Ah Hoi An, our favourite place by far in Vietnam. This quaint little town is unmissable and any visit to Vietnam must include a stop off here. It’s a small town that centres around the ‘Ancient Town’ which is a small area of shops and restaurants, you are only allowed in on foot which is a rarity in the usual busy streets of Vietnam which makes it feel extra special.
A beautifully lit river runs through the town and it’s home to local fishermen, farmers and a huge daily market where you’ll find everything from organic beansprouts to fish caught 4 hours ago. It’s a small bubble of tradition that we’d recommend getting to before it bursts and floods full of tourists and modern hotels.
We heard about this tour on TripAdvisor and can highly recommend it. It’s a highlight from our whole time travelling, let alone just Vietnam. The tour included being picked up by our guide and spending the day living as a Vietnamese farmer. Firstly we shopped at the market for our meal, followed by a bike ride to a small farmyard where we rode buffalo, planted seeds, learnt how to cook and explored the farms lake on a bamboo boat. It was an excellent day and for £25 each, we can highly recommend it as money well spent.
Walking around the Ancient Town in the evening is beautiful. It has a charming, romantic feel to it and is lined with a range of restaurants ranging from fine dining to the cheaper eats. Unlike most shopping areas in Vietnam, that can feel slightly tacky like most tourist spots, the ancient town has remained traditional and unique when it comes to it’s unusual range of shops. There is a small charge to enter the Ancient Town, I think it’s just a few pounds, however our hotel advised us to only pay if we were asked. Despite walking through the town every night, we were never asked to pay so you’ll probably avoid it too.
Rent a bike
Exploring Hoi An on bike is highly recommended. As it’s so small a motorbike isn’t needed and a bike fits in with the relaxed lifestyle more so anyway. You can get pretty much anywhere in Hoi An within 20 minutes on a bike so it’s a great way to see the sights. You can ride up and down the river, through the farmers villages or even to the nearest beach which is only 15 minutes away and is well worth a visit.
As with most accommodation in Vietnam it is very cheap in Hoi An. There are plenty of hotels around the Ancient Town to choose from but you may prefer to stay around An Bang beach which is another popular option. Bear in mind that you will need to get a taxi/hire a bike to get into the Ancient Town from there though. We stayed in the Huy Hoang River Hotel which was great, cooked to order breakfast was included for around £14 per night and it had lovely balcony areas to the back of the hotel overlooking the river.
You’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to eating in Hoi An. If you’re a fan of fish, many of the restaurants serve locally caught fish that’s super fresh and comes highly recommended. If you’re after a cheap meal, the street food in Hoi An is some of the tastiest we’ve had and the portion sizes are large. If you can, make your way toward An Bang beach area where you’ll find some of the TripAdvisor top rated eateries.
No place in Vietnam is complete without motorbikes zipping around, but in comparison to Hanoi for example the roads in Hoi An are far less manic. You can get around by taxi if you choose to do so but it’s such a small town that most places can be reached on foot. If you do want to squeeze as much in as possible into your visit we’d recommend hiring a bike. Most of the hotels can supply a bike for the day and the prices will shock you, we paid £1 for the whole day!