In this post I’m going to sum up the best things to do in Hoi An, how to get there, and my suggested itinerary to get the most out of your trip!
Hoi An is one of the highlights of my recent trip to Vietnam. China has similar ancient towns but Hoi An has a particular atmophere, epsecially if you’re lucky enough to see the lantern festival.
After visiting Ho Chi Minh City and relaxing in Mui Ne I headed to Hoi An where I visited the little town for a couple of days.
Let’s first briefly introduce the city!
Where is Hoi An and why should you visit it?
Hoi An is the number 1 Vietnamese location according to the Lonely Planet’s top20.
The historic part of the city is absolutely lovely and worth its good fame.
Nonetheless, the RIDICULOUS RULES of the tourist ticket you need to purchase to visit it partially ruin this experience.
I’ll get to that later.
First, let’s see why the Lonely Planet is totally in love with Hoi An and why I am too:
- In a country where practically everyone goes by motorcycle, it is awesome to find a place so quiet and little traveled. It’s so easy to get around, just rent a bike for few dong and go exploring!
- no other place in the world has better tailors than Hoi An! At least as far as quality / price is concerned. More than 400 tailors ara active in the old town and prices are really affordable.
- the entire city turns into a magic place just like in Miyazaki‘s movie Spirited Away: after the sunset a thousand lanterns light up the Hoi An turning it into a romantic and surreal place.
- perfectly preserved ancient houses and wonderful temples, among the best in the entire country.
This is just a glimpse of what Hoi An has to offer.
Keep reading to find out the best way to get there and how to plan your visit !
How to get to Hoi An
Just to make it clear, there is no airport in Hoi An. There is no train station either.
There’s a reason for this little inconvenience. The government wants to protect this Unesco’s Heritage City from mass tourism and keep the ancient town intact. Traffic is also restricted, in fact only bicycles and pedestrians are allowed to enter.
The closest airport is in Da Nang (DAD) , 30 km from Hoi An old town.
Da Nang is well connected with the most important domestic and international airports. Jetstar, VietJet Air and Vietnam Airlines have daily flights to Da Nang.
You can get a flight for literally 10-30$ if you book well in advance from these popular Vietnamese cities:
- Da Lat
- Nha Trang
I personally took a flight from Ho Chi Minh City to Da Nang with VietJet Air for around 20$. It’s just 1 hour flight! Extremely convenient. I totally recommend Vietjet, according to my experience ( flew 3 times with them) they were always on time and have the cheapest fares.
Once arrived in Da Nang you need to get to Hoi An (30 km far) which is fairly easy, providing you booked a pick-up service with your guesthouse.
I paid 10$ / 250,000 dong for a one-way private car ride to Hoi An (agreed in advance with my guesthouse via email) . Arriving in Da Nang at 10.10 pm I didn’t want to bother looking for a bus/dodgy xe motorbike driver. Moreover you’ll find everywhere on the web bad experiences of people being dropped in the middle of nowhere between Da Nang and Hoi An.
If you arrive to Da Nang in daytime you can try to get a bus to Hoi An for just 100,000 dong (08:30 am, 01:45 pm). It should take 45 min.
The stupid rules of the entrance ticket
There’s plenty of things to do in Hoi An
With an entrance ticket to the old town, you can only enter up to five of the 20+ historical buildings open to the pubblic.
Yes, it sucks.
You can purchase tickets at any ticket stall for 120,000 dong. Once you enter, say, a temple, the security guy will stamp your ticket.
After 5 stamps you won’t be able to enter any other building, not even paying an extra fee.
All you can do is go back the day after, buy another ticket and visit 5 more places.
It’s totally ridiculous and that’s why I’m here to help you 🙂
Top 5 Places to Visit in Hoi An
Main attractions include museums, ancient merchants’ houses, pagodas, assembly halls, communal houses and the world famous Japanese Bridge.
Here you are the absolute best 5 places to visit in Hoi An!
1 – The Japanese Covered Bridge
First built by the Japanese community living in Hoi An in 1590s, this bridge is the symbol of Hoi An.
2 – Tan Ky House
Built more than 200 years ago, this is arguably the most beautiful ancient house in Hoi An. The style of the house is a the combination of Vietnamese, Japanese as well as Chinese architecture and design. Seven generations of the family have continuously strive to keep the house in good condition.
3 – Phung Hung House
This old house is very close to the Japanese Bridge. Generations after generations, there are still people living in this house as well. Probably the only house in Hoi An where tourists are allowed to visit both floors.
4 – Duc An House
This is probably the most elegant of he ancient houses of Hoi An. The property has been inhabited by the same family for over 400 years
5 – Quang Trieu – Cantonese Assembly Hall
founded more than 150 years ago. I liked for the beautiful mosaic statues of dragons. Having lived in Guangzhou for so long I couldn’t not to visit this temple!