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In the 15th century, Hoi An became a lucrative stop for merchants, turning it into one of the busiest trading ports in Southeast Asia. This dominance was halted in the 18th century by a combination of rebelling dynasties and a silting river mouth. While terrible for business, these events protected the town from further development and it’s now a well-preserved patch of Vietnam’s history — albeit selling goods to visitors rather than merchants.

Hoi An’s architecture gives an insight into the town’s mixed heritage, with Dutch and French colonial houses squeezed between Chinese tea warehouses and Japanese temples. Local cafes, museums and open-fronted shops run alongside old canals.

There’s so much to do in Hoi An: wander through the Old Quarter, see the Merchant's Houses, enjoy the local market and it's street food (try Lao Cau and White Rose Dumpling), get some tailoring done, visit the art quarter, visit the My Son ruins out of town - the list is endless.

Vietnam specialist Alex

Things to see and do in Hoi An

Order a tailor-made suit

Hoi An was once a major port on the Silk Route, high-quality fabric was easily available to the tailors of Hoi An, and at very low cost. The town has become well-known for its quality tailors, many of whom have been trading for generations.

More than 400 shops custom-make dresses, suits, shirts and leather shoes. You’ll even find on sale fancy dress outfits from the latest films. It’s best to allow a few days for your item to be made as your tailor will expect to carry out multiple fittings to get the garment size just right.

Explore the old town: a UNESCO Word Heritage Site

Japanese bridge, Hoi AnMany streets in Hoi An’s old town are car-free zones, making them ideal to explore on foot. Over 1,000 timber-frame buildings are still standing, topped with hand-carved tiles. The Chinese quarters are easy to spot for their wooden signboards gilded with Chinese characters — usually the name of the trading company. It’s possible to enter some of the meeting halls: there’s one for each Chinese province.

You enter the Japanese sector across a covered bridge: one of the few built outside Japan. Inside is a small temple to the Taoist god of weather, Tran Vo Bac De, an important figure to visiting sailors and merchants. There are a number of museums and homes open to visit, or you can simply enjoy ‘white roses’ (prawn dumplings) in one of the local cafes.

Go cycling in the surrounding countryside

The communities surrounding Hoi An profited from its importance as a trading town, selling a variety of local crafts to visiting merchants. These enterprises have bloomed into busy cottage industries, keeping Vietnamese handicraft skills alive. Cycling through the villages with an experienced guide, you can stop to visit the artisans along the way.

Along a leisurely 8 km (5 mile) route, you’ll ride past vivid green paddy fields and patches of farmland — usually tended by workers. Slow-flowing rivers weave across the landscape, often carrying small coracle boats — one of the most popular products made by hand here. Stopping to see traditional skills, such as wood carving and mat weaving, you’ll often be welcomed in by residents for a drink.

Visit the Cham ruins at My Son: a UNESCO World Heritage Site

The site of My Son lies in a geological basin surrounded by a ring of mountains, about an hour inland from Hoi An. The indigenous Cham tribes chose this easily defendable location to build the capital of their empire, which grew steadily between the 4th and 13th centuries. Used as a military base by the Viet Cong during the Vietnam War, My Son was heavily bombed, but many ruins remain standing.

When you arrive, it can take a moment to differentiate the temples’ towers from the surrounding rocks, which are all being gradually reclaimed by the jungle. Built from locally fired bricks, some temples have bent roofs, claimed by archaeologists to reflect the crooked peak of Cat’s Tooth Mountain in the distance. Walking around the site, it’s possible to spot some of the remaining sandstone bas-reliefs that would have once covered temples across the entire site.

Take a scenic drive up and over the Hai Van Pass

When driving around Hoi An, it’s worth taking a detour along the Hai Van Pass. Most traffic now bypasses the road through a 6.2 km (3.8 mile) tunnel, leaving the pass free for those who simply want to enjoy the views. The 19 km (12 mile) stretch of road climbs 3,000 ft (914 m) along the Annamite Range, which separates north and central Vietnam.

The road follows the Vietnamese coastline, with the South China Sea to the east and only jungle to the west. As you descend, the Lang Co Peninsula stretches right across the skyline. This beach-fringed headland is an ideal pit-stop, where you take a break at one of the few local bars selling juice and fruit.

Best time to visit Hoi An

February to May is usually a comfortable time to travel to Hoi An, when there’s plenty of sunshine, clear skies and warm temperatures. From June to August, skies remain clear but it can be quite hot with temperatures reaching 30°C (86°F). The rainy season runs from September through to January and floods can affect travel plans during this time.

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Daylight

Festivals, events and seasonal reasons to visit

  • Hoi An celebrates the rise of the full moon each month. The city lights are turned off and streets are illuminated with rows of bright paper lanterns. Vehicles are banned and local people spend the evening watching cultural performances and attending candle-lit temple ceremonies.
  • Vietnamese New Year, known as Tet, usually falls in late January or early February. It’s celebrated across the country but festivities in Hoi An are particularly enthusiastic. Many visitors and Vietnamese wander the old town, which is lit with lanterns and lights floating on the canals. Country-wide, shops and restaurants tend to close for Tet, but some remain open in Hoi An, making it an ideal place to experience the festival.

Speak to someone
who's been there

Audley Travel specialist Ross

Start planning your tailor-made trip to Hoi An by contacting one of our Vietnam specialists

Suggested itineraries featuring Hoi An

Our itineraries will give you suggestions for what is possible when you travel in Hoi An, and they showcase routes we know work particularly well. Treat them as inspiration, because your trip will be created uniquely by one of our specialists.

Map of Hoi An

Places & hotels on the map

    Places near Hoi An

    Accommodation choices for Hoi An

    We’ve selected a range of accommodation options for when you visit Hoi An. Our choices usually come recommended for their character, facilities and service or location. Our specialists always aim to suggest properties that match your preferences.

    • Four Seasons Resort The Nam Hai, Hoi An

      Four Seasons Resort The Nam Hai

      Deluxe

      Sleek and effortlessly sophisticated, this chic resort near the historic port of Hoi An is elegantly restrained yet undeniably lavish in its design.

    • La Siesta Resort & Spa, Hoi An

      La Siesta Resort & Spa

      Medium

      Set overlooking nearby paddy fields, the La Siesta Resort & Spa is a home away from home, and its quiet location within easy reach of the old town make it a wonderful choice for those looking to explore.

    • Anantara Hoi An Resort , Hoi An

      Anantara Hoi An Resort

      First Class

      The Anantara Hoi An Resort (formerly the Life Heritage Resort) is a charming, peaceful French colonial style hotel overlooking the Thu Bon River.

    • Twilight Poolside

      Boutique Hoi An Resort

      Medium

      Located on the picturesque An Bang beach just 4km outside of the UNESCO World Heritage town of Hoi An, this well-equipped hotel has everything you need for the perfect combination of a cultural and beach stay.

    • Hoi An Chic Hotel,Hoi An

      Hoi An Chic Hotel

      Medium

      This charming boutique property with only 17 rooms is located one and a half miles from the beach and two miles from Hoi An's old town.

    • Ancient House Resort, Hoi An

      Ancient House Resort

      Medium

      An interesting boutique style property that represents good value for money. The staff are friendly, the rooms are pleasant and the added bonus of a swimming pool helps to make an enjoyable stay.

    • Vinh Hung Merchant's House, Hoi An

      Vinh Hung Merchant's House

      Simple

      The hotel is small with few facilities, but this is part of its charm and something that attracts our clients back there year after year. No other hotel in Vietnam has as much character and history.

    • A Pool Villa at the Fusion Maia

      Fusion Maia

      First Class

      Fusion Maia is a luxurious hotel situated along the white sands of My Khe Beach, in Danang, not far from Hoi An. The resort incorporates spa treatments inclusive of your stay.

    • pool area

      Hotel Royal Hoi An

      First Class

      Set on the banks of the Thu Bon River, just ten minutes walk from the town's historical area, The Hotel Royal Hoi An offers guests a perfect base from which to explore the UNESCO heritage town.

    • Pool at the Victoria Hoi An Beach Resort & Spa

      Victoria Beach Resort

      First Class

      This is an excellent choice for those wanting a beach retreat whilst still being able to explore the fascinating town of Hoi An and the surrounding area.

    Ideas for experiencing Hoi An

    Our specialists seek out authentic ways to get to know the places that could feature in your trip. These activities reflect some of the experiences they've most enjoyed while visiting Hoi An, and which use the best local guides.

    • Local with bike, Hoi An

      Hoi An Countryside Cycling Tour

      Hoi An

      pick up your bikes and begin a leisurely ride through the beautiful countryside with your guide, stopping for photographs and refreshments as you please.

    • Hoi An, Vietnam

      Hoi An Walking Tour

      Hoi An

      Hoi An's main sights of interest are all within the UNESCO protected area adjacent to the river and your guide will escort you around the narrow winding streets on foot as cars are not allowed.

    • My Son ruins, near Hoi An

      My Son Ruins

      Hoi An

      My Son is Vietnam’s most important Cham site. The Cham civilization dominated the area that is now south Vietnam for many centuries before being crushed by the Vietnamese.

    • Planting the rice

      Hands-on Rice Growing Tour

      Hoi An

      You will be met at your hotel and transferred to the farm. On arrival you will meet the farmers and enjoy tea before donning traditional Vietnamese clothing (a conical hat and overalls) to prepare for getting into the paddy field.