My friend, Michelle, and I spent roughly five days in Hoi An, in between visiting Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi. Before getting to Vietnam, it was the place most of our friends or online acquaintances raved about. We were pretty excited to see what all the fuss was for! And while I wasn’t as enchanted as I was hoping to be, there’s still so many things to do and see (and eat), you’ll more than enjoy your stay.

Simply fly in or grab a train to Da Nang and hire a taxi (or have your hotel/hostel schedule your one) to drive the 40-50 minutes to Hoi An.

There are quite a few things we didn’t get to do (check out the beaches or head to Hue), but in the five days we were there, we managed quite a bit of eating, exploring, and, ultimately, relaxing, so I thought I’d make a (very long overdue) post on some of the best things to do.

Top Things to Do in Hoi An, Vietnam

1. Drink all the iced Vietnamese coffee.

Okay, so this is a tip for all of Vietnam, but it’s worth mentioning for Hoi An as well. Vietnamese coffee is essentially drip coffee made with condensed milk, and it’s delicious. We must have had at least three a day! Ancient Faifo: the Cafe (66 Nguyen Thai Hoc) is a cute place with its decor and 9 Grains Bakery & Cofee (441A Hai Ba Trung) was right near our hotel. Of course, our favorite place was #2.

2. Find some peace and quiet at Reaching Out Teahouse.

Of all the coffee shops I’ve visited in the last few years, Reaching Out Teahouse has been one of the most special experiences I’ve ever had. Hoi An’s Old Town can feel incredibly busy and even a little chaotic, but stepping into Reaching Out was like stepping into an utterly peaceful oasis. See more about it here. Also if you want souvenirs, their craft shop has plenty of options. Rest assured, their artisans are paid extremely well.

3. Get clothes tailor made, of course!

If there’s one thing Hoi An is known for, it’s its tailors. There are probably more tailor shops in Old Town than in all of Vietnam (don’t quote me on that). Of course, it’s really easy to get ripped off, so I read about a million posts about getting clothes tailor-made before choosing where to go. Both Michelle and I were pleased with our experiences at Yaly Couture, and you can read the post about it here.

4. Then go to Tuong Khang and get a bag made.

Now, this was a bit of risk because we could have easily gotten scammed, but I’m glad we didn’t because the owner and his family were too sweet! We actually stopped by the shop because the owner’s son was playing and Michelle LOVES little kids. We wound up talking (in a mix of English and Vietnamese) and then decided to get some bags made. I wanted a bucket style cross body bag in black but more casual than most bucket bags I see, and I was pretty pleased with the results. I still use my bag today, and it’s one of my go-to bags! Address: 69 Nguyen Thai Hoc St.

5. Roam around My Son Sanctuary.

One of the UNESCO World Heritage sites, it’s great for an afternoon trip from Hoi An. A cluster of Hindu temples, many destroyed in the war, it was pretty important to the Champa dynasty. Give yourself about 2 hours to walk around and take your time at the difference sanctuaries. If you plan around golden hour, you’ll really see the temples come to life. Our hotel helped us with getting a driver.

6. Go for a little hike in the nearby Marble Mountains.

Looking to get a hike in? Head about an hour away to Danang’s Marble Mountains. They’re a cluster of mountains that have served as a place of Buddhist worship for over four centuries. We went mid-morning and only stayed for ninety minutes, which was a mistake. Go much earlier in the morning and give yourself at least two hours. Check out my guide here.

7. Eat all the street food.

If you do nothing else, sit down on one of those blue plastic stools and eat all the street food. Even if you have no idea what you’re eating, just try it! Michelle introduced me to Thit Nuong (skewers), Dau Hu (dessert tofu), and Cao Lau (a noodle and pork dish), and I highly recommend.

8. Treat yourself to a meal at the Intercontinental Danang’s Citron Restaurant.

On the flip side, for something more luxurious, head to the Intercontinental Danang’s Citron Restaurant. I saw the hotel featured on a few different blogs, and I just knew I had to experience some part of it. I really wanted to sit outside on Citron’s balcony, but it was sadly too windy when we went. Of course, the meal is more expensive, but it’s still a lot cheaper than if you were to get something similar in the U.S. or Europe, and the service was so incredibly kind. If you use the overnight trains, I’d schedule lunch here before you hop on your next ride. See their menu here.

9. Visit the Japanese Bridge early in the morning.

Perhaps the biggest “landmark” in Hoi An’s Ancient Town is the Japanese Bridge. Built in back in 1593, its pinkish decorations are elaborate and gorgeous. Of course, as a bridge, it’s hopelessly crowded as the sun goes down, so if you really want a clean shot, go in the morning.

10. Pamper yourself at Pandanus Spa.

If this wasn’t the best spa experience I’ve had in SE Asia, I wouldn’t recommend it. But it was. For $40 each, we got four hours of massages, facials, snacks, and manicures. We did have to make an appointment, so if you can, try emailing them ahead of your visit to make sure you get the day you want. Address: 21 Phan Dinh Phung

11. Bike (or walk) over to the An Hoi Islet.

If you want a really lovely view of Ancient Town, cross the bridge to look at it from afar. A bit less crowded, and you can see all the yellow buildings in their full glory! Grab a coffee at one of the cafes and enjoy the view.

12. Float around the Cam Thanh Water Coconut Village

We had a beautiful time here. Basically, on Valentine’s Day, we decided to treat ourselves to a day at the spa and then some sort of sunset cruise (our treats for being single, haha). Michelle wanted to ride in a basket boat, and we asked our hotel for recommendations. They then arranged a trip with Hoi An Family Tours. While it’s typically meant to be a full day experience with a cooking class, we only just went out to on a basket boat and enjoyed drifting down the river.

What NOT to Do

  • Ancient Town at Night | I hate crowds. If you don’t mind them or even love them, then, by all means, explore at night. I found Ancient Town to get more and more crowded with each passing hour, and by the time night hit, it was just too much. Michelle enjoyed going out to experience the nightlife, but I opted to stay at our hotel more than a few times.
  • The River at Night | This is an especially crowded place at night, and you’ll be haggled by everyone. Those paper lanterns are unfortunately not nearly as magical an experience as one would think, and after a while, the river just looks littered with paper and trash.
  • Central Market | There’s this marketplace in Hoi An, and if you look on a map it’s about two blocks wide. We walked through it once, and I tried to bike through it super early in the morning, and it’s almost impossible to get through smoothly. Plus, while buying all the flowers in sight would have been fun, they wouldn’t exactly transport well, so the temptation was a bit rough :p. But yeah, unless checking out marketplaces are your thing (I’ve seen some beautiful photographs emerge from them!), you’re not missing out on much by avoiding the area.

Where to Stay

We stayed at Salute Hotel & Villa (see full review here) and would overall definitely recommend it. Luckily, there are a ton of highly rated, beautiful hotels in Hoi An, so you’ll be pretty spoilt for choice.

If you don’t mind noise, there are plenty of places to stay in Ancient Town. Salute Hotel was nice because it was about a ten-minute walk and thus incredibly peaceful at night.

Check here for more places to stay in Hoi An

You can also stay in Danang, about an hour away, especially if you want more of a beach setting. One of my goals is to stay at Intercontinental Danang someday — it was seriously gorgeous. I remember messaging my friends after Citron and telling them we needed to go on a girls’ trip in the future and stay here.

Have you been? What are some of your top things to do in Hoi An?

for more vietnam travel

I’ve been able to explore a lot of this country, so here are all my other guides:

General Vietnam

Northern Vietnam

Central Vietnam

Southern Vietnam

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  1. Interesting post and beautiful photos. For me, Hoi An is the most beautiful place in Vietnam. Everyone should spend at least three days in it to get to know the different faces of this amazing city :)

  2. Hoi An looks so beautiful!! The Japanese Bridge is just stunning. I was in Vietnam about 5 years ago and remember the coffee well… Like you, I must have had at least a few cups a day. Condensed milk in coffee is so delicious!

  3. This place looks like a lovely cultural delight. I like the sound of My Son Sanctuary. Just my kind of place. And so many culinary treats here. Definitely something for everyone.

  4. Your photography is stunning! Just followed you on Instagram from @siniciliya
    One question for you though: why didn’t you share more photos from Hoi An with us? Like maybe 50 more, because they narrate a story.

    1. Haha I don’t know that I even have 50 photos from Hoi An! Typically I do share in sets of where I’ve been on IG when I’m traveling (for example I just had a series for Chile), but now that I have some downtime I’m having fun experimenting, going back to these old photos and re-editing them, and creating photo stories by colors.

  5. A great list of things to do in Hoi An! I’m a big foodie so street food sounds like a great idea. $40 for 4 hours of massage? What a deal!

  6. Hoi An is on my bucket list for sure. I really want to visit Vietnam and for sure check out My Son Sanctuary and float around the Cam Thanh Water Coconut Village, it sounds so unique! I have tasted the Vietnamese Iced coffee before and it is amazing. I really love your photos in this post. :D

  7. I went to Hoi An Vietman a couple of years ago and fell in love with the place. I can’t believe you got to go in the basket boat, I too would have enjoyed drifting down the river. Lovely post and thanks for taking me back there with your experience

  8. Wow! Vietnamese coffee is made of condensed milk? I think I will lose count of how many cups I may have when there! Never knew Hoi An is a hub of tailors! Also the sound of water coconut village is enticing.

    1. It is! Haha that’s the secret to its deliciousness for sure. Maybe not so great for the waistline *cough*. And yes, the coconut village was my favorite part!

  9. Great Hoi An Roundup! I loved Hoi An when I was there. It’s so cute and cozy and quaint! I definitely didn’t get anything made, but it turns out that that was a good thing. I lost a lot of weight in Asia and then came back and gained it all. So it wouldn’t fit anyway. I definitely missed out on a couple of things here. Next time, right?

    1. Definitely! Did you think it was quaint? I’m always convinced we must have gone at an unusually busy time because it was SO crazy crowded when we were there! And that’s a good call. I lost a bit of weight right before Vietnam and then gained a bunch when I got back, so my dresses are a little tighter than they were when I got them made!

  10. This is a great guide to Hoi An. I’ve never been but now I really want to go! I love the idea of getting a bag made and drinking tea. I’ll be sure to take your advice when I’m planning my trip!

  11. Great round up of Hoi An! I love the photos you took! We also loved Reaching Out teahouse! I wish we would have went to the water coconut village!! That looks fun! We actually were a little disappointed with our trip at the time, Scott had visited a few years earlier without me and talked up Hoi An too much to me and even he was disappointed when we got there, haha. But the more and more time we’ve been away it makes me want to go back and give it another shot. Also, I bought two custom outfits there two years ago and still wear them!

    1. Thanks, Megan! Right? I just heard SO much about how quaint Hoi An was, and it just wasn’t… I guess tourism has increased A LOT over the last few years because there were times walking around at night that I just wanted to turn into that person who shouts “EXCUSE ME” and push my way through like a bowling ball haha.

      It’s still beautiful and some of my favorite photos of the trip are from here, but I have a feeling they’re going to have to go the way of the Amalfi Coast and limit visitors into Ancient Town at some point in the future. With all the tourists, souvenir shops, and tailors, it stops feeling relaxed after about 10 a.m.

      Also you guys would LOVE the Water Coconut Village! It was such a lovely way to end the day!

  12. We have yet to visit Vietnam, but like you, we have heard many raving about Hoi An. You have listed quite a few activities that we would love, but i love the idea of getting clothes tailored! I will be checking the detail review :)

    1. Yes! There’s a post I link in my review that’s a lot more thorough and was the main guide I used! They even did an update on how the clothes held up.

      I personally loved HCM more, but I think my expectations were a bit different. For some reason I thought HCM would be a lot grungier than it was? So I was super pleasantly surprised by all the architecture! I kept hearing Hoi An was a hidden gem and quaint, but it’s definitely not hidden anymore.

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