I had a feeling I was going to love Hoi An. Everything I had read online made it sound like my kind of place and every traveler I met raved about it. Honestly, I was getting sick of hearing “oh my god, have you been to Hoi An yet?”
There’s something so captivating about the town and its people. Its beauty alone is enough to make you fall in love instantly with its yellow buildings, the lanterns hanging from every tree, across every street, in shops and every hotel, the gorgeously decorated bridges and the brightly colored boats in the river.
On every corner and down every alley there is art and color. I would guess there are probably over 100 different tailor shops waiting to make you any kind of
This guide is everything you need in order to find the best food, accommodations and things to do, as well as, how to get there and when’s the best time to visit.
Before we get started, check out my quick video of Hoi An.
Take a flight to Da Nang
An easy way to get to Hoi An is to take a flight into Da Nang International Airport from just about anywhere. If you’re on a budget like me, try planning ahead and watching flights on Skyscanner. Also, consider flying on off dates like Tuesday, Wednesday or Saturday because flights tend to be cheaper on those days.
Hoi An is about a 30-minute drive south of Da Nang. From the airport, you will need to hail a cab or pre-arrange transportation online. You can get anything from a shared minivan for about $10 USD to an SUV (Fits up to Six) for about $24 USD.
I personally didn’t use online booking so I don’t have a specific company to suggest. In general, I steer clear of online booking in SE Asia because it never seems to go as planned. Honestly, I would suggest just landing and then getting transportation from outside the airport. There are always several available options.
Struggle much from Jet lag? “How to get over jet lag” is written by a seasoned travel junkie and will help you to bounce back quickly.
READ MORE: Want to stay a few nights in Da Nang? Check out my 48 Hour Guide.
Bus or minivan from any surrounding area
This is personally the route I took. I had been in Quy Nohn which is 5 hours south of Hoi An. My transportation was arranged from the hostel I was staying at. I paid them directly and was picked up from the hostel. No lugging around heaving backpacks.
Taking a bus or minivan was always my favorite form of transportation in Asia. The cost of this ride was $7 USD. Although, cost and time traveling will obviously vary depending on where you’re coming from. Do take note, they will cram as many people into these vans as humanly possible, so this is not always the most comfortable route.
In Hoi An you will be dropped at the bus station, where there will be plenty of taxis waiting to pick you up. Or you can walk to your accommodation, as did I because it was quite close. If you take a cab always haggle with them to get the price down. Don’t be a dick, but they do over quote so at least work with them until they come down a few notches.
Another insider tip is to head onto the street outside the bus station and keep walking a bit. The price will always be cheaper further on down the road.
Hire an EasyRider
If you’re in one of the nearby cities, this is a fun and unique type of transportation. An easy rider is someone who drives you from point A to point B on a motorbike.
They are equipped to carry all your luggage ( I had 2 backpacks), they are prepared and will keep your things dry if it rains and they take care of all the details. You just sit back, relax and enjoy the ride. Besides the aftermath of a serious sore ass, this was my favorite and most memorable experience in Vietnam.
READ MORE: Want to learn more about Easy Riders? Check out my Full Report.
Hue to Hoi An on the Hai Van Pass
If you’re traveling from the North into Hoi An from either, Da Nang, Hue or further than you will be traveling on the Hai Van Pass. A gorgeous stretch of highway from Hue to Da Nang that continues on into Hoi An.
If possible, I would highly recommend doing this on a motorbike, either rent your own or hire an
READ MORE: Check out my motorbike adventure on the Hai Van Pass.
WHERE TO STAY IN HOI AN
Penny Pincher: Melody Boutique Hotel
I stayed here my first few nights before I started working in a homestay. I loved the style of home and the owner was such a sweet little gem, who was always willing to help me with directions or offer great suggestions.
They have comfortable dorms with in suite bathroom, as well as, private rooms. Each morning they serve a complimentary breakfast with several different choices. This property is a bit more out of town so they offer free bike rentals, making it easy to get around.
One Night Stay: $5 USD
Address: 01 Phan Ngọc Nhân, Cẩm Hà, Hội An, Quảng Nam, Vietnam
MIDDLE OF THE ROAD: LOC PHAT HOI AN HOMESTAY
I typically don’t have personal suggestions in my middle of the road and top-notch categories because I’m a penny pincher. However, I was lucky enough to work and stay here for a month while I visited Hoi An. I’m not just including this because I worked here, I truly loved this place.
The homestay has a gorgeous garden, excellent food in their restaurant, the friendliest staff, comfortable rooms and it’s affordable. They have several different styles of rooms from standard, to suites to villas.
One Night Stay: $15 to $36 USD
Address: 420 Cửa Đại, Cẩm Châu, Hội An, Quảng Nam, Vietnam
Top Notch: Hotel Royal Hoi An MGallery by Sofitel
Disclaimer: I didn’t stay here.
The reason why I chose this hotel for my top-notch spot was that I visited their rooftop bar and I found the hotel so grand that I felt out of place. It has a fabulous location right on the river and is a short 10-minute walk from the center of Hoi An.
They have 2 restaurants on property, one being on the rooftop. The staff was very friendly and kind and walking through the hotel was like walking in a royal palace (hence the name). I didn’t get to experience any of their rooms but I’m sure they are amazing.
One Night Stay: $90 to $250 USD
Address: 39 Dao Duy Tu Street, Hoi An, Quang Nam, Vietnam
HOW TO GET AROUND IN HOI AN
The town of Hoi An is not that large making it easy to get around. I’m personally a fan of walking, however, that’s not always comfortable when the sun is beating down on you midday. Here are a few other options for transport.
Rent a bike– As I mentioned above, there are a plethora of bicycles in Hoi An. If your accommodation doesn’t have any to rent then ask them where the nearest spot to rent one is.
Price to rent a bike for 1 day- $1 USD
Rent a motorbike– This is a great option if you want to explore deeper and farther (My Son ruins, Da Nang, Hai Van Pass).
Price to rent a motorbike for 1 Day- $5 USD (plus gas, which is also very cheap)
Use the Grab App– Grab is Asia’s version of Uber or Lyft. The app is very user-friendly and the prices are always fair. You won’t have to wait long, because there are plenty of drivers there.
Check out their website to download the app
Price of a grab around town- $1-$5 USD depending on where you’re going
Call a Cab– There are plenty of cab drivers around. The best way to arrange this is at the front desk of your accommodation. Typically they have local friends that they like to give the business to.
If you like the driver, make friends with them and get their number. They get so excited to have return business from people.
Price for a cab ride- $6-$15 again, this depends on where you’re going and how many people.
Take a bicycle rickshaw– This is more like a fun thing to do. You can hire one of the many bicycle rickshaws for an hour and they will ride you around the town like royalty.
Price for 1 Hour ride- $5.5 USD
Buses– Seeing as the town is so small they don’t have any local buses to get around.
WHAT TO DO IN HOI AN
Take a Stroll through Old town
This was my favorite thing to do in Hoi An. I took walks through the adorable little town on the daily. I’m obsessed with all the ancient yellow buildings and the different shops that line the streets.
You can find all sorts of souvenirs, gifts, and clothes throughout any of the shops. This is also where you can find the majority of eating options. I’ll talk more about that later.
Visit the Hoi An Market
I loved this market. It’s much smaller than other Asian markets which is why I enjoyed it so much. I came here frequently to buy fruit, nuts, and teas. You can also find veggies, meat, fish, spices, sweets, and snacks. Literally, anything you may need.
Come hungry and grab a Bahn Mi or BBQ. There are several different street food options.
Note: this area can get quite crowded in the morning and just before dark when they start to shut down, so plan accordingly.
Japanese Covered Bridge and Riverside walk
An adorable little iconic bridge with ancient history. It was first constructed in the 1950’s by the Japanese settlers to link them with the Chinese community across the way. The bridge has been well maintained and still holds all its old Japanese charm.
At one entrance are 2 statues of dogs, at the other 2 statues of monkeys. This is said to be because many Japanese emperors were born in the Chinese years of the dog and monkey. Also, construction of the bridge began in the year of the dog and ended in the year of the monkey. How about that for some history!
It will only take you a few minutes to cross the bridge and there isn’t much else to see there. I suggest taking a walk down to the riverside and along the banks for gorgeous views of the town and all the colorfully painted riverboats.
If it’s happy hour grab a cheap beer or 2 for 1 cocktails at any of the restaurants that line the banks.
Also, If possible catch a sunset from the second floor of a restaurant here.
Get a Tailor-made dress or suit
One of the things that Hoi An is famous for is their numerous tailor shops. If you have never had a tailor-made piece of clothing then I highly suggest you do this. I can’t tell you how amazing it is to have a piece of clothing that fits your body like a glove.
I never intended to do this, but it was hard to turn down the adorable saleswomen who are very persuasive. Although I got roped into this one, I have zero regrets because it was an amazing experience and I absolutely love all the clothes that I had made.
I wrote about my experiences getting tailor-made clothes in a separate blog.
There are about half a million different tailor shops to pick from. Here are the ones that are top rated.
Penny Pincher: Bao Khan Silk
Location-101 Trần Hưng Đạo, Phường Minh An, Hội An, Quảng Nam, Vietnam
Middle of the road: BeBe Tailor
Be Be 1, 11 Hoang Dieu, Hoi An, Vietnam, +84 235 2212670
Be Be 2, 95 Phan Chau Trinh, Hoi An, Vietnam, +84 235 3923678
Be Be 3, 40 Tran Hung Dao, Hoi An, Vietnam, +84 235 3923399
Hours- 81m-9pm Daily
Top Notch: Yaly Couture
Yaly 1, 47 Nguyen Thai Hoc, Hoi An, Vietnam, +84 235 2212 474
Yaly 2, 47 Tran Phu, Hoi An, Vietnam, +84 235 3861 119
Yaly 3, 358 Nguyen Duy Hieu, Hoi An, Vietnam, +84 235 3914 995
Hours- 8am-9:30pm Daily
an beaches– be a beachbum for a day
There are two main beaches in Hoi An. Cua Dai I found was more of a locals beach, especially in the AM. With beautiful white sand and local vendors on the main street for food and drinks. Less touristy and less crowded.
Cua Dai beach is a beautiful spot to catch the sunrise with the locals who come for a morning swim. I wrote about my early AM excursions here in this article.
Cua Dai is about 3.9 miles from central Hoi An.
If you want to rent a lounger for the day try to venture away from the main stretch of beach and walk to the farther sides. Here you will find that they only ask you to purchase food or beverage in order to hang out in their loungers. Very reasonable.
On the main street, you can find a few shops, restaurants and massage parlors. I spent a whole day at An Bang and wrote an entire piece on how much I enjoyed it.
An Bang is about 3.5 miles from central Hoi An.
Take a cooking class
Vietnamese food is delicious and complex. It’s typically very healthy with the use of many herbs and fresh produce. Learning to cook Vietnamese food can be truly fun and exciting.
There are many cooking schools to choose from, however, the one I recommend is Quoc Linh Cooking class at their respected Eco Village. It is run by a passionate and inspirational family that you will instantly fall in love with.
Not only will you learn the basics of cooking amazing Vietnamese food but you will also get to explore their gorgeous Eco village with zip line, basket boats and more.
Great for large groups or families, and children are always welcome.
Check out their webpage for booking
I think I will add this to all of my guides. The fact that they are so cheap and almost always amazing makes it a hard decision not to. I’m a huge fan of massages, whoever said traveling was easy anyway? We deserve to be pampered and there’s no cheaper place to do this than Asia.
While I was in Hoi An, I only had one massage, but it was exceptional. I went with a foot massage because I had been doing a ton of walking and my feet needed love.
The Touch Spa- Ask for Tung (he’s got the perfect touch)
Price for a 30-minute foot massage-$5 USD
Check out My Trip Advisor Review
Hours: 9am-11pm Daily
Explore the rice fields and countryside
There’s no better way to explore than via bicycle. Not only is the exercise always welcome but you get unobstructed views while riding.
You can rent a bicycle from anywhere in Hoi An. Chances are that wherever you’re staying they have bicycles for rent typically for free. Grab some water and throw it in your little basket and hit the roads. Everyone else is doing it.
Get lost on some back streets and you will see the true Vietnamese culture thriving throughout the countryside. You will find miles of rice patty fields with women and men harvesting with the assistance of water buffalos.
If you’re lucky you can catch a local napping on the back of a water buffalo. Your typical Vietnamese Instagram shot.
If you don’t want to go it alone than there are several companies that offer guided tours. I’m more of a DIY kind of girl, so I didn’t take a tour but below is some info on a few reputable companies.
For my fellow DIY gals check out this very extensive website that I found and loved that gives info on every possible bike route in Hoi An.
Penny Pincher: Hoi An Free tour
Price is free but you must have your own bike and pay for the local ferry ride which is about $1.5 USD
Middle of the Road: Heaven & Earth Tours
Price per tour starts at $25 USD which includes bicycle, guide, snacks and more.
Take a boat to Cham Island
If you’re looking to get out of the busy Hoi An streets for a day then you can take a boat tour out to Cham Island. On the island you can snorkel, sunbathe, learn about the local people who live there and enjoy a delicious Vietnamese lunch.
I didn’t do this excursion because I read a lot of reviews of overcrowded boats and tour groups which is NOT my jam. But I do know that this little cluster of islands right off the coast of Hoi An are gorgeous, so I bet it’s worth the headache.
I read this very informative blog that talked about the downsides of joining a tour, as well as, ways to DIY. Now you can decide what’s best for you.
My Son Ruins- A historical treasure
The My Son Ruins are a group of about 70 ancient Hindu temples that have withheld the test of time and war. They are said to have been constructed between the 4th and 14th centuries and are a UNESCO world heritage site.
They are located about an hour outside of Hoi An. There are a few ways to explore the ruins.
DIY Penny Pincher: Rent a scooter and go it alone. The roads are not at all difficult and you can easily use google maps or maps.me to navigate there.
Scooter rental- $5 USD for the entire day
Entrance Fee to ruins- $7 USD
Middle of the road– Join a tour group. You will have to share the beautiful site with lots of others and you’ll be on the tours timeframe. However, the tour does include transportation and you get to ride back to Hoi An via boat on the Thu Bon River. This alone might be worth the share.
Entrance Fee to ruins $7 USD
Top Notch– Hire a driver who will take you there, wait for you while you explore, and then bring you back when you’re ready. The nice thing about this is they will pick you up and drop you off at your accommodation. Talk about convenient.
Car and Driver for the trip- $25 USD
Entrance Fee to ruins- $7 USD
Note: no matter how you get there, make sure you bring plenty of water. If you’re renting a scooter or a driver try to go early morning or after 2 pm to beat the crowds of tour groups.
Hours of Operation: 6am- 5pm
HOI AN WEATHER- WHEN TO VISIT
The weather in Hoi An is warm all year long. Some months reach extreme heat levels around 100 degrees. But even in the coldest months it never really dips below 70 during the day.
Hoi An typically only has 2 seasons. Wet and Dry. The dry season is from February to July and the wet season from August until January. These months can be broken down a little more as I have done below.
February to May
Said to be the best time to visit with minimal to no rain with low humidity and manageable temperatures. These are obviously also the busiest months so you’ll see prices for tours and accommodation go up.
June to August
Hottest temperatures, most amazing full moon sightings and minimal rain which brings mild humidity. This season is one of the slower seasons. If you can manage the heat with beach and pool days then this is the best time to visit in my opinion.
September to January
Monsoon season. Can be very wet and humid which can put a damper on things (literally). This is when prices are lowest and crowds are minimal to none. If you enjoy wearing a parka then this is your dream time.
HOI AN RESTAURANTS- WHAT TO EAT
Hoi An is said to have some of the best Vietnamese food in the country. Do I agree, probably not, however, there is some really amazing food there that you can’t miss. They have some dishes that are unique to that region and other dishes that were originally created there.
I’ll tell you all about my favorite dishes and where to get them. Get a piece of paper with a pen because you’re going to want to mark these down. Or Just bookmark this page.
Probably the most unique and well sought after Hoi An dish. This noodle delight can only be made in Hoi An because the high alkaline water they use to make the noodles comes from an old Cham well located somewhere in the area.
The noodles are made from stone ground rice, water, and ash from Cham firewood. Also, the noodles are cooked 3 times over Cham firewood. Can you see what makes this so special and why it can’t be duplicated anywhere else?
Cao Lao has very little soupiness to it. The ingredients of sauce, noodle, pork, and fresh herbs are layered in the bowl and then you are to mix them all together before eating.
It’s delightful and you won’t stop going back for more! The smokiness of the noodles is incredible and so obviously unique.
The best place to get Cao Lau: Morning Glory- which is probably the most highly recommended restaurant in Hoi An. You would think this would make it Top Notch but it’s actually quite affordable and can’t be missed.
Cao Lao Noodles at Morning Glory -$3.25 USD
Note: They do have other locations, but I suggest this one, which is the original
Hours of operation:
Banh Xeo- Vietnamese Crispy Pancake
A famous dish all over Vietnam, however, it’s made differently in each region. I ate this dish everywhere but it was my absolute favorite in Hoi An.
Mostly because of the delicious fresh herbs that come from the neighboring vegetable village of Tra Qua. Also, Hoi An’s version is served with peanut sauce for dipping and I’m a real sucker for a good peanut sauce.
This crispy delight is made from rice flour and is filled with shrimp, pork and bean sprouts. Just as you would with a fresh spring roll, you wrap pieces of the crispy pancake with fresh veggies and herbs in fresh rice paper and then you dunk it in the peanut sauce.
Flavor orgasm in your mouth.
The best place to get Banh Xeo– Morning Glory. I know this is a repeat and I’m sorry but it truly was the best version I tried in town. You can, however, get them much cheaper from local street vendors and they are still delightful.
Banh Xeo at Morning Glory -$5.25
Hours of operation: 11 am- 11 pm Daily
BBQ HOI AN STYLE
Eating BBQ in Hoi An reminded me a lot of eating the crispy pancakes except with meat instead of the crispy goodness. You can get BBQ from local vendors all over the town or in several of the restaurants.
Pick any meat you would like for your BBQ- pork, chicken, shrimp or dog (just kidding-or maybe that’s your thing). You then build just like a spring roll again. Fill your rice paper with meat and veggies and dunk in given sauce. Easy enough, you would think.
I personally liked getting BBQ from the street vendors because it is far cheaper than in the restaurants. However, I always seemed to spill on myself.
The Best place for BBQ- Street vendors at the night market
Hours of Operation: 6pm- 10pm Daily
Price for BBQ on the street- $1.5 USD
Mi Quang Noodles
Another noodle dish similar in ways to the Cao Lao, but totally different. It was made famous in the Quang region of Hoi An, where it got its name.
Made with thick rice noodles, pork, shrimp, fresh herbs, peanuts, quail eggs, and a delicious broth. Most popular among the locals in the morning for breakfast.
Best Place for Mi Quang Noodles- Mi Quang Ong Hai- Mr. Quang Noodles
Hours of Operation: 11am-10pm
If you want to try it in the AM like a local, as you should, then head on down to the Hoi An market and plop your ass into one of those ridiculously small plastic chairs, at any of the noodle vendors, for a real authentic treat.
Price for a bowl of Mi Quang- $1 USD
White Rose- Banh Bao Vac
A beautifully traditional Hoi An dish made of translucent rice dough filled with shrimp or pork and when steamed the edges of the dough fold in a way that makes the little dumplings of goodness resemble a white rose. They are topped with crispy shallots and are served with a tangy chili sauce for dipping.
The recipe is top secret, known to only one restaurant who supplies to the entire town. Rumor has it that they use the same high alkaline water from the undisclosed Cham well that they use to make Cao Lao.
There’s something very special about this well!
The best place to get White Rose– White Rose Restaurant (go straight to the source)
Hours of Operation: 7am-8:30 pm Daily
Price for White Rose- $3 USD
Banh Mi Phuong
This little shop was made famous when Anthony Bourdain called it the best Banh Mi in Vietnam when he visited here on an episode of No Reservations.
It is always crammed full of people and there’s no surprise why. They make pretty amazing Banh Mi sandwiches and even after all their fame, they are still very affordable.
You can’t leave Hoi An until you’ve tried Banh Mi Phuong!
Hours of Operation: 6:30am- 9:30pm Daily
Price for one Banh Mi Sandwich- $1.75 USD
Mia coffee shop became a fast favorite of mine. I love Vietnamese coffee, in fact, coffee has never been the same since. They serve the best coffee with a great atmosphere and friendly service.
My favorite coffees were coconut coffee or their coconut affogato, which is just a scoop of coconut ice cream drowned in a shot of espresso. It’s absolutely divine.
If you’re a coffee drinker, don’t skip this one.
Hours of Operation: 7am-5pm daily
Price for Coconut Affogato- $2 USD
Dingo Deli- My absolute favorite place in Hoi An
This perfect gem was conveniently located just down the street from the homestay where I stayed for a month. Dingo Deli is very popular with the growing ex-pat community in Hoi An and for good reasons.
They are a full-service bakery with all the goods, with a large variety of specialty imported cheeses and snacks. The kitchen makes phenomenal sandwiches and pizzas. You can also get their delicious ice tea by the pitcher. I found their coffees too sweet for my liking, but I could have asked for less condensed milk. My main obsessions were their fresh jalapeno cheese bagel with cream cheese and their fresh fruit and muesli breakfast.
The owner is a wonderful human being who is actively involved and will come and say hello to all his guests. I guessed him to be American, but never confirmed that. On several occasions, I would sit and work on my computer all day and never did I feel like I was unwelcome. I did spend a lot of money here though.
Being a western food joint, they can get away with it. You simply can’t get good western food like this anywhere else. Worth every penny and that’s saying a lot coming from a penny pincher.
Digital nomads, this is the place for you!
Hours of Operation: 7:30am-9:30pm
Prices for food range from- $5- $10 USD
WHAT TO BRING TO HOI AN
You don’t need much when traveling to Hoi An but I’ll cover the basics here. Dress down, Hoi An is quite casual and the weather will most likely be hot. The best advice I can give you is this- Have plenty of extra space in your backpack because you will definitely leave with more than you came with. It’s just the Hoi An way.
Things you shouldn’t forget
Sunscreen- it’s hard to find and very expensive if you do find it.
Swimsuit- if you’re staying somewhere with a pool. It’s hot you’ll want to swim. Also, hello beach.
Umbrella and parka- If you’re coming during monsoon season then these are a must. Although you can get these at any shop within old town if you forget.
Bug Spray- because malaria and dengue are a real bitch.
READ MORE: Are you traveling north in Vietnam? Don’t miss out on the Imperial City of Hue.
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