We share our top things to do in Hoi An, and just to let you know in advance, this city stole our hearts. We heard a lot of good things about it before we visited, but it even exceeded our expectations. Even though it wasn’t warm enough to enjoy the beaches too but we enjoyed the city. Our favorite thing about it was how beautiful and full of lights the old town was at night. We felt like in a fairytale.
Best time to visit
The dry season in this area of Vietnam is from February to July. These months provide warm temperatures and sunshine. We visited Hoi An in December, and the weather was great to explore the city but not warm and nice enough to go to the beach. Temperatures were around 20-22 degrees celsius. That is why next time, we would go during the dry season to enjoy the beautiful beaches too.
How to get there
We came to Hoi An by overnight bus from Ninh Binh as traveling by bus is very pleasant in Vietnam. There are different options regarding price and comfort. We tried both, and the cheaper options are, of course, less comfortable. But what we mainly didn’t like at this overnight bus experience (which was one of the more affordable options we chose) was how rude the people from the bus company were. Next time we are going to spend a bit more and take one of the VIP buses we saw. They looked amazing.
The international airport of Da Nang is a one hour drive from Hoi An by car. The shuttle to the airport cost us 10$.
Visa to enter Vietnam
To enter Vietnam every traveler needs a visa. So far Vietnam has no such thing as an online visa. You have the following options to get your Visa. If you travel to Vietnam from home directly you can get your visa at the Vietnamese embassy in your home country before your trip.
If you are already traveling and want to visit Vietnam as we did, you have to apply for your visa at the airport so it’s basically a visa on arrival. But to be able to do so you have to fulfill the following requirements:
- A passport that is valid at least 6 months
- Approval letter (printed) that has to be claimed online before your arrival in Vietnam – we got ours here
- 2 Passport photos per person
- 25 USD in cash for Visa fee per person
Be prepared that it will take you some time at the airport to wait to get the visa. Besides that, it is always good to bring a pen to fill the formula for the visa application.
Top things to do in Hoi An
Stroll through Hoi An’s Old town at night
We loved the old town of Hoi An, especially at night. We went there every night to stroll around and try some delicious treats in the streets. The whole old town is full of beautiful lanterns, and this makes it a very magical and romantic stroll.
On the river, you can take a boat tour with small boats full of lights, or you can release small paper lanterns to the river. It gets quite busy in these streets, but there is a lot to discover, and it was our highlight in Hoi An.
Bike to the beach and go for a swim
As we already mentioned above, when we visited Hoi An, the weather wasn’t good and warm enough to spend a day at the beach and swim. But the beaches in Hoi An are big and have beautiful white sand. There are several cute beach restaurants where you can go for lunch.
Most hotels provide bicycles for their guests for free. We biked to the beach anyway to have lunch even though it wasn’t warm, and we loved to bike around in the city. Just be careful with the traffic, which is sometimes a bit crazy in Vietnam.
Afternoon tea at Reaching Out Teahouse
The Reaching Out Teahouse is a charming place to have afternoon tea and cake or cookies. All the staff is deaf people. That is what makes it a super unique and wonderful experience. It is meant to be a quiet place, so you should only whisper or don’t speak at all. There are cute clogs and notes on the table which you can use if you like to ask or tell the staff something. If you can speak sign language, you can, of course, use it.
They also have a shop where they sell beautiful handmade things to support the hearing-impaired community.
Go shopping or get some custom made clothes
There are a few very cute shops in the old town of Hoi An like, for example, Sunday Hoi An. There you find the cute Marrakech style corner on our photos.
Also, there are countless tailors around the city where you can get your custom made clothing. For simple clothing like a summer dress for a woman or a button-up shirt for a man, expect to pay around 15-25 $. For evening wear like a gown for a woman or a suit for a man, expect a price somewhere between 80-200$ depending on the material and unique details.
Where to eat in Hoi An
Our favorite restaurants in Hoi An are:
- Rosie’s Cafe: Lovely garden restaurant, our favorite place for Breakfast / Lunch, and a great place to work as well
- The Fisherman Vegan Restaurant: Cute beachside restaurant, very delicious vegan food
- Nourish Eatery: Very tasty, best for Breakfast and Lunch, smoothie & buddha bowls
- Karma Waters: Delicious, local, vegan food, and they are supporting amazing projects too
- Quan Chay Dam: Vegan buffet, local food, cheap
- Vegan Zone: Vietnamese and international dishes, fair prices
If you stroll through the streets of Hoi An, make sure to try some street food too. Our favorites were the sweet potato cakes and the mango cakes (which are filled with peanuts).
Where to stay in Hoi An
We stayed at a very cute guesthouse called Volar Homestay. It was very modern, and the staff was lovely as well as a very fair price. We can definitely recommend this place.
How to get around in Hoi An
We usually walked everything during our time in Hoi An. Our guesthouse was located around 20 min from the old town, and we enjoyed walking through the city and always discovering something new.
Most hotels in Hoi An provide bicycles for free, which the guests can use. One day we took a bike and drove through the city and to the beach for lunch. It was a lot of fun to bike around but always be careful with the traffic, which is sometimes a bit crazy in Vietnam.
Besides that, Grab is available in Vietnam and is an easy and cheap way for a taxi if you need one.
Traveling in Vietnam is easy and not expensive. We stayed fifteen days in Vietnam and overall spent 50$ per day for food (20$), accommodation (18$), transport (9$), and sightseeing (3$).
The following are some prices to help you plan your travel budget.
- Bus from Hanoi to Ha Long Bay: 6$ per person
- Bus from Ha Long Bay to Ninh Binh: 21$ per person
- Bus from Ninh Binh to Hoi An: 17$ per person
- Hotel shuttle from Hoi An to Da Nang International Airport: 10$
- Scooter for one day: 5$
- Meal at a local restaurant (fried rice): around 5$ for two people
- Meal at a touristic restaurant: around 15$ for two people
Getting cash in Vietnam
Getting cash is easy, as there are plenty of ATMs available. Unfortunately, they charge you a fee of somewhat between 2.50$ and 4.50$ per withdrawal. During our stay, we had to get cash four times (each time the maximum of 3’000’000 VND). To save money on fees and because most places only accept cash, we suggest always taking the maximum amount of money the ATM offers with each withdrawal.
To get the best exchange rates and save money on fees at the ATM and while paying by card, we use a pre-paid credit card from Revolut.