Hoi An Travel Guide.
Hoi An is an interesting city with a fantastic combination of history, beaches, cuisine and architecture. Most travellers will list this city with its atmospheric old streets as a must visit attraction to explore on the Vietnam travel packages. The Ancient Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of its historical interest. Plus, the beaches are perfect for a relaxing break from sightseeing, while there are plenty of restaurants lining the main road, and the Cham Islands offer a stunning backdrop.
It is situated about 25 km southeast of Danang in central Vietnam and is blessed with a striking location on the banks of the Thu Bon River. A well maintained trading port that dates back to the 15th century; this city has plenty of street plans and buildings that fully reflect the influence of the foreign and indigenous people.
Even though there is no train station or airport in Hoi An it is still quite easy to reach by road. The closest city with a useful transport network is Da Nang which has both a train station and airport with regular flights from large cities like Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi. Plus, there is a regular bus service that passes through this area.
Hoi An has the ability to offer the type of sightseeing opportunities that isn’t available in other Vietnam cities. Plus, most of the attractions are confined in a relatively small area which means it is possible to travel by cyclo or foot on the pedestrian-friendly streets.
Beyond the actual city of Hoi An, there are a variety of pristine beaches and local villages that are well worth exploring on a bicycle, and most are within 60 minutes away.
Hoi An has a climate that is regarded as tropical which means the temperature is pleasant year-round, and the seasonal weather includes a dry and wet season.
Many say February and April is the best time to visit Hoi An on the Vietnam private holidays because the temperature is warm and comfortable, while the rainfall is relatively low. But, for the travellers that prefer the warm and hot climate, it may benefit to wait until May or June. The hottest months of the year are June and July when the temperature can reach 35° C during the day, and falls to about 24° C in the evening.
The temperature in December and January is the coldest, which can range from 21° C to 15° C late in the evening/nights.
How to get there
Hoi An isn’t the easiest destination to reach for the international traveller, but there are still plenty of travel options, including by air and bus.
There are only a few international flights that reach the region and it is necessary to travel via Danang airport. Alternative routes include via Ho Chi Minh City or Hanoi. On arrival in Da Nang the onward journey can be completed by taxi which costs in the region of $20. Taking the bus is a further option, but the station is quite a trek from the airport, especially if travelling with a lot of luggage.
The most practical method to book tickets in Vietnam is to use the local travel agents because it is more convenient and faster.
The closest train station to Hoi An is also in Danang, which is quite modern with the latest facilities, and provides a regular service from cities like Nha Trang, Hue, Ho Chi Minh City and Ha noi. For the onward journey there is the option to ride in a minibus at $5 per person or taxi for $20.
Hoi An has a regular bus service with tourists using this route to arrive from Dalat, Nha Trang, Hue, Ho Chi Minh City, Ha Noi, etc. There is also a night bus that is useful for saving time.
Where to stay
Hoi An has a great selection of guest houses and hotels to stay on the Vietnam family vacation that falls in a wide range of price categories. Most of the top-rated places are booked up early, so it is essential to plan ahead and organize the accommodation before arriving in the city.
The selection is great with a fine choice in Hoi An City and Cua Dai Beach which varies from the simple to luxurious to perfectly match the preferred style and budget.
Eat and drink
There are plenty of decent restaurants in and around Hoi An which range from the sophisticated establishments to makeshift food stalls. Because this city is a prominent tourist destination, the local food choices are quite comprehensive, and include international fare like Chinese, American, Spanish, Japanese, and French.
Plus, this region has its own local specialities with dishes consisting of the locally sourced (Cam Nam Village, Ba Le Well, Cham Island, and Tra Que Vegetable Village) meat, fish, herbs and greens.
The majority of the places to eat are well located in Hoi An Ancient Town and set up to serve the tourist with low and high budgets.
A visit to the open-air local restaurant Quan Dau Bac is perfect for those travellers in search of a quick bite. It is located on Phan Chu Trinh Street and specializes in dishes like bun dau mam tom. This is a great place for the budget-conscious tourist with a serving of deep-fried tofu, fresh herbs, cucumber, and rice noodles costing less than a dollar.
Com Go Ba Buoi is famous for its authentic Hoi An chicken rice and a family-run establishment that has been open since the 1950s. A serving of soup with chilli jam, black pepper, fresh herbs, shredded village chicken, and fragrant rice costs in the region of $1.50. It is a short distance from the Japanese Covered Bridge and is packed throughout the lunch hour.
Another of the decent restaurants in Hoi An is Thanh Cao Lau which overlooks the main road with a quite simple set-up with wooden tables and chairs. A great dish on the menu is Vietnamese turmeric noodles, which consist of pork-based gravy, fresh herbs, croutons, bean sprouts, Chinese barbecued pork slices, and soft udon-like noodles. It is within a short walk of the local tourism centre.
One of the most appealing shopping attractions in Hoi An for the tourist relates to the shops making the custom-made outfits, which can range from the traditional Vietnamese Ao Dai to a western styled suit. Most of the stores have the expertise and fabrics to create a high-quality outfit of your choice. Plus, the cost of making these bespoke outfits is very competitive, while the sewing standard is excellent.
Read on: What to buy in Hoi An
Things to see and do
The attractions in Hoi An on the Vietnam holiday packages include quaint museums, colonial shop houses, and centuries-old Buddhist temples and pagodas. Most of these sights are located within areas like the Ancient Town and Riverside.
An Bang Beach
An Bang Beach is a perfect place to visit to complement the tourist bustle of town and sightseeing tours. It is well located within 30 km of Da Nang International Airport and 4 km of Hoi An’s UNESCO World Heritage centre. With other beaches experiencing issues with erosion, An Bang is now a favourite choice for travellers to fully relax for the day. It helps to put aside at least one day while in the area to visit the beach and enjoy its white sand and clear waters, while also hanging out at one of the many local bars.
The preferred time to travel to An Bang beach is during the dry season (March-September). This time-frame gives the best in regards to calm waters, soaring temperatures, and blistering sun. But, this area can get quite busy in June-August when the Vietnamese summer holidays take place and the locals arrive in volume.
Exploring by bike
The varied and flat countryside of Hoi An means it is a perfect destination to explore on a motorbike or bicycle. There are plenty of interesting places to see on the Vietnam adventure tour, such as the roads that skirt the beach, alongside rivers, wheel through rice fields, or pedal past 18th-century shop houses and through narrow alleys.
By hiring a bicycle for the day, it is possible to visit destinations like Tra Que vegetable village, Cam Thanh, Cam Nam, and pottery village. But with a motorbike it is possible to travel much further like My Son, Cam Kim Island, and plenty of other places. Also, other popular places to visit for the scenic beauty include Lang Co and Hai Van Pass. While it is possible to go exploring solo, a tour with a guide can make the experience more insightful and get to travel to places that are often hidden and less visited.
Keep reading: Cycling tour in Hoi An
Phuoc Lam Pagoda
Phuoc Lam is an elaborate and beautiful temple that is in use by a group of monks. It has plenty of Buddha renderings, such as the gold-covered "Buddha as a boy". This pagoda offers a lot to see, but is best visited with a local guide to fully understand it all. A further pagoda to explore on the Vietnam travel is the large and impressive Van Duc Pagoda.