4 days in Hoi An
Hoi An is one of the best places I have visited. I was literally awe struck at its beauty at night with thousands of lanterns surrounding the Ancient Town. Make sure you spend at least 4 days in Hoi An – you won’t regret it! My itinerary (as well as things we missed) is below.
Day 1 of 4 days in Hoi An
After an early start flying into Hoi An, we chilled by our hotel pool in the morning. In the afternoon we had the most amazing Sightseeing Tour with I Love Asia who offer the first scooter tours in Vietnam with local female guides.
You can read the full blog post here and the highlights were:
- Visiting a local house and making rice noodles
- Visiting local villages
- Eating local food including the best Banh Mi!
- A bamboo basket ride
- Exploring the Ancient Town
It was such a great way to find out more about Hoi An with two lovely local ladies.
Day 2 of 4 days in Hoi An
When researching where to visit in Hoi An, Hue came up a number of times. However, we didn’t quite have enough time to fit it into our itinerary. So we did the next best thing and went on a day trip to Hue from Hoi An! Yes, it is a long day but you get to see the main sights and experience part of Hue including the Imperial Citadel, Khai Dinh Tomb and Thien Mu Pagoda.
You can read the full blog post here.
Day 3 of 4 days in Hoi An
Spend a whole day just experiencing the Ancient Town! In the 16th and 17th centuries, Hoi An was the international trading centre in Southern Vietnam. Foreign merchant ships came to Hoi An in great numbers for annual commercial fairs, lasting 4-6 months and Japanese, Chinese, Dutch and Indian traders established their own quarters in the city. In 1999, Hoi An was added to the World Heritage List.
At all entrances to the Old Town during the day there is a ticket booth where you buy tickets for approx £4 to visit five (of 23) historical places within the Ancient Town. If you want to visit more than five, then you need to buy another five! They give you a map of the Ancient Town showing you the sights which are mainly split into (i) assembly halls (ii) old houses (iii) communal houses and (iv) museums.
The Five Sights
With some help from our local guides in our sightseeing tour, we chose the following five places
- Japanese Covered Bridge – the early 17th century bridge is thought of as the symbol of Hoi An people. It was built by the Japanese to do business with the local people in the residential area.
- Phuc Kien Assembly Hall (Assembly Hall Of Fujian Chinese) – it was was founded in 1690 and served the largest Chinese ethnic group in Hoi An (the Fujian).
- Tan Ky Old House – this house was built 400 years ago and has been the home to seven generations!
- Quang Trieu Assembly Hall – built by the Chinese in the 19th century, this assembly hall has beautiful gates, pillars and fountains.
- Cam Pho Communal House – a typical Vietnamese communal house with a banyan tree, ferry dock and a large yard.
Boat Trip and Buying Clothes!
As you navigate your way through the Ancient Town to see your chosen sights, you will want to weave your way through the side streets. The colours, lanterns and architecture will just make your eyes widen. It really is such a beautiful place.
If you love clothes, then Hoi An is the place for you. It’s famous for its tailoring at very reasonable prices. As we were travelling for 8 weeks we couldn’t fit too much in but did find a couple of gorgeous dresses for around £6.
In the evening, private boat rides take place along the river. My tip is to wait until just before sunset to get one (most should have a fixed price of 150,000 dong / £5 per boat for 15 mins). That way you get a few photos before the sun goes down, get to watch the sunset and then see the lantern bridge all lit up. It is very romantic and thoroughly recommended!
Day 4 of 4 days in Hoi An
Our hotel in Hoi An offered free transfers to and from An Bang Beach which is a 10 minute drive. It had a partnership with a cafe / restaurant, Seashells, where we were offered free sunbeds. There was no real pressure to buy anything, although of course we had a couple of drinks and a Banh Mi! The beach itself isn’t the prettiest but it’s a great way to spend the morning in the sun. Our transfer left at 10am and came back at 2pm.
In the afternoon, we explored the Ancient Town of Hoi An to find its rooftops. These are not high skyscraper rooftops – these are cute and cosy ones on the top of cafes where you can people watch and chill out.
Our favourite day rooftops were Faifo, The Chef, Market Terrace and 92 Station. You can read more about these here. We also visited the Central Market and Night Market which sold a whole array of souvenirs!
Things we missed in Hoi An
Original Taste of Hoi An
We had booked on to the Original Taste of Hoi An Food Tour which has recently been voted the best food tour in the world. Unfortunately, the company had to cancel the night before due to an unexpected government check. It absolutely could not have been avoided and we were SO gutted as we were leaving the next day.
In case you are interested, the tour involves a 2 hour walking part in the morning with tastings along the way and meeting local food vendors. During the second two-hour part you are seated in their comfortable private purpose-built tasting room sampling food brought in from vendors outside the walking tour route. All in, you get to try around 70 varieties of local food!
Ba Na Hills
We also spent a lot of time thinking about whether to visit Ba Na Hills which is a mixture of things. Some people call it the Disneyland of Vietnam, others a fantasy resort and some a tourist trap. You reach Ba Na Hills by cable car which has won several Guinness World Records, including the widest gap between stations and the greatest change in elevation. If the weather is good, the views are meant to be stunning.
Of course, there is also the Golden Bridge which has been designed to show two hands holding the bridge up – very instagrammable. If a theme park is your style, you will probably have fun at the Fantasy land. All in all, I don’t regret not visiting. Oh and it’s fairly expensive – just the entrance (including the cable car) is around £25.
My Son Sanctuary
Lastly, we missed out My Son Sanctuary which is a small complex of Hindu temples built between the 4th-14th century. We gave it a miss as we had just been to Angkor Wat in Siem Reap!
East London Girl: 4 days in Hoi An
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