Hoi An is a well-preserved ancient town located in central Vietnam. It is known for its beauty, especially after the night falls when its many colorful lanterns light up to add a special flair to this historical town.
Compared to many cities in Vietnam, it is less crowded with countless motorbikes that normally would fill every street. It attracts many international travelers, who all aim to catch a glimpse of this special town, so there have been many changes that have taken place to accommodate more travelers. It is simply fun to just walk around Hoi An, but let’s find out 5 things you must do when you visit this iconic ancient town.
1. Walk around and visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site
Hoi An is an ancient town recognized by UNESCO that travelers must visit when in central Vietnam. It is a melting pot of a port town that is dated from the 15th to 19th century where a mixture of cultures has created a unique atmosphere that one cannot forget.
When you walk around the well-preserved ancient town, you’ll see the influences of Vietnam, China, France, and Japan. There is an entry fee at the gate of this preserved area. It is 120,000 VND (5.38 USD) and the ticket is valid for 24 hours, thus if you visit the town for two days, you can come back with the same ticket for the next day. The ticket comes with mini 4 tickets for the temples within the preserved area. The entry fee is used for the preservation of this World Heritage Site.
2. Be struck by the beauty of colorful lanterns
When you visit Hoi An, you definitely have to visit the ancient town after the night falls. It is still fun to walk around the town during the day, but once the sun sets, the mood of the town changes dramatically with colorful lanterns hung on many buildings. In addition, on a hot day, even in April, it can reach as high as 30 degree Celsius (86 Fahrenheit), thus it is much easier to walk around once the air cools down a little bit. Of course, everyone thinks the same, thus the number of visitors increases dramatically once the sun sets, but regardless, it is still quite an experience to venture out to this historical town.
For those people who wish to take these beautiful lanterns home, you can purchase a lantern at various shops along the streets. There are different sizes of lantern so you can add Hoi An colors to your home décor.
3. Try a Hoi An specialty: White Rose
Before traveling to Vietnam, I only knew a few kinds of well known Vietnamese food, which you often find served in different countries such as pho, bahn mi, and Vietnamese coffee. Those types of food can be eaten anywhere in Vietnam, but if you wish to try something local in Hoi An, you’ll want to try White Rose.
White Rose is a local food in Hoi An, which as the name suggests, resembles the shape of rose. It is a shrimp dumpling with a translucent white dough making it easy to consume. There are many restaurants in Hoi An so walk around and pick a restaurant and see if they have White Rose on their menu.
4. Venture into the ancient town with a cyclo
Inside the gated Hoi An, the preserved historical ancient town, the streets are narrow and no cars are allowed. However, instead of cars, you see many people on cyclos traveling by. You can totally walk around Hoi An no problem, but if you get little tired from the heat, you can hop on a cyclo and let the driver take you around.
You see cyclos at many tourists centered areas in Vietnam and Hoi An is no exception. When I walked on a narrow street, I found it a little scary to see aggressive cyclo drivers pass by you, but it is one of those experiences only be done in a tourist area, so why not give it a try!
5. Purchase a custom made summer dress or get 100% Vietnamese silk scarf
When you walk around Hoi An, you will probably realize that there are two kinds of shops that you’ll see over and over again. These are leather shops and clothing stores where you can get cheap custom made tailored clothes. Hoi An is particularly famous for making cheap tailored clothes, so if you are looking for something very personal for your time in Vietnam, this is where you can get a bespoke summer dress or a business suit. At my time of visit, for a summer dress, it costs 350,000 to 400,000 VND (15 to 18 USD) to have a seamstress make me a bespoke dress. If you are staying in Hoi An for a few days, you may want to consider getting something made for yourself as well!.
In addition, for those of you who are willing to spend little extra, but get something high quality and fashionable, you should visit Metis to purchase 100% silk items. Metis has stores in Hoi An, Hanoi, and Ho Chi Minh City, and the main store is located here in Hoi An. The quality and styles of Metis silk products are very modern. Fashionable travelers will have a hard time passing by this store. If you get a scarf, a flower accessory, and a handbag at Metis, it costs roughly around 180 USD (4,012,483.28 VND).
When in Hoi An, trying local cuisine is top of every traveler’s to-do list as this rather traditional pat of Vietnam offers an authentic variety of food. Eating and going on food trips is maybe enough for the average tourist but those travelers with a keen fondness for cooking should definitely take a cooking class and learn how to make Hoi An food from a local cook or chef. This Viator tour provides guests a one of a kind experience in the rural area of Hoi Ann, while also taking home a whole lot of knowledge and new recipes to try out. Those who will book the tour will learn how to make fresh spring rolls, barbecue tofu with peanut sauce, and caramel banana with sugar and peanut for dessert. Indeed, this unique eco-cooking tour will be one to remember, and one to learn a lot from. Apart from great dishes, participants will also learn a thing or two about sustainable cooking.
Address: Hoi An, Vietnam
Duration: 5 hours and 30 minutes
Price: 31 USD
Hoi An Eco Cooking Class(Local market, Basket boat, crab fishing& cooking class)
Duration: 5 hours
Another highly suggested activity to try out when in Hoi An is biking around the scenic and lush rice paddies. Hoi An, despite being in the rural part of Vietnam is still frequented by many locals and travelers alike for its serene and slow-paced life. Bike around this part of Vietnam all the way to Thu Bon River area, then a circuit around Duy Vinh Island and explore the local life of small farming villages in the areas. Participants will get to see farmers at work and also learn about the traditional crafts that locals still produce, as well as straw weaving and boat making that are the bulk of these locals’ livelihood.
Bike Around Hoi An's Rice Paddies
Address: departure point: Hoi An, Hoi An, Quang Nam Province
Duration: 8 hours
Price: 19 USD
Afternoon Countryside Bike Tour from Hoi An
Duration: 5 hours
8. See the stunning 360 degree view of Hoi An at the Museum of History and Culture
Located in the heart of Hoi An, the city’s renowned cultural and historical museum is a must to see if you’re the curious kind of traveler. Those who are eager to learn about Hoi An’s unique history and preservation techniques to keep their culture alive and unabashed will enjoy roaming the halls of this attraction. Visitors are welcome to see the exhibits which only take an hour which includes “The Exhibition of History and Culture” where the exhibit displays the trading history of Vietnam with other European countries. “The Exhibition of Revolutionary History focuses on Vietnam and Hoi An during the French colonization. Finish the tour with a 360-degree view of the old town on the top floor of the museum.
Museum of History and Culture
Address: 10B Trần Hưng Đạo, Phường Minh An, Hội An, Quảng Nam, Vietnam
Website: Hoi An Museum of History and Culture
Opening hours: 7:30 am to 5:00 pm, Sundays to Mondays
Price: 5 USD
9. Support the differently-abled community at Reaching Out Silent Tea House
If you wish to have a pleasant tea time but also make a difference and support a local business doing some good, have tea at the Reaching Out Tea House. This one of a kind tea house is situated in the old town of Hoi An and is a local fair trade social enterprise that gives the impaired community space in the workforce and in the community. Servers and staffers are all deaf and physically impaired where each table in the tea house has a notebook and pencil to write down their orders where they will then use to communicate with the staffers. A cup of tea or coffee really goes a long way and is a drink you will even want to come back for its affordable and delectable flavors, win win indeed.
Reaching Out Silent Tea House
Address: 131 Tran Phu, Hoi An, Vietnam
10. Swimming and sun bathing at the famous Bang Beach
Despite Hoi An being a rather conservative and rural town, locals still managed to preserve their natural beauty. Bang Beach is one of the most popular beaches in the area stretching 4 km (2.5 miles) long to its neighboring beach, Cua Dai. Bang Beach use to be a hidden spot local would go out to on weekends but as tourism bustled, the small beach village has evolved into a popular tourist attraction. Commercialization brought in dining establishments like bars, restaurants, and cafes that have complimented Bang Beach. This beach also guarantees accessibility for travelers and tourists alike with ATMs and pharmacies present in the area, as well as convenience stores and swimwear shops surrounding the area. Wake up early and hit Bang Beach for a morning dip in the ocean for a great way to start your day exploring Hoi An.
Swimming and sunbathing at Bang Beach
Address: Hai Bà Trưng, Tp. Hội An, Quảng Nam, Vietnam
Opening hours: 24 hours, Sundays to Mondays
The must visit ancient town, Hoi An
There are many ways to describe how special this ancient town is, but simply, it is a beautifully preserved historical town that you must visit if you travel to Vietnam. It is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is growingly attracting more visitors each year.
With dramatic development taking place in today’s Vietnam, it is very likely that this special location will attract even more visitors from all around the world. One can only hope that this well-preserved historical site is protected for a long time in the future to be enjoyed by many travelers from around the world and to be cherished by Vietnamese people.
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