Before the boom of tourism, this quaint town in Quang Nam, Central Vietnam was once known as a major trading port during the 17th and 18th century. Today, Hoi An has bloomed into a majestic, beautiful town frequented by tourists who want to trade the hustle and traffic to green fields, and calming sceneries.
Marked by stunning river views, hundred-year-old temples, UNESCO-recognised houses, an interesting blend of European and Asian cultures, and a 2000-year history under its belt, Hoi An is a traveler’s oasis in Vietnam, a place that’ll surely leave a mark.
As you explore this beautiful, old town, you’ll notice that Hoi An is more than just its mustard-yellow homes — just a few kilometres around town, natural sights and cultural activities await tourists. Get introduced to the rich culture in Hoi An in a most delicious way — every day, groups of tourists visit Thuan Thinh island to learn how to cook traditional Vietnamese delicacies. See Hoi An’s iconic temples — Phuoc Lam Pagoda, and Van Doc Pagoda — and enjoy its peaceful, relaxing ambiance. Unravel Hoi An’s colourful history by visiting Precious Heritage Museum and The Museum of Folk Culture. If you want to enjoy a day of sun and sand, make a stop at An Bang beach. Don’t forget to saunter along the Hoi An River — here, you’ll get to see stunning old houses, rows of tailoring stores, and dining places where you can indulge in delicious Hoi An dishes and try some interesting Vietnamese beer.
The closest airport to Hoi An is the one in Da Nang. There are daily flights offered from Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi. International flights to Da Nang are also available from Thailand, Japan, China, Hong Kong, and the Philippines. From the airport, private car services to Hoi An can be availed from Hoi An Private Car. The fare is around USD 22 and travel time is 45 minutes. Another option is to take a mini shuttle bus to Hoi An, the fare is only USD 6.
Hoi An has no railway station. Those coming from Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Hue, and Nha Trang board a train to Da Nang station. Travel time from Nha Trang to Da Nang is 9 hours and fares range from VND 683,500 to VND 11,117,400 (USD 28 to USD 43). The train from Hanoi to Da Nang takes 14 hours and the fare plays around VND 890,000 to VND 1,231,470 (USD 39 to USD 54). The other option, a 17-hour train ride from Ho Chi Minh City, costs between VND 987,000 to VND 1,437,000 (USD 43 to USD 63).
Another way to reach Hoi An is via a private taxi from Da Nang. Travel time is 45 minutes and the fare is at USD 13.
Vietnamese Dong (VND) is the currency accepted in most establishments around Hoi An. VND comes in denominations of 500, 1000, 5000, 10000, 20000, 50000, 10000, 200000 and 500000. Some establishments like hotels, souvenir shops, and restaurants accept USD but note that some attractions, especially those located far from town, can only accept VND.
Hoi An has several ATMs around town which has a total withdrawable limit of VND 2 million (USD 100). Although USD is also widely accepted, don’t forget to exchange them for some VND for taxi and bus fares. Don’t go overboard with the currency exchange, you can’t use VND elsewhere.
Hoi An has a tropical climate so temperatures are often warm. The wet season is from September to December while the dry season runs from February to July. June and July are considered the hottest months. The best time to visit Hoi An is from February to April when rainfalls are few and the weather is relatively cooler.
Hoi An’s attractions can be found within 10-kilometres from the town centre. The cheapest way to explore Hoi An is through cycling. Bike rentals are available at VND 30,000 (USD 1.4) per day. Cycling tours — which take tourists to the more rural part of Hoi An — are widely available.
Other options include taking a taxi or renting a motorbike, especially if you are visiting more distant locations. Take note that roads within Hoi An ancient town are not accessible via taxi, car, motorcycles, and xo em.
Food around Hoi An is diverse — thanks to the previous boat trades, the delicacies in town are heavily influenced by Japanese, Chinese, and even European flavours. A famous dish that is only available in Hoi An is the Cao Lau — a special noodle cooked in ashwater and topped with organic vegetables — which you can order from Ms. Ha at VND 20,000 (USD 0.88) per bowl. Hoi An has its own take on barbecue — skewered pork wrapped in rice paper and dipped in sauce made of peanut, sesame, and liver — which you can buy at VND 10,000 (USD 0.45) per stick at Hai Ba Tung Street. Feast on Central Vietnam’s exotic flavours by ordering the water fern cake — rice cakes topped with shrimp, pork, and cao lau noodles. As for desserts, you can never go wrong with Hoi An Tofu — a dessert made from tofu, brown sugar, and coconut milk, and black sesame sweet soup.
At Hoi An, the noise and rush that are so easily connected to Vietnam all come to a halt. This town is a place where you can recharge, and see the other side of Vietnam — peaceful, colourful, oddly beautiful. A boat ride around Hoi An can tell you why this small, Central Vietnam town is such a crowd favourite.