It’s no wonder that Hoi An, Vietnam, is one of many tourists’ favourite destination. The many things to do in Hoi An and the cute, little streets of its UNESCO-listed ancient town conquered me to the point I was happy to have given Vietnam a second chance.
Here it’s a first-timer guide where you’ll find some tips on the top things to do in Hoi An, where to stay and my favourite Hoi An restaurants.
THINGS TO DO IN HOI AN
It’s hard, very very hard not to like the town, and it’s really hard to run out of things to do in Hoi An. From the beach to the lanterns, from the shopping to the boat trips, here are some of the best Hoi An attractions.
Find the Vietnam you’ve always dreamt about
In Hoi An I finally found the Vietnam I was looking for.
The Vietnam I imagined, the Vietnam I dreamt of before coming here.
It took me a while, but I found the Vietnam of rice paddy fields, a great blue sky and water buffalos in Hoi An.
No need to take any organized tour, just grab a bike ride outside town: if you start wandering around, you’ll find out that the real Vietnam is just around the corner.
Along the road, among the regular workers, you’ll see at some point a water buffalo with a man, and another man on the road who invites tourists to get closer: if you want to go and take your picture with the water buffalo, know it won’t be for free. Make sure to haggle a price beforehand, cause I’ve heard of people being asked even 10 dollars for a picture afterwards!! Yikes!
Soak up the sun at Hoi An Beach
Hoi An is not only its ancient town: if you were looking to get that well deserved relax, you’ll love to know there are two beaches in Hoi An.
An Bang beach is 3km from the old town, while Cua Dai Beach is a 4km ride away, and they are considered some of the best beaches in Vietnam together with Mui Ne beaches.
I went to An Bang beach by bike, and it was a very nice ride by the paddy fields. I was surprised to find such an organized beach, with umbrellas, deckchairs and restaurants.
When you get to the beach, walk to the right and skip the first few lidos, that are known to rip off the clients. Keep walking to the fourth or fifth lido called “Paris”, where grabbing a beach umbrella and chairs is free as long as you drink or eat something: more than fair enough!
The coffee and the food at the restaurant are very good, and the prices are fair.
Go shopping like there’s no tomorrow
Feeling like shopping?
If you must pick a place for splurging on clothes, shoes and bags, make it Hoi An, Vietnam.
There is an endless number of tailor shops, so many that you really won’t know which one to choose.
Some of the shops are really cheap, but remember that you usually get what you pay for: I’ve been told that Bebe’s tailor shops (there are more than one) provide very good quality for reasonable prices.
I ended up buying only a couple of things because my backpack is almost carry-on size, but I promise to be back with a huge one. So, come with an extra suitcase!
HOI AN RESTAURANTS : WHERE TO EAT IN HOI AN
Hoi An, Vietnam, is often considered one of the food capitals in the country: if fact, I fpund the food here to be better than most places. But where to eat in Hoi An?
Some Hoi An restaurants are special enough that they need a particular mention: here are my favourite restaurants in Hoi An.
White Rose Restaurant
One of the specialties of Hoi An is white roses, shrimp dumplings made from translucent rice dough, and made in a way they look like roses.
There’s only one place in town that knows the original, secret recipe, so skip all the other Hoi An restaurants and come to White Rose.
They only have two choices in their menu, so choosing a plate will never be easier.
Reaching Out Tea House
This must be the most tranquil location I’ve found in Vietnam. The perfect place to sip some delicious vietnamese coffee and enjoy some cookies or light snacks.
But Reaching Out Tea House, located in the Old Town of Hoi An, is more special than this because it’s different from all other Hoi An restaurants: it’s in fact owned by a local fair trade social enterprise that employs deaf and physically impaired people.
On each table there are a notebook and a pencil, and a few words written down, and that, together with the smiles, is how you communicate here.
If you ever pass by Hoi An, folks, please pay a visit here… your coffee will really make the difference.
Banh My Phuong
Of all Hoi An restuarants, this must be the most incuspicuous.
This little place has become famous after Anthony Bourdain filmed here an episode of “No Reservations”… apparently Banh My Phuong is the best place in town for banh my, which are crispy baguettes with veggies, herbs, eggs and any kind of meat.
I can’t say if this is the best banh my you can have, but it’s indeed very very tasty… and super cheap too!
WHERE TO STAY IN HOI AN
Hoi An provides all kinds of accommodations for every budget, but if you are wondering where to stay in Hoi An, don’t look any farther.
I stayed for two night at the 3-star Kiman Hoi An Hotel & Spa, and it was a great pick.
My room was a Deluxe Room that features a balcony, a seating space and a coffee maker.
Rooms are simple yet very comfortable and tastefully decorated; I liked the black and white prints on the wall and the room didn’t lack anything.
All of the staff is extremely nice, smiley, and very helpful in case you need any tips on Hoi An attractions. The check-in process i very smooth and fast.
If you are planning to both visit the old town and spend some time soaking up the sun at the beach, Kiman hotel is located in a great location, not far from either of them.
The Old Town is only 1km away, and you can eaily reach it by walking or biking, while Hoi An beach is a 20 minutes bike ride away… and one of the top things to do in Hoi An.
Good news! Bikes are available to guests free of charge!
A complimentary breakfast is served each morning until 10 am, and there’s a good choice of items: fresh tropical fruit and baked goods, Asian dishes such as dim sum and there’s a cooking station where you can order eggs and omelettes cooked at the moment.
The hotel offers to its guests a pool, which is not huge but trust me, you’ll love to jump in it in one of those hot, humid days. The hotel laso features a spa where guests can enjoy a traditional massage…mmm I love vietnamese massages, would love to get one right now!
Between the many things to do in Hoi An, you’ll find that cooking classes are something very popular. The hotel offers a free cooking class a few days a week, and I cannot recommend enough to take advantage of it.
The experience starts with a tour of the local market, where guests help do the shopping for the ingredients needed for the cooking lesson.
This is not a touristy market, so the experience is really authentic.
We also stopped to drink a local drink made of milk and nuts, of which unfortunately I don’t remember the name.
I had decided to cook chicken with cashew nuts and veggies, and the cooking class in itself led by the hotel chef was very easy even for me who I am a terrible cook!
I was given a recipe to replicate the dish at home, and I finally was able to eat: yummi!
The cooking class is free of charge, you only pay for the food you decide to cook.
Rates on Agoda start at $21 for a deluxe double room, which includes breakfast, and it’s honestly a steal for the service offered!
So, where to stay in Hoi An? I would definitely go back to Kiman Hoi An Hotel & Spa!
READ ALSO: 50 Unique Things to Do in Vietnam
PIN IT FOR LATER
Many thanks to Kiman Hoi An Hotel & Spa for hosting me. All the opinions expressed in this review are my own.