Must-do Things in Hoi An
Shop at the Central Market – Hoi An’s Central Market is probably one of the best in Vietnam. The market sits on the riverside and is packed full of excellent food at rock-bottom prices. This is the place to pick up spices, souvenirs, try local food and have your tailoring done. There is also a great fish market worth visiting!
Visit Quan Cong Temple – The temple was built in the early 17th century to honor the Chin Dynasty but nowadays it serves as one of Hoi An’s most spectacular architectural accomplishments and a thriving tourist attraction. Inside there are two huge wooden statues, one of Quan Kong’s protector, Chau Xuong and one of his adopted son and of course the gilt statue of Quan Cong himself.
Cross the Japanese Covered Bridge – The bridge is thought to have been built by Hoi An’s Japanese community in the late sixteenth century and roughly translated from Vietnamese, its name means “Pagoda in Japan”. It makes for great photographs.
Take a cooking lesson – If tasting local food isn’t enough for you and you’d like to bring a like bit of Vietnamese cuisine home with you then consider enrolling yourself in cooking lessons. Many restaurants offer lessons where you’ll first start off picking the raw ingredients then learn how to prepare the food. If you want a more full-day experience, you can even tack on a 5am fishing trip in a bowl-shaped fishing boat. Prices vary, but most cost between 350,000-550,000 VND for a 4-6 hour market tour and cooking class.
Take a bicycle tour around the city – Get guided around the city by a local who will answer any of your questions, teach you about history, the local economy, and take you out for some Vietnamese coffee. This is a great way to get your bearings since it’s a small, but relatively sprawling, city. You’ll go through the rice fields and into neighborhoods that you wouldn’t normally venture through. A morning of bicycling around in a small group starts at around 300,000 VND. You can book this through any hostel or hotel.
Attend the Full Moon Festival – Hoi An’s Full Moon Festival is held on the 14th day of the lunar cycle each month and is probably the best time to visit the city. The streets are shut down to all traffic and are lined with brightly colored lanterns. This is a great time to party with locals as the streets come alive with folk music, plays, and dancing!
Relax on the beaches – An Bang and Cua Dai beaches are both within close proximity to Hoi An and are a great place to spend an afternoon. Cua Dai is designated as one of Vietnam’s five UNESCO World Heritage sites but both beaches offer soft white sand and excellent beach-side restaurants. For reasonable prices, you can get your food served to you while lying recumbent in the sun. These beaches are fantastic places to spend the day getting some sun and meeting cool people.
Take a trip to Cham Island – Many tourists take a day trip out to Cham Island which lies just 21km from Hoi An in the South China Sea. The diving there is great and because you’re in Vietnam, it’s very cheap. Most tours include lunch and it’s also possible to include a night dive in your excursion.
Experience Da Nang city – Located about 30-minutes from Hoi An, Da Nang is a bigger city (where you’d fly into). It’s famous for it’s Marble Mountains, great beaches, and a pretty active surfing scene. There is also an extravagant party scene here that it good for a night out once in a while. Some hostels will help groups of guests arrange transportation to and from Da Nang for the night, just ask!
Explore My Son – My Son (meaning “beautiful mountain”) is one of the most important sites relating to the ancient Kingdom of Champa and is said to have been Vietnam’s religious and intellectual center. Even in their ruined state, the remaining structures are impressive. The My Son ruins were designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000. Admission is 150,000 VND per person.
See the Fukian Assembly Hall – Built in 1697, Fukian is the grandest of the Chinese assembly halls and is a fine example of Chinese architecture. The main colorful temple is dedicated to the goddess of the sea, Thien Hau, while the statues of Thuan Phong Nhi and Thien Ly Nhan are said to protect sailors in distress. There is a scale model of a sailboat inside too. Entrance to this site and 4 others (on the same day) are 140,000 VND.
Boat along the river – A great way to relax for a bit and to see Hoi An from a different perspective is to hop on one of the boats that leaves from Bach Dang Street. Admire the town from the water and overlook the colorful views of the waterfront. Don’t just go with the first boat you find; there are a lot of different options and prices there.
Visit the Museum of Folk Culture – This small museum aims to preserve the traditions and dress of rural Vietnamese culture. The museum is filled with plaster statues of figures in costume, which seem a bit strange. However, there’s enough to see to give you a good idea about the loca