Exploring Hoi An for the First Time: Experiencing Tranquility in a Legendary Ancient Town

Uncover the mesmerizing allure of Hoi An, Vietnam, with our comprehensive and captivating travel guide. From immersing yourself in the historic charm of the Old Town to indulging in unique and delectable local cuisine, prepare to be enchanted by the rich cultural heritage and timeless beauty of this UNESCO World Heritage site. Discover recommendations for accommodation, must-visit attractions, and insider tips to ensure an unforgettable experience in Hoi An. Get ready to be enthralled and drawn in by its irresistible charm!

Tourists take pictures in Hoi An Ancient Town, Hoi An tour
Tourists take pictures in Hoi An Ancient Town

Where is Hoi An?

Hoi An, a charming town located on the central coast of Vietnam, is a must-visit destination for travelers seeking a blend of history, culture, and natural beauty. With its well-preserved ancient architecture, lantern-lit streets, and tranquil riverside setting, Hoi An offers a unique and enchanting experience.

Steeped in history, Hoi An was once a bustling trading port and a melting pot of cultures. Today, it is a UNESCO World Heritage site that showcases its rich heritage through its narrow alleys, Chinese temples, Japanese merchant houses, and French colonial buildings. Whether you’re exploring the vibrant Old Town, strolling along the Thu Bon River, or immersing yourself in the local traditions, Hoi An will captivate you with its timeless beauty.

How to get to Hoi An City

As I arrived in Hoi An, the friendly locals greeted me with open arms, ready to assist in any way possible. Getting to the city center from the airport was a breeze, with taxis readily available for a quick and convenient ride. Alternatively, flying into Da Nang and taking a short drive to Hoi An provided breathtaking views of Vietnam’s coastal landscapes. 

For those seeking a slower pace, trains and buses offer scenic routes through picturesque countryside. Regardless of the transportation choice, arriving in Hoi An is an effortless and enjoyable experience, setting the stage for a memorable adventure.

Guide: Hoi An City

In this comprehensive guide, I am thrilled to share my firsthand experience and insights about the enchanting town of Hoi An and its surrounding areas. Get ready to discover popular attractions, exciting activities, comfortable accommodation options, delectable dining choices, convenient transportation tips, and so much more. 

Hoi An truly has something to offer year-round, but let me tell you, the period from February to May stole my heart. The weather was simply perfect, creating an ideal atmosphere for exploration, and the town felt less crowded, allowing me to immerse myself fully in its captivating ambiance.

And if you’re craving for more amazing destinations in the region, don’t forget to check out the Related Posts section for additional inspiration and travel recommendations. Let’s embark on this incredible journey together!

Fishermen floating in boat under large net on Thu Bon River, Hoi An tour
Fishermen floating in boat under large net on Thu Bon River

1. Best time to visit Hoi An

Hoi An is blessed with a tropical climate that brings distinct seasons, each offering its own unique charm. 

Having personally experienced the town’s weather throughout the year, I can confidently say that the best time to visit is during the dry season from February to May. During this period, Hoi An unveils its most enchanting side, with warm temperatures and minimal rainfall creating the perfect conditions for exploration and outdoor activities. 

Picture yourself strolling through the ancient streets, basking in the pleasant sunshine, and immersing yourself in the vibrant atmosphere of this historical town. 

Tourists are riding bicycle in Hoi An Town, Hoi An tour
Tourists are riding bicycle in Hoi An Town

The months of June to August are also popular among travelers, but it’s important to note that the weather can get quite hot and humid. If you don’t mind the heat, you’ll still find plenty to enjoy, from cooling off with a refreshing swim at An Bang Beach to savoring the delicious flavors of Hoi An’s renowned cuisine. 

On the other hand, if you prefer a quieter visit and don’t mind occasional showers, September to January offers a unique charm. The rainy season brings a refreshing change, with fewer crowds and a lush green landscape that adds an extra touch of tranquility to the town. Just be prepared with an umbrella or raincoat and embrace the occasional showers as part of your Hoi An adventure. 

Overall, Hoi An welcomes visitors throughout the year, each season offering its own special moments and experiences. Whether you prefer the dry season’s pleasant temperatures, the lively atmosphere of the hot summer months, or the serene beauty of the rainy season, Hoi An will capture your heart and leave you with memories to cherish

2. Discover Your Stay in Hoi An

If you’re planning your first visit to Hoi An, let me share with you a delightful accommodation option that I personally experienced and highly recommend: Huynh Gia House. This charming boutique hotel is located just 1 km away from the enchanting Old Town of Hoi An, making it a convenient base for exploring all the wonders the city has to offer

Throughout my stay, the attentive staff at Huynh Gia House provided personalized recommendations and assistance, making my experience even more enjoyable. One of the highlights was its proximity to the historic Old Town, where I immersed myself in the ancient streets adorned with colorful lanterns, quaint shops, and mouthwatering street food stalls.

Moreover, the hotel’s excellent location made it easy to explore other attractions in Hoi An. I took a short bike ride to the famous An Bang Beach, relaxing on its sandy shores, and also experienced the local way of life by visiting the nearby Tra Que Vegetable Village.

The waiting room of Huynh Gia House, Hoi An Ancient Town
The waiting room of Huynh Gia House

In conclusion, Huynh Gia House is a charming and well-connected accommodation choice for your visit to Hoi An. Its cozy rooms, traditional ambiance, and attentive staff create a memorable experience. The hotel’s proximity to the Old Town and easy access to other attractions allow you to fully immerse yourself in the beauty and culture of Hoi An, leaving you with cherished memories from your stay.

3. Optimizing Currency Exchange for Your Hoi An Adventure!

Before we dive into the shopping extravaganza, let’s take care of the practicalities. The local currency in Vietnam is the Vietnamese Dong (VND). To ensure a hassle-free shopping experience, I highly recommend changing your currency to VND. 

While many establishments accept foreign currency, it’s always convenient to have the local currency on hand, especially when visiting small food stalls or local markets. You can exchange your money at banks or jewelry stores, but be prepared for potential lengthy procedures and waiting times.

So, you can try changing currency at Vietnam Daily Tourist, I changed money here for my Hoi An trip. I was amazed how quick their back office operations were and I received a remarkably favorable conversion rate. The way they served me with speed, enthusiasm and professionalism made me very satisfied.
Give it a try, I think they won’t let you down

4. Places to visit in Hoi An

Hoi An Ancient Town

Step into the enchanting Old Town of Hoi An, the true gem of the city. As you meander through its narrow streets adorned with vibrant lanterns and charming colorful buildings, you’ll feel transported to another time. Immerse yourself in the rich history and vibrant culture of this ancient town as you take a leisurely stroll. Every corner tells a story, and every step unveils the beauty of Hoi An’s past.

Tourist wearing straw hat in the middle of road in Hoi An Ancient Town, Hoi An tour
Tourist wearing straw hat in the middle of road in Hoi An Ancient Town

An Bang Beach

A short bike ride or taxi trip away from the town center lies the serene paradise of An Bang Beach. Let the soft sand tickle your toes as you unwind in the tranquil setting. The crystal-clear waters beckon you to take a refreshing dip, offering respite from the Vietnamese heat. 

After basking in the sun, treat yourself to a delectable seafood feast at one of the beachfront restaurants. With the sound of the waves and the gentle sea breeze, An Bang Beach offers a perfect escape from the bustling streets of Hoi An.

Tourist check in An Bang Beach in Hoi An, Hoi An tour
Tourist check in An Bang Beach in Hoi An

Tra Que Vegetable Village

Escape the hustle and bustle of the town and venture into the tranquil oasis of Tra Que Vegetable Village. Here, you’ll have the opportunity to experience the authentic local way of life. Roll up your sleeves and join the farmers in their daily activities, from tending to the lush green fields to harvesting fresh produce.

Cooking Class & Restaurant at Tra Que Vegetable Village
Cooking Class & Restaurant at Tra Que Vegetable Village

 Immerse yourself in the simplicity and beauty of rural Vietnam. To complete the experience, indulge in cooking traditional dishes using the fresh ingredients you helped cultivate. It’s a truly immersive and enriching experience that connects you to the heart of Hoi An.

Gardening expperiences at Tra Que Vegetable Village, Hoi An tour
Gardening expperiences at Tra Que Vegetable Village

Japanese Covered Bridge

Prepare to be captivated by the timeless allure of the Japanese Covered Bridge, a symbol of Hoi An’s cultural heritage. This exquisitely preserved wooden bridge, dating back to the 18th century, is a testament to the town’s historical connections. 

Marvel at its unique architecture as you cross over and be rewarded with breathtaking views of the Thu Bon River. It’s a harmonious blend of history and natural beauty that will leave you in awe.

Japanese covered bridge, Hoi An Ancient Town
Japanese covered bridge

Bay Mau Coconut Forest – A Tranquil Nature Escape

During my visit to Hoi An, I discovered the serene Bay Mau Coconut Forest, just a short distance from the ancient town. This hidden gem offers a peaceful getaway where you can connect with nature and experience the local way of life.

As I explored the forest, I was immersed in a lush oasis filled with vibrant greenery and the soothing sounds of nature. The forest serves as a vital habitat for marine animals like shrimp, crab, and mollusks, creating a harmonious ecosystem.

One of the highlights was the bamboo basket boat ride, guided by local fishermen. Drifting through the winding waterways beneath the canopy of coconut leaves was a moment of pure tranquility, a break from the stresses of everyday life.

Exploring the wetland ecosystem and witnessing local daily life added to the immersive experience. I enjoyed exciting activities like basket boating and indulged in fresh seafood on the boat. Each bite was a burst of flavors, perfectly complemented by the serene surroundings.

Bay Mau Coconut forest in Hoi An, Hoi An tour
Bay Mau Coconut forest in Hoi An

If you’re visiting Hoi An, make sure to include Bay Mau Coconut Forest in your itinerary. It’s a captivating destination where untouched nature and local culture come together, offering a peaceful retreat like no other.

Address: Van Lang, Cam Thanh commune, 5km east of Hoi An Ancient Town
Entrance fee: 150,000 VND for a basket boat accommodating 2 people.

I had an incredible experience exploring the charming villages and cultural treasures of Hoi An on a guided tour. If you’re interested in discovering the hidden gems of this enchanting destination, click here for more information.

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5. Top 5 must -try foods in Hoi An

Mi Quang: A Delightful Culinary Experience in Hoi An

When it comes to iconic dishes in Hoi An, Mi Quang definitely takes the spotlight. During my visit to this charming city, I couldn’t resist trying this must-try delicacy.

Mi Quang is a delightful combination of rice noodles, shrimp, pork, chicken, and fresh vegetables, all coming together to create a harmonious blend of flavors. The yellow turmeric-infused noodles, accompanied by a crispy rice cracker, provided a burst of flavors with every bite.

Quang noodle, food in Hoi An
Quang noodle

If you’re wondering where to find the best Mi Quang in town, I recommend two fantastic eateries:

  • Mr. Hai Noodles (6A Truong Minh Luong Street): A local favorite where you can savor a bowl of Mi Quang for only 35,000 VND (around $1.5).
  • My Quang Bich (272 Hung Vuong Street): Another excellent choice, offering this delectable dish for 40,000 VND.

Cao Lau: An Exquisite Noodle Dish Unique to Hoi An

In the culinary culture of Hoi An, Cao Lau holds a special place. This dish is a sensory delight, captivating your taste buds with its perfectly cooked noodles and the enticing fragrance of fish sauce. While it may resemble other noodle dishes you’ve tried, Cao Lau stands out due to the painstaking process used to create the noodles. 

Made with freshly harvested rice, the white noodles are soaked in a special mixture of Cham Island ash and water, resulting in a smoky flavor and a distinctive ivory hue.

Cao Lau in Hoi An, food in Hoi An
Cao Lau in Hoi An

To savor the best Cao Lau in town, I recommend two establishments:

  • Thanh Cao Lau (26 Thai Phien Street): A hidden gem where you can indulge in a bowl of Cao Lau for just 30,000 VND.
  • Cao Lau Ba Le (49/3 Tran Hung Dao Street): Another excellent choice, serving this flavorful dish for 35,000 VND.

Banh Mi: A Culinary Delight That Exceeds Expectations

While Banh Mi is renowned worldwide as one of the best sandwiches, the Banh Mi in Hoi An takes it to a whole new level. The baguette is a textural delight, with a super crunchy exterior and a soft interior. 

Unlike the traditional Banh Mi, Hoi An offers an extensive range of fillings to choose from, including tuna, beef, chicken, and even vegan options. But what truly sets Hoi An’s Banh Mi apart is the homemade sauce, bursting with flavor and a delightful spicy kick that will leave you craving more.

Banh Mi Phuong - Hoi An
Banh mi Phuong in Hoi An - Source: web du lich Hoi An

For an unforgettable Banh Mi experience, make sure to visit these recommended spots:

  • Banh Mi Phuong (2B Phan Chu Trinh Street): Indulge in a delicious Banh Mi for just 30,000 VND.
  • Madam Khanh (115 Tran Cao Van Street): Another must-visit eatery, where you can enjoy this delectable sandwich for 30,000 VND.

Com Ga: A Taste of Authentic Hoi An Cuisine

They say that a visit to Hoi An is incomplete without trying Com Ga (chicken rice), the dish that originated in this region. Com Ga is made with free-range chicken and high-quality rice grown along the banks of the Red River.

For an authentic Com Ga experience, I recommend two exceptional places:

  • Com Ga Ba Buoi (22 Phan Chu Trinh Street): Enjoy a plate of Com Ga for just 35,000 VND.
  • Com Ga Nga (08 Phan Chu Trinh Street): Another fantastic option, serving Com Ga for 50,000 VND.

Banh Xeo: Crispy Pancakes That Delight the Palate

While you may be familiar with Banh Xeo, the Vietnamese pancakes, Hoi An’s version offers a unique twist. These pancakes are smaller and crispier, cooked to perfection and served piping hot. To enjoy Banh Xeo, simply take a mustard green leaf, add a piece of the pancake, a rice cracker, and some herbs, wrap it all up, and dip it into the mixed fish sauce before savoring the explosion of flavors.

Banh Xeo Hoi An
Banh Xeo Hoi An - Source: vietnamnomad

If you’re eager to try Banh Xeo in Hoi An, check out these recommended restaurants:

  • Co Anh – Banh Xeo Song Hoai (32 18/8 Street): Experience the delights of Banh Xeo for just 35,000 VND.
  • Quan An Hai Dao (160 Ly Thai To Street): Another fantastic eatery where you can enjoy Banh Xeo for 40,000 VND.

Hoi An is a culinary paradise that offers a plethora of delightful dishes. From the unique flavors of Mi Quang and Cao Lau to the satisfying bites of Banh Mi and Banh Xeo, this city has something to please every palate. 

So, pack your appetite and embark on a delightful gastronomic adventure in Hoi An. You won’t be disappointed!

6. What souvenirs to buy in Hoi An?

Green Bean Cakes

Hoi An’s green bean cakes have a unique flavor, combining sweetness and a hint of saltiness that is quite delightful. The sweet and fragrant outer layer complements the savory filling of crispy fried lard. These cakes are beautifully packaged, making them a perfect choice for souvenirs.

Lanterns

Lanterns make for impressive and memorable gifts to bring back for loved ones after your trip. Based on the experiences of previous travelers to Hoi An, I recommend choosing lanterns that can be easily folded and carried for convenience.

Silk

Silk is a precious gift from the ancient town, with its natural silk fabric reflecting the beauty of Quang’s history and culture.

To he (Traditional Vietnamese Toy)

To he is a simple gift with unique shapes that evoke childhood memories. You can find this item when visiting the Thanh Ha pottery village.

Souvenirs

You can choose from a variety of souvenirs available at tourist spots or the Hoi An market, such as Phuoc Kieu bronze statues, bronze drums, bells, paper fans, and more.

7. Budgeting for Hoi An trip

When it comes to traveling to Hoi An, cost is often a concern for many. You can check out some of the expenses that I spent on this trip.

  • Roundtrip airfare: 1,000,000 – 1,500,000 VND per person (from Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City to Da Nang) 
  • Transportation cost from Da Nang to Hoi An: 500,000 VND per person 
  • Hotel accommodation: 500,000 – 1,000,000 VND per night 
  • Food expenses in Hoi An: 600,000 VND per person 
  • Souvenir shopping: 300,000 VND per person 
  • Entrance fees for attractions and activities: 650,000 VND per person 
  • Miscellaneous expenses: 300,000 VND per person

However, you’ll be pleased to know that Hoi An offers affordable options. Whether you choose to explore independently or book a tour with Viet Nam Daily Tourist, you can find reasonable prices for accommodation, meals, transportation, and activities. 

By planning ahead and considering tour packages, you can enjoy your trip to Hoi An without worrying about excessive expenses.

8. Pocket 5 travel tips to make the most of your Hoi An experience

Here are 5 travel tips to make the most of your Hoi An experience and ensure a memorable and fantastic trip:

  1. Embrace the Serenity of Early Morning: Hoi An is especially tranquil in the early morning when only the locals are preparing for their day. Don’t hesitate to wake up early and indulge in the peaceful beauty that surrounds you.

  2. Plan Ahead for Festivals and Holidays: Traditional festivals and Lunar New Year (Tet) are the most captivating times to visit Hoi An, but they also attract a large influx of tourists. To secure your accommodation, make sure to book in advance.

  3. Allow Time for Tailor-Made Clothing: If you decide to get tailor-made clothing in Hoi An, allocate enough time for fittings and alterations. This way, you’ll have the perfect outfit that matches your preferences.

  4. Be Mindful of Weather and Flooding: While the weather in Hoi An is generally mild, the town is prone to flooding during certain periods. Stay updated with the weather forecast and plan your visit to the ancient town accordingly.

  5. Prepare Sufficient Cash in Advance: It’s advisable to withdraw or exchange cash before arriving in Hoi An. The town has limited ATM availability, and many establishments primarily rely on cash transactions rather than bank accounts.

By keeping these tips in mind, you’ll enhance your Hoi An journey and ensure a seamless and fulfilling experience. Enjoy every moment in this captivating destination!