While I was living in Hanoi, my local friends said that visiting Hoi An is a must in Vietnam. It is located on the east coast in the middle of Vietnam and is known for its traditional architecture. One of the most iconic sights is the Japanese bridge at Cau Temple. From Hanoi, one can travel to Hoi An by bus, train or plane. I opted for the plane so that I could make the most of my time sightseeing between work. Hoi An is also known for its fabric, so if you have time then you can get some clothes made by local tailors.
If you fly into Da Nang, and even if you don’t, I recommend taking some time to visit the Marble Mountains and nearby beaches. The views from the mountains are stunning all around, and there are some interesting temples and caves to explore. Also nearby, and easily booked via a tour is My Son, a Hindu temple area. It reminded me of a smaller version of Angkor Wat in Cambodia. The ruins are beautiful, and parts of it are from the 4th century!
- The whole of Old Town Hoi An is beautiful with wooden buildings, bridges and lanterns
- An Hoi Bridge
- Cau Temple
- Old House of Tan Ky
- Tran Family Chapel
- Quan Cong Temple
- Assembly Hall Of Fujian Chinese
- Hoian Fabric Market
- Museum of Folk Culture
- Sculptures in Hoai River
- Red Bridge Cooking School
- Cua Dai Beach
- My Son, Champa Holy area near Hoi An – the tour will be by bus and a boat ride on the river; beautiful temples
- Visit nearby Danang
- Marble Mountains
- Thuy Son and Caves
- Tam Thai Pagoda
- Cham Sculpture Museum, Danang
- Non Nuoc Beach
Before you go
- Hoi An does not have its own specific airport but the closest is Da Nang
- You may want to organise a taxi in advance if you want to do some sightseeing on the way from Da Nang to Hoi An
- There are many people who do not speak English so GoogleTranslate can be useful
- The inexpensive Hoi An Old Town Ticket is worth it, and gives access to the well-preserved buildings
- Inhale the air when you see the large coiled incense burners
- There are some small beaches to visit near Hoi An, but the Danang ones are nicer if you want to spend time on the beach
- Hoi An is known for its talented tailors, so consider getting some clothes made here. They can be very quick, sometimes within a few hours. I had printouts of what I wanted made
- Hoi An can be reached from either Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh city by flight to Da Nang International Airport. I travelled on Vietnam Airlines from Hanoi. That was definitely the quickest way. And it allowed me to see Da Nang and the Marble Mountains before heading to Hoi An.
- From the airport there are taxis which can be booked in advance or on the spot. They are flexible and can also stop to see the beach, temples and Marble Mountains
- The more budget-friendly option is to take the overnight bus from Hanoi, if you have time (16+ hours). You can also take the train with a transfer in Da Nang.
- From Ho Chi Minh city, the locals would recommend to fly. The bus takes more than 24 hours and requires transfers. It is possible if you are determined!
- In Danang, I stayed in the Prince hotel that was dirty and rather gross. I was definitely glad to have my silk sleeping bag to use on the bed. I hope by now they have improved the standards. The price was very cheap and still appears to be less than £10 a night!
- Luckily, in Hoi An I stayed at a comfortable and clean place called Glory Hotel at the time. It’s in a beautiful old building that is now called Belle Maison Hadana Hoi An managed by H&K Hospitality. The ratings still look quite good so I would recommend checking it out as an option
As with all of Vietnam, there is a great variety of food to try in Hoi An. On the fast food side, the banh mi sandwich is a great choice. It usually has meat and pickled vegetables inside a baguette. The baguette is French-influenced but I find the Vietnamese version a lot fluffier.
The highlight of my culinary experience in Ha Noi was taking a cooking course at Red Bridge Cooking School. It is also a restaurant in case you don’t feel like cooking.
Of course we made spring rolls, a Vietnamese favourite. We also made a beef salad. It was interesting because along with it we had poppadums (Indian food). The restaurant made us some extra dishes including rice noodles with meat, and wontons. It was a delicious feast!
To wash the food down, I tried a tasty Vietnamese beer called Larue. It was first brewed in 1909 by a Frenchman named Victor Larue. Now, I think the brand is owned by Heineken. Usually I don’t drink beer but this was light and cold so I enjoyed it with the flavourful food.
Q: Do I need a tour guide?
A: No, it is a small place so easy to find your way around. Also there are little signs to direct people to the most popular sights
Q: Do people speak English?
A: As with most of Vietnam, some people speak English but not the majority so it is best to bring a translation app just in case.
Q: Is it a walkable city?
A: Yes it is very walkable
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