Hoi An is a city located along Vietnam’s central coast, and is famous for the well preserved Ancient Town. Originally a trading seaport in the 15th to 19th century, its name translates to ‘peaceful meeting place’.
Even though Hoi An has a small population of about 150,000, it has a vastly rich culture and history.
History of Hoi An, Vietnam
Hoi An Ancient Town is located in Vietnam’s central Quang Nam Province, 30 km south of Da Nang city. Positioned on the banks of the Thu Bon River, it is a well-preserved example of a Southeast Asian trading port which thrived in the 16th and 17th centuries.
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In its heyday, Hoi An welcomed merchants from Japan, China, Spain and Holland and became known as a place of cultural exchange.
Nowadays, visitors make their way to the Ancient Town to experience culture through historic museums, heritage houses and, of course, food and shopping. Around Hoi An Ancient Town’s streets, rich cultural experiences await.
If you wish to experience Vietnam’s rich cultural past, Hoi An Ancient Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is one place to consider for your next vacation.
Explore and discover the beauty of Hoi An and Vietnamese culture with this fun list of 8 things to do!
Visiting Hoi An Ancient Town
The Hoi An Ancient Town is a self-contained site with many cultural sights such as old wooden houses, narrow streets, assembly halls and bridges.
To enter the town’s “sightseeing places”, you will need to purchase a ticket. Each ticket allows international visitors access to five out of the Ancient Town’s sightseeing locations.
Once armed with a ticket, here are some things to do around Hoi An Ancient Town.
Things to Do When Visiting Hoi An, Vietnam
1. Take A Stroll And Breathe In the Sights of Hoi An Ancient Town
Known as a “living museum”, the UNESCO World Heritage Site is famed for its romantic scenery and traditional architecture. Ravel in the sights of the colourful streets as you walk down and observe various shops and buildings within the area.
The Ancient Town is a melting pot of cultures, where you can spot a Chinese temple, French colonial house and a Japanese bridge all in one place.
2. Ride the Rickshaw to get Around Hoi An Ancient Town
Aside from walking, there are other modes of transport to get around, including bike tours. Within the Hoi An Ancient Town, spot rickshaw drivers around the streets ferrying passengers around the town for a ride.
If you would like to explore the Ancient Town in a fun and convenient way, consider hiring a rickshaw to drive you around.
3. Visit a Tailor And Get Custom-Made Clothing
Hoi An was once an important port along the famous Silk Road, which made it an important place for textile trading. Today, the trade is a passing one.
Many tailors can be found along the streets of Hoi An providing services for any type of clothing or accessory made to order. Do remember to search for reviews online to avoid low-quality and less-established places.
4. Enjoy More Retail Therapy
The streets of Hoi An are filled with shops galore! From shoes, clothes and toys, visitors will be spoilt for choice.
Pick up handmade toys or even some traditional ethnic costumes. You will find leather products and even silver jewellery up for sale. It is always fascinating to watch the talented craftpersons working away in their workshops.
5. Visit And Browse The Local Markets For Souvenirs
One of the many popular things to do in Hoi An is to visit the local markets. It also provides a peek into the lives of the locals, and is a great place to shop for souvenirs and enjoy delicious Vietnamese delicacies.
Visit the famous Central Market in the middle of the city, and stroll through the Night Market along the Thu Bon River in the night alongside beautifully lit lanterns.
6. Experience a Fun Boat Ride In a Lantern Rowboat
With its location along the coast, Hoi An has beautiful rivers around the city. It is definitely a must to experience a boat ride along the river. Find beautiful rowboats along the Thu Bon River decorated in lanterns and vibrant colours.
For an enhanced experience, take the rowboats in the night, as the lanterns on the water will be lit, providing breath-taking views as you sail across.
7. Visit The Precious Heritage Art Gallery Museum And Learn More About Vietnamese Culture
For museum enthusiasts and those looking to learn more about Vietnamese culture, don’t miss out on visiting the Precious Heritage Art Gallery Museum.
Displaying the works of world-renowned French photographer Réhahn, who spent over seven years exploring and documenting 54 Vietnamese ethnic groups.
The museum exhibits more than 60 traditional ethnic costumes and heirlooms for visitors to learn more about the history and importance of these ethnic tribes. Entrance to the museum is free.
Where: 26 Phan Boi Chau – Hoi An, Vietnam
Operating Hours: 8 am to 8 pm Daily
8. Visit More Cultural Museums
If you want to learn more about Hoi An’s history, you can pay a visit to museums found around the Ancient Town such as the Museum of Trade Ceramics.
An interesting one to visit is the Museum of Folk Culture, located inside the Ancient Town’s largest wooden two-storey house. It holds a variety of artefacts, traditional costumes and art.
9. Unleash Your Creativity And Learn How To Make Your Own Lantern
Aside from walking and participating in outdoor activities, there are many indoor activities as well for visitors to enjoy. The streets of Hoi An are filled with lanterns, which are symbols that represent happiness, luck and wealth.
There are multiple places where you can join simple guided workshop and make your very own lantern as a souvenir and customise it to your liking. We visited a place called Viet Town, which is both a restaurant and silk shop, and conducts lantern-making workshops.
10. Don’t Forget To Take A Break And Enjoy Some Vietnamese Coffee
A full day of walking around the city can get tiring. While you take breaks in between, why not stop by a cafe for a cup of delicious Vietnamese coffee?
The Vietnamese add condensed milk to their coffee, giving it its iconic sweet taste. As it can get really sweet, ask for less sugar if you do not take to such sweet coffee.
There are many cafes and restaurants around that sell Vietnamese coffee, so it can be easily found within sight. There are even cafes that sell interesting variations of Vietnamese coffee, such as Vietnamese Coconut Coffee!
11. Sample Local Delights
What would a trip be without sampling some local delights?
There are cafes and restaurants around Hoi An where you can try the usual dishes of Phở, spring rolls and bún chả.
Along the streets, you can also find vendors selling desserts such as Mango Cake (which contains no mango but has a variety of fillings such as mung beans or nuts) and Che (a tapioca coconut milk dessert).
Some of Hoi An’s cafes also offer free Wi-fi that you can use to update family and friends of your adventures in the Ancient Town.
12. Explore Old Residential Houses
A person’s dwelling place will tell a lot about his or her way of life.
At Hoi An’s old residential houses, you can learn about the lives of the Hoi An’s people through the things they own and use. Among the old residential houses you can visit in Hoi An Ancient Town are Quân Thắng, Trần Family’s Chapel, Tấn Ký Merchant Heritage House and Nguyễn Tường Family’s Chapel.
13. Take Some Beautiful Photos
Scattered with insta-worthy photo spots, Hoi An is a great place to take home some wonderful family photos against the backdrop of street scenes, lanterns, “villagers” wearing traditional Vietnamese outfits, the town’s iconic yellow walls and boats along the river. Snap away.
Discovering Hoi An Ancient Town in Vietnam
This list is non-exhaustive – there are many things to explore and do in Hoi An. With such a rich culture and history, there is no shortage of fun and exciting experiences to embark on throughout day and night. Take your time to soak in the sights, sounds and wonders as you behold the beauty and magnificence of Hoi An.
For more information, visit the Hoi An Ancient Town website.
if you are planning on visiting Danang, Vietnam, you may wish to check out our review of a Danang resort.