- 6 Things To Do in Hue at Night
- Hoi An: Where To Have A Good Coffee
- 5 Hidden Destinations in Danang You Should Visit
Around 50kms from Da Nang, Hoi An Ancient town is located in Viet Nam’s central Quang Nam Province, on the north bank near the mouth of the Thu Bon River.
It was untouched by the wars against the French and Americans and has remained intact for centuries. It was also fortunate to see its port silted up, which hampered its development in favor of Da Nang, which has since become the third largest city in Vietnam.
The town reflects a fusion of indigenous and foreign cultures (principally Chinese and Japanese with later European influences) that combined to produce this unique survival.
If you are staying for a few days, here are the top 12 places in Hoi An you shouldn’t miss:
Hoi An Ancient Town – The World Heritage
Hoi An Old Town
Described as a living museum of history and culture, the Old Town is a wonderful throwback to its glorious past. Built in the 16th century, Hoi An was an important trading port for the Chinese, Japanese, Indians and Europeans. But due to political changes and changes in rulers, the city was abandoned at the beginning of the 19th century. However, its buildings have remained intact and it was this preservation that led to it being recognized as a Unesco World Heritage Site in 1999.
It’s easy to spend a week or more in this picturesque coastal town.
The Old Town has 1,107 half-timbered buildings, including houses, shops, pagodas and religious buildings. All arranged side by side in tight rows in narrow pedestrian streets. By UNESCO decree, more than 800 historic buildings in Hoi An have been preserved. As a result, much of the ancient town looks like it was several centuries ago.
For example, the original street map is still in place. There are two main roads – Bach Dang parallel to the Hoai River and Tran Phu parallel to Bach Dang and which leads to the Japanese Covered Bridge. A grid of streets and alleys at right angles to them. Therefore, the layout facilitates navigation in the area.
A visit to the Old Town is incomparable without an understanding of its majestic cultural history. Step into private family homes that have been around for centuries, take a moment to reflect on history in a museum, and another moment of silence in religious temples. Learn about the folklore traditions of the theater and learn to paint a theatrical mask.
At night, a lantern boat ride on the Hoai River is a must, while a cyclo tour is an indulgent experience during the day. I recommend that you get up early (5 a.m.) to experience the Old Town atmosphere without the tourists.
The city is pedestrian and free. Only admissions to the Japanese bridge, museums and old houses are payable. To visit them, you will need to buy a pass with 5 tickets (price 120.000 vnd).
To know: Every month in Hoi An, there is a festival, the Full Moon. During this, electricity is cut in the city which is lit by lanterns. There are also several activities such as flaming songs, dancing and traditional games.
Places in see in Hoi An Ancient Town:
- The Japanese bridge, the symbol of Hoi An.
- The most famous and oldest house in Hoi An, the Tan Ky House.
- Chinese assembly halls like that of Phuc Kien
- The ancient house of Duc An
Hoi An Market
The Hoi An Market offers a truly total immersion where you can eat the different culinary specialties of Hoi An, including Cao Lau for a ridiculous price.
There is also an excellent Banh Xeo (Vietnamese Crepe), much better than many restaurants in Hoi An. Despite the fact that the market is touristy, it is still authentic and the locals still go there.
- Avoid the central aisle where most of the tourist stands are crowded, prefer the aisles around.
- You have to go early in the morning and have lunch with the Vietnamese to really appreciate this place.
The Precious Heritage Museum
The Precious Héritage Museum is a museum opened by the French photographer Réhahn but above all it is a museum where you can see most of the original costumes of Vietnam’s 54 ethnic minorities. You can also see different ethnic accessories such as earrings, pipes and more. You can also taste coffee from the Co Tu minority.
It’s also a photo gallery where you can see the photos of the photographer who sublimates Hoi An.
Where to go in Hoi An out of the Ancient Town?
The Tra Que Village
Located 3km from Hoi An, the Tra Que ecological village is an exceptional and timeless place. This is the dream destination of those who love plants, come here to visit the green vegetables and experience a day as a real farmer.
You can learn how to cultivate the old fashioned way with double watering cans (see photo above). The village grows more than 20 different vegetables which are sold in the best restaurants in Hoi An.
I recommend that you come very early in the morning (5am) to avoid the groups of tourists who arrive around 9am.
Note: Gardeners work early in the morning and late afternoon. From 11am to 4pm, the village will be almost empty, especially because of the heat.
The surroundings of the village are surrounded by rice fields and you can easily go for a bike ride. You can hire a boat for 100,000 vnd and go down the river. There is no service for this, just ask a fisherman on site but it’s worth it.
Cam Kim Island
Cam Kim is one of a kind. The island is accessible by the Cam Kim bridge and is located 500m from Hoi An Ancient Town.
Few tourists venture here, which means that the island isn’t very touristy and retains its authenticity. In fact, the island is not mentioned by any of the various guide books. You are more likely to meet a buffalo than a tourist or a car.
It’s my favorite place in Hoi An after Old Town because it’s not crowded with tourists yet. You will not be disappointed, trust me.
Rent a bicycle and ride through the island and the rice fields. A pure happiness.
You will be able to see the village of wood carvers of Kim Bong, the shipyards but also a large number of artisans such as mat weavers, Vietnamese round boat makers, Mi Quang noodle makers (a dish from the region of Hoi An) as well as fantastic landscapes with rice fields as far as the eye can see and buffalos. There is also the fishing village of Tra Nhieu, one of the best known in Hoi An. This is the place to be, a paradise on earth.
My Son Sanctuary of Cham
My Son is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, located 40km from Hoi An. It is a set of Hindu temples built between the end of the 4th century and the 13th century. But these are not just temples, they are the remains of the Champa kingdom, a vanished civilization. Being a history lover, you can spend hours there.
The Cham sanctuary is located in the middle of a forest which gives it a special atmosphere. To truly appreciate the place, a guide is recommended to understand why the shrine is so important.
There are also Cham dance shows in the morning and early afternoon (9:30 am – 10:30 am and 2:30 pm).
Useful information: Price: 150.000 vnd/adult. Hours: 6am – 5pm.
When you come to Cham islands, you will be impressed by its wildness, tranquility and beautiful natural scenery. On the islands, you can try camping on beach, diving, snorkeling and/or trekking. The islands are made up of 8 small islands (Lao, Dai, Mo, La, Kho Me, Kho Con, Tai and Ong) where about 3,000 Vietnamese live who live mainly from fishing. The islands biosphere reserve has been recognized by UNESCO since May 26, 2009.
I recommend that you take a boat to go to the surrounding islands where you can visit fishing villages.
The beaches of An Bang, Cua Dai and Ha My
The beaches of Cua Dai, Ha My and An Bang are a destination for relaxation and laziness at the end of the day after spending a whole day in the rice fields.
My preference is for An Bang beach where there are great bars and restaurants like Soul Kitchen for live concerts, Hmong Sisters for food.
You can also eat directly on the beach with the locals from 5pm. A good experience. Unfortunately, Cua Dai Beach has suffered a lot from erosion and lost its luster.
Located between Cua Dai and An Bang, the Ha My beach in Hoi An is recommended to be quiet although development is happening at high speed.
Cam Thanh (Water Coconuts)
Leaving Hoi An Ancient Town, the Cam Thanh region located 3km from the city center is ideal if you want to go cycling. The place has grown a little too much for my taste, but when you leave the main roads and take the small streets, you will find a quiet Hoi An.
Here, they cultivate and work the leaves of submerged coconut palms everywhere. If you come around 4pm – 5pm you will be able to see the Vietnamese working the leaves picking them up and spreading them out on the roads. The leaves are used, among other things, to make the parasols that you will find on the beaches of Hoi An.
It’s also here that you can do Basket Boat, these famous round fishing boats in the middle of the mangrove of 7ha of submerged coconut palms (almost unique in Vietnam even if they are also found in the Mekong Delta). It takes 100,000 vnd to 150,000 vnd for 1 hour for a basket boat ride.
Be careful there are 2 places to do basket boat tours. One is crowded with Asian tourists (near the Cua Dai Bridge) and the other is popular but quieter and less crowded.
The Prao Village
Prao village is a village which is located 2h30 from Hoi An. Why go to visit this village? Quite simply because it contains the ethnic minorities of central Vietnam, the Cotu.
The place is authentic and you can see the traditional houses as well as the Co Tu costumes that are still worn. It’s not touristy yet so I recommend you go.
Avoid the second village, Nam Hang which is the village for tourists.
To get there, nothing could be simpler, type Prao Village in Google maps and rent a scooter and ride for youth.
Thanh Ha Pottery Village
Thanh Ha is a famous pottery village, with more than 500 years of formation and development. Coming to the village, visitors can not only explore a peaceful, rustic village, but also freely choose souvenirs for relatives and friends, or experience making themselves the pottery products.
The village has a huge park, recently the Terracotta Park. You can learn more about pottery. I recommend you to visit it since there is the portrait of the potters of the village that you can meet afterwards.
Useful Information: Price: 35.000 vnd per adult.
The Village Of The Murals Of Tam Thanh
Located a few kilometers from Hoi An, this village became famous when it was selected for a joint Korea – Vietnam art project. Since then, this village has attracted many tourists who come to admire the many frescoes hidden throughout the village.
The magnificent frescoes represent the villagers that you will be able to meet directly. It’s a good trip to get out of Hoi An Ancient Town.
As the village is located along the coast, you can also enjoy a fine sandy beach without tourists. A must.