10 Great Things to do in Hoi An Ancient Town
The Hoi An Ancient Town is one of the most iconic destinations in Vietnam. It is located in the lower section of Thu Bon River junction, 30km from Da Nang city, 900km from Ho Chi Minh City and about 797km from Hanoi City.
Hoi An still preserves the unique and ancient architectural values of Vietnam. With the cold climate, friendly people and poetic sceneries, this old town is a must-visit on your Vietnam trip.
Here you will find the top 10 unique things to do in Hoi An Ancient Town, and we’ll also discuss how many days in Hoi An is sufficient for your trip. So let’s get exploring!
1. Walk Around Hoi An Ancient Town
One of my favorite things to do in the Hoi An Ancient Town is to just walk around the streets where you will find old houses and nice empty alleyways. Currently, motorbikes and cars are banned from moving to the city, so you can freely walk around the area without getting stuck in a traffic jam.
Some notable places to visit in the Hoi An Ancient Town are Tran Phu Street, Japanese Bridge, Nguyen Thi Minh Khai Street, Nguyen Thai Hoc Street, Bach Dang Street, and the Phung Hung Ancient House.
2. Kick Back and Sip on a Coffee
The visitors can stop at a cafe on the streets for a relaxing cup of coffee after walking around the town. Most of the coffee shops in the area are quite small and peaceful. When you step inside the café, you will feel like you’ve escaped the busy street life and get to kick back with that cup of aromatic Vietnamese coffee. I suggest choosing a coffee shop with a second or third floor to enjoy the view of the ancient town.
Some of the nicest cafés in Hoi An Ancient Town are:
- May Concept (8C Nguyen Thi Minh Khai Street)
- Gemstone Art Museum – GAM (113 Nguyen Thai Hoc Street)
- Reaching Out Tea Rooms (Tran Phu Street)
3. Cycle the Old Streets
Exploring the town with a bicycle is one of the easiest things to do in Hoi An. You can easily rent a bicycle from the Hoi An Bike Tour Agency (37 Ba Trieu Street, Cam Pho Ward, Hoi An) for 50.000 to 150.000 VND (USD 2 to 6) per day. It is a great way of wandering along Thu Bon River and cycling around the ancient streets.
You could also cycle out to the Tra Que vegetable village which specializes in growing local vegetables. To see the countryside you can cycle out to the rice fields and enjoy the local village lifestyle on the outskirts of town. If you want to go for a swim you can also cycle out to some beautiful beaches such as Cua Dai Beach or Bai Bang Beach, there’s some great seafood out there too.
4. Swim at Cua Dai Beach
Cua Dai Beach is a beautiful destination that you really should visit. You will have a great chance to enjoy fresh seafood, and it’s cheeeeap! I suggest visiting Cua Dai Beach in the evening, the area will be beautifully lit up by lots of shimmering oil lamps.
Cua Dai Beach is 5 km away from the Hoi An ancient town. You can get to Cua Dai beach by renting a bicycle or motorcycle. You can also hop in a taxi if the exercise is too much!
5. Taste the Local Foods
When visiting the Hoi An ancient town, you should try the local Quang noodles. These noodles and a local dish from Quang Nam Province where Hoi An is located. Quang Noodles are made from rice flour and mixed with pork, shrimp, and vegetables, then topped with grilled rice paper and spices.
You can get Quang Noodles at Cam Ha area, Hoi An market, or the beginning of Tran Phu Street. You will also find lots of great cakes here which are a local favorite such as; Gai Cake, Su Se Cake, Green Bean Cake, and Rose Cake. In luxurious restaurants or small restaurants in the streets, you can order Cao Lau dishes with prices from 10,000-20,000 VND. It’s very delicious!
If you’ve worked your way through these options, then you should also check out this awesome guide to street food in Hoi An. Then, you can find even more great foodie destinations in this 10 day Vietnam itinerary including; Ho Chi Minh City, Dalat, and Hanoi.
6. Get yourself a Hoi An Lantern
The Hoi An lanterns give this town it’s ionic look at night. If you are looking to do a bit of shopping, the lanterns are the perfect souvenir form Hoi An. They’re light to carry and quite inexpensive.
You can the Hoi An lanterns on Tran Phu street, Tu Ngoc lantern shop, Ngoc Thu shop or other lantern shops on Le Loi street. You will be able to buy a lantern for about 20,000 to 30,000 VND (USD 1 to 2).
7. Explore the Cu Lao Cham Islands
Cu Lao Cham is an island cluster which is located in Tan Hiep commune, about 18 km east from Cua Dai beach. It takes about 30 minutes to get to Cu Lao Cham by speedboat. You will fund natural forests, beautiful beaches, and coral reefs here. It is a nature escape right off the coast of the mainland.
To stay overnight on the islands, you can rent a tent for 50,000 VND (USD 2.50) and pay overnight island fee of 20,000 VND (USD 2). It’s a pretty unique experience to have in Vietnam! Watch out of the clear jellyfish when swimming at Cu Lao Cham as they will irritate your skin.
8. Visit the Traditional Villages
There are a few small traditional villages around the outside of the Hoi An Ancient Town. Here you can see some of the local traditions of the area. A recommended traditional villages are:
- Kim Bong carpentry village: Kim Bong village is located in Cam Kim commune, across the Thu Bon River from Hoi An Ancient Town. It takes only 10 minutes to get there by boat from the old town pier. Artisans of the Kim Bong carpentry village are proud of the fact that their father was invited to the capital by the Nguyen dynasty to build and embellish the citadel and tombs.
- Tra Que Vegetable Village: Tra Que is located 3km north of Hoi An ancient town. The Tra Que vegetable village belongs to Cam Ha commune. The local people here have grown vegetables in Tra Que for 300 years, thanks to the favorable natural soil conditions.
- Cam Ha Flower Village: Cam Ha village is located about 4km from Hoi An Ancient Town. Here you will see a village where the locals run an industry of growing lots of colorful flowers which are sold the businesses in the city.
9. Visit the Cau Pagoda
Cau Pagoda is also known as the Japanese bridge, which is an iconic destination in the Hoi An Ancient Town. The Pagoda crosses a small branch of Thu Bon River near the intersection of Nguyen Thi Minh Khai and Tran Phu streets.
The Cau Pagoda was originally built by Japanese merchants in the early 17th century. It has since seen many changes over the years and is now a unique combination of cultures. The area still remains quiet and peaceful with a lot of the original features. The Cau pagoda is definitely worth a visit when coming to the Hoi An Ancient Town.
10. Make Custom Clothes in the Ancient Town
Making some custom clothes in Hoi An is both cheap, quick, and great quality. Who says you can have all three upsides? The tailors here can finish sewing a suit in just a few hours. If you can’t wait, then you leave your hotel address, and the shop will drop it off directly.
You can make clothes at many famous shops in Minh An ward, such as; Thu Thuy, Yaly, Phuong Huy, Thang Loi, Bao Khanh, Gia Hung, and Hanh Hu.
How many days in Hoi An is enough?
I suggest 3 days in Hoi An if you want to explore the area properly without rushing it. You would probably want to check out this epic list of top hotels in Hoi An. There are lots of options from budget through to luxury, so definitely something to suit your needs.
On your first day in Hoi An, you can explore the old quarter by foot or bicycle, have that relaxing coffee, and put your order in for your clothes. The next day you can head out the Cu Loa Cham islands for a full day trip then visit Cua Dai Beach for sunset. Finally, on your third day, you can make a couple of short trips out to the surrounding villages and see the traditional way of life.
With less than 3 days in Hoi An, you will either be cramming to see everything, or you will have to revisit next time. Even if you only have one day allowed for Hoi An, it is still definitely worth the quick stop.