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Spending a Day in Enchanting Hoi An - Town with a Romantic Charm

Nestled on the central coast of Vietnam, Hoi An stands as a testament to the country's rich cultural heritage. With its well-preserved ancient town and enchanting atmosphere, this small city has captured the hearts of travelers from around the world.

Hoi An was our third destination on the Vietnam Trip. We did a Vietnam tour in the Summer of 2023 as part of our annual summer vacation ritual. It is a wonderful country and offers a diverse set of experiences. In this article, we bring to you the best way (or our way) to spend a day in Hoi An.

Just Posing with the Hoi An Board

To know more about our entire Vietnam Trip in a nutshell (including where we stayed and what to be careful about), please visit our article

Vietnam Trip Itinerary And More – Synopsis Of The Big Picture

A Quick Glance of the City

Hoi An's history dates back over 2,000 years when it was an important trading port in Southeast Asia. The town's architecture reflects its diverse influences, blending Chinese, Japanese, and European styles seamlessly. Walking through its narrow streets adorned with colorful lanterns transports visitors to a bygone era.

In recent years, Hoi An has gained recognition as a UNESCO World Heritage site due to its exceptional preservation efforts. This accolade has brought increased tourism but also raised concerns about maintaining the delicate balance between preserving tradition and accommodating modernization.

Romantic Charm of Hoi An

Despite these challenges, Hoi An remains an enchanting destination that captivates visitors with its timeless charm. Its rich history, architectural wonders, lively markets, and traditional crafts make it an unforgettable experience for all who venture here.

Known for its stunning ancient architecture, colorful lanterns, and captivating culture, Hoi An is a must-visit city for travelers seeking an authentic experience in Vietnam. Join me as we explore the hidden gems and unique experiences that this charming city has to offer.

Exploring Hoi An in a Day

Hoi An is a charming city with a small-town aura. Hence this is a place for a relaxed schedule and unwinding yourself at your pace. We spent a day in the town and are in awe of what it offers. Here we are dividing our day into four parts. We are also assuming that your accommodation is somewhere in the ancient town so that most places of interest are within easy reach. Depending on the weather, you may want to juggle a few things around.

Morning - Start the day with cycling and shopping

There are many cafes around the town where you can opt for local Vietnamese cuisine. Pho is a nice bet to pick and if you like something heavier, go for a Bahn Mi. If your hotel is serving breakfast (included in the room) get something there to get you started.

We think the best way to spend your morning is to get acquainted with the town and explore it while it is still early. The ancient town is a maze of narrow lanes and busy streets adorned with shops on both sides. Evenings get pretty busy with folks and tourists flock to the streets and it becomes difficult to navigate. Our hotel offered us complimentary bicycles for rent and hence we took one for our morning exploration. We think a bike is the best way to cover the town quickly and in a nice way.

Ready for a Bike Ride Across Hoi An

You could also try and cover some of the tourist sites in the Ancient Town during your excursion. Lesser crowds may have its benefits. However, if you prefer sites with people then you could do that in the evening. We think covering the Japanese Bridge and some of the ancient houses would be a good thing now.

Another highlight of Hoi An is its vibrant local markets. From fresh produce to handmade crafts and tailor-made clothing, these bustling markets offer a glimpse into Vietnamese daily life. Exploring them is an opportunity to interact with friendly locals and sample delicious street food. Mornings are a good time for shopping and souvenir picking as shops are relatively empty. This allows the shopkeepers to give you more attention.

Shops are Artistically Decorated

Afternoon - Escape to the Coconut Village for Basket Boat Ride

Located just a few kilometers away from the ancient town of Hoi An, Coconut Village offers visitors an authentic and immersive experience of the local way of life. As soon as you step foot in Coconut Village, you are transported back in time. The village is characterized by its traditional wooden houses, narrow alleyways, and lush coconut groves. It feels like stepping into a postcard from the past.

The most sought-after activity here is a ride on the Basket Boat. This is a unique and thrilling experience that allows visitors to explore the picturesque waterways of this charming Vietnamese town. These traditional round boats, made entirely of bamboo and shaped like a basket, have been used by local fishermen for centuries. The skilled boatmen expertly navigate through narrow canals, gliding effortlessly over the calm waters.

Views of Channels in Coconut Village

Basket Boat Ride

During the ride, visitors have the opportunity to witness local fishermen in action as they demonstrate their traditional fishing techniques. You can also hop on to one of the other basket boats where they rotate the boat at high speed giving you an adrenaline rush and great videos for posterity. We believe you should make a visit to this site but be aware that the initial quoted prices are way higher than the going rate. Negotiate well and you should be able to strike a good deal. Sometimes quotes in USD end up better than the VND rates.

Another spot in Coconut Village is its beautiful rice fields. Stretching as far as the eye can see, these fields offer breathtaking views and a sense of tranquility that is hard to find elsewhere.

If you want more beach!

On the way to Coconut Village, you could stop by An Bang Beach as well. It is a clean and relatively less populated beach as it is outside the town. If you are in the town for a longer stay or are staying in Hoi An instead of Danang, then you can spend an evening here. Since we had extensive exposure to the beach in Danang, we ended up giving it a miss.

Evening - Explore the Ancient Town

After the Coconut Village excursion, it should be time for some lunch. After lunch, take a quick nap or break in your hotel rooms as late afternoons could be a bit warmer than your preference. Towards evening, start with a coffee in one of the artfully decorated cafes along the Ancient Town. Then roam around the area to visit the sites or explore the town in general. The streets of Hoi An's ancient town are lined with beautifully preserved heritage buildings. During your walk, you are bound to admire the intricate architecture, colorful facades, and ornate wooden doors.

Historic Monuments have been Carefully Preserved

One of Hoi An's most iconic landmarks is the Japanese Covered Bridge. Built-in the 16th century by Japanese merchants, it symbolizes the connection between different cultures. Its elegant design and intricate carvings make it a true architectural marvel. Today it is almost the face of the city and a top-tier Instagrammable location. We found it was under renovation and hence covered on the outside.

Late Evening or Night - Live the Romantic Charm on land and on water

Evenings are when the real charm of the town comes alive. The streets are adorned with vibrant lanterns, creating a mesmerizing spectacle. All the shops and streets are beaming with the dim yet stable twinkle and you are transferred to a hypnotic aura. No pictures would do justice to the experience and hence capture it in your eyes.

Towards late evening, Hop on a boat and explore the Thu Bon River, which flows through the heart of Hoi An. This tranquil adventure is a perfect way to unwind and connect with nature. The twinkling lanterns create a magical splash. If you are one of the believers (and if not, just for fun), release a lantern into the river for good luck and make a wish. This is an experience you will never forget!

A Boat Ride in Thu Bon River is Mesmerizing

What More Can You Do (more than a Day in Hoi An)

While above all are experiences you cannot miss, if you have additional time at hand to spend in the town, you could try some of the below.

  • Tailor-Made Souvenirs: Hoi An is renowned for its skilled tailors who can create custom-made clothing in a matter of days. You could visit one of the many reputable tailors in town and have your dream outfit made. It's a unique and personalized souvenir that you can cherish for years to come. However, our recommendation - only try this if you have a couple of days in town.
  • Take a Cooking Class: Vietnamese cuisine is famous worldwide, and Hoi An is an excellent place to learn its secrets. Join a cooking class and discover the art of making traditional dishes like banh mi and pho. You'll get hands-on experience, learn about local ingredients, and of course, enjoy a delicious meal!
  • Furthermore, Hoi An is renowned for its traditional craftsmanship. Skilled artisans continue age-old practices such as lantern-making and silk weaving. Visitors can witness these crafts firsthand or even try their hand at creating their own unique pieces.

Logistics in Hoi An

Hoi An is easily accessible by flying into Da Nang International Airport, which is just a short drive away. From there, you can either hire a private car or take a taxi to reach Hoi An. Alternatively, you can also take a bus or train from other cities in Vietnam.

In terms of accommodation, there are various options to suit every budget. From luxury resorts to boutique homestays, Hoi An offers a range of choices. Staying near the ancient town allows for easy exploration and immerses you in the city's unique ambiance. We stayed at a boutique hotel Little Hoi An, which we would definitely recommend. Our detailed review of the hotel is available at Little Hoi An Boutique Hotel & Spa

There are a number of food options around the town catering to every budget. A number of small cafes have seating along the sideways in the form of small stools which is the local way of life. On the other hand, there are enough fine dining restaurants serving all international cuisines. If you are interested in Indian food, we explored one called Baba's Kitchen at Phan Chu Trinh which had good food and service.

Baba's Kitchen - An Indian Dinner in Hoi An

In the End

Hoi An is a treasure trove of history, culture, and natural beauty. With its charming streets, flavorful cuisine, and warm-hearted locals, this ancient city offers a truly immersive experience for travelers. Whether you're a history buff, an avid foodie, or simply seeking a picturesque destination, Hoi An will delight and captivate you. So pack your bags and get ready to embark on a remarkable adventure in this enchanting city!

If you prefer to look at the official tourism website of Vietnam, visit https://www.visitquangnam.com/

For more things that you may want to consider while in Vietnam, or Saigon in particular, please refer to our article – Vietnam Trip Itinerary And More – Synopsis Of The Big Picture

Leaving with some other pictures from the trip!

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