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Top 18 Things To Do In Hoi An

Published on October 22, 2018 by Anna Ngan

Named a UNESCO World Heritage, with the well-preserved architectures of a Southeast Asian trading port, Hoi An is a must-see destination when you visit the Central of Vietnam. Hoi An can bring a lot of experiences which help tourists to have a sense of Vietnamese lifestyle and culture. They can vary from strolling down the streets, enjoying the cuisine to playing traditional games. They can be either obvious activity that you can notice right away, or just little details that may be easily ignored. Some beforehand information will help you to create a suitable itinerary for your trip.

Below are our top picks for things to do in Hoi An so that you can make the most of your time here.

1,Wandering around Hoi An Ancient Town at night

Wandering around the Old Town is a simple activity, but it is the first thing you should do when you visit Hoi An. Hoi An Ancient Town is the home to a variety of old shops, museums, temples, worshipping houses… These buildings’ designs portray a mix of indigenous cultures and foreign influences during the town’s history of evolution. Especially at night, the streets are lightened with hundreds of colorful lantern, creating a festival of light. On the riverside, you can see reflection of these lantern-lit roads and houses on the water surface. It adds the feeling of miracles and mystery to this old town.

2,Putting paper lanterns on the river

Aside from observing the beauty of Hoi An at night, you can also participate to contribute to that beauty. One particularly interesting activity is putting paper lanterns on the river. These small lanterns are believed to bring luck to you and your family. You will enjoy your time watching your little lanterns joining in the flow of light on the Hoai River.

3, Trying Cao Lau dish

Cao Lau is one of the special food in Hoi An that you should try. Its name means “high floor”, rooting from the past when traders coming to Hoi An usually ate on the high levels of the buildings. This dish is made of noodles, pork and local green, served with a lot of herbs and vegetables to enhance its flavor. You can enjoy Cao Lau in Ba Be restaurant or Hat restaurant on Tran Phu Street, or in many other restaurants for foreigners along Bach Dang Street.

4, Eating “the most delicious sandwich in the world”

David Farley, a reporter of BBC, who wrote the article “Is the Banh My the best sandwich in the world”, has admitted that Vietnam’s Banh Mi is the most magical food. The Banh Mi he tried in Hoi An is also the one that impressed the two celebrity chefs, Anthony Bourdain (the US) and Cameron Stach (Canada). Within a Banh Mi, there are pork, ham, pate, long slices of cucumber, fresh cilantro, pickled carrot, juicy tomato slices and a flurry of sauces.  This dish is described as “a symphony in a sandwich”, one of the must-try cuisine for both domestic and foreign tourists. You can find many Banh Mi shops in Hoi An such as Banh Mi Phuong (Phan Chau Trinh), Banh Mi Madam Khanh (Tran Cao Van) and Banh Mi Ba Lanh (Cua Dai).

5, Taking a boat on the Hoai River at night

Hoi An Ancient Town is exceptionally gorgeous at night and you can see this wonderful town in different ways. One of those ways is to take a boat on the Hoai River, letting the boat strolling on the river and appreciating the bright streets on the riverside. This activity is a favorite of couples and family, bringing the sense of romance and quietness.

6, Spending your time at a café

After wandering around Hoi An, you may get tired and want to have a break. There are many cafes in town, serving all day and letting you have some hours of relaxation. They have local cuisine and Vietnamese coffee as well as western foods, French pastries and home-made ice cream. There is also a special café in Hoi An for the deaf people, called Reaching Out on Tran Phu Street, where you can sit in silence, read a book and drink a cup of coffee.

7, Getting a tailor-made suit or dress

The tailoring service in Hoi An is really developed. You can easily find lots of local tailors along the town’s streets. The tailor-made suits and dresses here are very affordable, and have a wide range of catalogues which can help you find the best size and style for you. Moreover, local tailors are fluent in English and French, they need just 24 hours to make your clothes and they are ready to deliver to your hotel’s door.

8, Swimming in the beach

Hoi An has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, among which two most famous ones are Cua Dai and An Bang. They are long white beaches, overlooking crystal-clear ocean and blue sky. Going here, you can let go of any concern and sadness, enjoy the quiet and peaceful feeling in natural beauty.

9, Visiting old houses

There are many old houses in Hoi An, most of them have a long history through wars, modernization and natural destruction. They are the invaluable assets to Hoi An as well as to the current world. They tell you the stories of development and evolution of this town. For example, the Tan Ky old house is the first house to be recognized as the national relic site in Hoi An. Phung Hung old house, Quan Thang old house… were built by Chinese traders and show the influence of Chinese style on the town’s architecture.

10, Diving to see coral reefs in Cu Lao Cham


About 15 km far from the Ancient Town, Cu Lao Cham is one of the best destinations around Hoi An. Tourism industry in Cu Lao Cham has not been well developed, keeping this place a wild and attractive site for adventurers. The coral reefs here are very colorful and beautiful, and seeing them is a favorite activity for many tourists. In addition, you can also make a campfire, sleep in a home-stay and enjoy fresh and healthy seafood.

11, Playing traditional games

Traditional games are a great way to have fun and learn about people and their history. There are many traditional games in Hoi An that you can participate at night, one of which is the famous ancient folk game of Bai Choi.  These games are an indispensable part in the social lifestyle of people here. They are interesting and simple – require only a street corner to make a stage. You can find local people and other tourists playing these games in Nguyen Thai Hoc Street and Kazik Park as a part of Hoi An’s nightlife.

12, Taking a photo in Hoi An

Hoi An has been praised by the BuzzFeed Travel website as one of the best places in the world to take a selfie. The architectures, the colors, lights and natural views in Hoi An build an old Asian atmosphere, creating a wonderful background for any travel photo. Taking photos in the famous places like An Hoi Bridge, Japanese Covered Bridge, Hoai Riverside… is also a way for you to keep memories of your trip to this unique World Heritage Site.

13, Taking a ferry through Cam Kim

Cam Kim Islands is a short ferry ride from the Hoi An Ancient Town, providing a picture of rural life far away from the normal hectic cities. In the past, it was famous for wood-carving village in Hoi An – nowadays there are fewer and fewer woodcarvers here. Taking a ferry through Cam Kim Islands will reward you with picturesque rural scenes, rice paddles and villages.

14, Purchasing a lantern

Lanterns are considered as one of the symbols of Hoi An. Here you can find lanterns of all sizes, shapes and colors. The lanterns illuminate the towns at night and tell the history of this place. Hoi An is such a beautiful and magical destination that you may want to purchase some souvenirs to remember about this town. Lanterns will be one of the best choices, both as a souvenir and as a gift for your friends.

15, Visiting Hoi An on the fifteenth day of a lunar month

You will be very lucky if you can visit Hoi An on the fifteenth day of a lunar month. On this occasion, at night, lights are shut down, the whole town is brightened with a sea of lanterns. In some certain months, the fifteenth days are also the day of festival, such as Lantern Festival, Ghost Festival, Mid-Autumn Festival. These special days will serve you a feeling of ancient time, an atmosphere of cultures and the beauty in Asian beliefs and lifestyles.

16, Biking and cycling

Biking and cycling around Hoi An will help you to experience this town in a different way. Hiring a bike is pretty simple as now almost every hotels in Hoi An has this service. You can cycle on small roads, stop at the beautiful places to take pictures, and continue the journey on the bike.

17, Participating in a cooking class

After enjoying some traditional Vietnamese foods such as Cao Lau and Banh Mi, you may want to discover more about Vietnam’s culinary culture. There are one-day and half-day cooking class offered in Hoi An, which can suit your time and pocket.  The class is authentic, as your teaches will be professionals from popular restaurants in the Old Town. If the weather is good, you can also get the chance to go to the local fresh produce markets and choose the food yourself.

18, Visiting Tra Que Herb Village

One of the most special about Vietnamese cuisine is that the foods are usually eaten with herbs. A famous place for planting herbs is Tra Que Village, located 3 km away from the center of Hoi An. Visiting Tra Que Village, you will see directly how the farmers grow and take care of the vegetables. The place is also known for having such a unique farming land that even without chemicals, herbs grown here still have natural fragrant smell and high quality. The village also has stunning lighting, lovely surrounding and friendly people, which makes it a top attraction for both domestic and foreign tourists.

Final words

Hoi An is a unique destinations with lots of attractions, a variety of activities and limitless amount of gorgeous natural views. It is not only a World Heritage Site to be protected, it is also a beauty to be appreciated and loved. Visiting here, you can’t help but be impressed by the rich and well-preserved culture in this town. We hope that the above information has provided you with an overview of what you can do in Hoi An. And then you will be able to make the best itinerary for your travel to this beautiful and magical place.

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