Hoi An boasts the grand architecture and alluring riverside setting that was recognized as UNESCO World Heritage site. Here are best Hoi An travel tips.
Hoi An is an ancient town in the lower section of Thu Bon River, Quang Nam Province, just about 30 kilometers south of Da Nang city. Hoi An used to be a bustling international trading port, a meeting place of the trade ships and businessmen in Japan, China and the West during the 17th and 18th centuries. Before this time, there was here also traces of Champa port which was known as a site on Silk Road along the sea.
With historic architecture, a stunning mix and other striking values, the old town was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1999.
Today Hoi An is still a traditional port city and maintains an intangible cultural diversity and richness with old architecture dating from the 17th – 19th century which has been well preserved. It is also a land mark recorded much of the mixture of acculturation and well-known as a culinary mecca and one of Vietnam’s most important tourism centres.
There are a lot of lounge bars, boutique hotels, restaurants with big hearty American meals, shopfronts with a glow of silk lanterns, yellow houses in bougainvillea, and a glut of tailor shops in streets. And yet, you can take a trip with a superb bicycle, motorbike or boat– and some of central Vietnam’s most enticing, bucolic scenery and beaches are within easy reach.
Along the riverfront is now full of bread and butter, locally unique signature dishes, tailor shops mostly service personal bespoke orders and offering suits made in less than 24 hours. Most people are charmed by the giant showcase in the narrow ways and sidewalk vendors in the streets.
There is no shortage of bacon in town, but no one can miss Cao Lau, a textural puzzle of thick rice noodles resting in a light broth, topped with pork, lettuce, basil, mint, sprouts, peanuts, and a pile of croutons.
Somehow, Hoi An retains its serenity and peace. Life in here just seems to flow quite slowly. Many visitors are fascinated around old street corners all day without being bored.
On the 14th day of every lunar month, people in Hoi An gather in the Old Town streets to sing, dance, play musical instruments and listen to poetry. At that time, traffic is closed, streets are bustling and the homes are colorful with lanterns that provide a spectacular dimly lit backdrop.
Not yet, local poets visit homes to recite their poetry to a soft playing 16-stringed zither. A few blocks away, a traditional orchestra plays and young women sing folk songs to be enjoyed by anyone just passing by. Hoi An’s Legendary Night is truly what legends are made of.
Hoi An locals traditionally sing chants while working in the field or fishing on the river to relieve tiredness and exhaustion and forget the heavy work at hand.
The town owns many historical attractions, and beautiful beaches, which is worth some daytrips. Close by is the fascinating ruins of My Son Sanctuary, as well as Cua Dai Beach and China Beach with a wide range of activities such as windsurfing, snorkeling, swimming and sunbathing. Hoi An city is one of the quietest in Vietnam. Keep in mind that cars are not allowed in the main streets and, motorcycles do not blow their horns all the time.
How to get there
Hoi An has neither airport nor train station. The only way to get there is by road. You can hire a taxi from the neighbouring city of Da Nang, which have an airport, a train station and bus services with daily flights from Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and other large Vietnamese cities. If you are in Da Nang, you can choose one of following transports:
- Taxi: you should negotiate the fee before going, which usually costs 300,000 VND – 400,000 VND ($15-20).
- Bus: Many hotels in Hoi An provides bus from Da Nang International Airport to Hoi An, for about $2-3/each. These minivans can carry 6-10 people. You can also choose the Sinh Café, the popular bus pass service which makes a stop in Hoi An.
The cheapest bus is the city bus at 33 Dien Bien Phu, Thanh Khe District, Danang. It runs every hour and costs about $1 for one-way ticket but the bus is quite old and slow.
- Motorbike taxi: Also called xe-om, this is the most common method to get around in Vietnam. A trip from Da Nang to Hoi An by motorbike usually ranges from 150,000 VND to 250,000 VND/each, depending on your negotiation. A suggestion is you should rent a motorbike or even a bike to travel if you want to stay Hoi An a day.
Visitors have a diverse selection of hotels in both Cua Dai Beach and Hoi An City, whatever suits your pocket and style from the five-star Palm Garden Resort Hoi An to simpler accommodation choices such as the Phuoc An Hotel.
Each ticket is valid for 10 days and costs 120,000 VND (6 USD) for foreign tourists or 80,000 VND for domestic visitors. You have to pay 85% of ticket fee for the restoration and upkeep of the ancient town, for example paying for renovations, staff and the families that open their ancient houses for viewing.
Children under 16 years old (domestic or international visitors), are totally free.
If you want to stay for a long time in Hoi An, don’t forget to keep the tickets and show them to the ticket controller whenever you want to get into the town.
Travel inside Hoi An
Hoi An is relatively small, so visitors can walk around streets. However, if you feel tired, you can take a taxi or a cyclo (you should negotiate before getting on the transport). Renting a bicycle or a motorbike is also popular in here, you can freely travel and payment is not high. If you stay in a hotel, you should ask the hotel staff to be advised about renting.