Hoi An pretty much stole our hearts and is one of our favorite places in South East Asia! We hunkered down there for two whole weeks after being on a crazy backpacker schedule hopping from place to place every 3-5 days. Although we stayed for two weeks, it only took a few days for us to fall in love with Hoi An. Here’s our Hoi An Travel Guide with everything you need to know about this wonderful place!
Rosie’s was our favorite cafe in Hoi An. Go here for an awesome pour over or for the cold brew. They also have amazing food!
Hoi An Roastery or Cocobox
Hoi An Roastery and Cocobox (basically the Starbucks of Hoi An) are owned by the same people and roast the same coffee beans. You’ll find these all over Hoi An’s ancient town, and all have a super cute vibe, but not the best coffee in Hoi An. Go check one of them out at least once for a classic pourover or cold brew.
85 Celsius Coffee
If you want a sweet treat grab a coconut coffee here around sunset and listen to the live music from Shamrock’s right next door. They also have great tea and iced coffee (Italian or Vietnamese style). It’s a wonderful place to wind down after a day of sightseeing!
Uy Viet Coffee Bean
Uy Viet serves everything, but we came here for the Saigon style black coffee (ask for no sugar if you don’t like your coffee super sweet), and they give you complimentary tea. This is the best traditional Vietnamese coffee shop! It has really cheap coffees (half to a third of the prices you’ll see at tourist-centered coffee shops) and is a great place to sit for as long as you want in the shade with lots of fans and water misters to keep you cool.
Great, no-frills cafe in the ancient town. They serve the best iced coconut coffee in Hoi An!
We stayed at Gia Lam Villa, a beautiful homestay with the nicest staff, perfect location, free bikes (since we stayed for over a week), and an amazing pool. The staff even cooked us some local food for lunch by the pool one day without us even asking! It was located in between the ancient town and the beaches, which was the perfect location – we were about a 20 min walk/ 10 min bike ride into the ancient town and a 40 min walk / 20 min bike ride to the Cua Dai beach. Make sure to find a homestay or hostel with a pool and bike rentals. There are lots to be found on Booking.com, and as long as you find one in an area you like that has good reviews, it’s hard to go wrong!
Take A Vietnamese Cooking Class
There are many cooking classes available in Hoi An that will teach you how to make all the local dishes! However, the BEST class is with Coconut Fragrance Restaurant Tours. The class includes pickup and dropoff at your hotel/hostel/homestay, a trip to the Hoi An market to pick out fresh ingredients, a boat ride to the coconut water village, a second boat ride in a traditional coconut water tree round boat with a local guide where you get to paddle through the coconut water trees and go crab fishing, and a fish feet massage and welcome drink upon arrival at the restaurant/kitchen all before the cooking even begins! The food we made was incredible and the owner, Huynh was the sweetest woman ever – she even ran out and bought us a cake when she found out we were on our honeymoon!!
Have A Beach Day
Take a bike ride over to Cua Dai beach or An Bang beach. Cua Dai is where more locals hang out and An Bang is a bit more touristy, but both are beautiful and very close to Hoi An’s center. You can rent chairs and an umbrella for the day for a great price. For example, we paid 80,000 VND ($3.46 USD) for two chairs and an umbrella at Cua Dai beach. Note: the 80,000 VND was probably negotiable, but it seemed like a fair price so we just paid it without asking.
Visit The Central Market
Even if you don’t go to the market as part of a cooking class, it’s still definitely worth a visit on it’s own! There are no grocery stores in Hoi An, so this market is where all of the locals get their produce, fresh fish, and meat. Go early in the morning when all fish have just been brought in!
Get Something Custom Tailored
When walking around the streets of Hoi An you will most likely be approached by a local asking you to come to their cloth shop, or their sister’s shop, or their auntie’s shop – you get the picture. While it can be annoying sometimes to get approached by people on the street trying to sell you things, getting something custom tailored in Hoi An is an awesome experience to be had! Our go-to tailor was Cloth Shop 7Seven. The ladies were super quick, and can usually do next-day (sometimes even same-day) turnarounds since they know tourists are on the move. You can bring them a photo of exactly what you want and they’ll recreate it for an amazing price. Make sure to be really specific about what you want! They’ll remake anything for you, but it’s better for everyone if you tell them exactly what you want from the beginning. Take the time to walk them through each aspect of the garment you want and how you want it, even if that means looking at the picture together and pointing out what you might think is “obvious.”
Wander Around The Ancient Town
Hoi An’s ancient town is so charming! Walk around to the many shops lining the streets selling pretty much anything you can imagine. Feel free to use your bargaining skills at most of the shops. If you’re not sure whether the price is negotiable, it probably is. There are also historical sights speckled through the ancient town, so if you’re interested in some history it’s a great place to explore!
Head Over To Randy’s Book Exchange
If you need a new book, or want to trade in an old one you’ve been traveling around with, head over to Randy’s Book Exchange on Cam Nam island right across from Hoi An’s ancient town. This place has an awesome selection as well as the strongest AC we experienced in South East Asia! If you need a break from the heat it’s definitely the place to be.
Stroll Through The Night Market
Hoi An might be the most magical place we’ve ever seen by night. The entire ancient town is lit up in lanterns, giving everything the dreamiest glow. Right across the bridge from the ancient town there’s a smaller island called An Hoi where the night market is held. Here you can walk around the different vendors selling food, souvenirs, clothes, accessories, and of course, lanterns!
Take A Lantern Making Class
There are tons of stores in the Ancient Town that offer lantern making classes. Get your arts ‘n crafts on and make an awesome souvenir to take home!
Go For A Boat Ride – Day Or Night
Walk down to the water in Hoi An’s ancient town and you’ll see boats lined up ready to take you for a ride! Escape the midday heat on a sunny boat ride or wait until nightfall when the entire river is lit up with floating lanterns. We’d recommend a quick night ride around the river, as it’s so beautiful to see the twinkling lights all around you! The boat rower will even give you floating candles to make a wish on before sending them floating down the river. Don’t pay more than 100,000 VND for the boat ride, even though they’ll probably start at a price like 500,000 VND.
Drink The Local Fresh Beer
“Fresh beer” is one of the local favorites in Hoi An. It’s super tasty and dirt cheap!! If you find the right spot, you can get a glass of fresh beer for as little as 4,000 VND (that’s $0.17 USD) – we recommend Chips ‘N Fish ‘N Stuff restaurant! The fish and chips is the best we’ve had since L’Agulhas, South Africa – maybe even better!
Listen To Live Music At The Shamrock
Every night The Shamrock bar on An Hoi island, right across from Hoi An’s acient town, has a happy hour with amazing live music. Our favorite thing to do was to grab a coffee at the cafe next door called 85 Celsius, sit outside, sip our coffee, and listen to the music from Shamrock’s while we watched the sunset!
L O C A L F O O D :
The best cau lau (Hoi An’s most famous dish) we had in Hoi An! The white rose, spring rolls, and wonton were also amazing.
Moon Night Restaurant
This restaurant has the sweetest owner & chef who walked us through all of the local dishes and how to properly eat them (order a Banh Xeo and you’ll value the instruction!) It has really good prices as well – definitely worth a visit!
Banh Mi Phuong
This place is the most famous banh mi spot in Hoi An because Anthony Bourdain went there. The Chicken and cheese banh mi was our favorite option here. Go here if you’re curious about all the hype, but if not, you’re better off at Phi Banh Mi or Banh Mi Queen.
Phi Banh Mi
Our favorite banh mi in all of Vietnam. Get the “special” which has avocado and egg on it! We dream about this sandwich constantly – trust us, you can’t go wrong here!
Banh Mi Queen
Another great banh mi place in Vietnam. The mixed banh mi is better than the mixed banh mi at Banh Mi Phuong.
Located right in front of the outdoor market in the ancient town, there’s an indoor hall with food vendors selling all of the local treats: fried spring rolls, fresh spring rolls, white rose, cau lau, and wontons. It’s a great place to go if you want to try a few local dishes while you are out walking around, but if you are wanting to make a special trip to try all the local dishes at once, we would recommend going somewhere like Bon Restaurant or Moon Night instead.
Chips N Fish ‘N Stuff
This place has the most amazing fish and chips! They also have local fresh beer at dirt cheap prices (4,000 VND or $0.17 USD per glass).
N O N – V I E T N A M E S E F O O D :
The best Indian food (honestly it was just as good if not better than the food we ate in India!). The whole menu is great but our favorites were the saag aloo, veggie vindaloo, house special chicken, chicken tikka jalfrezi, garlic naan, and roti.
This place has awesome cheese-stuffed burgers made by an American ex-pat from Wisconsin who wanted to bring his favorite burger – the “Juicy Lucy” – with him to Hoi An!
This tiny hole in the wall a bit outside of the ancient town has ENORMOUS tacos!
Dingo specializes in western food – think huge sandwiches (try a meatball sub or the club), fries (we recommend the potato wedges), pasta, pizza, burgers and any other food you can imagine (they even have bagels for all the NYers out there). They also deliver and have a great online ordering system – you can communicate by email and Whatsapp, so you don’t even need a Vietnamese SIM card to take advantage!
Go here for the best western-style brunch you can get in Hoi An (and probably in Vietnam altogether). They have everything from avo-toast to acai bowls.
Adorable taco place with great tacos and even better nachos!
They’ll make you almost any smoothie you can imagine and they also have some pretty epic avo-toast.
The Hill Station
The perfect place for some wine and charcuterie if you are feeling fancy! But the prices are more in line with what you might see back home, so if you’re looking for a budget meal stick to the rest of our list.
You can walk just about everywhere in Hoi An, but if you are there in the summer prepared to get sweaty – it will be HOT! Bikes are a great option. Most of the good homestays will have bikes available for you to use for a small rental fee or free of charge if you stay a week or longer. Check for the bike rental option when booking your place, but if your place doesn’t offer it, there are plenty of places to rent them for really cheap daily prices (around 50,000 VND or $2.16 USD per day). Motorbikes are also an option, but definitely not necessary. If it’s something you love doing, go for it! There are plenty of places who will rent to you without a license and without any proof that you know how to operate it… not really something we would recommend, but it definitely can be done. There are also plenty of taxis and tuk-tuks around town. We never used one, but you’ll have no trouble finding them hanging out around the ancient town.