Hoi An, in its prime in the 1700s, was a thriving trading port. Because of this, the ancient town on the coast of Central Vietnam is a collaboration of influences from China, France, Japan and of course Vietnam.
You can see these influences in the architecture, taste it in the Hoi An cuisine, and hear it in the voices of the locals.
It is a budget-friendly destination for travellers looking for charm and ornate temples and Chinese pagodas to explore, spectacular scenery to take in, and beautiful beaches to spread a towel out on and just relax.
The team at Hoot Holidays has put this three-day itinerary together to help you plan your perfect Hoi An holiday.
In 1999 UNESCO World Heritage site status was awarded to Hoi An which has seen it become a hotspot for tourists from around the world. Cars and motorbikes are not allowed into the town which gives it a peaceful feeling, compared with Ho Chi Minh City or Hanoi.
There’s plenty to see in the old town, and it is easy to get around on foot. You must visit the Japanese covered bridge, which to many people, is the symbol of Hoi An. The first bridge was built in the 1590s. Over time Japanese ornamentation has been added making it a truly remarkable piece of architecture, and iconic Vietnam attraction.
From there head to Phuc Kien Assembly Hall (built around 1690) to see the Jinshang Temple which is dedicated to the goddess of the sea, Thien Hau, who is the protector of sailors. If you need to rest your legs drop into the Cong Caphe for a coconut-and-cream coffee smoothie ($2.80).
Grab a corner table to sit and watch the world pass you by. Finish the day by exploring the Hoi An night market, which opens at sunset. There are plenty of food stalls, bars and souvenir shops to keep you occupied for several hours.
Start the day with a swim at the beach. An Bang beach (three kilometres from the old town) and Cua Dai Beach (four kilometres away) are two of the prettiest spots to stop and enjoy a dip.
On Hoi An beaches, if you buy a drink from the local waiters they will usually provide you with an umbrella and a sunbed. You have to keep buying drinks though if you want to keep them.
To eat lunch like a local, you should head to Quan Dau Bac on Phan Chau Trinh Street for a platter of bun dau mam tom (pork, fried tofu, herbs, vegetables and sticky rice with a fermented shrimp sauce). The sauce tastes much better than it smells. We promise.
For a splash of culture, take in a water puppet show at the Hoi An Theater (starts at 6.30pm every day except Wednesday and Sunday). Water puppetry is a unique part of Vietnam’s history.
Now that you are comfortable with the landscape, start your day by grabbing a bike from the hotel and heading out to the rice paddies to see how the locals live.
Watch the locals, wearing their conical hats to protect them from the sun, tending to the rich green fields. It is a three-kilometre ride northeast of Hoi An to Tra Que Vegetable Village.
Most of the vegetables that you eat in the local restaurants come from here. You can tour the gardens, sign up for a cooking class, and then enjoy devouring your own tasty creations.
In the afternoon, visit the tailors to get a bespoke suit for your wardrobe.
Most tailors in Hoi An offer a 24-hour turnaround on clothes. A suit will cost between $100-400, depending on the fabric you choose. Bring pictures of styles that you like and there is a good chance the tailors at either Le Le Cloth Shop, Kimmy or Yaly Couture will be able to match them.
Finish the day at Mango Mango – an Asian fusion restaurant perched among the bustling night market with stunning views overlooking the famous Japanese Bridge.
Where to Stay
Hoi An Silk Marina Resort and Spa
Located on the bank of the Thu Bon River, Hoi An Silk Marina Resort and Spa is a mix of cultures – both tropical Vietnamese and classic European. Guests sing the praises of the in-house food; the fantastic pool that overlooks the gardens and river; and the 10-out-of-10 exceptional service.
The riverside resort and spa is no more than 500 metres from the ancient city, which makes it possible to explore the must-see spots in this UNESCO World Heritage-listed town. With 24-hour check-in available, the Hoi An Silk Resort and Spa has 11 different room styles – so something for everyone from solo Vietnam travellers to families.
This Hoi An beach resort looks like a typical Western resort but feels very Vietnamese.
There are 216 rooms and bungalows (twin or queen beds) with either view of the lush green gardens or the sea.
There are three distinctly different dining options – and two bars - providing both western and Vietnamese cuisine. Around the hotel pool you can dine on burgers for about $12 while at the Colibri Beach Restaurant, between the pool and the beach, you can savour traditional Vietnamese seafood at its best.
The drive takes about 40 minutes. The hotel is a 15-minute shuttle bus ride from Hoi An with all its magical museums, restaurants and tailor shops.
Boutique Hoi An Resort
There are 110 rooms and villas at the four-star Boutique Hoi An Resort. Down on the beach, where you can eat breakfast or a lantern-lit barbecue dinner, it’s even more perfect.
There are eight room types ranging from superior (31 square metres) through to the three-bedroom Grand Beach Villa, which has its own private pool and direct access to the beach. The hotel has an in-house spa if you need a massage after your flight or a long day exploring.
The hotel fronts An Bang Beach, about five minutes from the centre of Hoi An. It is 30 minutes from Da Nang and 35 minutes from the airport. The hotel is elegant with some stunning architecture and design features. You will feel like you are stepping back in time.