Hoi An Floating Lantern Festival
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THE 15 BEST THINGS TO DO IN HOI AN, VIETNAM

Hoi An Ancient Town is easily one of the most charming towns of Vietnam. This South East Asian Trading Port dates back to the 15th to 19th century and is preserved as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Hoi An is located in the Quang Nam Region of Vietnam, and the town reflects Chinese, Japanese, and even European influences. On top of the beautiful architecture, you’ll also find some stunning beaches, the tailor capital of the world, and some of the most delicious Vietnamese staple foods. Here is my Ultimate Hoi An Travel Guide, and 15 of the best things to do in Hoi An!


KNOW BEFORE YOU GO

Best Time & Weather: Hoi An is located in central Vietnam, and most of the climate ranges from sunny and dry to rainy season. The best time to go would be the first half of the year. Anywhere between February to May would have comfortable temperature with a low chance of rain. Most people avoid visiting Hoi An towards the end of the year as it is often typhoon and flooding season.

Da Nang to Hoi An: It is most common to fly into Da Nang International Airport (DAD) and drive to Hoi An, which is about 27km. You can use taxi or Grab (the equivalent of Vietnamese uber), and most hotels have a shuttle that you can reserve in advance. We have actually found that taxi and hotel shuttle were the most affordable, and Grab was more expensive for this trip. The drive is a little over an hour.
Average Cost: Hotel Shuttle and Taxi: 350,000VDN ($15USD) , Grab: $500,000 VDN ($20USD)

Transporation / Getting Around Hoi An: Hoi An is a very pedestrian friendly and walkable town– especially if you stay near Hoi An Ancient Town. Most hotels will have free bike rentals and motorbikes/scooters for $10USD a day. Some of the roads in the Ancient town are pedestrian and bicycle only! We rented scooters and had no problems with the roads though!

Currency: Vietnamese Dong. As of right now (October of 2022), 1,000,000 VDN = $42 USD. I would highly recommend carrying cash around. Credit Card is widely accepted in Hoi An but AMEX is not.

Languages: Vietnamese — English is minimally spoken.

Airports: DAD (Da Nang International Airport) is the most common airport to get to Hoi An.

Now that we have some background information, let’s get down to the logistics of the Hoi An Travel Guide!


WHERE TO STAY IN HOI AN, VIETNAM

Hoi An is not too large of a city, but the Ancient Town itself is extremely small and walkable. Right off the bat, I would recommend staying as close to the Ancient Town as possible. We stayed at the Almanity Hoi An Wellness Resort, which was absolutely wonderful. The property was extremely clean, the staff were very kind, but on top of that, it was very centrally located and offered great amenities including spa, pool, free bikes, shuttle service to the beach, and more.

Book The Almanity Hoi An Wellness Resort Here

Some other hotels worth looking into —

Four Seasons Nam Hai (top left), Allegro Hotel (top right)
Anantara Hotel (bottom left), Almanity Hotel (bottom right)

For Luxury, The Four Seasons Nam Hai
Moderate to Luxury: Anantara Hotel
Moderate: Allegro Hoi An


WHAT TO EAT IN HOI AN

Central Vietnam boasts some INCREDIBLE food, and Hoi An has some signature dishes you absolutely must try. You’ll find that a big part of the best things to do in Hoi An revolve around food!

MUST TRY DISHES

Mì Quảng – a MUST try in the Quang Nam region of Vietnam — this dish is part soup, part salad. The bed of the dish is fresh vegetables including bean sprouts and herby greens, topped with tumeric noodles, and only 1 ladle of broth. The toppings are typically pork, shrimp, quail eggs, rice crackers and peanuts!
Cao Lầu – This dish is exclusive to the Hoi An region because of the water that is used to cook the noodles (from the Cham islands). The dish contains braised spiced pork, bean sprouts and herbs.
Com Ga Hoi An – Hoi An chicken rice
Hen — Mussels, often served as a protein topping on salad or rice, served with fish sauce
Bánh Vac — White Rose Dumplings, rice paper stuffed with shrimp and pork, topped with fried garlic and onions, dipped in a sweet fish sauce
Vietnamese Coconut Coffee – blended coconut frappe with Vietnamese espresso poured on top

MUST TRY RESTAURANTS

This doesn’t apply for ALL Vietnamese restaurants, but the best restaurants will have very minimal things on their menu. Specializing in 1-2 dishes is very common here. Secondly, most of the cleanest and most popular restaurants will have their kitchen in the front of the restaurant, so you can watch the food cooking. It’s to show that the the restaurant has high sanitation standards. These are a common rule of thumb for good restaurants in Vietnam, but now with more tourists, you might find a few restaurants with an extensive menu and a kitchen in back that are good.

Cao Lau Khong Gian Xanh — there’s only 9 things on their menu, and each one is delicious
Com Lin — very clean, most known for their chicken rice.
Ong Hai Restaurant — best Mi Quang
Banh Mi Phuong — recommended by Anthony Bordain
Banh Mi Khanh — Known as the Banh Mi Queen, I particularly love the spicy sauce on it
Faifoo Coffee — most delicious coconut coffee!

Time to get into the Hoi An, Vietnam Travel Guide, and all of the best things to do in Hoi An!


HOI AN, VIETNAM TRAVEL GUIDE & BEST THINGS TO DO

1. FLOATING LANTERN FESTIVAL

There are two different types of festivals in Hoi An — one is the Floating Lantern Festival, and one is the Hoi An Lantern Festival. The Hoi An Lantern Festival takes place every full moon (which is about once a month). If your schedule doesn’t allow for you to be in Hoi An over a full moon, the Floating Lantern Festival takes place every night. It’s a way to honor our ancestors, as well as bring in peace and prosperity to our lives. The paper lanterns in the shape of lotus are floated out on the river. The festivities are all about the same, except the Hoi An Lantern Festival during a full moon may have more people, and more live performances and cultural displays.

2. TAKE A SAMPAN RIDE ON THE HOI RIVER

In the evening after sunset, you can take a small traditional Sampan (boat) ride down the river and release your floating lanterns! The boat ride is about 150,000VDN (~$6USD), and individual lanterns ranges from 5,000 to 15,000 VDN. It’s common to buy multiple lanterns to light and you can buy them from a street vendor or directly on the boat.

3. NIGHT MARKET STREET FOOD

While you’re at the festival, make sure you cross the bridge to the other side where all the street vendors and shops are! They have all kinds of meat sticks and skewers along with freshly squeezed juices! Definitely try the iced lychee tea, salted plum lemonade, or kumquat juice! While you’re there, Vietnamese pizza or “banh trang nuong,” is a fan favorite which is like a crispy crepe with savory toppings!

4. SILK LANTERNS

If you walk around Hoi An Ancient Town, you’ll find silk lanterns hanging from shops, cafes, and in every corner. When Hoi An was primarily a trading port in the 1500’s, silk was widely made and exported. Now they have lantern making classes and in the evening, all the lanterns light up for the dreamiest photos!

Book a Hoi An Silk Lantern Making Class HERE

5. GET A BESPOKE SUIT

Hoi An is also known as one of the Tailor capitals of the world. You can get a custom bespoke suit made in a few days with prices ranging anywhere between $100-$300. From the color, fabric, material, inside lining, buttons, cut and fit, you pick all of it. They’ll even help you match your skin tones and offer professional advice. Many of them speak wonderful English and are multi-generational tailors.

After doing a ton of research on which shops to go to, we decided on Ba Ri Tailor Shop, and our tailor’s name is Trang. She was so helpful, and we highly recommend her!! If any of you are interested, feel free to send me a DM on Instagram (@finding.jules), or an email, and I’ll be happy to connect you to her. She also takes orders over Whatsapp, and can facetime you through the process. Because we left with multiple pieces, our prices were bundled down, so the more you buy, the more you save! Trey got a 3-piece suit and a 2-piece suit made in 3 days time, and I got a 2 trousers, a top, and a dress made! The tailors are so talented– if you just show them a picture, they can pretty much replicate anything as long as they have the fabric.

6. GET LOST IN THE ANCIENT TOWN

The Ancient Town of Hoi An is SO charming and you can spend hours just walking around and exploring! I would highly recommend either renting a bicycle, scooter, or just going by foot and getting lost. Try the street foods, pop into restaurants and cafes, and just explore!

7. EAT LOCAL FOODS

What is a Hoi An Travel Guide without an emphasis on food!! Eating is probably the best thing to do in Hoi An. The central region of Vietnam has some of my all time favorite foods. While you’re here, you have to try Cao Lau noodles. The noodles are pulled and cooked in lye water, which is water only found on the neighboring Cham Islands. See the above list for my favorite dishes & where to find them!

8. TRY COCONUT ICED COFFEE

Coffee in Hoi An is elite. My favorite is the coconut blended ice coffee, which is like a coconut frappe with Vietnamese espresso poured on top. Keep in mind that phin-style coffee is a made with robusta beans, so drinking 1 Vietnamese iced coffee is the equivalent of 3-4 shots of espresso! The portions may be small, but keep that in mind so you don’t consume too much! The coffee shops are always open late too.

9. VISIT THE CHAM ISLANDS

The Cu Lao Cham Islands consist of 7 islands, about 15km away from the beach front side of Hoi An. You can take day trips there on your own via public ferry (they normally run early in the morning and return by evening). Or you can book a day trip through many different tour groups and excursions. It’s great for snorkeling, diving, and other water activities including kayaking and swimming.

10. JAPANESE COVERED BRIDGE

The Japanese Covered Bridge is symbolic of the harmony between the Japanese, Vietnamese, and Chinese, dating back to the 1500’s upon construction. There’s a small temple built on the bridge with an entrance fee of 120,000VDN. Crossing the bridge is free.

11. FUJIAN ASSEMBLY HALL

The Fujian Assembly Hall worships the Chinese Sea Goddess Mazu. The assembly hall was built in the late 1690’s, and was dedicated to Mazu for helping the Chinese sailors overcome the storms to get them to Hoi An safely. There are five total assembly halls in Hoi An, but the Fujian Assembly Hall is one is the most popular and one of the most intricate in Chinese architecture.

There are dozens of temples, pagodas, and assembly halls in Hoi An that you wander into and explore. Just keep in mind that, as these places are religious centers to wear appropriate clothing, donate when you can, and keep your voices down as you’re walking through.

12. GO TO AN BANG BEACH

This is probably something that most people miss in their trip to Hoi An. If you want to enjoy a relaxing day with beautiful white sand and warm water, An Bang Beach is the perfect escape. My personal recommendation is to go to The Sound of Silence Coffee shop. Right behind their cafe is a small beach club with umbrellas and chairs reserved for guests. Enjoy a coconut iced coffee or passionfruit smoothie, and go for a swim in some of the warmest waters ever!

An Bang Beach on film

14. TAKE A COOKING CLASS

Once you get a taste of Hoi An food, you’ll definitely want to take it home with you! There are so many different cooking classes in Hoi An, where you start at a local farmer’s market and bring fresh ingredients back to cook!

Book a Cooking Class HERE

15. DAY TRIP TO BA NA HILLS

If you don’t have Da Nang already built into your travel itinerary, I would recommend squeezing in a day trip to Ba Na Hills to visit the Golden Bridge! It can be a little complicated to get to the bridge though so make sure you factor in an entire day!

Let me know if there is anything that I’m missing in this Hoi An Travel Guide, or if there is anything else you’d add to the list!! Hope you find it helpful in planning your trip out to Vietnam!

xx Jules


WHAT TO WEAR IN HOI AN, VIETNAM


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