A boat sites at the riverside with palm trees in the background in Hoi An, Vietnam

Hoi An, Vietnam – Traveller’s Guide

The city of Hoi An, located on Vietnam’s central coast, is made up of several villages, the Old Town and the beach resort of An Bang.

The Old Town of Hoi An is a UNESCO World Heritage Site thanks to its history as a Southeast Asian trading port dating back to the early 15th century. The layout and architecture is influenced by the array of cultures that traded there. 

Nowadays, the town is very popular with tourists and is a well-established stop-off on the South East Asia Backpacker Trail. Due to its history as a trading port, the city has become famous as the spot in Vietnam to get custom-made clothes – there aren’t many places in the world you can get a fully tailored outfit for under $100USD! 


Hoi An, Vietnam, Budget Backpacking Guide 

Hoi An Map and Resources

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Best Time to Visit Hoi An

The central coast of Hoi An has a different monsoon season to the rest of the country. The best time to visit is February to May where temperatures are pleasant and there is little rain. The heat reaches its peak from June-August where temperatures can reach a stifling 38 degrees!

Hoi An experiences heavy rains from September to January, which can be pretty serious. Typhoons, while not an everyday occurrence, are not unheard of. However, it doesn’t rain all the time, so expect spells of good weather and cooler temperatures which can be a relief! 

The flooded streets of Hoi An, Vietnam during rainy season.
When it rains in Hoi An, it really rains!

Where to Stay in Hoi An

Many Hoi An hostels, hotels and homestays are located around the central area of Cẩm Châu, which touches the river on the south-eastern side and spreads out to rice fields as you go north-west.

The Best Hostels in Hoi An

Hoi An Love.ly Hostel

If you’re looking for a relaxed, social vibe, Love.ly Hostel is the place for you. With communal dinners on alternating nights, this is the place to meet fellow travellers. The staff are kind and accommodating, with an intimate knowledge of their city which they’re happy to share with guests. Love.ly Hostel provides budget-friendly dorm beds with privacy curtains and no bunks – so there’s no need to clamber up to your bed after a long day exploring! 

Mad Monkey Hostel Hoi An

As with Mad Monkey hostels across the region, the Hoi An offering makes for an exciting stay. Parties abound with plenty of space to hang out and meet your fellow travellers. The swimming pool is a welcome relief from Hoi An’s sticky weather and the hostel frequently arranges bar crawls around the city. Although it’s a ten-minute drive from the hostel to the Old Town, Mad Monkey put on shuttles to pick up and drop off guests. 

Fuse Beachside Hostel

Located a short hop from the up-and-coming Tan Thanh Beach (right next to the ever-popular An Bang Beach) Fuse Beachside Hostel is the place to unwind and let go when visiting Hoi An. They have their own vibrant beach club (Barefoot Beach Club), which offers the perfect place to party – no matter the time of day! Fuse provide daily shuttles into Hoi An’s Old Town, so you don’t need to rely on taxis or public transport to get there. There are plenty of activities on offer at Fuse Beachside, so if you’re looking for a place to spend a few days chilling out, rather than exploring, this is the spot for you! 

FUSE Beachside Hostel
FUSE Beachside Hostel is a great place to party and make friends!

Fuse Old Town Hoi An

Much like their Beachside offering, Fuse Old Town is an excellent hostel for partying with your fellow backpackers. It’s one of the most centrally located hostels in Hoi An with a bunch of activities on offer, as well as dorms and private rooms. Located right in the centre of Hoi An’s old town, Fuse offers a great base to explore the city while still creating a fun location to spend your evenings! 

FUSE Old Town Hostel in Hoi An
The food at FUSE Old Town Hostel is 10/10!

Cheerful Hoi An Hostel

Delivering comfortable dorm beds and budget-friendly private rooms, Cheerful Hoi An Hostel is an excellent spot to base yourself for a relaxed visit to the city. The hostel is within easy walking distance of the Old Town and the beach is just two kilometres away. The host is one of the nicest hostel owners you’ll ever find and she even offers free, personally guided food tours of Hoi An. Ask about the Vietnamese language lessons if you want to learn just enough to impress every local you come across – it’s not often backpackers put in the effort to learn even a small amount of the languages in Southeast Asia! 

Backhome Hostel and Bar

Backhome Hostel and Bar offers impeccably clean dorms and private rooms. The free breakfast is fantastic, with a range of food on offer. While it’s not the most social hostel in Hoi An – often described as having a more ‘hotel vibe’ – the staff at Back Home are warm and welcoming, even going so far as to remember the names of their guests, which is an impressive achievement when you consider the sheer number of people coming through their door! They offer bike rental and can arrange tours around the city and surrounding areas. Plus, they’re more than willing to give you great insider tips on how to make the most of your time in Hoi An! 

The Seaside Bungalow Hostel and Bar

Just 200 metres from Ha My Beach, Seaside Bungalow is found in the waterfront village of Ha My. It’s around five kilometres from Hoi An but they provide twice-daily shuttles into the Old Town for guests. The accommodation is rustic in comparison to more centrally located hostels but that’s part of the charm! Having a pristine beach so close means the hostel put on bonfires in the evening and beach volleyball whenever you want to play. The wonderful bathrooms are open-topped, so you can shower with the sun beaming down on you! 

Our Favourite Homestays in Hoi An

Vietnam is well known for its fantastic array of homestays. If you’ve never experienced these before, consider mixing them in alongside hostels for a full appreciation of this fantastic country!

Onion Homestay 

For a spotlessly clean, modern homestay, look no further than Onion Homestay. Run by a wonderful family who go out of their way to make sure you’re well looked after and know exactly how to make the most of your time in their city. Onion is just a five-minute walk from Hoi An’s bustling city centre, so you’re never far from a range of great cafés, restaurants and attractions! If you’re looking for a hotel-quality stay in Hoi An, staying with the family at Onion Homestay shouldn’t be missed! 

Under The Coconut Tree Homestay

Homestays in Hoi An don’t get much better than the beautiful Under The Coconut Tree. Offering dorms and private rooms in amazing bamboo buildings, Coconut Tree also have a tour desk and can arrange cooking classes and beach walks for their guests. Located just 200 metres from An Bang Beach, this is a spot for a truly relaxing stay near Hoi An. You can even get a discount at the spa next door!

Under The Coconut Tree is just 200 metres from the beach!

Long-Term Stays in Hoi An

If you’re looking to stay long-term in Hoi An, rent for a decent apartment is around 8-10,000,000 VND / month ($340-$420USD) which is why this is a very popular spot for digital nomads and expats! It’s much better to arrive and hunt around for a place to stay when you get here as prices on Airbnb can be very inflated. There are several Facebook Groups, such as Hoi An Expats – Property where you can post a question and then be inundated with offers of houses and homestays!

Note:

If you’re a digital nomad in Hoi An, you’ll want to check out The Hub, which is a great co-working space, offering co-live packages and regular networking events. It’s a good place to meet other long-termers. 

Click here for more accommodation options in Hoi An!


Things to Do in Hoi An, Vietnam

What the travel guides tell you: Hoi An is a quaint ancient town where you’ll enjoy cycling amidst colourful colonial buildings, stopping to buy souvenirs at the market and enjoying a peaceful coffee by the river.

What the travel guides don’t tell you: Hoi An has exploded on the tourism scene over recent years. Packs of xe-om’s (motorbike taxis) and tourists being ridden around in cyclos (bicycle rickshaws) make it difficult to cycle without crashing! Our tip? Get out to some of the quieter villages of Tra Que vegetable village, Cam An, as well as the beach resort of An Bang for a more laid-back experience.

1. Enjoy Market Life

Located smack-bang in the centre of the old town, Hoi An Central Market is a great place to grab some local street food. Although it’s the most touristy of the markets in Hoi An, the prices for local food are still pretty good. Best experienced in the early morning when the market is at its busiest, everyday market life is interesting to watch as locals trade goods and haggle prices.

Com-Ga-Hoi-An-Chicken-and-rice-dish-Vietnam-2
Hoi An’s markets are a great place for local food!

As you walk through the market towards the port, you’ll find the fish market. Boatloads of crabs, mackerel, cockles and other seafood comes in every day to be sold in the market stalls. Fishing is still an important economic activity in Hoi An.

2. Get Tailored Clothes Made

The main street through Hoi An is lined with tailors that glisten with fabrics and silks. Enthusiastic saleswomen beckon you in, eager to measure every inch of your body and have you fitted for the perfect new outfit! Beware, fellow backpackers, once you’re inside, buying clothes is addictive! 

👉 Check OutStitched Up In Vietnam – Our editor’s tale of getting clothes made in Hoi An!

It’s worth noting that not all tailors in Hoi An are born equal. Since the city became a popular spot with tourists looking for a cheap outfit, the quality in some shops has dropped and the price increased. Shop around and check online reviews to find the best spots! 

3. Indulge in Some Hoi An Specialities

At many of the cafés and within the local market itself, you can try many delicious and freshly cooked local specialities cooked right in front of your eyes.

White Rose, Hoi An.
Hoi An’s White Rose dumplings are exceptional!

Try the Vietnamese savoury pancakes, Bánh xèo, or the famous Pork noodle soup, Cao lầu. Other specialities include White Rose (like pasta dumplings with prawn) and Mì Quảng noodles, so called because they originate from Quảng Nam Province. Street cafés with red plastic chairs and a floor that needs some serious brushing are usually good signs that you’re in the right place to try these Hoi An dishes.

👉 Check Out23 Must-Try Vietnamese Street Food Dishes! 

4. Take a Street Food Tour

Hoi An Street Food Tours is a local company that run a variety of excellent street food and walking tours around the city of Hoi An. On their morning, afternoon or evening street food tour, you will learn about the history, culture and local life of Hoi An, at the same time as trying a variety of local specialities!

Banh Xeo, prawn pancakes - a Hoi An specialty, Vietnam.
Banh Xeo, prawn pancakes – a Hoi An specialty.

Take the morning tour to discover what locals in Hoi An have for breakfast! Take their very popular afternoon tour if you’re super hungry and want to eat as many local delicacies as possible. Take their evening tour if you want to interact with locals and experience Hoi An’s lively nighttime street food scene! At approx. $35USD per person for four hours (and around $25USD for kids) this is one of the most highly recommended things to do in Hoi An!

5. Rent a Bicycle

Hiring a bicycle is, without a doubt, one of the best ways to experience Hoi An. For around $2USD/day you can hop on two wheels, get off the beaten track and explore the streets around Hoi An. (Many of the homestays and hostels offer free bicycles so just ask!)

Just a ten-minute bicycle ride outside the main tourist enclave and you’ll find yourself amidst traditional Vietnamese village life. Water buffalo plough the rice fields and local children play in the narrow streets outside their houses. If you’d like to explore further, a motorbike will cost you 100,000VND / day. (Around $5USD).

Cycling offers an excellent way to get out of the city!

6. Go to An Bang Beach

One of the big benefits of the city of Hoi An is that there’s a beautiful beach only 20 minutes bicycle ride away! Sunbeds line the beach and it’s 20,000VND to get yourself one for the day. Almost as soon as you settle in, menus from hidden restaurants will appear and you can order food and drinks right from your sun bed! 

Top Tip:

When you arrive in An Bang, people will try to stop you before you reach the beach and tell you that you must pay 100,000 VND to park your bicycle. “Park your bike. Get big water.” If you cycle down to the shore and then head left you can park your bike free of hassle.

7. Cafés, Bars and Nightlife

There are some great cafés in Hoi An where you can while away a pleasant afternoon munching delicious baked goods (influenced by French recipes!), drink great Vietnamese coffee and watch street life go by. As night falls, the bars become lively with travellers sharing stories over a beer.

The most popular backpacker bars lie on the other side of the river, some of the most popular are:

  • Mr Bean Bar
  • Whoop Whoop Bar 
  • Why Not Bar

Warning

When partying in Hoi An, always be aware of your surroundings and who you’re with. Never leave your drinks unattended. There are numerous reports of spiking, muggings, fights and sexual assaults at the hands of motorcycle taxi drivers who wait outside the bars. 

8. Enjoy Live Music in An Bang

In An Bang, if you’re looking for some great live music head to Soul Beach or Soul Kitchen where they feature regular bands and artists as well as a monthly jam session with some top-quality musicians from the local area!

An Bang Beach, Hoi An
An Bang is the perfect place to chill out, unwind and listen to music!

9. Take a Cooking Class

Hoi An is a popular place to take a cooking class and there’s no better place to do it than Tra Que Vegetable Garden. Learn about the different herbs and plants used in Vietnamese cuisine before trying your hand at making some of the famous dishes yourself! 

cooking class hoi an - Sabirama
There are plenty of cooking classes in Hoi An!

10. Visit Tam Thanh Mural Village

About an hour outside of Hoi An, you’ll find this unusual fishing village. Tam Thanh was just like any other fishing village in Vietnam until a group of Korean and local Vietnamese artists decided to transform the village into a living art gallery! 

Today, you can take a Tam Thanh Mural Village Tour where you can visit the village, explore the narrow streets and see the houses decorated with murals depicting local Vietnamese life and imaginary scenes. It’s a fun half-day trip from Hoi An, which can also be reached by motorbike if going independently.

Tam Thanh Mural Village Hoi An
Tam Thanh Mural Village Hoi An, Vietnam.

11. Visit the Cham Islands

The Cham Islands are a group of 8 small islands located 8 miles off the coast of Hoi An. Most people get there by arranging an organised tour with pick up at 8 am and speedboat to the islands, as well as lunch and snorkelling included for around $45USD.

If you’re looking for more independence, you can also take the public ferry which takes less than two hours and runs March-September. (Boats don’t run from October-February due to rough seas.) It’s also possible for backpackers to camp on the island overnight.

The Cham Islands are also popular with divers and snorkelers. They can be visited as part of a dive or snorkel trip.

12. Visit My Son Sanctuary

My Son Sanctuary is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with ruins that date back over 1,500 years! The site was built by the ancient Hindu Indian Champa Kingdom and has comparisons with Angkor Wat in Cambodia. You can visit the sanctuary on an organised tour (cost around $20USD) or hire a motorbike and visit yourself. Tickets cost 150,000VND ($6USD) for foreigners to enter the site.

Ruins at My Son
Marvel at the ancient architecture at My Son!

13. Motorbiking Adventures on the Hai Van Pass & Beyond

The area around Hoi An offers great country for motorbiking! The most famous road in Vietnam is close by, Hai Van Pass, which was featured in the Vietnam special of Top Gear.

Hundreds of tourists a day now pass over this road on a Hai Van Pass Motorbike Tour or a jeep tour, but few make it to the beautiful area of Son Tra.

Make new friends on the Hai Van Pass Jeep Tour
Whether you opt for a motorcycle or Jeep trip, the Hai Van Pass does not disappoint!

14. Visit Ba Na Hills

Other areas to explore include the nearby Ba Na Hills, an old colonial French Hill Station, and the Central Highlands of Vietnam along the famous Ho Chi Minh Trail. Hoi An Motorbike Adventures is a company worth checking out if you want to explore off the beaten track roads of Vietnam, away from the crowds.

15. Go Hiking Near Hoi An

Hoi An is surrounded by lush rice paddies and vibrant green fields. While there are very few specific marked routes out of the city, you’ll find small trails and cycle paths littered across the countryside. These make for wonderful walks and you’re likely to pass smiling locals going about their daily routines. Ask in your accommodation for any recommendations for the best routes to take – they may even have maps available with their favourites! 

If you’re looking for some more iconic hikes near Hoi An, Bach Na National Park is just a two-hour drive away – right on the old border of North and South Vietnam. It’s a bit of an effort to get there from Hoi An but if you want pristine wilderness with plenty of hiking trails, it’s well worth it. Guided treks can be arranged in Hoi An, all of which include transport to and from the park. 

Son Tra Mountain, also known as Monkey Mountain, is closer to Da Nang than Hoi An but if you’re not planning to visit the larger city, it’s a worthwhile excursion from Hoi An. The national park is small but features a ton of biodiversity including Red-Shanked Douc Langurs (aka weird-looking monkeys) and the astounding Banyan Tree. 

👉 Book online: Trips and Tours in Vietnam


Food and Drink in Hoi An

An Bang Restaurants

An Bang needs a small section on food just for itself as there are some great restaurants here! First of all, don’t miss K’Tu for the best Phở bò (beef noodle soup) Bún chả (barbecue pork noodles) and bún cá (fish noodle soup) in town! Run by two ladies from Hanoi, we frequented here daily!

Bun Ca (Fish noodle soup)
Vietnamese Bún cá (fish noodle soup) at K’Tu.

Another great Vietnamese local restaurant is Purple Lantern with extremely reasonable prices and above-average food. Make sure you try the grilled scallops with peanuts and garlic – yum!

Hoi An Restaurants

Everyone raves about The Bahn Mi Queen (Madam Khanh), which we tried and enjoyed but weren’t blown away. You’ll notice a queue of travellers permanently outside this eatery, mainly because chef Anthony Bourdain visited here during his TV program, No Reservations.

For an alternative to Vietnamese food, try Hola Tacos for a wicked enchilada and delicious fresh tacos!

We found the best Bánh Xèo (which are the Hoi An prawn pancakes wrapped in rice paper and eaten with leaves) at a little place called Quán Ăn Hải Đảo – don’t believe the bad Google reviews.

For a fusion of local food and western meals, check out Restaurant & Café Tuan. This family-run establishment is super clean, the food is delicious and the staff are some of the friendliest people you’ll meet in Hoi An! 


Getting Around Hoi An

Hoi An is compact, making getting around easy. For most of your stay, you’ll be able to get away with walking but if you want to travel a little faster, or go a little further, cycling is the most common way for visitors to explore. Bikes are available to rent from most hostels and there are plenty of rental shops too. It’s worth noting that the old town closes to all motorised traffic at set times each day, making for a much more pleasant experience if you’re exploring under your own steam! 

Two travellers push bicycles through the streets of Hoi An.
Bicycle hire is common throughout Hoi An!

Cyclos offer a chilled-out way to travel around Hoi An. These peddle-powered rickshaws have two seats up front for passengers with the rider behind. They offer a novel way to experience the city and can be hired for short trips or at an hourly rate. The riders are friendly and offer tours of the old town, pointing out sights as you travel. 

For excursions a little further afield, taxis are plentiful throughout Hoi An. Grab and FastGo offer a more reliable service than taxis. There are also Xe Oms (motorcycle taxis). These can feel a little sketchy, especially if you’re not used to being on a motorcycle, so prepare to hold on. 

It’s worth noting that while Xe Oms are safe enough during the day, they should be avoided at night when the more unscrupulous drivers come out to play. This is especially true if you’re out late drinking and partying. The Xe Om drivers have a reputation for assaults and muggings. 


How to Get to Hoi An

The easiest way to get to Hoi An from anywhere in Vietnam is to aim for Da Nang first. Unlike Hoi An, Da Nang is well-connected, housing both an airport and train station, as well as the multiple bus routes that pass through the city.

From Da Nang airport, train station or anywhere in the city, you can opt for a taxi, Grab or FastGo (30 minutes to an hour drive) to cover the rest of the route. You’ll need internet to arrange a car or bike through a rideshare app so make sure you have a Vietnamese SIM or eSIM

The old bus route that ran between Da Nang and Hoi An was stopped during COVID-19 lockdowns and has never restarted. The cheapest option between the two cities is often to try and arrange a shared minibus in advance. This can either be done online or via your accommodation if you’re already in Da Nang. It takes a little longer than a taxi but is cheaper. 

If you’re travelling from a tourist hotspot to Hoi An, you may be able to get a bus straight to the city – especially if it’s arranged through your accommodation or a tourist office. In this instance, make sure the bus will take you right into Hoi An and not drop you off on the road to the city, which would leave you with a few kilometre walk! 


Where to Go Next?

Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park: Head to this incredible area for caves, trekking, waterfalls and more outdoor adventures. A must-stop on the backpacker trail for any adventure lover!

Hue: Continue your journey northward with a stop in this historical city of ancient pagodas and palaces.

Kon Tum: An upcoming area for backpackers to visit, Kon Tum is a city located deep in the central highlands of Vietnam. It’s a place where people base themselves to visit the nearby hill tribes of Bahnar, Sedang and Jarai ethnic minorities. It’s around six hours by bus to get here.

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