Bach Dang Street along the riverbank, Japanese Covered Bridge, colorful confetti rows, eye-catching yellow walls, or small alleyways.

Indeed, anywhere in Hoi An, you just need to press the camera, then you will have beautiful pictures. And, don’t forget to try your selfie as you walk, because Hoi An Ancient Town used to be voted as one of the most beautiful selfie places in the world.

10. Visit Cu Lao Cham Island

Cu Lao Cham Island, about 15 km from the land, is one of the places that should not be missed when traveling to Hoi An. The tourist services on this island are not developed yet, but perhaps because of that reason, Cu Lao Cham still retains its wild features.

Cham Island owns a lot of wild beaches and typical coral riffs. Thus, you can spend time to swim or relax on the beaches or dive to watch the colorful corals in this island.

It is hard when you visit Cu Lao Cham by yourself. Thus, if you do not time, you can choose a 1-day tour. When you have more time, a 2-day tour to visit Cham Island will be better to experience the beaches and local life on the island.

11. Play folk games

Hoi An Folk Game
The guests join the folk game in Hoi An. | ©Vietnamdrive

Participating in folk games is one of the interesting ways to experience new things in Hoi An Ancient Town for visitors.

The folk games at once seemed to be a mystery that Hoi An has reinstated, creating fun for locals and tourists. Almost all ages and genders can participate in playing these games.

When you come to the Kazik Park area on Tran Phu Street in the evening, you will see games of smashing pottery pots, throwing rings, etc.

Or, you can join the card-hut game (Bai Choi) at the corner of Nguyen Thai Hoc and Bach Dang streets. When you join, you sit in a hut and receive a card for 10,000 VND. Then, listen to the artists singing about the tag names. If all the names on your card appear in the songs, you will win with a lovely lantern.

12. Taste Hoi An bread

Many guests voted Hoi An as the best place to taste Banh Mi (bread) in the world. Hoi An bread is the top street food that most diners want to try most when traveling to Hoi An.

Different from regular bread, Banh Mi Hoi An has a great flavor with typical ingredients. Crispy crust, blending with the aroma of soya-cooked meat, meat pie, pate, fried egg, fresh herbs, and unique sauce.

The most famous bead shop in Hoi An is Banh Mi Phuong at 2B Phan Chu Trinh Street, served all day. Another unnamed store on the corner of Nguyen Truong To and Phan Dinh Phung Streets; this shop is only open from 2:00 p.m. until the evening.

13. Cycle to explore the countryside

Cycling through the vegetable village Tra Que
Cycling through the vegetable village Tra Que | ©Vietnamdrive

Hoi An City is much smaller than Da Nang. However, Hoi An has a beautiful village scene, with rice fields, rivers, village roads, and Tra Que vegetable village.

If you can ride a bicycle, Hoi An is a great place for you to roam on the sunny and windy roads, to explore the idyllic and lovely views of the countryside.

You only need to rent a bicycle about 40,000VND – 60,000VND to comfortably use it for a day. However, you should also be careful when crossing the road and note that motorbikes and trucks sometimes appear on village roads.

14. Take the ferry to Cam Kim

Cam Kim Island locates on the other side of the Thu Bon river compared to the ancient town of Hoi An. Although at present, a few bridges are crossing the river to connect the two banks. However, many locals still prefer to take the ferry from Cam Kim to Hoi An ancient town.

The ferry, full of people, motorbikes, and other supplies, floats on the river about 15 minutes to the other bank. The boat departs continuously when it gets full of guests.

You can try this ferry ride to Cam Kim once to see the beautiful scenery of Hoi An from the river. If you want to try it, head to the dock in the old town near the Hoi An Market. You just go on the boat, wait when the ferry is full, then it leaves. Someone will collect about 5,000VND per person for the service. If you bring a bicycle or motorbike, pay extra for it.

If you have the opportunity to visit Hoi An, you should do some of the best activities above to enrich your holidays in the ancient city.

Which activities do you like to do the best when you travel to Hoi An?

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    About the author

    The editorial staff of Vietnamdrive is a team of travel experts managed by Mr. Thom who has worked in tourism for 14 years. Trusted by thousands of tourists from all over the world.