Our Guide to Hoi An

Travel to Hoi An

Hoi An is famous for its beautiful old buildings in its well preserved ancient town.  With its rows of bright yellow stained buildings and colourful lanterns strung across the narrow alleyways, Hoi An is certainly a city full of colour.  As darkness falls, the city is lit up with a sea of colour from the vibrant lanterns and candles throughout the city.  Over the course of an evening the river quickly fills up with colourful lanterns as tourists purchase them from local vendors – make a wish and set these lanterns free.

The buildings are a wonderful mix of architectural styles from the Chinese, French, Japanese and Vietnamese.  This is due to the city once being a famous port for Japanese and Chinese traders in the 16th and 17th centuries., Hoi An is now one of the most visited cities in all of Vietnam.  Tourists come from across the globe to see this city’s colourful mish mash of architecture influenced by the Chinese, Japanese, French and the Vietnamese.

Thankfully the ancient city of Hoi An is now protected by having UNESCO World Heritage Site status and so can be enjoyed by many more people for many years to come.

I thought the ancient city of Hoi An was absolutely beautiful. I could sit in its many coffee shops for hours admiring its beauty.  Almost every person who ever visits Vietnam says that Hoi An was their favourite place in Vietnam.  This was me too – 10 years ago I came to Hoi An and fell in love with it then.  I couldn’t wait to get back here and show it off to my family.  But in 10 years some things changed – whilst it has not lost its beauty – it’s no longer my favourite place in Vietnam. The ancient city of Hoi An is now nothing more than a shopping mecca for tourists.  Sure the beautiful buildings are still there – but inside them are rows and rows of products and souvenirs just waiting to be purchased by tourists.

Where we stayed 

We stayed at the An Hoi Hotel just outside the ancient town of Hoi An.  This hotel is in an ideal location, being about a 3-minute walk to the bridge which leads to the ancient town.  You can literally be inside the ancient town within 5 minutes of leaving the hotel.

An Hoi Hotel

Our room at the An Hoi Hotel was room 208, located on the second floor.  Our room was fantastic.  The room was rather spacious. It had a fridge and a good sized bathroom.

Breakfast is served each morning on the balcony on the second floor overlooking the river.  Breakfast is the only meal served at the An Hoi hotel; they do not offer food at any other time.  We found the breakfast here really delicious although the service was a bit slow – the staff were always very pleasant and friendly.

The An Hoi hotel also has a good sized pool.  The pool is squeezed between buildings so it doesn’t have the nicest surroundings, but it does have a nice, clean small sitting area.  It was rainy when we were in Hoi An and far too cold to use the pool, however this did not stop Myla who swam in the pool a few times.

We found the staff at the An Hoi Hotel very responsive and helpful, always smiling as we walked in and up for a bit of a chat.

Right outside the hotel there are plenty of restaurants, shops and massage parlours.  The night markets are only just a one or two minutes’ walk from the An Hoi hotel as well.

It cost us $186 AUD for 4 nights at the An Hoi hotel.  You can find out the latest prices on booking.com here or click on the image to the right and find the latest prices on Expedia – do your research and book with the cheapest!!!

I would highly recommend staying at the An Hoi Hotel – you cannot beat its location, family sized rooms and price.

If you want to check out what other accommodation options are available in Hoi An then use the search box below.

Things to do

The Ancient Town of Hoi An


To enter the ancient town of Hoi An, you must purchase a ticket.  Ticket prices are 120,000 VD (approximately $7 AUD).  Ticket booths are located on the outskirts of the ancient town and can easily be missed as they are not well signed posted.  It is important that you purchase one of these tickets if you wish to enter some of the old buildings and museum within the ancient town.

You are actually required to purchase a ticket even if you do not plan on visiting any of the old buildings.  Simply entering the ancient town requires a ticket, although this is not well enforced.  I was extremely disappointed to see tourists refusing to purchase tickets and still entering the ancient town.  Please be a responsible and respectful tourist when visiting Hoi An’s ancient town and purchase the required ticket.


One of the main things to do in Hoi An is shop.  Whilst I am not much of a shopper, I did indulge in a little bit of shopping in Hoi An. The shops here really do have some lovely things, a little more than your usual junky tourist shops.

Of course Hoi An is famous for its tailor made clothing, shoes and other leather goods like bags and belts.  When I visited Hoi An in 2007 I went nuts with getting clothes made – however I soon learned that the majority of clothes I got made were not good quality and either fell apart or were not a good fit.  Having said that I got a work dress made when I was there and it was fantastic quality – I still wear this dress on a regular basis 10 years later.

Despite my own concerns with getting things made I was persuaded to have a dress made.  I quickly remembered another reason not to have things made.  Whilst everything is great to start with and they promise you the world, when I went back for fittings the dress was not as I ordered and they told me they could not do certain things.  I had to go back multiple times.  In the end I did get a nice dress for only 600,000VD – but it was hard work and I would not do this again.  I find it much easier to buy something off the rack at home in Australia.

Admire the buildings & people watch

If exploring old buildings is your thing – than there is no shortage of places for you to visit in Hoi An.  Your ticket to the ancient city gets you entrance into 5 out of the 22 various old buildings such as assembly halls, old houses, communal houses, museums, pagodas, temples as well as a river cruise and water puppet show.

We only used our ticket to visit the Japanese Bridge as well as general entrance into the ancient city.

Probably one of our favourite things to do in Hoi An, was simply to walk around and admire the gorgeous buildings.  They really are beautiful, with their bright colours and somewhat a mish mash of different architectural designs.

The ancient town is only for pedestrians, there are no cars or motorbikes allowed in the city, although there are bicycles.  The streets are narrow and you can just wander around admiring the buildings as you go.

We also loved finding little coffee shops and having cups of coffee whilst people watching – for as long as Myla would allow us anyway.


If you are like us and love getting massages – here’s a tip for massages in Hoi An – go during day light – prices are much cheaper during the day then they are at night.  The prices listed are the night prices but during the day you will get a discount of around 25% – 50%!!  Massages are around 300,000 VD (approximately $18 AUD) for 1 hour.


That evening, we bought one of the lanterns that are being sold around the bridge to the ancient town.  It is the touristy thing to do – you buy a lantern, make a wish and place it in the water.  It’s quite pretty seeing all the colourful, lit lanterns in the water at night.  I have no idea what the standard price is for these lanterns. We ended up paying 10,000 VD (approximately $0.60 AUD).

Click here to learn about visiting during the lantern festival.

Japanese Bridge

We also checked out the iconic Hoi An Japanese Bridge.  In fact, we could see the bridge from our hotel – directly across the river – but it was so pretty up close at night.  The Japanese bridge was built in the former Japanese quarter in the early 17th century and is now the famous symbol for the ancient city of Hoi An.

Night Markets

Lastly we visited the night markets which were outside the ancient town but right by our hotel.  These markets sold the usual junky tourist trinkets but there were also lots of food vendors selling some really yummy looking food.  The night markets were on every night.

An Bang Beach

After our walk around the ancient town, we decided to hire a motorbike and go explore An Bang Beach.

We were able to hire a motorbike right from our hotel for 100,000 VD (approximately $6 AUD) per day.

Riding through the city of Hoi An was pretty full on.  The city was busy and I felt quite nervous.  However, once we were out of the city and in the countryside, it was quiet and really lovely driving through the countryside.

Once we arrived at the An Bang Beach we were required to pay 10,000 VD (approximately $0.60 AUD) to park our motorbike.  No sooner had we walked onto the street we were hassled by ladies trying to sell trinkets.  They were almost begging us.  I think given the weather, it was cold and rainy, they were not selling much and so really desperate to make sales.  I felt quite bad saying no – but it was not possible to purchase from every person you see, and I am quite opposed to purchasing things for the sake of it.

We checked out the beach – which was rough.  I am not sure what the beach is like during good weather, but it was not appealing whilst we were there.  Maybe that’s just me being an Australian who is spoiled with beautiful beaches.You can find out more about Hoi An beaches here.

Along the beach, not on the actual beach, but on the grass area alongside it, is a strip of restaurants and bars.  I imagine when the weather is warm, this place is pumping.  It’s quite cool really with little wooden shacks serving lunch and drinks.  All the places have menus out the front so you can check out the costs.  The prices are way more expensive than in town – but for the atmosphere, it is worth it in my view.

We had lunch at Soul Kitchen – you can find this at the very end of the strip of restaurants on the left of the beach.  Meals here were around 100,000 to 150,000 VD (approximately $6-$9 AUD).

Private Day Tour

We arranged to meet up with a private tour guide – Billy Tuan – who happened to be a friend of a friend – who agreed to show us around the outskirts Hoi An.

Billy picked us up at 9 am and our first stop was just around the corner to hire a few bicycles for the day.  The bicycles we hired were really good sturdy bikes.  Andy’s bike had a cushion thing on the back for a seat for Myla.

Now I can’t remember the last time I rode a bicycle – so I am not an experienced rider.  I have to say that riding that bike through the busy city of Hoi An was very scary for me! There does not appear to be any road rules in Vietnam – although I am sure there are – but everyone just appears to their own thing.  I had a few close calls, but once I got out of the city the ride was beautiful.  I absolutely loved riding that bicycle around the countryside – it was awesome!!  So don’t be afraid if you are like me and haven’t ridden a bike for years!!

Here is a list of what we got up to on our excursion with Billy:

Tomb of Japanese Traders

Our first stop was the tomb of Japanese Traders.  This was located in the middle of the rice paddies. It was a gorgeous ride out there – I didn’t find the tomb that interesting myself – but I certainly enjoyed riding the bike out there.

Tra Que Vegetable Village

Next, we continued riding our bikes through the rice paddies and past farmers working in the fields with the help of their buffalos.

We then went on to Tra Que Vegetable Village which is just 3 kilometres outside of Hoi An – so it’s quite an easy bike ride.  Here we got to see how the Vietnamese grow and farm their vegetables and herbs.  As you can image this was all right up Andy’s alley!!  For me, it was a beautiful place to see more of the Vietnamese countryside.

Cam Thanh Coconut Village

The Cam Thanh Coconut Village is around 5kms from Hoi An city – so the ride was probably around 30 minutes to get here.  But it is a really lovely ride through the countryside past the little rural villages.

Once we arrived in Cam Thanh Village, we had one of the local women take us out on the traditional bamboo basket boats.  These little round boats were amazing – I thought they would be quite unstable but they were not and they moved really fast.

The locals are so clever they are whipping up hats and jewellery from the palm tree leaves in seconds.  Our female rower, took our little bamboo basket boat deep among the palm trees, jumped out into the water, took out her pocket knife and cut off a few palm leaves.  She then jumped back into the boat peeled off some leaves and then voila decked us all out in hats and jewellery – so clever and resourceful.

We even got a chance to paddle the bamboo basket boats by ourselves as did Myla.

This was our last stop with Billy and so he then took us back to our hotel where we were back in time for some lunch.

If anyone wants to get in contact with Billy for a similar tour don’t hesitate to contact him via email on tuanbk11591@gmail.com. Private tours start at $35 AUD for adults and $20 AUD for kids 6 to 12 years of age.  Children under 6 years of age are free.

Click here to read about the Jack Tran Tours fishing village basket boat trip.

My Son & Marble Mountains


On our last day in Hoi An we had arranged a private tour with Hanoi Private Transfers to visit My Son and Danang and then later drop us off at the airport so we could get our flight to Ho Chi Minh City.  For more information on this tour check out our separate post.

You can also see My Son as a day trip from Hoi An which I believe can include a return trip to Hoi An by boat which sounds quite nice.

Number of Days / Nights Required 

We spent 4 nights and 3 day full days in Hoi An and in my view that was a day or two too long.  However, I did enjoy the opportunity to have some down time.

So in my view, 2- 3 days’ maximum is all you need to see Hoi An and the surrounding areas – more if you want to add more shopping time and more again if the weather is good and you want to spend a day at the beach.


Following are the costs of some items we paid for whilst we were on holiday in Hoi An. Please note that the Vietnamese Dong prices are exact whilst the aussie dollars are approximate:

  • Dinner in a restaurant in Hoi An including 3 meals, 1 entrée, 2 soft drinks, 2 cocktails – 522,000 VD (approximately $32 AUD)
  • 1 hour foot massage – 395,000 VD (approximately $24 AUD) or 250,000 VD (approximately $15 AUD) if early in the day
  • Motorbike 100,000 VD (approximately $6 AUD) per day
  • Bicycle – 20,000 VD (approximately $1.20 AUD) per day
  • Tailor made casual summer dress – 600,000 VD (approximately $36 AUD)
  • Bottle of water 7,000 VD (approximately $0.50 AUD)
  • Lantern 10,000 VD (approximately $0.60 AUD)
  • Kids cheese cloth pants and top – 150,000 VD (approximately $9 AUD)
  • Pop up 3d greeting cards 2 for 50,000 VD (approximately $3 AUD)

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11 thoughts on “Our Guide to Hoi An”

  1. Wow, surprised to hear about the street vendors in Hoi An. We were there in 2013 and I don’t remember them being a problem. I really don’t like it when they are pushy like that. I am hoping to get back there in our travels in the next twelve months. Maybe I should stay away and remember it like it was.

    • Yeah I was there in 2007 and had no dramas – but it was very bad in our recent trip. Maybe because we had Myla?? Not sure but they put on the hard sell.

  2. Hi, I came to read what your 1 thing you hated was. Interesting. We’ve been in Hoi An about 2 months now and have never experienced any major hassles at all. I can’t really understand this as we’ve been here right through the Australian school holidays when tourist numbers swelled, still no hassle. It’s quiet again now, peaceful. Do you mean the odd person asking you to look at their shop as you walk past? How is that annoying? A polite smile and no thank you is cool. Or stop for a chat and look at their shop maybe? Or the vendors selling pop up cards? Again they’re easy to get rid of if you want to. We first visited Hoi An 17 years ago and sure it’s bigger. It’s full of package holiday makers now not backpackers and that cool traveller vibe has gone. It was one of our favourites back then but still more touristy and more expensive than elsewhere in Vietnam. We’re actually surprised by how cheap in is now, prices are some of the lowest in the world. The Vietnamese are lovely people, so kind, I hate to see you talking badly about them like this, but then you only had 4 days, maybe you had 4 days of bad luck encounters or just being in the really touristy areas. ( Near the Japanese Bridge) The Japanese bridge is one of those areas you need to buy a ticket for and yes I’ve seen some really obnoxious behaviour from tourists. You only need a ticket for ancient sites, not to enter the town ( I’ve checked this with local tourism) We’ve only been asked for tickets when entering historic sites, never to enter town and we come in and out 2 or 3 times per day so nobody is trying to rip anyone off getting them to buy tickets they don’t need. Will be posting all about this soon with current information.

    • Hi Alyson – I am so pleased that your experience has been a wonderful one – how amazing is Vietnam! I certainly did not mean the odd person asking me to look into their shop as I walked past – that would have been fine – I have travelled extensively throughout SE Asia so am quite use to that.

      I meant people running after me down the street, into cafes, pulling on my 5 yo daughter. Like I said above “As soon as you step foot outside your hotel they swarm all over you. Buy this, buy that, eat my food, come here for a massage – special price for you. It’s hectic and to be honest quite annoying. You can’t escape it – even once you go inside a cafe or shop, vendors will follow you in. They will stare at you whilst you eat your meal begging you to purchase their goods. They even hassled Myla, as she walked past. They were constantly trying to entice her with toys, putting the toys in her hands and then asking her to buy them”. I didn’t find this ok at all.

      As you said perhaps we had 4 days of bad luck – we never experienced behaviour like this anywhere else in Vietnam. I also love the Vietnamese people, I love all people!! But we found the Vietnamese particularly helpful and friendly people and I would never speak badly of them. This comment was directed just to the vendors that harassed us, not to Vietnamese people as a whole and I hope that is not what came across in my post above. Anyway that was just my experience and I am so glad yours has not been like that.

      We were also asked for tickets from security guards on the bridge for our tickets which we had – perhaps this has changed? Perhaps once you post about this you can link back here to your update information if mine is out of date.

      By the way been a keen follower of your family forever! 🙂

  3. I couldn’t agree more with Alyson Long. Definitely, Hoi An is a touristy hustle and bustle destination; hence, you will see so many street vendors who try to sell some souvenirs to the tourists in order to make a living. It appears that their behavior can be rude to you, but I still hope that you enjoy your stay in Hoi An in particular, and Vietnam in general.

    • I have no issue with vendors trying to sell things to make a living – this is the case in many South East Asian countries and in fact in many places in Vietnam. We loved talking to the various shop owners. I guess where I am from it is rude to chase people down the street and to pull on them, particularly to grab a 5 year old child to try and convince them to purchase something. Maybe they did not mean to be rude but that is how I perceived it. But thanks we certainly did enjoy our stay in Vietnam we absolutely loved it.

  4. I too would be apprehensive if a vendor suddenly pulls my kid’s hand and imploring him to buy their product

    With all said and done, Hoi An does look really picturesque and I’d love to spend time exploring the many types of architecture clustered in this town.

  5. Hey,
    I’ve been reading your family Vietnam posts.
    We’re in the middle of a 3 month family adventure and are heading to Vietnam in a couple of days.
    My 5 year old is already struggling a bit without having other kids company and regular playtime. Are there any recommendations for meeting other families while traveling? Any forums where other families post where they are staying so you can connect?
    Thanks in advance for any advice.
    All the best

    • Hey Hannah – we always found other kids to play with at the hotel. Either other tourists or kids of the owners of the hotel.

  6. Does billy still conduct the private tours? My husband and I want to make the most of our trip and a few of his must do’s occurred while on this private tour

  7. We felt a little like it was Vietnam’s ‘disneyland’, if you’re not too keen on indulging into food, culture and history you can get by. For westerners that are a little anxious it’s an easy place to be without a huge culture shock. That said, the town is endlessly charming and we loved An Bang, but we had a gorgeous day!


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