Hoi An, a culturally rich town known for its food, lanterns and yellow walls invites tourists from all over the world and has been a UNESCO recognized world heritage site since 1999. Along the Vietnamese coastline, this town is a delight owing to the pocket-friendly prices, warm people and abundance of stories in each alley. While most would prefer covering this town is a day coming in from the vibrant Da Nang. We would suggest nothing less than 48 hours. Just the glorious food in this town is enough to keep you on your toes…
Kickstart your day early, get your all-access pass required for the ancient town of Hoi An which buys you entry to all the historic points. These tickets are available at all entry points for about 120,000 VND or you could choose to pay 5 USD. We suggest this head start for beating the crowd and heat to get a glimpse into the architecture, narrow alleys and the locals just beginning their days. You can grab a Banh Mi and some traditional coconut coffee or even visit the local market for fresh treats to jumpstart your day!
Be sure to grab a map of the ancient town as this will help you mark off the destinations to visit. Start the old town tour with the Japanese bridge built in the 16th century, later reconstructed by both the Chinese and Vietnamese, and head down to Phuc Kien, one of the assembly halls built by Chinese merchants.
After briefly walking through history, grab lunch at one the many established restaurants or cafes which boast elegant interiors and delicious meals, the best of Vietnamese cuisine. While there are many things we love about Vietnam, the harsh sun in the afternoon remains unbearable so we suggest taking a brief break.
Once you return in the evening, the city will be settling down in a different hue of colors. The river between the historic town reflects the beautiful colors making it all seem almost magical. This is the perfect time to grab a cup of the local egg coffee or even sip on a cocktail along the river. We were lucky enough to have come around the full moon celebrations where every fortnight the entire city relies solely on candles. It is quite the sight to behold. After grabbing some refreshments, move over into the night market buzzing with life and color boasting cheap local food, some shopping and an array of photo opportunities along this side of the town. The slow-paced Hoi An starts to unwind around 11PM giving the perfect end to a long day.
After grabbing breakfast, start your day with a day tour into one of the two attractions – Cham Islands or My Son ruins. Both these tours will run you between 3-6 hours depending on how you choose to cove them. But we strongly advocate going to the My Son ruins which are a world UNESCO heritage site known for its cultural and spiritual origins. The ruins are an hour away from Hoi An and makes for a beautiful scenic drive. And the tours usually include a lunch or breakfast depending upon the time you leave.
Unwind at a café upon your arrival back into the ancient town. We love Cong Caphe for it’s not only one of the air-conditioned cafes but also offers delicious drinks amidst detail-oriented interiors. The place gives us a sense of the country’s past with the thoughtful pieces decorating the two-storied café along the river. You could even visit one of the rooftop cafes for a panoramic view over the entire city giving you the perfect Instagram shot.
Next you must catch Sunrise at one of the many shacks at An Bang Beach. Although Hoi An is not known for the beaches, we must say we were in for a surprise because of the soft sand, beautiful sea and amazing Mediterranean style shacks. We recommend The Deck House for their delicious food and Shore Club for its sea facing pool and cocktails. Set along the coastline offering generous views of the never-ending ocean, these spots make for the perfect sundowner with their lively crowd and upbeat music.
To end the day, grab one last meal along the river at one of the local joints. Relish a bowl of Cau Lau or Pho while soaking in the historic city and all its glory. The well-preserved city offers so much in terms of food, culture and stories. Take it slow and soak it all in, there is too much to do but enjoy each experience to the fullest before moving on the next big situations. For a detailed article on the scrumptious food here, check out this article!