Things to Do in Hoi An
Renowned throughout Southeast Asia for its antique charm, the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Hoi An Ancient Town is a must-see for first-time visitors to Vietnam. The pedestrianized streets provide a calming break from chaotic traffic, while the colorful facades of lantern-clad houses harbor history that dates back more than 2,000 years.
Visit the ruins of ancient towers and temples on the emerald hills of central Vietnam at the My Son Sanctuary (Mỹ Sơn), a complex of brick and stone temples built by Hindu Cham kings between the fourth and 13th centuries. Today, the UNESCO World Heritage Site makes an easy day trip from Hoi An or Da Nang.
Clustered around 13 miles (21 kilometers) from Hoi An’s Cua Dai harbor, Vietnam's eight Cham Islands are known as Cham Island or Cù Lao Chàm. They offer white-sand beaches, granite cliffs, and coral reefs ideal for diving and snorkeling. The islands’ rich marine life and ecosystems have earned them UNESCO Biosphere Reserve status.
Located between Hoi An Ancient Town and An Bang Beach, Tra QueVegetable Village is an agricultural district that still uses traditional techniques to produce Vietnamese crops. The fertile farmland, which provides a welcome break from the crowds of Hoi An Ancient Town, is awash with fragrant herbs and home to numerous independent workshops.
Overshadowed by famous Hoi An Ancient Town, Cua Dai Beach (Biển Cửa Đại) is a pristine, white-sand strand flanked by turquoise waters and backed by rustic Vietnamese seafood restaurants. The laid-back beach provides a relaxed break from central Hoi An and offers white-knuckle water sports to appease thrill seekers.
Millions of travelers flock to the Japanese Covered Bridge (Chùa Cầu) in Hoi An every year. Built in the 18th century, the bridge features intricate carvings and statues of dogs and monkeys and provides great views of the Thu Bon River. Put aside extra time to cross the frequently crowded bridge—it’s the most popular spot in the Old Town.
Kim Bồng carpentry village is located within the Cẩm Kim commune in Hoi An. Since the 16th century, the village has been known for its carpentry and traditional woodworking products, the results of which can be found within prominent buildings across the region and beyond.
The style of Kim Bồng carpentry is said to be influenced by the Cham Kingdom, China, Japan, and of course local Vietnamese artisans. The craftspeople here all begin as apprentices, earning the rank of masters only by years of hard work and dedication. The work being produced in the village can largely be divided into three main categories: ancient architectural construction, civil wooden furniture, and shipbuilding. In addition, many of the artisans have more recently shifted their focus to the recovery of historical monuments and relics, especially traditional ancient houses around Hoi An.
Today, bicycle tours of the village are common, allowing visitors to pass through streets lined with open-fronted workshops and witness the artisans at work. Visitors are also able to purchase items produced in the village at its various souvenirs shops, which sell everything from small, low-cost items, such as coasters, to huge expensive pieces, such as religious statues and intricately crafted wooden doors.
Hailed as the epitome of antique grandeur, the 200-year-old Tan Ky Old House pays homage to Hoi An’s rich architectural heritage. The beautifully preserved 18th-century house contains Chinese and Japanese artworks, dark-wood furniture, and watermarked walls that attest to the building’s ability to withstand Hoi An’s seasonal floods.
In a city full of historical and architectural landmarks, Phuc Kien Assembly Hall (Fujian Assembly Hall) is not to be missed. What once served as a gathering place for Chinese merchants, today functions as one of the city’s largest and most ornate temples. Intricate craftsmanship begins with the massive gates that protect this historic structure from the hustle of Hoi An streets, and it continues through the shaded hallways and colorful rooms.
Visitors can light incense burners in honor of their loved ones and explore the beautifully carved details of giant dragon statues and well-tended gardens.
This 200-year-old Chinese trading house is a historic structure where contemporary travelers can bear witness ancient Vietnamese crafts. On-site artisans construct silk lanterns, practice traditional embroidery, throw terra cotta pottery and weave fabric. Guides explain techniques and offer insight into these traditional crafts. Visitors will find the prices fair and variety vast. Traditional shows are performed daily and these 45-minute events, which include music, dance and song, are worth sticking around for.
More Things to Do in Hoi An
Those who enjoy the great outdoors and want to better understand the history and culture of Vietnam’s rural communities shouldn’t miss a trip to Tra NhieuFishing Village. Officially recognized as an ecological village in order to preserve its traditional fishing and farming life, Tra NhieuFishing Village is located along the banks of the Thu Bon River, not far from Hoi An.
A peaceful and simple village, the bamboo-lined lanes wind around traditional garden houses, giving visitors a glimpse of local life. While in the village you will get to see the local community’s activities relating to river life, as well as a wide range of other trades, such as farming, rice-paper making, and basket-boat making. You you can also sample some regional food made from local ingredients.
There are various Tra NhieuFishing Village eco tours departing from Hoi An, including half-day and full-day cycling tours through the countryside, with boat trips often included. For a unique cycling adventure around Hoi An that diverts from the usual tourist itineraries, book a full-day off the beaten path bicycling tour, which includes a visit to Tra Nhieu village.
The Hoi An Silk Village (Làng Lụa Hội An) is an attraction that opened in 2012 based on the ancient silk weaving traditions of the Quang Nam province, which used Hoi An as a commercial port for more than 300 years. Located just a kilometer from Hoi An Old Town, the village is surrounded by farmland, mulberry gardens, and lotus ponds.
Paths wind through the village’s gardens and ancient houses, built in the typical Quang Nam style. The village employs a dozen artisans who manufacture and weave silk into various garments using ancient looms, and guests can learn about the entire production process, from the silkworm through to the finished garment. The silkworm-breeding house is of particular interest; here visitors will learn how to feed the silkworms and even unravel the cocoons using traditional methods.
The Hoi An Silk Village also has a restaurant serving local food, plus a silk showroom where visitors can have custom clothing designed and made.
Located in the heart of Hoi An Ancient Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Museum of Sa Huynh Culture is home to more than 200 artifacts that date back some 2,000 years. The museum exhibits items used by the Sa Huynh civilization, which flourished in central and southern Vietnam between 1000 BC and AD 200.
The Hoi An Museum (Bảo Tàng Hội An) was once housed in the Quan Am Pagoda, which dates back to the 17th century. The museum has now been moved to a larger building within Hoi An Old Town, and inside visitors will find various artefacts chronicling the region’s pre-Cham, Cham, and colonial eras, with collections spanning thousands of years.
Sometimes known as the Hoi An Museum of History and Culture, the Hoi An Museum offers an insight into the heritage of Hoi An and the changes it has seen take place throughout the centuries. Collections includes such artefacts as historical photographs and drawings depicting the merchant period, including ceramic and pottery items that were part of the traders’ wares.
Elsewhere in the museum, there are some incredibly old jar-burial coffins originating from the Sa Huynh culture, plus family records that trace back the ancestry of the region’s inhabitants. Also among the exhibits are bronze drums dating back to the Dong Son civilization, while other items of interest include ancient scales and bronze temple bells and gongs.
Standing on the banks of the Thu Bon River is Phung HungAncient House, a historic Hoi An landmark that has housed more than eight generations of Vietnamese families. Among the most famous architecture in the city, the 18th-century house combines Japanese, Chinese, and Vietnamese influences and once functioned as a spice-and-handicraft shop.
For centuries, assembly halls have been a place where migrant Chinese communities socialize and pass on the regional traditions of their home to future generations. With a population that’s over a quarter ethnic Chinese, Hoi An’s Cantonese Assembly Hall (Hội Quán Quảng Đông) is one of five such hubs in town.
Founded in 1786, at the Cantonese Assembly Hall, the colorful building materials you see today were first put together in China then shipped to Hoi An before being reassembled into the assembly hall, which has typical grand entrance gates that lead onto an ornamental garden, followed by a main hall and elaborate altar room.
Look out for the Cantonese Assembly Hall’s special flourishes, like the main altar dedicated to a red-faced Quan Cong, who symbolizes loyalty and righteousness. Also keep an eye out for the mosaic dragon statue by the entrance hall, and the even bigger dragon statue in the garden. In Cantonese lore, the fiery creatures are said to signify power, stability, and prosperity.
<td style="height:138.6pt;width:292pt">Learn all about the art of terra-cotta and pottery at Thanh Ha Terracotta Park. Just outside of Hoi An, the 64,583-square-foot (6,000-square-meter) park and museum showcases the history of terra-cotta locally and elsewhere. Take a workshop, marvel at mini world landmarks, or just browse the artisans market.<br> <span style="mso-spacerun:yes"> </span><br> <b>The Basics</b><br> In wandering around the park’s five main areas—Nam Dieu Village, Creativity Workshop, Trade Promotion, Pottery Museum, and the Outdoor Exhibition Area—you’ll see a wide range of examples of terra-cotta and pottery, from giant murals to miniatures. Watch artisans at work and buy directly from them, or try your hand at making your own pottery. The park sometimes offers workshops and special activities, for an additional fee. <br> <span style="mso-spacerun:yes"> </span><br> It’s easy to visit Thanh Ha Terracotta Park independently, as part of a trip to Thanh Ha Pottery Village. Some half- and full-day guided tours from Hoi An and Da Nang stop by the park and pottery village en route to or from attractions such as My Son Sanctuary.<br> <span style="mso-spacerun:yes"> </span><br> <b>Things to Know Before You Go</b><br>
<ul> <li> Thanh Ha Terracotta Park is ideal for fans of art and architecture.</li> <li> Paid guided tours in Vietnamese and English are available, but must be booked in advance.</li> <li> The park has an on-site café.</li> </ul> <span style="mso-spacerun:yes"> </span><br> <b>How to Get There</b><br> Located inside Thanh Ha Pottery Village, about 1.9 miles (3 kilometers) west of Hoi An, Thanh Ha Terracotta Park is easily reached by taxi, motorbike, or bicycle. Paid parking is available in the village.<br> <span style="mso-spacerun:yes"> </span><br> <b>When to Get There</b><br> Thanh Ha Terracotta Park is open year-round. Hoi An’s peak tourist season is from January through March. Go in April or May for fewer crowds and pleasant weather.<br> <span style="mso-spacerun:yes"> </span><br> <b>Miniature Highlights</b><br> Don’t miss one of the park’s top attractions, the terra-cotta miniatures of famous landmarks. You’ll see My Son Sanctuary, the Citadel at Hue Imperial City, Big Ben and Parliament, Notre Dame Cathedral, the Taj Mahal, the Statue of Liberty, and more.</td>
A must-visit for travelers who appreciate the finer details in life, the Museum of Trade Ceramics presents a banquet of colorful pottery from around Asia. As well as stunning examples of ceramics from Japan and China, visitors can expect to admire pottery from Thailand, India, and the Philippines, some of which dates back to the eighth century.
In the heart of Hoi An Ancient Town, Hoi An Central Market (Chợ Hội An) is a bustling space that offers a glimpse into Vietnamese culture at its liveliest. Colorful stalls that spill onto the pavement outside sell everything from fresh fish and spices to exotic fruit and silk garments. At the east end of the market, some of Hoi An’s famous tailors tend shop.
Considered one of the most impressive temples in Hoi An, Quan Cong Temple is dedicated to a Chinese general revered for his compassion and sense of justice. Brilliant gold-and-red arches, Zen-inspired gardens, and brightly decorated altars pay homage to the much-loved leader, while meditation halls provide respite from the chaos of Hoi An’s traffic.
Set on the banks of the Thu Bon River, Red Bridge Cooking School offers some of the most popular and prestigious cooking classes in Hoi An. An easy-to-find location near Hoi An Ancient Town makes the school popular with first-time visitors, while three different cooking-class options appeal to travelers on varying schedules and budgets.
Flowing all the way from Ngoc Linh Mountain to the South China Sea, the Thu Bon River is responsible for Hoi An’s development as a major trading post. The river runs through Hoi An Ancient Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and is flanked by some of the city’s most famous attractions, including the Japanese Covered Bridge and Hoi An Central Market.
Hainan Assembly Hall (Hội Quán Hải Nam) is one of five 19th-century structures built in Hoi An to provide a place for Chinese immigrants to Vietnam to socialize and uphold Chinese traditions for future generations. In the heart of the Ancient Town on the banks of the Thu Bon River, Hainan Assembly Hall is an integral part of Hoi An’s diverse cultural landscape.
It’s easy to find tasty traditional food on a trip to Vietnam, but travelers to Hoi An can also learn the art of cooking these fresh, well-seasoned dishes that use local ingredients and market produce at the Green Bamboo Cooking School.
Visitors will tour the bustling markets of Hoi An and learn about the eclectic ingredients that go into some of the city’s most famous dishes. Afterwards, guests will cook along other travelers as they whip up flavorful cuisine under the direction of a local chef while sipping cool water and ice-cold beers. Finally, travelers will sit down and tuck into steaming dishes of water spinach with garlic and pork in a clay pot or refreshing salads like pomelo and shrimp or green mango.
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