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Exploring Hoi An Ancient Town [+5 Other Things To Do In Hoi An]

Written by:
Bradley Williams
/
Last updated:
September 4, 2018
Travel stories
Looking for the best things to do in Hoi An? Well, the Hoi An Ancient town should definitely be at the top of your list. Here's what you can get up to ...
Hoi An Ancient Town
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If you’re travelling through Vietnam, Hoi An is certainly one of the best places to visit.

It is slightly more touristy than other areas and seems to attract a wider array of people. However, there’s good reason for this.

The Hoi An Ancient Town is a wonderful place to explore, and located within walking distance from most areas in Hoi An.

But remember, the Hoi An Ancient town isn’t the only thing to do in Hoi An! Instead, there’s a whole host of exciting places to explore.

Let’s get to it ...

Hoi An Ancient Town Bridge

What to do in Hoi An Ancient Town

Hire a bike

If it’s a pleasant day and the streets aren't too crowded, it can be a wonderful idea to hire a bike and cycle about Hoi An Ancient Town.

Once the evening comes around and the streets become packed with tourists and stalls, this becomes a little difficult.

So I’d recommend heading out for the day on your bike to explore a little further afield and into other parts of Hoi An.

Watch the lanterns

The most iconic thing about Hoi An Old Quarter is the lanterns that get set off once the sun goes in and darkness sets in.

You’ll find that the sky is soon filled with a beautiful display of lights, and it really is a sight to take in.

My top tip here would be to find yourself a restaurant on the canal that has space to sit outside.

Then, once the sun goes down and the lanterns go up, you get one of the best views available.

Hoi An Ancient Town lanterns
Tripadvisor

Explore the shops

Throughout the day and night, Hoi An Old Town has a whole assortment of quirky little shops.

They sell a variety of things, though the artwork is what most struck me.

Sure, things are a little more pricey but, even if you’re not planning to buy anything, it is still nice to wander around and take in the buzzing shopping atmosphere.

As a side note, Cazzy bought herself two pairs of shoes whilst exploring a different market in Hoi An.

It ended up costing less than $30 for a pair of "Nikes" and a pair of "Vans" and they've held up pretty well ever since.

Take a walk along the canal

The canal in Hoi An Ancient Town is wonderfully well maintained and offers a peaceful and tranquil walk.

However, it does get hot during the middle of the day (regularly 30 degrees plus). As such, it’s a good idea to do this earlier or once the sun starts to wind down.  

Hoi An Old Town at night

Pick up some trinkets from the stalls

In the late afternoon, you’ll see all of the market vendors start to put their stalls together and bring out their wares. Which is another reason why it’s best to visit in the evening.

They seem to sell a whole bunch of things, through from lanterns to local Vietnamese street food.

Better yet, everything you find on the stalls is likely to be a lot cheaper than what you’d expect to find in the brick and mortar stores.

Enjoy the local cuisine

Though Hoi An ancient town is one of the more tourist-oriented spots in Vietnam, it is by no means massively overpriced.

In fact, all of the restaurants that line the streets seem to be very competitively priced.

If you’re on a real budget then you can buy from the vendors or find a small shop with the small children's seats outside (the smaller the seats, the cheaper the food!).

However, the best restaurants in Hoi An Ancient Town are situated by the canal and have outdoor seating. It is well worth paying a little more for these.

Try the beer!

Whilst we’re on the subject of dining, you should go ahead and try the local beer in Hoi An.

In many places, you can buy a glass for just 50 cents and it tastes perfectly fine.

In fact, where we were having our meal, a bunch of what looked like local students came in and sat down.

They worked their way through about 4 or 5 pints each before paying and heading off. That’s got to be one of the cheapest ways to pre-drink ever!

The Japanese Bridge

Hoi An ancient town has now become a registered UNESCO World Heritage Site. Which is due to the old and fascinating architecture dotted all around.

The town has influence from China, France, Japan and Vietnam, which makes for some really rather intriguing design pieces.

Perhaps most interesting is the Hoi An Old Town Japanese Bridge. The original bridge was first constructed back in 1590 and has undergone a lot of renovation ever since.

In 1986, the bridge you see today was restored and reflects the wonderful Japanese architectural design on which it was first constructed.

Japanese Bridge Hoi An Ancient Town
Vietnam Guide

Enjoy the sunset

As with every spot in Vietnam, if you are lucky enough to have a clear sky, then the sunsets are truly magnificent.

In Hoi An they are just as nice, and also a welcome relief to the unrelenting heat you experience during the day.

They are best enjoyed sat outside a local bar on the canal with a cheap 50 cent beer!

The Assembly Hall of the Cantonese Chinese Congregation

Upon entering this building, you are welcomed by a wonderfully ornate carp and dragon both designed using mosaic.

There is also a statue of a goat further in (a note to Chinese tastes), as well as an even larger dragon out back.

Once again, this building perfectly demonstrates the mix of design styles brought together from a variety of cultures.

The building itself was first constructed back in 1786.

Phung Hung Ancient House

Situated near the Japanese bridge, the Phung Hung Old House is a delightfully old-fashioned building with an outer facade made of wood.

The entrance hall plays host to a wide array of lanterns, embroidery and other ornaments.

You can walk around inside and explore, and then head upstairs and look out over the balcony.

Tran Ancestor Worship House

The Tran Ancestor Worship House is another great thing to see in Hoi An Ancient Town.

It is a representation of the ancestor worship that is present in almost all of the homes across Vietnam.

You can get a tour that takes you around the house. It offers the perfect chance to learn more about the local design influences from someone who actually lives in the area.

Here are a few of the most popular questions people ask about the Hoi An Old Town ...

How much does it cost to enter Hoi An Ancient Town?

Getting into Hoi An Ancient Town is not free and you must pay an admission charge which goes towards preserving the area. As of 2017, the price was 120,000 VND for international visitors and 80,000 VND for domestic visitors.

Where do you buy your Hoi An Old Town ticket?

You can buy your tickets pretty easily upon arrival. We were charged as we were crossing over one of the bridges.

How long is your ticket valid for?

The ticket is valid for 24 hours. Meaning, if you visit in the evening and are planning to come by the next day, it’s worth hanging onto it.

What time is best to visit the Hoi An Ancient Town?

In our experience, the best time to visit is in the afternoon once the sun has started to make it’s way down. That way you have plenty of light to look at the sights, and can then sit back and watch the sunset, enjoy the lanterns and roam around the stalls.

What to do in Hoi An

As well as visiting the Ancient down, there are plenty of other great things to do in Hoi An. Here are some ideas ...

Get a suit made

Hoi An is well known for being one of the best places in Vietnam to buy a cheap suit.

Though it is true that you can buy them just as cheap in many other places, the locals in Hoi An assured me this was the best city (completely unbiased of course).

There are plenty of tailors dotted all across town, and they can all make you a suit in as little as a day.

If I had the space in my backpack (and the money in my wallet) I likely would have got one myself.

Head up to Danang

Danang is the next city up from Hoi An and is a place we were initially booked to stay for a night.

However, whilst we were there we were caught just south of a massive tsunami and decided to stay put for a couple days (read more about it here).

However, we still managed to get up to Danang for a day and, to be honest, that is all you need there really.

The first thing to do in Danang is head to Marble Mountain. I can't remember the exact amount, but it cost roughly 40,000 VND each to go up and explore the mountain.

It is well worth it just for the views alone. But more importantly, there’s a number of caves and temples that you can walk around and explore.

Cave in Marble Mountain
Inside one of the caves
Marble Mountain alter
One of the alters inside the caves

However, by far the best thing I enjoyed about being in Danang was riding up Tho Quang, which is a large mountain just north of Marble Mountain.

As always, we were on our moped in Danang and it is a wonderful drive the whole way up. You can stop at the top and get breathtaking views all out across Danang.

However, what was nicest was the long route down that we took. If you keep going over the mountain, you’ll find the road become more broken and a bit more off-road.

This seems to be the old road over, but it is incredibly exciting to take. Better yet, when you get to the other side and drive back round to Danang, you are treated to gorgeous views out over the ocean.

Oh yeah, and if you’re wondering how to get to Danang from Hoi An, then the best way is to rent out a motorbike for the day. They usually cost around $5 and the fuel is incredibly cheap.

View of Danang
View from the top
Hoi An to Danang on a moped
Looking back at Danang

Do a cookery class

A cookery class is something you should do at least somewhere in Vietnam, and Hoi An is definitely a good place to get it done.

The guy who owned our apartment offered to organise one for us, and it first involves the chef picking you up and taking you round the local markets to get supplies.

Afterwards, they come back to the apartment and show you how to make a few of the more famous Vietnamese dishes.

Our favourite was the spring rolls, mainly because they aren’t too tricky to do!

Head to the beach

Hoi An is right by the coast and the whole drive up to Danang offers you views of wonderful beaches and crystal blue oceans.

We didn't go to the beach in Hoi An, but did stop off at the beach up in Danang.

There are loads of places to relax, with some areas being a little more built up than others.

Take a trip to Cham Island

This isn't something we got the chance to do ourselves, but looks like an absolutely wonderful experience!

It takes less than 2 hours to get to and is actually a collection of 8 islands in total.

If you’re interested in finding out more, then the guys over at Travelfish have more info on how to get to Cham Island and how much it costs.

Hoi An Ancient Town Tours

How do you get to Hoi An?

Getting to Hoi An is pretty easy and you have a few choices.

For us, we had the hop-on, hop-off bus ticket that we bought back in Ho Chi Minh. It costs just over $30 USD and stops at all the major cities in Vietnam.

For us, we hopped on the overnight bus up from Nha Trang, and it takes about 12 hours. It’s comfortable enough (as long as you’re not too tall!).

As well as this, you could catch an Easy Rider bike tour. We never did one of these ourselves, but they seem quite popular.

You basically sit on the back of a motorbike with a rider who takes you to all the nicest stops on the way.

Perhaps the most enjoyable way to get to Hoi An is to buy your own moped and drive it through the country!

Where to stay in Hoi An

There are plenty of places to stay in Hoi An, right through from the Ancient Town to the outskirts of the city.

We went with the latter as it was cheaper and we managed to get our own pool. We would highly recommend where we stayed as our host was very friendly and even drove us into town a couple times.

You can check out where we stayed here

All around Hoi An there are a large number of hotels and hostels suited to everyone’s budget. Though, let’s face it, nowhere in Vietnam is particularly expensive!

I would recommend using booking.com. They offer the best deals all across Vietnam and have the most variety.

Your own personal map of Hoi An

To help you out, I’ve gone ahead and bookmarked the major spots mentioned above.

Getting around Hoi An is easy if you hire out a scooter, and maps.me is the best way to mark everywhere you want to go.

It has the most in-depth offline Hoi An maps you could find and I’ve found it reliable all around the world.

If you don't have maps.me yet, then you should! You can download it to your smartphone here.

Map of Hoi An

Well, that’s about it! It’s time for you to set off and enjoy your time exploring Hoi An.

I think I’ve covered everything, and there’s certainly enough to keep you busy.

However, if you have any other questions or can suggest things to do or places to see in Hoi An Ancient Town, then let me know in the comments below.

Once you've finished up here, you should check out this next post I've written in the series of exploring Vietnam:

19 Things To Do In Hue: The Imperial City + More! - 2018

Hoi An Ancient Town

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