Hoi An has a reputation for being one of the prettiest cities in all of Vietnam and the Old Town here has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site thanks to its 800 historic buildings. There is a definite ‘old town’ feeling here which is like stepping back into the Vietnam of ancient times, and the city is also famous as it was never bombed during the Vietnam War.
Hoi An is also located on the Thu Bon River which is flanked by bars, cafes and local markets and you can walk along the banks at night and take in the views across the rippling water. When you walk around the city, you can take in spots such as museums, ancient homes and pretty temples, and Hoi An also has a delicious local food scene. As if that wasn’t enough, the surrounding countryside of Hoi An is equally scenic and you can easily take a day trip out to glorious beaches or ruined cities.
Here are the 25 best things to do in Hoi An…
1. Get a suit made
Hoi An is famous across Vietnam for its textile industry and one of the reasons many people come here is to get clothes tailor made for them.
To that end, you will find amazing tailors all over town and you can choose from a plethora of silks, others textiles and patterns to make your own personalized creations.
Note however that you will probably need to leave around three days to get your clothes made if the design is simple and up to a week for more complicated pieces so plan accordingly to avoid disappointed.
The tailoring industry here is also highly competitive so you will be expected to bargain hard and it pays to shop around so that you get the best deal.
2. Walk around the Old Town
Hoi An is something of a rarity in Vietnam as it managed to escape most of the bombing that razed many other cities to the ground during the Vietnam War.
This means that the beautiful buildings here were spared, and so you will still find some gorgeous architecture here in the Old Town which makes the perfect place to go for a walk and take in all the sights.
The Old Town has now been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is said to date back some 2,000 years.
Suggested tour: Hoi An Old Town: Night Food Tasting Small Group Tour
3. Shop for local handicrafts
If you like local arts and handicrafts then you will be spoilt for choice on a visit to Vietnam.
Hoi An is known across Vietnam for being a hub for beautiful locally made products and you will be able to shop for these in places like the main central market.
There are also a number of handicraft villages dotted on the outskirts of the town and you can usually take a tour to these where you can learn about the historical and cultural background behind the making of these items.
Many of these are made by local minorities and make excellent gifts or souvenirs.
In the handicraft villages you can also take classes such as ancient weaving or calligraphy.
4. Learn to cook Vietnamese food
Hoi An is known for having a number of cooking schools where you can get stuck in and learn all about how to make some local dishes.
One of the more famous schools is the Gioan Restaurant and Cooking School and you can choose between either ordering something to eat here in the restaurant or you can sign up for a class.
These usually include a trip to the local market where you will learn all about the ingredients used in Vietnamese cooking and some of the dishes that you will get to prepare include pho noodles as well as spring rolls and banh xeo which is a kind of Vietnamese pancake.
Recommended tour: Hoi An Floating Cooking Class And Cruise: Half-Day Tour
5. Admire the Japanese Covered Bridge
The Japanese Covered Bridge is located in the centre of the city and is also one of its focal points.
The bridge spans some 12 meters and is famous for its ornate carvings, many of which are in the shape of monkeys and dogs.
This is also a very popular place for amorous Vietnamese couples who come here to take photographs as the bridge is considered a top romantic spot in Hoi An.
6. Visit Hoi An Museum
If you want to know more about the history of Hoi An then you need to come to its main museum.
Here you will find a huge range of pieces that tell the story of the area including antiques that date from the Cham period as well as the colonial period.
There are a number of galleries here that are filled with drawings, ceramics, paintings and photographs and you can also check out signature pieces like large bronze temple bells.
7. Visit Hoi An Silk Village
The Hoi An Silk Village is the place to come if you want to get outside the city and check out the ancient weaving techniques for which this part of Vietnam is known.
The village is located in Quang Nam Province which is around one kilometer from the centre of the city and you will find a quaint village with homes built in the traditional style.
The village is filled with artisans who will teach you how to make beautiful silk pieces and you can even feed the silkworms here and help to unravel their cocoons.
This is also a great place to buy some traditional silk pieces which make great gifts and souvenirs.
Related tour: Half-Day Hoi An Silk Tour with Lunch
8. Tour the Tan Ky Family House
The Tan Ky Family House is one of the most historically significant buildings in Hoi An and is located in the Old Town section of the city.
The family home was built in the 18th century and would have belonged to a family of merchants.
The architecture here is a mix of Japanese, Chinese and traditional Vietnamese design motifs and you can now take a tour of this amazing property.
Some seven generations of merchants lived in the home and you will still find their original furniture and memorabilia here which will give you an idea of how people would have lived in Hoi An in the days of old.
9. Grab a coffee
Vietnam is a country that is famous for its delicious coffee and Hoi An is no slouch when it comes to its own brews.
One of the best places to try the coffee in Hoi An is at Mia Coffee who roast their own beans and serve up some of the most delicious espresso in the city.
The coffee varieties on offer here vary according to the season and all the beans here are handpicked to bring you the freshest and tastiest cups of coffee around.
You can even buy bags of beans here to take home as a souvenir.
10. Shop at the Lantern Market
The pretty Lantern Market is located in An Hoi which is across the river from central Hoi An.
This is one of the most scenic markets in Vietnam and, as the name suggests, you can buy traditional lanterns here which come in all different shapes and sizes.
Many of these are made of gorgeous Hoi An silk and you can walk around at night and take in all the amazing illuminated lanterns which come in a range of different hues.
11. Sunbathe on An Bang Beach
Hoi An has a number of beaches, but locals will tell you that An Bang is one of the best around.
This beach is less crowded than many of the more famous strips of sand in the area and you will find pristine white sands that back on to the water.
If you come here for the day then you will also find a number of charming beachside restaurants here that serve up some delicious seafood.
If you are planning to stay by the beach a little longer then you can also rent a beachside villa here.
12. Sample Cao Lao
Vietnam, as you would expect, has a huge number of different kinds of noodles.
If you want to try the regional Hoi An variety, then you need to try Cao Lao which are brown rice noodles that are mixed with lye water.
This is ash from the lye that comes from the wood on the Cham Islands which are around 12 kilometers from the coast of Hoi An.
The noodles are hand cut and then topped with pork, rice crackers and fresh herbs, all soaked in a delicious meat broth.
One of the best places to try the noodles is at Cam Ga Huong which is located off Le Loi Street.
13. Take a trip to the My Son Ruins
If you want to take a day trip out of Hoi An then head for the My Son Ruins which consist of a collection of Hindu temples that were built from the 4th to the 13th century.
The temples are located to the west of Hoi An and it is possible to come here for the day from the city.
My Son is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site and it has been preserved and restored after the temples were abandoned for centuries.
The site sprawls over 140 hectares and you can learn all about how Hinduism would have been a key part of Vietnamese culture in the days of old.
Recommended tour: Hoi An: My Son Sanctuary and Boat Tour with Lunch
14. Shop at Hoi An Central Market
Lying along the lush banks of the Thu Bon River is the Hoi An Central Market which is the best place to shop for handicrafts while you are in town.
You will find a huge mixture of products here including silk pieces and other textiles as well as local foodstuffs and aromatic spices.
Another key reason to come here is to try the toothsome street food which is sold out of carts in the market.
15. Visit the Fujian Hall Assembly Hall
One of the most opulent buildings in all of Hoi An is the Fujian Assembly Hall which dates from the 17th century.
This was built by the Fujian Chinese community in Hoi An and is considered a sacred space.
The main hall here is covered in carved figures that feature around a gateway which is etched with carvings of mythical Chinese creatures.
There is also a large courtyard here and legend has it that if you pray in the Assembly Hall then you will be lucky when it comes to conceiving children.
This is down to the presence of the 12 Midwives which are carved fertility statues that stand in the grounds of the hall.
16. Explore the local countryside
Hoi An is famous for being surrounded by lush emerald green countryside.
As such, if you are staying in the city then make sure that you don’t miss a trip here so that you can take in the rice paddies, hills, and dainty villages firsthand.
You can sign up for a number of tours such as a cycling or trekking tour and you will get to discover pretty secluded beaches, mountain passes and much more.
Suggested tour (by bike or minivan): From Hoi An: Interactive Rice Farming Tour
17. Admire Quan Cong Temple
Quan Cong Temple was founded in 1653 and is dedicated to Quan Cong.
This was the name of a famous Chinese general who was worshipped in Hoi An and revered thanks to his qualities of justice for all, loyalty, integrity and sincerity.
At the temple you will find a wood and papier mache statue of the general which is partially gilded and stands on a central altar.
You can make an offering to the general and a lone caretaker will strike a bronze bowl to commemorate the moment.
18. Try the local barbecue
One of the things Hoi An is famous for is its delicious barbecue.
The best place to try this is along the north bank of the Thu Bon River and if you go there after dark you will find dozens of small charcoal grills set up which sell tasty barbecued skewers.
You can choose from different options including pork, prawns, or chicken, and the skewers are served with herbs and some rice paper wrappers which you can wrap around the meat or seafood.
The barbecue also comes with a delicious spicy peanut sauce mixed with tomatoes and sesame seeds.
19. Visit Phung Hung Old House
If you are visiting the Japanese Covered Bridge then you can also combine this with a trip to the Phung Hung Old House at the same time which is just a few doors down.
The house is known for its ornate and colorful entrance hall which is covered in lanterns and embroidered wall hangings.
There is a pretty balcony here with some spectacular views and a charming suspended altar.
20. Check out the nightlife
If you are looking for some nightlife in Hoi An then the best thing to do is head over the central footbridge that will take you to An Hoi islet.
Here you will find a number of bars and cafes along the river which serve up ice cold beers or other drinks.
If you want to try the local tipple than ask for the locally brewed larger which is called bia hoi and which makes a crisp and refreshing choice after a hard day of sightseeing.
21. Take a boat to Cam Kim Island
Cam Kim Island is located around 30 minutes away from Hoi An and you can catch a local ferry over from D Bach Dang.
The main reason people come here is to check out the artisan woodcarvers who are known for having carved some of the most famous public buildings in Hoi An.
You can find the historic homes of many of the master carvers in the village of Kim Bong on Cam Kim Island and you can also pick up some woodcarvings here that make great souvenirs of your trip.
22. Visit Tra Que Village
Hoi An is known for its delicious fruit and vegetables and with that in mind you can come to Tra Que Village and check out the source in person.
The village is located between Hoi An and An Bang Beach and is made up of a local farming community who grow most of the produce that you will eat during your time in Hoi An.
On a trip to the village you can visit spots such as Water Wheel which has cooking classes so you can learn how the local produce is used, or you can have lunch at places like Baby Mustard which uses the freshest local ingredients.
23. Visit the Museum of Trading Ceramics
Located in a scenic restored wooden home, the Museum of Trading Ceramics is known for housing a collection of artifacts that come from all over the world.
Some of the pieces here originated in Egypt, and you can learn all about the history of trading in Hoi An in the days of old.
There is also an exhibition here which tells you about the restoration of old buildings in Hoi An which is great if you are interested in ancient Vietnamese architecture.
24. Take a trip to Da Nang
Da Nang is located just 40 minutes away from Hoi An, so if you want to get out of the city then this is an excellent choice.
Da Nang is mainly known for its gorgeous beaches, and it is less crowded and more rural than Hoi An.
As such, you can spend the day sunbathing here, or try some water sports like swimming and snorkeling.
You will also find a plethora or seafood restaurants here which are worth the trip alone.
25. Visit Tra Kieu
Tra Kieu is known as the Lion Citadel and used to be the capital of the Kingdom of Champa from the 4th to the 8th century.
Now you can travel here from Hoi An and check out the ramparts and also explore other spots in the area such as the Mountain Church which is located at the top of Buu Chau Hill.
You will also find Tra Kieu Church here which dates from the 19th century and there is a museum which has some Cham artifacts on display.