Hoi An is just one of those places that every traveler should visit for a few days at least. Being a Unesco World Heritage site, it has plenty to offer with a much more relaxed feeling than the hustle and bustle of the larger Vietnamese cities.
There are so many things to on this town that sits at the side of the Thu Bon River. To make sure you don’t get lost in the dreamy landscape, here are the 10 best things you can do while visiting Hoi An, and you will quickly see why it is one of the best places to go in Vietnam.
Top Ten Places to Visit in Hoi An
1. Visit the Beach
There are a couple of beach choices that are within a short distance of the town. The furthest is Cua Dai which is a 4km ride away.
The Dai beach is considered some of the best beaches around Hoi An if not in the whole of Vietnam.
If that wasn’t quiet enough, you could take a quick boat trip over to Cham Island. This is actually a group of 8 small islands and is the ideal place to take the kids scuba diving or snorkeling. If you are up for it, you can even take in a spot of fishing.
The second beach option is a little closer and is Bang Beach which is around 3km from the Hoi An old town.
You can reach this by bike for a relaxing ride past the rice paddies. While good, it probably isn’t what you’d call the best beach in Hoi An. That honor probably goes to Cua Dai beach.
2. A Day Trip to Danang
Hoi An to Danang is less than an hour, so it is the ideal place to go for a day trip. It is a world of difference to Hoi An and is one of Vietnams largest cities, so there is plenty to do there. There is a mix of the old and the new, and the beach to mixing with the hip locals.
There are also some hidden treasures you can find such as the Cao Dai temple or the Dragon Bridge. However, take a short ride outside the city, and the family can feast their eyes on Marble Mountain.
These are naturally made caves, five in total, and are made from limestone and marble. There are plenty of tunnels to explore for the kids, and you can rise to the summit of Mount Thuy, or you can take a walk around the Buddhist sanctuaries that are dotted around the locale.
3. The Japanese Bridge
While it isn’t enough for a full day tour, it is great to visit the Japanese covered bridge. Back in the late 1500s, the Japanese wanted to strengthen their bond with the Chinese community. So, the results were the covered bridge.
This has been well preserved and is one of the Hoi An attractions everyone should make an effort to see. As it is due to be renovated, it is time to see it in all its old charm before work continues.
For half a day, or even early evening, you can catch the magic of the bridge or venture around the ancient part of the town.
4. Reaching Out for Coffee and Cookies
When you are looking at what to do in Hoi An, you can get away from it all by taking a quick relaxing visit to the Reaching Out Tea House.
While it might not be the best choice of places to take the kids, you can sit back and relax for a while.
You can take in some real Vietnamese coffee and cookies, and while it isn’t one everyone’s places to visit, it is one of the most unusual things to see in Hoi An.
To find this, you need to venture between all the tailor’s shops which are buried in the Old Town of Hoi An.
The Tea House helps the community and employs physically impaired people, or deaf people, and is owned by a local fair trade enterprise.
5. Visit the My Son Ruins
Vietnam has an incredibly rich history, and you’re never far away from something unusual While staying in Hoi An, it’d be a shame to miss one of the most spectacular sites in the country: the My Son ruins.
These abandoned Hindu temples dating back to the fourth century. For hundreds of years, it was the temple used by kings of the Champa dynasty.
A large part of the architecture at My Son was destroyed during the Vietnam War, but the ruins are still a sight to stand and be amazed at.
The site is about an hour from Hoi An, so it’s definitely one of the best day trips from Hoi An where you can teach the kids about two parts of history.
While you can take a bus tour the My Son Sanctuary, it will be full of other tourists, or you can venture out earlier and catch the sunrise, or later (after 1pm) and brave the heat when it is quieter. This mass tourism is thanks to the Sanctuary being a world heritage site.
6. Take a Trip to Phuc Kien
The Fujian Assembly hall is very photogenic. It was built for the Fujian Chinese visitors so they could meet while visiting Hoi An.
It comprises some fantastic architecture and includes the Jinshang Golden Mountain temple that was built as a dedication to Thien Hau who was the Goddess of the Sea.
It began as a pagoda that was thatched before it was sold to Phuk Kien traders who took on the restoration, where it was then reopened to what it is today.
It is packed full of statues, bronze bells and countless works of art. This might not appear to be ideal for kids, but there are lots of mythical creature statues that can keep them entertained such as unicorns and the odd phoenix scattered around.
7. Explore the Night Life
Although it may be a dreamy town, Hoi An does come alive at night, and after a long day, it can be relaxing to wander down through the Hoi An Ancient Town and a stroll by the river (Thu Bon) where most of the nightlife takes part.
This is where you and the kids get to sample the authentic street food away from the touristy restaurants.
If you are out for dinner, and the kids don’t want too much of the local Vietnamese food, you can take them to Mango Mango, Hoi An has plenty of top restaurants, but this delivers the best fusion food that contains chocolate or fruits. This can be a hit with the kids, and it is one of the best places to eat in Hoi An.
There are a few other places to eat, and the best restaurants Hoi An has to offer may appear expensive, but once you convert it back, most of them are very reasonable. Try Morning Glory for the Cau Lau noodles or the Ban Xheo pancakes.
8. Take Bike Tour in the Countryside
One way to see the real Vietnam is to take a bike tour. This will have the kids excited as they pedal past water buffalo, paddy fields and many other exciting things there are to see.
There are many of these tours you can take, and they are one of the must things to do in Vietnam.
What better place than Hoi An? All you need to remember is, if you want your kids to have
their picture taken with a water buffalo, it won’t be for free.
You can even double up these bike rides with a river cruise, so you get the best of both worlds.
9. Take a Trip to Kim Bong Village
To see how the locals once lived, there is no better place than the Kim Bong Carpentry Village. This Hoi An free tour is available on Tuesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays. Here, you can see the boat making skills, or the rice paper making family.
Volunteers help with this who want to make their town known and to practice their English, hence the Free part.
This free price doesn’t include the ferry or the bike rental. However, it can be another excellent exploration trip for the kids, and if nothing else it will give them some exercise.
10. Learn Vietnamese Cooking
There are countless cooking classes around Hoi An. One of the most interesting for all the family is the Market Tour, Basket Boat Ride, and Cooking Class.
You get much more than just cooking because you get to see what goes into buying all the ingredients.
This tour takes you around the coconut jungle where you see traditional fishermen and the paddling basket boats.
You then get to try your hand at making the best food, and this will be much more than simple spring rolls.
It might sound strange, but aside from having a made to measure suit stitched personally for you, cooking classes are one of the top things to do in Hoi An.