Standing out among Central Vietnam’s tourist attractions, Hoi An ancient town looks more like a simple, natural and poetic place. Whether it is a day or a night, taking a tour in Hoi An still brings about different charms. 9Vietnam’s guide to Hoi An, Vietnam provides to travelers and backpackers tips on foods, travel destinations and transportation to keep you safe and excited in Hoi An, Vietnam
Besides the diverse architecture, Hoi An still preserves a large intangible cultural background: the people’s daily lives, religious belief, folk art, cultural festival plus natural scenery and special dishes… which make Hoi An much more attractive to tourists nowadays.
The ideal time to visit Hoi An
The best time to visit Hoi An is from every February to April when there are less rain and a comfortable weather. It is not recommended to come to Hoi An in summer because, at that time, the temperature is exceptionally high. There is also another nasty time in the rainy season from October to November, which is very, very humid.
You should better arrive in Hoi An on the 14th of every lunar month to attend a special night of this ancient town. On this night, you will have a chance to contemplate sparkling red lanterns stretching along the street, which is a unique view of Hoi An on festivals.
Transportation to Hoi An
Hoi An is in Quang Nam but the nearest airport is in Da Nang (30 kilometers from Hoi An to Da Nang). Currently, there are airlines such as Vietnam Airlines, Jetstar, Vietjetair exploiting flights from HCMC and Ha Noi to Da Nang. If you want to book affordable tickets, it is better to book 3 to 6 months in advance.
- Other transportation: Automobile, train.
From Ha Noi or Ho Chi Minh City, there are trains to Da Nang ( North-South line), the fare fluctuates from 400.000 to 1.200.000 VND based on train brands and seat. It takes from 14 to 20 hours from these two cities to Da Nang by train.
It costs about 400.000 to 500.000 VND with brands such as Hoang Long, Hlink, Mai Linh, Thuan Thao. It takes 18 to 20 hours from Ha Noi/ HCMC to Da Nang.
The connecting point to Hoi An presently is mainly Da Nang train and bus station, from which you can catch a bus or taxi to Hoi An very conveniently.
– From Ha Noi, you can choose the stop at Tam Ky station (Quang Nam) and then catch a bus to Hoi An.
– If departing from HCMC, you can take a bus to the North or Da Nang, which will pass and stop in Hoi An.
Notes: There are two ways from Da Nang to Hoi An:
+ To reach Hoi An, you can go along National Highway 1 to the South about 27 kilometers to Vinh Dien and then turn right for more 10 kilometers.
+ The second road is closer and quieter, which is from the center of Da Nang through Han bridge into provincial road Da Nang-Hoi An and about 30 kilometers to Hoi An.
Transportation in Hoi An
- There are sufficient transportation services in Hoi An such as bus, taxi, cart bike, pedicab.
- The fare for motorbike is from 120.000 to 150.000 VND per day.
The best tourist attractions in Hoi An
Destinations in Hoi An ancient town
Cau Pagoda (Pagoda Bridge)
Cau Pagoda is a pearl in the heart of Hoi An. The bridge was built at the end of 16th century and called Japanese Bridge. There is a small temple in the middle of it worshiping Huyen Thien Dai De (Great Emperor). The bridge itself has a unique rooftop with structures, decoration motifs showing the harmony combination between Vietnamese, Chinese, Japanese and Western architecture.
Location: The bridge across a creek which flows into Thu Bon river bordering Nguyen Thi Minh Khai and Tran Phu street.
Phuc Kien (Fukian Assembly Hall)
Legend has its that the forerunner of Assembly Hall is a small shrine worshiping Thien Hau Thanh Mau statue (the goddess blessing ocean-going businessmen) which was fished out on the coast of Hoi An in 1697.
Location: 46, Tran Phu Street
Trieu Chau (Assembly Hall of the Chaozhou Chinese Congregation)
The Assembly Hall was built in 1845 by Huaqiao of Chaozhou to worship the General of the Maitreya – the good deity helping the sea trade be smooth and profitable. The Assembly Hall has special values in architectural structure with a sophisticated wooden frame, wooden motifs and incense-table decorations and work-of-art of beautiful terracotta reliefs.
Location: 92B, Nguyen Duy Hieu.
Quang Dong (Cantonese Assembly Hall)
The Assembly Hall was built in 1885 by Huaqiao of Guangdong, which was first worshiped Thien Hau Thanh Mau and Confucius, after 1911, it was converted to worship Guanyu and Tien Hien. The rational use of wood and stone materials in bearing the structure and detailed decorations brings its own portly beauty. Each year on Lantern day, Guanyu’s birthday (24/06 lunar calendar), there are sumptuous festivals attracting many attendants.
Location: 176 Tran Phu
Tran Family Chapel
Tran Family Chapel was built in 1802 by a Tran family (a large family from China immigrating to Hoi An in the 1700s) following the traditional Chinese and Vietnamese principles. Situated on a 1500 meters square land, there are many categories: the church worshiping grandparents and the showroom for relics related to the family, the house… The Tran Family Chapel is an ancient church with Vietnamese traditional style from thousands of years of unchanged architecture.
Location: 21 Le Loi Street
Museum of History – Culture
Established in 1989, the museum displays 212 original objects and valuable materials in pottery, porcelain, bronze, paper, wood… reflecting the periods of urban development – Hoi An’s commercial port from Van Huynh culture ( 2nd century AD) to Cham culture (from 2nd century to 15th century) and Dai Viet, Dai Nam culture (from 15th century to 19th century).
Location: 13 Nguyen Hue
Tan Ky Ancient House
Built nearly 200 years ago, Tan Ky house has a typical design of Hoi An town with the interior divided into rooms which have their own functions. The front is the place to open a shop, the back connects with the river to import goods.
Hoi An Handicraft Workshop
The workshop consists of most of the traditional handicrafts of Hoi An and Quang Nam such as weaving mats, weaving fabrics, japanning,… At the workshop, visitors will find a peaceful tranquil scene of a Vietnamese village; witness skillful and excellent hands of artisans creating special and sophisticated vertu.Visitors can participate in a stage of the production process and buy gifts home.
Location: 9 Nguyen Thai Hoc
There are 21 destinations that require tickets to enter.
Domestic tourists: 60.000 VND per ticket for 3 destinations; foreign tourists: 120.000 VND per ticket 6 cultural works. Reduced policy: One free ticket for a group of 15; a tour guide for a group of 8; Free for children under 16.
Ticket box: Hoi An Tourist Guide Office
SOME FARAWAY DESTINATIONS
Cua Dai Beach
Cua Dai is a beautiful seaside resort with white sands, clear water, and affordable seafood. It is also a good idea to visit Cua Dai at night because at that time there are immense seashores sparkling under romantic oil lamps.
An Bang Beach
At An Bang, you will feel the wonderful atmosphere when strolling along the sand, welcoming the sunrise, admiring the early look.
Location: Cam An district, about 3 kilometers to the East of the center of Hoi An.
Thu Bon River
You can join a boat tour along Thu Bon River. There are beautiful sand dunes, plains, and mountains on two banks. Especially, the sunset can make people feel touched.
Location: Departing from the boat station on Bach Dang street, go for a while on Hoai river and then there comes Thu Bon river.
Kim Bong Carpentry Village
Artisans of Kim Bong carpentry village were once proud that their grandfathers were invited by Nguyen King to build and embellish citadels and mausoleums.
Location: The village is in Cam Kim commune opposite to Hoi An, on the other side of Thu Bon. From the old wharf, it only takes 10 minutes to get there by boat.
Thanh Ha Pottery Village
In the 16th and 17th century, Thanh Ha was very prosperous and famous for pottery products and terracotta which were exchanged and sold in every province of the Central in Vietnam. The pottery village was originated from Thanh Hoa, which was a result of acquiring some techniques that built up today pottery village.
Location: About 3 kilometers to the West of Hoi An (It takes nearly 30 minutes from the wharf to the ancient town by boat).
Cu Lao Cham (Cham Island)
This island consists of 7 small islands which are Hon Lao, Hon Kho Me, hon Kho Con, Hon Tai, Hon Dai, Hon Mo, Hon La, hon Ong. Cu Lao Cham stands out for its diversity of natural forests, beautiful beaches, coral reefs and many aquatic species.
If you are on a backpacking tour, all you need to do is to hire a tent (50.000VND) and pay for an overnight stay (20.000VND). It is suggested that you avoid jellyfish, which will make you itchy when swimming in Cu Lao Cham.
Cuisines of Hoi An
Although small, the cuisine in Hoi An is very diverse. Following are some dishes that you can enjoy when coming to this special place
Pho Hoi Chicken Rice
With all the skillfulness and meticulousness in processing, the people of Hoi An have created a chicken rice good enough to impress others so that they call it with a distinct name: Pho Hoi chicken rice.
Address: Ba Buoi chicken rice (26 Phan Chau Trinh), Ba Huong chicken rice – Kiet Sica, Ba Minh chicken rice, and Nga Chicken rice…
Many people say that Cao Lau has existed in Hoi An in the 17th century. Maybe due to that reason that this dish is influenced by the Chinese cuisine as well as cold noodles Udon of Japanese. However, Cao Lau of Hoi An has its own distinction and only in Hoi An there is the original one.
Address: It is easy to find Cao Lau in Hoi An, from the curbside to restaurants on Tran Phu street, the most famous are Ba Be, Trung Bac.
Dumpling, Vac cake (Banh vac)
Dumpling – Vac cake are 2 kinds of cake which have the same ingredients and are eaten on a single plate. The difference is that the stuffing of vac cake is made of smashed shrimp with pepper, garlic, onion, lemongrass and esoteric spices. Maybe this is the reason why dumpling and vac cake are the best when eaten in Hoi An.
Address: White Rose Restaurant on Nhu Trung Street. You can enjoy the process of these two cakes here.
Crumbled cake – Fried mussel
A piece of crispy crumbled cake dissolved in the mouth with fried mussel is an attractive snack in Hoi An.
Address: Across Cam Nam bridge (with vehicles under 45 seats) about 10 meters, the road bends to the left, just pass this corner, you will see a row of semi-detached inns with each sign attached to this area’s special dishes such as corn soup, crumbled cake, fried mussel. And the most famous crumbled cake is Ba Gia shop.
Corn soup – a rural famous cuisine in Hoi An because it is made of Cam Nam’s famous corn. The soup is sweet, fragrant and natural. Unlike the southern soup, Hoi An corn soup is not cooked with coconut milk so that it keeps the original tase of corn, just when eating, souse the mash liquor to increase the fat flavor.
Address: Along the sidewalk of Tran Phu Street, Le Loi. With about 7.000 VND for each bowl.
Bloating fern-shaped cake
“Bamboo knife” must be used to eat this cake, which is a bamboo stick sharpened into a knife blade. Eating like this makes people curious and is a different way of cuisine between bloating fern-shaped cake with other Hoi An delicious dishes made of rice.
Address: Cam Chau, Cam Nam
From the exterior, Quang noodle looks like Cao Lau but just by tasting one time, you will see the complete difference between these two. Quang noodle is served with shrimp, meat and quail eggs… All are soaked in spices. It is incomplete without grilled rice paper and vegetables.
Address: Ba Minh’s inn, Cam Ha or in Hoi An market, Tran Phu street; or from street vendors selling Quang noodle.
There are many kinds of wonton: wonton soup, wonton noodle, fried wonton and each one is divided into pigs, chicken, and shrimps.
Address: Van Loc restaurant on Tran Phu street, and 26 Thai Phien for a more rural one.
Rice paper (rolled rice pancake/ thin rice pancake)
Nearly the same as rolled rice pancake of Thanh Tri – Ha Noi but instead of thin rice paper with wood ear, rice paper in Hoi An also has ground shrimps. When eating, the cake is soused with grease served with pork bologna.
Address: Cuisine street on Hoai river.
Sizzling Crepe is the authentic specialty of Hoi An. The main ingredient to make the cake besides rice, there are also shrimp, meat.
Address: Gieng Ba Le (Phan Chu Trinh ally); Bale Well (Ba Le) – 45/51 Tran Hung Dao.
Shopping in Hoi An
- Hoi An lantern is quite pretty, light and contractible so it is suitable for tourists to bring this home as a gift. You can find this at shops on Tran Phu street, named Tuoi Ngoc, Ngoc Thu or on Le Loi street. The price is affordable, only ten thousands for each.
- Customizing clothes in Hoi An is not only cheap, beautiful but also quick. Just a few hours, the tailor will finish sewing for you. If you can’t wait, just leave you measurements and address, the shop will deliver it to your door. There are garment shops such as Thu Thuy (60 Le Loi), Yaly (358 Nguyen Duy Hieu), A Dong silk (40 Le Loi), Bao Khanh (101 Tran Hung Dao).
- Footwear in Hoi An is also diverse and nice. Many shops take requests to make footgear as fast as clothes ones.
- There are many cakes that you can bring home such as snow-flaked cake, ground green lentil cake, black glutinous rice cake…
- Hoi An chili sauce is special, spicey but fragrant.
- Many other things: Silks, carvings, embroidery, souvenirs, stones…
Other tricks/ information
- Hoi An in the morning is very interesting with quiet streets, people getting ready for a new day, no electric lights, a crowd of traders…
- You can stroll along Hoi An at nights in the ancient town’s tranquil nook and cranny.
- Every night at Bach Dang dock, there is a cultural boat drifting along the river, performing a chamber music composition of folk music.
Places to take photos in Hoi An
Hoi An’s beautiful beaches
About 5 kilometers to the East of the heart of Hoi An, Cua Dai has long been known as the gateway of a crowded commercial port with the most beautiful view of Dang Trong.
In the streets of Hoi An
Hoi An still preserves the status quo of ancient architecture relics including houses, condominiums, churches, temples, pagodas, ports, markets, wells, bridges,… narrow streets run along, which make a chess-like square and are covered with an antique old moss will make your photos look very impressive.
Under Chua Cau (Pagoda Bridge)
Chua Cau – A symbol of Hoi An was built at the end of 16 century and is usually called Japanese bridge. There is a small temple at the center of it worshiping Huyen Thien Dai De. The bridge has a unique rooftop with decorative patterns in harmony with Vietnamese, Chinese, Japanese and Western architectural styles.
Hoai river is a branch of Thu Bon river flowing through Hoi An. For the natives in particular and tourists in general, this river is like a symbol attached to the ancient town.
Hoi An lanterns
Lanterns are also a special distinction of Hoi An. Hoi An silk is already beautiful and now used to create colorful lanterns making the city more splendid.