Top 5 things to do in the UNESCO World Heritage site of Hoi An (Vietnam)

I have previously written about the blissful stay we had at Fusion Maia Resort in Da Nang, Vietnam. One of the great things about the resort is that they offer complimentary shuttle buses to the nearby UNESCO World Heritage site called Hội An. 

Riding bike bicycle Hoi An Vietnam UNESCO World Heritage roads travel holiday vacation trip

This ancient town was previously a trading port, with its large harbour facilitating the spice trade, and has been shaped by Japanese, Chinese and Dutch influences - apparent from the architecture such as the slanted terracotta rooftops reminiscent of ancient Chinese buildings, and the quaint stores selling Chinese calligraphy and Japanese tea. 

Here is our list of the 5 top things to do in Hoi An, all of which can be done in one day.

1. Rent a bike

No, we're not talking about a motorcycle (although if you're game, we've heard they are fun!). 

Our first stop was to head straight to the Fusion Cafe Hoi An, which is a cute and cosy cafe run by Fusion Maia Da Nang, and is a great focal point for the day’s adventures. Here we picked up our complimentary bright coloured Fusion Maia bicycles and a local map that outlined a few cycling routes we could take. There are plenty of other places along the main street that allow you to rent bikes cheaply, so find one that provides you with decent quality bikes and a free map.

Hoi An Vietnam UNESCO World Heritage waterway river travel holiday vacation trip

Feeling adventurous, we decided to take a three hour ride to two of the nearby beaches, and then over dirt paths past water buffalo grazing peacefully in rice paddy fields, huts with locals selling handmade jewelry, and an expanse of idyllic rural landscape. While the roads are smooth, cycling is only for those who can stomach the constant honking of cars and motocycles, and the off-the-beaten-path dirt tracks can be bumpy and narrow. 

2. Check out the local tourist attractions

At the start of the bridge, there is a small ticket booth tucked to one side where you pay around US$5 for a set of tickets, which allows you to enter five different historical sites. These include museums such as the Museum of History and Culture, landmarks like the Japanese Pagoda, houses showing the traditional architecture of old two-storey homes, assembly halls, craft workshops, and a temple. 

In all honesty, they were a bit musty and not very inspiring, but if old items (like weapons, statues, calligraphy art etc) are your thing, then definitely check them out.

Hoi An Vietnam UNESCO World Heritage travel holiday vacation trip street market

3. Do some shopping

We then strolled by numerous art stores with beautiful hand embroidery pieces ranging from 8 million to 50 million dong (US$370 to US$2,300), art galleries selling traditional lacquer painted wood, tailors offering custom made outfits, and stores with hand crafted leather jackets and travel duffel bags. Be sure to pop by Papillon Noir, a shop selling beautifully made, light summer clothing bathed in bright purple, white and aqua hues made in Hoi An, to buy a dress for 1 million dong (US$50). 

Hoi An Vietnam UNESCO World Heritage shopping street market travel holiday vacation trip

If you’re looking for souvenirs, Hoi An is full of options. I bargained a hand painted lacquer fruit bowl down from 550,000 dong (US$25) to 300,000 dong (US$14). For those seeking something a bit more high end, the Hoi An Photographic Club sells stunning photography prints of local Vietnamese people, including an awe-inspiring picture of a local resident rowing down a narrow alleyway during the floods that struck Hoi An in 2010, which costs 800,000 dong (US$38) including the frame. 

4. Eat at Morning Glory restaurant

This is an establishment in Hoi An (and indeed, the owner has established numerous restaurants in the old town) - and we had one of the best meals of our trip here. We were greeted by an open kitchen in the centre of the restaurant, with the smell of Vietnamese herbs wafting through the air. The dishes on the menu each had an explanation, and we were told they all embodied the idea of delicious local Vietnamese street food. 

We ordered the incredibly tender roast pork and rice noodles with sweet and sour peanut sauce mixed with coriander, white rice dumplings stuffed with vegetables and shrimp, the traditional local dish of squid stuffed with pork mince, mushrooms and mung bean vermicelli, and the incredibly flavour-packed pork belly with five spice and caramel sauce that had an incredible balance of sweet flavours with a spicy kick. The entire meal cost us 500,000 dong (US$23) for two people

Morning Glory restaurant eat food Hoi An Vietnam UNESCO World Heritage travel holiday vacation trip

5. Walk along the waterway as the sun sets and grab a drink at a bar

After dinner, we grabbed a drink near the waterway by visiting Mango Mango Bar & Restaurant for a cocktail called the La Mango Guapa (US$5), made of fresh mango, lime, gin, mint and soda. 

As we walked outside, the sun had just begun to set and the nearby shops slowly became lit up with glowing lanterns of various shapes, sizes and colours. The streets suddenly seemed lively and bustling with activity, full of friendly tourists and locals alike. 

We wandered along the waterway past hawkers selling food and travellers bargaining over trinkets, and noticed long “swan” boats offering tourists a gentle paddle down the canal amidst floating lit paper lanterns - an amazing way to end our visit.

Hoi An Vietnam UNESCO World Heritage lanterns street market travel holiday vacation trip

  1. If you are feeling anxious about riding a bike amongst traffic, cycle inside the Old Town main area, because cars are not allowed there and motorcycles can only access it at certain times.
  2. The tourist attraction sites all shut at 6 p.m. sharp, so if you are short on time, visit the Museum of Trade Ceramics, which is located inside a 20th century townhouse with courtyard, and allows visitors to view the relics as well as experience walking through the structure of a traditional old Hoi An home. 
  3. Book Morning Glory in advance - they were jam packed when we went!

xx Carmen

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1 comment :

  1. Amazing shots!!!!!!
    Thanx for passing by