Hoi An – The Fairy-Tale Jewel of Vietnam

Hoi An was our favourite city in Vietnam. Vietnam was a hell of a time overall but if we could’ve only visited one place there, it would’ve been Hoi An! Mik put this in his top 3 cities in the world & we hope you’ll see why in our guide to Hoi An!

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What to Do

There’s so much to do in Hoi An for such a small place. We’ll surely miss some things that are amazing but here are our favourite things:

Visit the Tailors –

Hoi An is renowned worldwide for tailoring, you’ll find nowhere better to get cheap custom fit garments. The quality is bloody amazing and you wouldn’t dream of getting anything like it at home. We have to shout out 45 Tailors in Hoi An as they were incredible, the craftsmanship & service was undeniable. They were super attentive to our needs and made the whole process hilarious. We had such a great experience with them that we ended up going back for 2 more shirts! The best part though, is picking the fabrics from the vast stores that they have, so many options. They’re located within the clothing market and are cheaper, similar quality & better service than the high street stores. Please check them out!

Lantern Boat Ride

The river in Hoi An really does give the city so much vibrancy, especially at night! This made the lantern boat ride something that we had to do. It only lasts for an hour sadly but was cheap enough to make it worthwhile. There’s a ton of lanterns either side of the river so the scenes really are picture perfect! You’ll release paper lanterns from the boat which get whisked away & it’ll feel like you’re in a Studio Ghibli movie! You can hire a boat (and driver) anywhere near the river; make sure to haggle as they’ll try to charge a lot initially!

Hoi An - Lantern Boat
Our incredible travel buddies who we miss dearly with us on the Lantern Boat! Big Love <3

Walking Tour/Sight Seeing –

So you don’t need to book into a walking tour in Hoi An as it’s so small. Because of this, we’d recommend just setting a morning/day aside and venturing at your own pace! A load of attractions that you won’t want to miss are all so close together. These are: the Main Bridge, Japanese Bridge, Rice Paddies & Hoi An River. Lots of people in Hoi An work as information brokers & offer out free maps to anyone! There are also some great supermarkets in Hoi An specialising in Western goodies so if you’re looking for treats, stop there! Hire a bike if you don’t feel like walking for a super relaxing day.

The Basket Boats –

This was genuinely one of the reasons we wanted to go to Hoi An in the first place! Sadly we didn’t have time to do it though as we went for a long bike ride instead. Luckily, we lived it through our good mates Hope and Jordan! It’s amazing from what we saw, a party vibe as you spin down a river laden with tropical palms either side. The captain of the boat is up for a laugh and encourage you to sing and dance (when it’s safe)! It wasn’t mad expensive either at 120,000 Dong (£4) per person. Definitely worth checking out for some great videos!

A Bike Ride –

The best way to chill & get a good workout at the same time & the best part is, it’s 30,000 Dong (£1) to rent a pushbike for the day! Riding through all of the rice paddies with our pals Jon & Bean was loads of fun, all singing random songs on our way! In one of the paddies, there’s an adorable café/pit stop which is a great place to refresh. We rode for about 3 hours around the rice paddies but there’s loads more to do around Hoi An. So rent a bike and take it at your own pace!

Hoi An - Rice Paddies
Us in the rice paddies outside Hoi An wearing the classic Vietnamese Straw Hats.

Food, Glorious Food! –

Hoi An is a foodies haven, there’s so much to discover that’s unique to this city. White Roses were a massive standout here; little dumplings shaped like roses traditionally filled with Pork but can be switched for veggies. They’re steamed so healthier than deep fried sides & served with a spicy soy sauce (YUM)! Another culinary treat is the Bird’s Nest Spring Rolls which are only found in Hoi An. The texture of these spring rolls is king, they break apart so delicately that you almost feel bad for eating them!

If you’re a foodie like us check out our epic food journey here: https://maktravels.co.uk/2020/08/25/an-epic-food-journey-through-south-east-asia/

An Epic Food Journey in which Hoi An was one of the stars!

Have a Beach Day! –

Beautiful beaches are another thing that Hoi An has to offer! They’re so close, you could walk (about an hour away) but we recommend taking an electric buggy. The buggies are just like taxis but a lot more eco-friendly and fun! You’ll have to buy drinks at the beach to secure a sunbed but we can think of worse things than sipping cocktails in the sun. Just make sure not to forget your sun cream as the heat is too much. The waves should definitely cool you off though!

Lantern Making Class –

Unleash your inner craftsman/woman with this cute little activity! Another thing we missed on sadly as they had cancelled a few classes and we left before the next one. It’s what it says on the tin though, a class where you make traditional Vietnamese lanterns. The colours are pretty magnificent & our pals Amy & Ross made some stunning red & purple lanterns. We put it on the list as it’s something unique to Hoi An & a great way to delve into the culture!

River Bar Crawl –

We remember having a riot on this night out at every bar we went to! Playing drinking games into the early hours on the river! The cocktails are super strong but the alcohol was cheap which means hangovers will happen for everyone! Hoi An is by no means a party place compared to the likes of Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh but you can definitely enjoy yourself in a chill way! We’d recommend checking out Mr. Bean’s Bar as it wasn’t too expensive and you’ll have a laugh!

Hoi An - Central River
Who wouldn’t wanna live here, seriously!?

A Perfect Itinerary

3 and a half days in Hoi An is a perfect amount of time in our opinion. Below you’ll find our guide on how to spend your time wisely!

Day 1: Leave Hué at 10am & drive scooters over the Hai Van Pass to arrive at Hoi An for 6pm. Evening 1: Pick up your luggage & check into your hostel. Go for dinner near the river (south side) for cheaper eats & drinks.

Day 2: Cool your hangover by renting pushbikes & riding around the rice paddies or doing your own walking tour. On your way back, visit 45 Tailors within the clothing market for some customer threads. Evening 2: Check out the lantern making class or lantern boats for a nice relaxing time. Grab food then check out the night market (south side of the river).

Day 3: Get a Grab to the Basket Boats then after, head to the beach and catch some waves! To get back to the city centre, get an electric buggy stationed there. Final Evening: Get a massage, grab some food (namely White Roses or BN Spring Rolls) & party on the river!

Final Day: No time like the present to visit the Weaver’s Café for a banging fry up! Stroll back and pack your stuff ready for the evening bus to Nha Trang!

Was it Expensive?

Hoi An wasn’t overly expensive. It was very touristy, a spot popular with older people on holiday so there were a lot of pricey restaurants. We advise against eating in the main part of the city as that’s where you’ll spend loads. Travelling around Hoi An & the attractions were cheap though whic is a bonus! You can easily make a budget of £30 pp per day if you avoid drinking and nights out.

How to Get There

So this can be done in a number of ways; taking a bus or using a scooter to drive. It all depends on where you are travelling from; we came to Hoi An from Hué so can only advise on that route. Renting a bike from Motorvina (https://motorvina.com/) in Hué will set you back anywhere from 250,000 – 500,000 Dong (£8-16) pp but this also includes luggage transport to Hoi An.

So this wraps up our guide to Hoi An! We hope you’ve found it helpful! If you have, be sure to give us a follow here and on our socials below:

Stay Safe & Much Love,

Matt & Mik x

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