Hoi An is one of my favourite places in the world and a solid contender for the most beautiful city on the planet. I’ll be sharing my tried and tested Hoi An itinerary to help you spend up to 5 days in Hoi An. You can adapt this itinerary if you have more or less time to spend.I have a tendency to rave about Hoi An but I genuinely believe that no Vietnam itinerary is complete without it. Wandering the lantern-lined streets of the Ancient Town is one of my favourite ways to spend an afternoon. I always stumble across charming Hoi An coffee shops and quirky corners, plus the food and drink scene is second to none.
To summarise, if Hoi An isn’t on your Southeast Asia bucket list, add it there now!
In this guide, I’ll sum up the areas and best activities, finishing up with my tried-and-tested 5 day Hoi An itinerary.
HOI AN ESSENTIALSCopy of Lonely Planet VietnamGetting there: flight (Kayak) / bus / train (12GoAsia)Getting around: on foot / scooter / Grab taxiStaying connected: E-sim data planAccommodation: Booking.com // HostelworldBook your airport to city transfer
Tours & activities: GetYourGuide
Hoi An is in Central Vietnam, just south of the imperial city, Hue. To reach either of Vietnam’s big cities, it’s at least one night bus journey.For me, Hoi An is the ultimate antidote to hectic Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi, although the streets often get rammed with tourists these days. While it’s not as peaceful as it once was, it’s certainly no big city, especially since the UNESCO-protected old town legally can grow no further or higher.
Hoi An is known for crumbling two-story buildings decked out in lanterns and colourful Chinese pagodas.
How long to spend in Hoi An?
I would suggest a minimum of 3 days in Hoi An so you can soak up the Ancient Town and take a couple of excursions in the surrounding area. However, if you have 4 or 5 days, don’t rush away! You could easily spend 5 days in Hoi An without getting bored for a moment.
Make time for at least a 3 day Hoi An itinerary
So what are these best things to do in Hoi An? The Ancient Town is a great place to start but Tra Que Vegetable Village and An Bang Beach are worthy of a visit, plus there are some great day trips to take. I’ll run through these regions and what to do in each of them starting with…
Things to do in Hoi An Ancient Town
Now you’ve got the idea that the Ancient Town is gorgeous, traditional and very yellow, let’s discuss what you can actually do there… That’s if you want to enhance your 5 day Hoi An itinerary with anything but shopping, wandering and drinking coffee. It’s very easy to spend days doing just that!A word about tickets – you’re technically meant to buy a ticket to visit Hoi An Ancient Town that costs 200,000 VND (around £8) and lets you enter five ticketed attractions of your choice. I’ve personally never done this. You can stroll into most of the attractions without anyone checking though you may sometimes get stopped especially at the more popular ones.
It’s worth buying a ticket to ensure you can sightsee at your leisure, plus 85% of the cost goes back into preserving Hoi An Ancient Town for the future.
The Japanese Covered Bridge
Japanese Covered Bridge
This iconic bridge is 300 years old and was built (unsurprisingly) by the Japanese as a way to connect with the Chinese quarter. It can get crowded on busy days but it’s worth a visit and a photo or five.
Wander the riverfront
There’s no better addition to your Hoi An itinerary than wandering the waterfront and admiring the yellow buildings and boats cruising by. Should you wish to board one, plenty of vendors will approach you selling tickets.
The evening is a great time to visit Hoi An riverfront because lanterns float on the water, especially during full moon festivals.
Visit the temples and pagodas
Vietnam was ruled by the Chinese for many years and as a result, Taoist places of workship are part of the furniture (although many now incorporate Buddhism). There are plenty in Hoi An’s Ancient Town so I’ll run through some of the best:
Trieu Chau Assembly Hall:
Assembly Hall of the Fujian Chinese Congregation:
Hainan Assembly Hall and The Cantonese Assembly Hall are both also worth a visit.
Each of these will count as 1 of the 5 attractions you can visit with your Ancient Town ticket.
Sample the coffee
One of the best things to do during 5 days in Hoi An is nothing but sit, watch the world go by and sip coffee.
There are so many cute cafes in Hoi An’s Ancient Town. A couple of more touristic ones dominate so I’d recommend doing a bit of research to uncover some local businesses (by reading my guide above).
Visit an ancient house
Deep Dong Nguyen House
A popular thing to do in Hoi An Ancient Town is visit one of the old-fashioned houses. Many are in the same hands as they were 200 years ago and are kept preserved as they were then. This is a great way to delve into the city’s rich history!
Ancient Houses in Hoi An (click for locations):
As with the temples, each of these houses will count as 1 of the 5 attractions you can visit with your Ancient Town ticket.
Spy the Night Market lanterns
Hoi An Night Market is an essential even if just to admire the glowing lanterns. There’s a busy vibe with loads of souvenirs to buy and foods to try like banana and chocolate rotis and avocado ice cream. Head there for dessert!
Cua Dai / An Bang Beach
The Hoi An beaches are sublime. If you have 3 days in Hoi An or more, treat yourself to a beach day. Cau Dai Beach is linked to Hoi An by Cua Dai Road and is a good spot if you visit early. Later in the day it can get busy, plus much of the coastline is bought up by hotels.
For this reason, I prefer An Bang. This beach is just a 20-minute bike ride from the city centre (via Hai Ba Trung). There are plenty of beach bars and restaurants, and not just the tacky, touristy kind.
Cua Dai Beach
Tra Que Vegetable Village
The area I’ve spent almost two months living in is Tra Que, a leafy part of town halfway between the Ancient Town and the coast. If it’s your first time in Hoi An, I would highly recommend visiting Tra Que to see a totally different side to the city.
Tra Que Vegetable Village is where all the fresh veggies you’ll eat in Hoi An are grown. The locals use seaweed to fertilise the land rather than chemicals, and everything smells so fresh and aromatic. Wandering through the area is really scenic and a unique contrast to other parts of town.
Things to do in Tra Que:
- Become a farmer! I took a tour which included learning and harvesting in the veggie garden then taking a cooking course with the fresh produce.
- Wander the gardens at your leisure. Click to see the exact Tra Que Vegetable Village to see their exact location.
- Sample the fresh produce at a local restaurant. My favourite is Baby Mustard which is based in a leafy garden resort looking over the vegetable patches. The food is cheap and they offer a cooking class that looks divine!
Hoi An itinerary for up to 5 days
This itinerary for Hoi An can be amended as you see fit. If you just have one day, follow ‘day 1’ and add extra days depending how many you have! Swap in and out days 2-5 based on your interests.
Hoi An itinerary – day 1
Wander the crumbling yellow Ancient Town, visit some temples, eat at the Central Market and drink coffee. Use this day to leisurely soak up Hoi An and get a feel for the vibe.
Finish the day by visiting the iconic night market and admiring the hanging lanterns.
Hoi An itinerary – day 2
Morning: Take a trip to the Marble Mountains. Set in the limestone mountains near Da Nang, this half-day trip is a good one. The Marble Mountains are a series of caves and pagodas that take a couple of hours to tour properly.
From Hoi An, it’s a 40-minute drive – hire a scooter or go with a tour group. Entrance is just 40,000 VND.
Add the Marble Mountains to your Hoi An itinerary
Afternoon: Head back to Hoi An and either visit Tra Que Vegetable Village or sign up for another activity. My top picks would be a cooking course, lantern-making class or a guided cycling tour.
Hoi An 3 day itinerary
Spend the day at An Bang Beach. This is one of my favourite places in Hoi An and just another example of how Hoi An has everything you need.Best cafes and beach bars:
Sound of Silence Coffee – this coffee shop is a little further down the beach away from the busy section so it’s my top pick for escaping the crowds after a busy 3 days in Hoi An. It serves some of the best coffee and brunch in town which you can drink inside, in the leafy hideaway garden or down on the beach.
An Bang Beach
Kahuna’s – this beach club has everything from a swimming pool to a garden area and access to the beach. They serve fantastic burgers, fresh spring rolls and avocado brunches. Hoi An Backpackers run a regular shuttle there so it’s a fun, young crowd.
The Fisherman – this vegan restaurant in Hoi An is not just for plant-based eaters. I go there all the time (the Buddha bowl with satay, avocado, brown rice and mushroom is my go-to) and they serve loads of cocktails and smoothies. Add some beach swings, loungers, hammocks and bean bags into the equation and it’s a relaxing, colourful spot for sunset.
Hoi An itinerary – day 4
Take a trip to the Cham Islands or My Son Temples. Add an extra day to your Hoi An itinerary to do both.
The Cham Islands
There are 8 Cham Islands that make up Cu Lao Cham Marine Park, now a UNESCO-protected zone. If you visit, I’d highly recommend a trip with Seatrek Vietnam. Not only do you get to explore the island and beaches, you get to don what looks like an astronaut helmet and walk along the ocean bed admiring the fish!
My Son Temples
These 1,300-year-old ruins hidden in the jungle an hour outside Hoi An were built by the Cham people, an ethnic group found in Vietnam and Cambodia.
Unlike the Buddhist places of worship that dominate Vietnam, My Son Temples were inspired by Hinduism and you’ll find statues of Vishnu and Ganesha to name a few. If you’ve been to Angkor Wat or Bagan, don’t expect to be overwhelmed (they were heavily bombed during the war with America) but they’re a decent half-day trip.
Ways to visit My Son:
- Hire a scooter. This will cost 100,000 VND (£3) plus some cheap fuel, and can be split between two. It’s the best option to explore at your leisure.
- Take a group tour from Hoi An. These tours are affordable and include a tour guide. Of course, you have to adapt to their schedules which can be the only downside.
- Hire a taxi. If there’s a group of you, this can work out as cheap as a coach tour and you’ll be able to explore on your own schedule while the driver waits.
The most interesting thing I learnt at My Son was that when the French colonised Vietnam and discovered the ancient temples, they removed the statues’ heads and took them home. Now you’ll notice the heads are either missing or clearly newer than the bodies.
Meanwhile, the originals are in the Louvre in Paris… The Vietnamese routinely ask for them back and are denied!
Hoi An itinerary – day 5
An hour’s drive from Hoi An lies one of the most unusual and quirkiest attractions – a street art village replicating those in South Korea! I could rave about it all day but instead, just check out my complete guide to visiting Tam Thanh Mural Village.
Tam Thanh is a bit of a hidden gem and not many first-time Hoi An visitors know about it. But if you love street art and have 5 days in Hoi An, don’t miss it.
Book a return tour from Hoi An.
If you’re not a street art fan, spend the final day of your Hoi An itinerary visiting My Son or the Cham Islands, whichever you didn’t do the previous day. Otherwise, spend another day enjoying Hoi An, either on a bike tour or cooking/crafts class or simply wandering and soaking up the lovely city.
Other activities for a Hoi An itinerary
Whether you relax, explore and stay in the Ancient Town, Tra Que, An Bang or the rice fields, there are a few other activities to add to your Hoi An itinerary. Why not…
Get some clothes tailored
I’m apparently the only person who didn’t like the outfit they got made in Hoi An. Maybe I just had a bad experience – most people rave about the affordable jumpsuits, shorts and suits that the tailors of Hoi An craft to fit their exact dimensions. BeBe Tailor is one of the most popular places to go.
Take a cooking course
Add a cooking course to your Hoi An itinerary and you won’t regret it. I cam vouch for the Thuan Tinh Island cooking class including a market visit and boat ride. It’s a really fun half-day out. You shop at the local market and board adorable basket boats to take you to the kitchen. Then you make a spread of Vietnamese dishes with a team of professional chefs.
Go on a food tour
Banh khot – a yummy street food dish
Maybe you cook all the time at home and a cooking course is the last thing you want to do on holiday! If so, consider a Hoi An street food tour instead – all the eating and none of the prep.
Take a cycling tour – or go solo!
Taking a Hoi An bike tour is the perfect way to explore the countryside and experience some rural locations you wouldn’t otherwise. If you like the idea of exploring at your leisure, just hire a bike and go.
I recently cycled over the bridge to Cam Nam Island where I sampled the local dish of Hen Tron, a clam salad made with peanuts and served with crispy rice crackers.
Make your own lantern
You’ll see lanterns hanging all over Hoi An (as I’m sure you’ve gathered from this blog!) and there are plenty of opportunities to buy one as a souvenir. I took this a step further and made my own during a lantern making class.
I’d really recommend this if you have time! They fold down to pack easier into your suitcase or backpack.
Just another photo of Hoi An being perfect
Where to stay in Hoi An
For backpackers – the best party hostel in town is Bed Station Hostel & Pool Bar. The breakfast buffet is something out of a midrange hotel – probably the best I’ve had in a hostel. There’s also a small swimming pool. Every night is party night so if you’re not much of a drinker it might not be the place for you. Luckily there are some smaller, quieter backpack hostels like Little Leo Homestay and Hostel.
Accommodation in town – a few months ago I stayed at Hoi An Life Homestay which is a family-run guesthouse just a short cycle ride from the Ancient Town. With rooms from 350,000 VND (£10) including a tasty breakfast and pool access, it’s very good value. You can also hire scooters and organise day trips with the friendly owner.Accommodation at the beach – if you fancy waking up to the beach on your doorstep (who wouldn’t?) I’d suggest Tan Thanh Garden Homestay which shares its location with Sound of Silence, the gorgeous coffee shop I mentioned earlier.
Accommodation in the rice fields – get your peace and quiet at Golden Rice Villa, halfway between town and the beach. There are friendly staff and lovely breakfasts but the highlight might be the local life you experience passing through the rice fields!
Where to eat in Hoi An
Bun thit nuong on Trần Cao Vân
Hoi An Central Market – if you want all the local food options under your nose at once, factor a trip to the Central Market into your Hoi An itinerary. Here you can sample cao lau and Mi Quang, delicious noodle-based dishes that you won’t find anywhere but Hoi An.Fresh spring rolls, banh xeo (rice flour pancakes), fried wontons, white rose (pork-filled dumplings) and banh cuon (soft rice paper rolls) are some of the other top picks.
Get all my Hoi An food recommendations in these blogs:
Goodies from Madam Khanh – The Banh Mi Queen
Nightlife (and my personal word of caution!)
Hoi An is an extremely safe place during the day and early evening. At night there are a collection of lively bars down by the river including a quirky Mr Bean Bar. You should go – but this is also the time you should be vigilant, both at the riverfront and the Why Not Bar.There are a group of motorcycle drivers who hang around the Hoi An bars at night. They operate as taxi drivers but are likely to fleece you on the way home with some clever tricks, insisting you’ve accidentally given them the wrong money and shining a light in your purse and distracting you while they nab your cash or phone.
They operate in large groups – if you take one of their rides home, it’s likely three or four of their friends will assist on their bikes creating an intimidating group.
This is my one word of warning about the otherwise wonderful town of Hoi An. Combat the problem by using licensed green taxis or book using the Grab app. Alternatively, walk home in a group rather than alone.
When to visit Hoi An
There’s only one time of year that you should really consider avoiding and that’s the flooding season of November. In previous years the floodwaters in the old town have been at head height.Peak season is November to April when Hoi An is at its most pleasant – sunny and warm without being too hot. From May until September things really heat up (to almost 40 degrees) and it can be overwhelming.
However, I’ve lived in Hoi An for that exact period and it’s still possible to enjoy – just wear lots of sunscreen and seek shade often. This period can also be prone to showers as it heads towards rainy season but usually they don’t last long.
How to get to Hoi An
The only way to arrive directly into Hoi An is by bus. If you depart or arrive by train or flight, it will be into Da Nang (a larger city a 40-minute drive away). A taxi between Da Nang and Hoi An is usually between around 250,000 VND – or call a scooter on the Grab app for 100,000 VND.Book your airport to city transfer in advance.
Trains arrive into Da Nang Station and flights into Da Nang International Airport.
For buses directly to and from Hoi An, book using 12GoAsia or at any tourism office. These are very much the backpacker option and can be bumpy and busy. I don’t mind them – they’re fairly comfy and you get your own bunk bed.
If you’re coming to or from Hanoi, it’s a 16-hour overnight journey (most people break up the trip with a stop in Hue) and from the south, it’s a 10-hour overnight journey to or from Nha Trang.
Want the scenic route? The bus won’t give you this. For the same price, the train north will take you through the stunning countryside to Hue. Better yet, travel the Hai Van Pass either direction between Hoi An and Hue. You can do this by scooter (your own or a guide’s) or in a Jeep.
Keyword: Hoi An Itinerary For 1-5 Days: Food, Culture & Day Trips