Looking for things to do in Hoi An? In this post, we share our favourite transformational experiences in this beautiful city. Read on to discover the activities and experiences in Hoi An that will stick with you for years and leave you a little bit different than when you arrived.
What’s in our guide to things to do in Hoi An?
Our Top 3 Favourite Hoi An Activities
Outdoor Activities in Hoi An
Transformational Things to do at Night
Shopping in Hoi An
Wellness Activities in Hoi An
Eating & Drinking
A Final Note About Transformational Things to do in Hoi An
Practical Details for Visiting Hoi An
Best Time to Visit Hoi An
How to Get Around The City
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One of the most popular destinations in Vietnam, Hoi An has grown exponentially as a tourist attraction during the last few years. Because of that, at least among intrepid, independent travellers, Hoi An seems to be a love it or hate it kind of place.
We fall firmly on the side of being in love with Hoi An!
A boat trip on the river is a popular activity in Hoi An but the beauty of the boats is better appreciated from shore.
In fact, we like it so much that we made it our temporary home for two months this year, which gave us a chance to explore and learn far more about the city than my previous visits had revealed.
Yes, there are LOTS of tourists in Hoi An and yes, there are lots of slightly cheesy tourist things to do. The upside of Hoi An’s popularity is that it brings more and better services for travellers — like top-notch restaurants and great hotels at bargain prices.
The best part is, it couldn’t be easier to get away from the crowds in Hoi An and experience the culture and nature that permeates the city, creating real transformational travel moments that will become the treasured stories you tell your friends when you get back home.
So, to be sure you Hoi An as much as we do, read on to discover…
19 Transformational Things To Do in Hoi An, Vietnam
While you’re planning for Hoi An, don’t miss our guides to the best places to stay in Hoi An and the best vegan food in Hoi An. Also, make sure to check out our Vietnam itineraries and our complete guide to Vietnam travel.
To be sure, Hoi An is full of tourists, but it still retains an old-world charm despite its recent success.Our Top 3 Favourite Hoi An Activities
If you only have a short time in Hoi An, you’ll want to start with these three things. Watch out though — after these experiences you may just want to extend your stay!
Enjoy the Ancient Town and all its people
The great appeal of Hoi An comes from the slow pace of life, the traffic-free streets, and the antique wooden buildings in the Ancient Town. Don’t underestimate the amount of time you’ll want to spend just wandering Hoi An’s charming streets, popping into boutiques, stopping to sip coffee or cocktails, and taking in Hoi An’s ethereal beauty.
Once you’ve done that, we recommend ducking down a few hidden alleyways to come right up close to the warren of life that is hidden behind those wonderful facades.
After you’ve wandered around a little and started to get a feel for the city we recommend you buy a ticket for the Ancient Town so you can stop into some of the magnificent old houses to learn more about traditional life in Hoi An.
At sunset, when the shadows start to get long, Hoi An’s yellow houses seem to glow from within.
Of course, the Ancient Town is Hoi An’s main draw, so you can expect it to be crowded with tourists. To avoid the biggest crowds, visit the city in the early morning or late in the evening, when the streets mostly empty out and you’ll share them with locals going about their daily business.
During the peak periods, make the other tourists your point of focus.
I love to watch tourists interact with the locals and the setting. From the perfectly coiffed Korean women taking endless Instagram photos, to the adorable Chinese kids thrilled to be riding in a pedalo, to the European backpackers hefting their heavy bags through the narrow streets, there’s always something new and interesting to learn from observing people in Hoi An.
Return to the agrarian days
Coming a close second on our Hoi An to do list, cycling through the local rice fields can be a truly transformational activity.
Hoi An is a relatively small city and it is bordered on all sides by expansive wet fields, where the locals farm rice, herbs, and even fish.
Rent a bicycle or borrow one from your hotel and head out of town onto the narrow concrete pathways that run through the fields between Cua Dai and Hai Ba Trung. From there, cross over Hai Ba Trung and keep heading northwest to see even more of the local farming community at work.
Cycling the cement paths through the rice fields outside Hoi An is a truly transformational experience.
Many of us never get to see where our food comes from at home, and even if we could, it’s rare to see people working the fields by hand. Cycling the rice fields will give you a new appreciation for the food you eat every day, plus you’ll gain insight into the hard work that goes into preparing those delectable Vietnamese noodle bowls.
Explore Vietnamese culture via your belly
Because Vietnam is so spread out from north to south, the country’s culinary traditions are rich, diverse, and extremely local. There are plenty of foods that Hoi An claims as her own, such as Cao Lau, Hoi An chicken rice, and White Rose.
Mi Quang is on almost every menu in Hoi An.
Each dish is prepared with a perfect balance of the five flavours: spicy, salty, sweet, sour, and bitter and each seems to have its own fascinating back story.
You can certainly enjoy the food in Hoi An without taking a tour, but you’ll appreciate each bite so much more when you understand its complex provenance. A tour will also help you find the very best places to eat, the tastiest treats to savour, and hidden spots you’d miss on your own.
Even better, an understanding of Hoi An’s food culture will lead to a deeper understanding of Vietnamese culture as a whole.
Find a Hoi An Food Tour
Outdoor Activities in Hoi An
Find peace at the beach
No trip to Hoi An is complete without hitting one of the many beaches. The city sits just a few kilometres from a sandy stretch of coastline with a seemingly endless beach.
An Bang beach is a beautiful spot for some R&R.
An Bang beach is the most easily accessible and most popular Hoi An beach. It’s where you’ll find most of the beach bars and cafes and also where you’ll find most of the people! If you want to escape the crowds, keep heading southeast to Hidden Beach or Cua Dai beach.
No matter which beach you choose, spend a little time in silence allowing the pulse of the waves to clear your head and reduce any stress that travel (or life back home) has laid on your shoulders.
Discover “real” life in Hoi An
One of my favourite ever activities in Hoi An was a tour I did with Scooter Tours Vietnam.
It started with a quick driving lesson in their parking lot, where everyone was introduced to the simplicity of electric scooters. Then we were off, zooming along the streets of Hoi An (slowly and safely) towards hidden areas that most tourists don’t visit.
Take a scooter tour to see more of Hoi An thank walking or a bicycle allows.
We met local artisans making everything from the famous Hoi An lanterns, to rice crackers, to real fake Chanel shoes. We also got an insight into the workings of Tra Que veggie village and a visit to An Bang beach.
If you’re only in Hoi An for a few days, this is a great way to experience the wider culture of the city — beyond the cafes and tourist shops — in just a couple of hours.
Sharpen your photo skills
If you’re one of those people who likes to come home with extraordinary photos of your trip — or you’ve always wanted to but couldn’t get the snaps, then a photography tour should be on your Hoi An to-do list.
We spent an afternoon with Hoi An Photo Tour, wandering the rice fields, meeting local people, and learning how to vastly improve our travel portrait photography. Our guide, Fred, took us to a village a short way from Hoi An where we trudged through muddy rice fields and down winding village streets — all in search of that perfect shot.
Though we came away with some great photos, my lasting memory of the trip will be the people we met.
This woman was busy planting her little patch of earth but stopped to chat and give us a big, welcoming smile.
Elderly women on their way to drink tea with friends, busy farmers working knee deep in mud, women tending to rice crackers drying in the sun, and little kids just enjoying a windy winter afternoon.
Meeting these friendly and generous people and getting a peek inside their lives will leave you with a fresh perspective on what is important in life and what things are necessary to be truly happy.
Spare a few moments for fallen soldiers
While in Hoi An, with its pretty lights and ancient buildings, it’s easy to forget the devastating effects the Vietnam/American War had on the population of this city and the entire country.
The American War killed countless people from Hoi An – take some time to remember them when you’re in the city.
For a reminder, step into the Martyrs Cemetery just on the edge of town (right next to the Silk Village). Inside the cemetery, you’ll find a tall monument to fallen soldiers and behind that, row upon row upon row of uniform graves.
Take some time to walk along the aisles and read the inscriptions. Think about the impact that such a concentrated loss of life, only 50 or so years ago, has had on the local population ever since.
Every Vietnamese person you meet has some connection with the war — some family member lost or injured, some story of heroics or tragedy that has formed a part of their life and personality.
While it might not be a cheery subject to dwell on while on holiday, the devastating impact of war is an important lesson to learn again and again.
Transformational Things to do at Night
Light a lucky lantern
Every evening, Hoi An’s river fills with lantern-bedecked wooden boats, each ferrying a few tourists up and down the river. From these boats, passengers light candles inside paper lanterns and send them floating down the river as a prayer or a wish for good luck.
To me, this is the kind of touristy activities that I can take or leave — though judging by the number of boats on the river every evening, I’m in the minority on this one.
In the evening, the Hoi An river fills up with boats decorated with colorful lanterns.
One evening, with half an hour to kill, Stephen and I decided we might as well have the de rigeur Hoi An experience, so we negotiated a fare and jumped onto a small wooden boat. A few minutes later, we were stuck in a watery traffic jam, shoulder to shoulder with other couples seeking a romantic evening boat ride.
While this might not be the most meaningful moment of your trip to Hoi An, its a nice way to join in the tourist fun while supporting local families who earn a living running these boats.
Get ready to Ahhh and Ohhh
The AO Show (pronounced Ahhhh Ohhhh Show), an evening of performance along the lines of Cirque de Soleil, is the kind of activity Stephen and I would usually miss.
However, while we were in Hoi An, so many people recommended it to us that we finally decided to go.
The AO Show is filled with fantastic acrobatics and humour. Photo via Lune Production.
From the opening moments of the show, during which an unseen announcer shared the theatre rules while the cast pantomimed along, the AO Show offered one delightful moment after another.
The show depicts the huge variety of life in Vietnam, from the rural scenes of basket boat fishing to the clamour and clang of apartment living in Ho Chi Minh City, and it does so with a wonderful sense of humour that reveals so much about Vietnamese culture.
Throughout the show, kids in the audience giggled with pure joy and adults roared with laughter. I don’t think there was a single person who didn’t leave with a huge grin on their face.
The LUNE production team has a series of shows, so book early to get the best seats.
Get Your AO Show Ticket
Learn the secrets of Hoi An’s mixologists
There is no shortage of places to find great cocktail happy hour deals in Hoi An. But for something a little more special, join the Secret Cocktail Experience.
While in Hoi An, we drank a night away with our lively guide Khieu and a small gang of fascinating travellers from around the globe.
The Secret Cocktail tour in Hoi An will let you sample the nightlife and several locally inspired cocktails.
I can’t tell you too much about the evening — that would be giving away the secret.
Suffice it to say that we got to sample five diverse mixed drinks, plus a series of snacks that kept our taste buds tingling and our stomachs lined. But the best part was the social aspect — we met 4 like-minded travellers and, as the evening progressed, got to compare notes on our travel– and life–experiences thus far.
A Secret Cocktail Experience is the perfect way to learn more about the world and about Vietnam while sipping on some seriously satisfying drinks!
Shopping in Hoi An
Order clothes that actually fit
Everyone knows that Hoi An has hundreds of tailors at the ready to custom-make your dream garments in just a couple of days. What you might not know is that if you plan to get tailoring done in Hoi An, a little preparation goes a long way!
Before you come to Hoi An:
Read reviews and blogs to find just the right tailor. There are lots of great options in town but you’ll want to find one offering the level of service and quality that you can afford.
Plan exactly what you want made and find pictures of those garments online. Create a folder on your phone with the photos you want to use as inspiration.
Write detailed notes of all the features you want in your garment. Want a secret zippered pocket in your new shorts? Write it down! Want a contrasting pocket lining on that jacket? Write it down! Every little detail should be recorded and shared with your tailor so you get exactly what you want.
We got lots of clothes made while in Hoi An — Stephen loves his shorts and shirts. We also loved working with Vy from An Cloth Shop!
Ordering tailored clothes isn’t something most people do regularly, if at all. On our recent trip it was the first time we’ve ever had anything made especially for us.
It’s not only a huge treat, and a great way to support local artisans, but it gives us an insight into the way clothes were made before the consumer-culture world of fast, disposable fashion took over.
We bought our clothes at An Cloth Shop and ordered a variety of dresses, shorts, pants, and shirts. We loved our experience and can highly recommend this shop if you’re planning on ordering clothes in Hoi An.
Shop local and hand-made
Up and down the main streets of the Ancient Town, you’ll find a huge range of shops selling tatty souvenirs, brand-name knock-off bags and luggage, t-shirts, propaganda posters and more.
Go into the shop behind this sign to find some of Hoi An’s most beautiful souvenirs.
In between these stores, you’ll also find a great selection of boutiques, selling locally made clothing, housewares, jewelry and other items you might actually want to buy. Boutiques often have a small cafe in the back too, so when you need a mid-shopping pick-me-up, just sit in a quiet garden and sip some tea.
To find souvenirs that give back in the form of social enterprise, check out Reaching Out Arts & Craft shop where you can buy beautifully made pieces and visit the in-house workshop where they are made.
Also seek out Chula Fashion for extraordinary one-of-a-kind clothing, and Xu Dang Trong and Villagecraft Planet for local handicrafts.
Shop the night market and lantern market
If you’re looking for the cheapest of souvenirs, or if you just want to see the world of tourist commerce in all its glory, head to the night market just across the main bridge from Hoi An Ancient Town.
You can buy Hoi An lanterns as souvenirs and the sellers will flat pack them for easy transport back home.
Here, you’ll find all kinds of (cheap) jewelry, bamboo items like chopsticks, placements, and baskets, and a few ceramics. You’ll also be inundated with street snack opportunities.
This is not high-class shopping, and possibly not too transformational, but enjoy it for what it is and maybe pick up a few gifts for the folks back home to show them you were thinking about them.
Wellness Activities in Hoi An
Take some quality “me” time
Taking time out from your busy travel schedule to relax, let your mind wander, and absorb all you’ve seen and done so far is a vital part of making travel transformational. Plus, after all that walking, cycling, and shopping, you’re gonna need to lie down!
Combine your relaxation time with a soothing massage or rejuvenating facial to feel truly pampered.
For my birthday, which I celebrated in Hoi An this year, Stephen treated me to a mud wrap and massage at Five Senses Spa. I loved the casual but professional welcome I received there and the treatments left me in a state of blissful relaxation.
I even went back for a pedicure before we leave Hoi An!
Stretch your limbs and your comfort zone
In the past few years, yoga in Vietnam has grown by leaps and bounds. These days it seems as though almost every local woman we meet has a regular yoga practice.
Hoi An’s yoga scene has grown in that time too. Our favourite studio in town is Annen Yoga (where they make delicious vegan food too), which is owned by a Vietnamese woman who trained in Los Angeles. You can also check out the perennially popular Nomad Yoga for Rishikesh style yoga, or a Luminary Life for gentle healing yoga.
Taking time out while you’re in Hoi An to start or reinvigorate your yoga practice could be the beginning of a habit that truly changes your life.
Eating & Drinking
Learn new skills at a cooking class
Food is such an important part of Vietnamese culture and an essential part of travel that we always recommend taking a cooking class when you visit a new place.
In Hoi An, most cooking classes start off with a trip to the local market, where you’ll meet the vendors and learn about fruits and vegetables you’ve probably never laid eyes on before.
Spring rolls will almost surely be on the menu at your Hoi An cooking class.
Then, you’ll head back to the cooking school (often in someone’s home) where you’ll get to prepare spring rolls, green mango salad, pho noodle soup and other favourite Vietnamese dishes.
The end-of-class feast will make sure you leave full of new knowledge and gorgeous food!
Sample the local specialities
Being such a tourist hot spot, Hoi An has a huge selection of excellent restaurants. Whether you’re looking for fine dining, street food, or something delicious in between, Hoi An’s food scene is full of never-ending surprises.
There are lots of local specialities to try in Hoi An.
Even vegans and vegetarians will find almost unlimited variety — check out our vegan guide to Hoi An that includes more than 25 places to eat!
Taking a food tour can elevate your eating experience to life-changing levels. Not only will you start to understand more about Vietnamese culture, but you’ll get to meet inspiring locals who have dedicated their lives to the art of creating amazing food.
Find a Hoi An Food Tour
Sip some truly special coffee
While there are about a hundred places to drink coffee in Hoi An, there are only a couple of places where you can get a speciality coffee made by true coffee experts.
There is plenty of coffee in Hoi An, but our favourite place to sit and sip was Bosgaurus.
Our favourite is Bosgaurus, which first opened in Ho Chi Minh City to satisfy the growing demand for speciality coffee among affluent young Vietnamese. The branch in Hoi An carries on that tradition, delivering a perfectly brewed cup of coffee that even satisfies Stephen’s snooty standards.
Plus, the shop is right next to the river in the Ancient Town, so you’ll be treated to a beautiful view while you sip a delicious brew.
Try the local brews
While there’s only one proper brewery tasting room in the Hoi An Ancient Town centre — that’s at Pasteur Street Brewing, one of the first of the new wave craft brewers in Vietnam — there are plenty of places to sample the ever-expanding range of Vietnamese craft beers.
Sitting on the balcony at Pasteur Street watching the boats go by on the river is a great way to start your evening.
There are actually too many spots to write about all of them, so these are my top picks for craft beer in Hoi An.
In the Ancient Town, take advantage of happy hour at Ca Mai (aka Mai Fish), where you can get 2 for 1 on all beer and cocktails. This is the best craft beer happy hour deal in the Ancient Town. Stephen loved the Hoi An Artisan Brewery Pomelo IPA. Happy hour is from 4-6pm daily.
Pasteur Street Brewing has a proper taproom vibe, with the added bonus of being on the river. The best views to compliment your craft beer can be had upstairs where, if you’re lucky, you can sip your beer on the balcony overlooking the lantern-lit river.
They don’t do a happy hour but always have a burger and beer deal — for 200K VND ($9 USD) you get to choose your burger (of course you will get their vegan BBQ pulled jackfruit burger) and any beer on tap.
Hot tip: Pasteur Street’s regular Pale Ale is Stephen’s favourite. It’s so close to a West Coast IPA that he prefers it to their classic Jasmine IPA.
For budget craft beer in the heart of the Ancient Town, head to Dive Bar. They had a couple of Fuzzy Logic (another Saigon brewer) bottles for 60K VND ($3 USD).
At An Bang beach you will find the best selection of craft beer. Bungalow Beach Bar offers a happy hour deal from 5pm to 7pm: 6 of their 20+ Vietnamese craft beers on tap plus wine at half-price.
There are two other taprooms a bit outside the Ancient Town. Hoi An Brewing Company has a small taproom just east of the Ancient Town. Hoi An Artisan Brewery has a taproom and restaurant where you can get their in-house brewed beers, as well as other Vietnamese craft beers.
Is drinking craft beer transformational? You tell me!
A Final Note About Transformational Things to do in Hoi An
What exactly is a transformational travel experience? We think it’s anything that makes you re-examine your preconceptions, see the world in a new way, or see yourself differently. It’s these experiences that really make travel worthwhile — that’s why we seek to grow and change with every trip we take.
However, no matter how amazing the experience, travel won’t transform you unless you let it. It’s up to you to open your heart and your mind to the possibility of growth and change — and once you do that, even the smallest things can lead to lasting transformation.
Practical Details for Visiting Hoi An
Where to Stay
There are so many hostels, hotels, and resorts in Hoi An that you’ll be spoiled for choice. Ratings are high and prices are low, meaning you can probably afford whatever comfort level you’re after.
The most expensive options are the ones nearest to Hoi An Ancient Town — but you’ll have the advantage of being able to walk from your accommodation to the centre, meaning you can easily get there for early morning or late evening when there are fewer tourists around.
We loved Volar Homestay — even if it’s actually a hotel. Great rooms and wonderful staff!
For budget accommodation, try the hostels and guest houses on Ba Trieu street which has become somewhat of a backpacker’s haven.
The best value options are clustered a couple of kilometres north of the centre, near the intersection of Hai Ba Trung and Ly Thai Tho. A couple of our favourite Hoi An restaurants are in this area too, making this our favourite area to stay in Hoi An.
Beach lovers might want to find accommodation near An Bang Beach. It’s about a half hour bicycle ride from the beach into the city centre, so you’ll want to take that into account if you decide to stay there.
Much of the high-end accommodation can be found along the Thu Bon River and some offer free shuttles into the centre.
Don’t miss our full guide on where to stay in Hoi An and our top picks for every budget.
Find Your Perfect Hoi An Hotel
How to Get to Hoi An
Since Hoi An is on the central coast of Vietnam, it’s pretty much as easy to get to it from the north as it is from the south. Which might be the reason it attracts so many tourists!
Getting up close and personal with a water buffalo should be on your Hoi An bucket list.From Da Nang Airport
Hoi An is just a half-hour drive from Da Nang, where there is an international airport. So if your itinerary is for central Vietnam only, flying into Da Nang makes sense.
Private transfer: A private transfer is our recommended way to get from Da Nang airport to Hoi An. The drive is about 40 minutes and cost is from $10–15. If you’re coming off a long flight, it’s worth it to have a driver at the airport holding a sign with your name on it!
We used Danang Transfer, which offered cheap and reliable service, when we were in Hoi An but you can find plenty of options on TripAdvisor.
Shuttle bus: If you’re on your own and on a budget, you can book a seat on the Hoi An Express Shuttle Bus. Cost is around $6 per person. A driver will be waiting for you when you get off the plane and the shuttle will take you right to your hotel. The only downside is that the shared shuttle takes a little longer — around an hour and 15 minutes.
DiChung Taxi: Meaning “shared taxi”, this is similar to the shuttle bus option and the cost will be $6–7. Just book your ride on their website and choose the “Shared” option to get the best price.
From Da Nang Bus Station
Sinh Tourist bus: There’s a twice daily bus run by The Sinh Tourist (a trustworthy tour company in Vietnam) that leaves from Da Nang’s bus station. Possibly not the most convenient option for every schedule but it’s an air-conditioned and efficient ride for just a few dollars.
Public Bus / Yellow Bus: The public bus is the cheapest, slowest, least comfortable and least convenient way to travel between Da Nang and Hoi An. You can get the bus at the bus station in the centre of Da Nang or at plenty of other stops throughout the city.
If you’re staying in Da Nang, ask at your hostel or hotel for the nearest stop. You can also check out this page for a map of the bus route and more details.
The bus leaves a few times per hour and is supposed to cost 20,000 VND ($1 USD) but the conductor might insist on 50,000 VND if you’re a foreigner.
From Da Nang Train Station
Private transfer: The best option to get to Hoi An from the train station in Da Nang is by private transfer. We arranged one ahead of time online and then kept in touch via WhatsApp as our train was further and further delayed. Our driver was there when we eventually arrived, and even stopped so we could buy some banh mi before driving us straight to our hotel in Hoi An. At a cost of around $12 for the drive, it was well worth it.
Public Bus / Yellow Bus: For the budget option, you’ll have to walk about 10 minutes away from the train station and wait for the public/yellow bus. It takes about twice as long as a private car and will be far less comfortable. The bus leaves a few times per hour and is supposed to cost 20,000 VND ($1 USD) but the conductor might insist on 50,000 VND if you’re a foreigner.
This little girl looked stylish in her warm red coat with a matching candy.From Hanoi
By air: Flying is the fastest way to get from Hanoi to Hoi An (via the Da Nang airport). However, it’s also the least interesting, least adventurous, and most environmentally damaging way. For a transformational trip, we suggest you plan a Vietnam Itinerary that doesn’t involve flying within the country.
By train: For a little adventure, take the sleeper train from Hanoi to Hoi An. It’s a long journey — about 15 hours — but one you won’t soon forget. To make the trip more manageable, think about stopping off in Ninh Binh, Phong Nha, and/or Hue on your way south.
Find the best routes from Hanoi to Hoi An →
From Ho Chi Minh City
By air: Flying is the fastest way to get from Ho Chi Minh City to Hoi An (via the Da Nang airport). However, it’s also the least interesting, least adventurous, and most environmentally damaging way. For a transformational trip, we suggest you plan a Vietnam Itinerary that doesn’t involve flying short routes within the country.
By train: The sleeper train from Saigon to Da Nang is a long journey (around 16 hours) but will give you an interesting experience you’d never get on a plane. To break up the journey, we stopped in Nha Trang and Qui Nhon on our way north. You could also stop off in Phan Thiet / Mui Ne for a little beach vacation.
Find the best routes from Ho Chi Minh City to Hoi An →
In photography, geometry is your friend, especially when it’s part of an iconic item like this Vietnamese farmer hat (nón lá in Vietnamese).Best Time to Visit Hoi An
Though there’s no wrong time to visit Hoi An, tourist crowds and weather are two important factors to consider.
High season in Hoi An: In Hoi An, there are tourists year round, but high season is in spring, between March and May, and fall, in September and October. Weather-wise, these are the best times to visit Hoi An, as the rain usually stays away but it’s not too hot.
Summer season: From June to August, it can be very hot in Hoi An. Not ideal for undertaking lots of outdoor adventure activities but if you want to get some quality beach time in, summer can be a great time to visit.
Rainy season: I’ve only ever been to Hoi An during rainy season — which lasts from late October through February — and I love it! It is much cooler at this time (you might even see locals bundled up in parkas and scarves) which makes outdoor fun more fun.
However, it does rain in rainy season so you do have to work your plans around the weather. Hoi An is prone to floods and the river escapes its banks almost every winter, usually in November or December. The floods can put a damper (ahem) on your Ancient Town experience, as many of the businesses near the river close down.
So, what’s the best time to visit Hoi An?
For the best weather, I’d opt for early spring, unless you’re a beach lover, in which case, high summer is the best!
How to Get Around The City
Since Hoi An is a small, relatively quiet city, it’s much easier to get around than cities like Hanoi and Saigon. Still, things are just spread out enough that walking will limit your experience.
One of the things we love about Hoi An is the use of bicycles for transportation! Hooray for bikes!
Bicycle: Almost every hotel and hostel in Hoi An provides free bicycles to their guests. Even though these bikes are usually junky rust-piles, biking is still my favourite way to get around the city. There’s a thrill to riding a bike that just doesn’t come with any other form of transportation — and because so many tourists do it, locals are used to seeing bikes on the street, so it’s relatively safe, too.
Electric Shuttle: One of the most eco-friendly and fun ways to get around is by electric shuttle. Just order the shuttle from Hoi An Shuttle Bus by phone or WhatsApp and an open-sided electric car will come to pick you up. We used the shuttle a couple of times in Hoi An and loved getting our safely while still feeling the wind in our hair.
Grab Bike / Car: If you’re not great on a bicycle, then Grab is your friend. Grab is the Uber of Asia and in Vietnam the service is exceptional. Just get the Grab App on your phone and a SIM card and then you can easily call a ride whenever you need one.
If you’re on your own, using Grab Bike (where a motorbike driver comes to pick you up) is the quickest and cheapest way to get around. Stephen and I often order two separate Grab Bikes because it’s quicker than a car. You can also get a Grab car if you prefer a slightly safer ride — but be warned, it will be slower too.
Taxi: There are plenty of taxis around the edges of Hoi An, so you can also just hail one the old-fashioned way. Stick with Mai Linh taxis (the green ones) to be sure of a fair price and a safe ride.
Motorbike: On our last stay in Hoi An, we rented a motorbike for our two months in the city because our house was a few kilometres out of town. Renting a motorbike in Hoi An is not for beginners.
Unwritten traffic rules in Vietnam are very different than those in the west and even if you’re an experienced driver, you’ll find yourself facing some scary situations on almost every ride. The advantage is that having a motorbike frees you up to visit outlying areas of the city and to take day trips without the need of booking a tour.
We hope this guide to transformational things to do in Hoi An is useful when planning your Vietnam Itinerary! Our goal is to help our readers make every trip transformational and we hope our Hoi An tips help you have a life-changing experience or two in the city. Get in touch via email or Instagram if you have questions about travelling in Vietnam.
♥ Happy transformational travels, Jane & Stephen
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