Hoi An, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a famous ancient trading port in Central Vietnam. Rich in history and culture, the city is home to well-preserved streets and villages, ancient and modern arts and delicious food. In this 3-day suggested itinerary, we tell you how to make the most out of your Hoi An holiday, filling your days with delicious Vietnamese food, historic and cultural tour, and relaxing island tour to Cham Islands. Depending on your traveling priorities, you can certainly fine tune this itinerary to suit your needs. Welcome to Hoi An!
Things to consider before traveling to Vietnam:
Language – Vietnamese is the official language of Vietnam. About 10% of the people can speak fluent English, mostly for business purposes. Most people in Hot An can understand and speak a decent level of English, so you can absolutely get by without speaking Vietnamese language. However, not all people in Hoi An can speak English so learning a few basic Vietnamese words and phrases is recommended. Just like in other countries, speaking at least some Vietnamese phrases or attempting to learn is greatly appreciated by the locals.
Money and costs – The official currency used in Vietnam is the Vietnamese Dong (VND). ATMs can be found in Airport, most tourist centers and shopping malls across the country. Exchanging money in Da Nang is easy and follows the same standard to elsewhere in Southeast Asia. International credit cards are widely accepted in upscale establishments but keep in mind that most small businesses, especially stores and restaurants may not accept them.Safety – Hoi An is a safe city to travel in. Scam is the most common problem in tourists areas and remains the number one source of complaints from foreign visitors. If you ever find yourself in Hoi An and other major Vietnamese cities, you have to remember that not every Vietnamese person you meet is out to scam you. Do your research, keep all your wits about you and always ask for personal recommendations from other travelers.
Where to stay – Hoi An has a wide range of accommodation options, with something for every level of comfort and budget. If you are going to follow our suggested itinerary, we recommend accommodation options available in the old town to get easy access to most tourist attractions and dining options. Thu Bon Riverside is another great option, which offers plenty of laid-back places to stay in.
Hotels to consider in Hoi An:
Getting there – Hoi An is located in Central Vietnam. There is no airport or railway station in this ancient city, so it is not easily accessible to both local and international tourists. By air, you can book a flight to Da Nang International Airport (DAD), located in the heart of Da Nang city center, from major cities in Asia like Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Tokyo, Seoul, Busan, Macau, Hong Kong and Singapore. By train, you can book your tickets to Da Nang train station from major Vietnamese cities like Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Hanoi, Hue and Nha Trang. By bus, there are also numerous departures for all domestic routes. Once you are in Da Nang, you can either take a local bus or taxi to Hoi An. Travel time from Da Nang to Hoi An is approximately 45 to 60 minutes.
Getting around – Getting around in Hoi An is fairly easy as most roads, walkways and bridges are well maintained. The city is quite small so you can easily explore by walking or renting a bike. Public transportation is easy to get used to and is budget friendly. Xe Om (motorcycle taxi) is one of the most famous ways to get around the city. Make sure to negotiate the fare before hopping on the motorcycle. Also, always carry a map (paper maps or digital maps on your smartphone), the name of your destination written down in Vietnamese and small bills for payment. If you prefer this mode of transport, make sure to ask your hotel receptionist for estimates. Other transportation options include local taxis (reputable taxi companies like Mai Linh and Vinasun), local buses and rental motorbikes.
Detailed itinerary: 3 Days in Hoi An, Vietnam
Day 1: Hoi An
On your first day, start early and have breakfast at one of the restaurants at the Central Market. Wander through Hoi An Ancient Town, one of the best places to get acquainted with the city. Get some rest in between each attractions and make sure to try coffee on a sidewalk café. Take a Xe Om and head to the Fujian Assembly Hall (Phuc Kien). One of the most famous attractions in Hoi An, the Fukian Assembly Hall was built in 1690 to serve as a meeting place for the Fujian, the largest Chinese ethnic group in Hoi An. After this, squeeze in a trip to the Old House of Tan Ky, one of Hoi An’s cultural heritage. Another must see is the Japanese Covered Bridge, built by the Japanese craftsmen during the early 17th century. Head to An Bang Beach to have an early lunch in one of its seafood restaurants famous among locals. Then, spend the rest of afternoon lounging in the beach.
Day 2: Hoi An
On day 2, embark on one of the most interesting day trips out of the city by joining a day tour of the Tra Que Vegetable Village, a small village producing organic veggies for Hoi An and surrounding areas. This is a great opportunity to enhance your cultural experience in Vietnam and to learn about organic farming in Hoi An. You can either bike on your own or join the Tra Que half-day bike tour. In the afternoon, you can join a Hoi An Countryside Cooking Class conducted in a farmhouse kitchen by the farm’s head chef. On this activity, you will learn organic home cooking using vegetables and ingredients from Hoi An farmers market and the vegetable village.
Day 3: Hoi An Food Tour or Cooking Class
No trip to Hoi An would be complete without going on a gastronomic adventure. So on your last day, visit some of the foodies’ shops scattered around Hoi An Old Town. Try some of Vietnam’s famous food like Banh Mi (the Vietnamese sandwich), Bánh xèo (literally “sizzling cake” made from rice flour, turmeric powder, pork, bean sprouts, shrimp, eggs and “tuong” sauce), Cao Lu (a home-made noodle soup dish) and Bún bò Huế (Vietnamese soup with rice and beef).
If you want to learn more about Vietnamese Cuisine, then join a food tour which lasts for about 3 hours. Hoi An Motorbike Adventures, The Original Taste of Hoi An, Vietnam Vespa Adventures and Hoi An Food Tour – Private Day Tours are some of the top-rated tour companies in How An offering excellent food tours. These food tours have excellent reviews in TripAdvisor, so you might want to check out what travelers say.
If you want a more in-depth food experience, then you may consider joining a traditional cooking class, wherein you will learn how to cook the most popular Vietnamese cuisines and know its history and origin. You will also be introduced to traditional Hoi An flavors and learn the simplest way to cook them. There are plenty of tours offered online, so make sure to read reviews first before you make your reservation. Green Bamboo Cooking School & Cafe is currently the number one cooking class in Hoi An based on TripAdvisor reviews.
Consider an afternoon flight to Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh via Da Nang so you can get some rest in your hotel or squeeze in some souvenir shopping. Before you go, get something tailor-made in Hoi An. There are hundreds of tailors in the city, so make sure to check the prices and quality before settling on one. You may also consider extending your stay in Hoi An and experience Cham Islands (Cu Lao Cham).
This is the end of our 3-day suggested itinerary. The sequence of activities and attractions above are just a guide and you can definitely change it to suit your interests. Travel to Vietnam when you are ready because it is definitely not for everyone. Go with your eyes open and experience the charm of this country.
Have you been to Hoi An or anywhere else in Vietnam? Do you have any tips or suggestions to share? If so, you can leave your comments below.
Featured image: Wooden boats on the Thu Bon River in Hoi An Ancient Town (Hoian), Vietnam. Yellow old houses on waterfront reflected in river (Efired / Shutterstock.com)