what to see + do in Hoi An, Vietnam: a photo guide

Every new destination comes with new questions. Where’s the best place to eat? Where should I stay? What’s the best way of getting around? What should I see and do? If you're planning at trip to Hoi An, which, let's be clear, you absolutely should, then finding activities to keep your itinerary jam-packed should be no problem at all. 

I've put together this post using some of my favourite photos from my most recent nearly-3-week-stay to help you create a Hoi An bucket list of your own. 

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EXPLORE THE ENDLESS RICE FIELDS

Whether by bike or by foot, getting lost in the maze of Hoi An's rice fields makes for a beautiful outing. Avoid going in the middle of the day in the heat because sunstroke is real and the fields can start looking the same if you don't have a map {a.k.a. you can get lost and then sunburnt to shit}. 

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WANDER EVERY ALLEY IN OLD TOWN

Every alley and avenue in old town has something to offer-- handicraft stores, juice bars, quirky cafes, fantastic local foods. Take the time to really get lost in the ancient part of the city. 

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PEOPLE WATCH ON THE RIVER

There are a variety of restaurants near the river but, being honest, they're overpriced. You can walk along the river for free and take in the views without spending money on the same food that you'll find at other places around town for half the cost. 

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RENT A BIKE FOR A DAY OF PEDAL-POWERED PHOTO OPS

Most hotels, hostels, and homestays will lend or hire out bicycles for USD $1 per day. Some even offer bikes free to their guests. Biking is a great way to see the outer parts of the city, but Vietnamese traffic can seem a bit reckless for first-timers. Helmets are usually offered at no extra charge. 

For other photo opportunities around Hoi An, read my Instagram guide here. 

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CATCH A BEACHSIDE SUNRISE OR SUNSET

Make it sunrise AND sunset. The views alone are worth staying out late or getting up early, but add in the options of sunrise yoga, twilight swims, or paddle-boarding while the sun glows over Cham Islands in the distance and you've got a list of reasons to enjoy mother nature in all her glory {like you even needed one, amirite?}. 

 golden hour at Cua Dai Beach

golden hour at Cua Dai Beach

 An Bang Beach at Sunrise

An Bang Beach at Sunrise

 

HOP AROUND HOI AN'S CAFES 

There are far too many cafes to see in one visit, let alone multiple stays for weeks at a time. However, you could easily make a mission of a day to hop around as many as you stumble upon. Don't limit yourself to old town! Though there are heaps hidden in the ancient quarter's lantern-lit streets, there are also fantastic finds near An Bang beach, like one of my personal favourites Sound of Silence. 

For a guide to my favourite cafes in Hoi An, read my post here. 

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STROLL AROUND STUNNING TEMPLES + PAGODAS

Hoi An has no shortage of historic, cultural sites including temples and pagodas. Some are hidden around rice fields and others are centrally located around old town, but all of them are gorgeous! 

Please remember to keep your shoulders and knees covered even if you're just dropping by-- cultural preservation is important. If you have questions about etiquette at temples, ask locals! They're always friendly and full of advice. 

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EAT ALL THE FOOD

Eat ALL. OF. IT.  

Vietnamese food is some of my favourite-- everyone needs cao lau in their lives! Vietnamese cuisine is ridiculously cheap and locally-owned places have a truly unique atmosphere. For a guide to the best traditional menus, stalk my friend Rose's blog here

Vegetarian and vegan food is found all over the city and plastic free establishments remove the guilt from eating out. For a guide to my favourite plant-based food options, read my guide here

 vegan Pad Thai and watermelon juice at Am Restaurant

vegan Pad Thai and watermelon juice at Am Restaurant

 vegan sushi at Goom 

vegan sushi at Goom 

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TAKE A DAY TRIP TO TAM THANH MURAL VILLAGE

After stumbling upon an article by Hoi An Now about a village of murals painted as a sign of friendship between South Korea and Vietnam, I quickly booked a car {and gained two tag alongs} to Tam Thanh Mural Village for a trip to hunt down street art. It was well worth the time spent in the extreme heat to see with my own two eyes the hand-painted beauty that covers the sides of nearly every building on the village's main road. 

For a full guide on Tam Thanh Mural Village, read my post here. 

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explore the ocean floor with sea trek vietnam

My day around the Cham Islands was the most special thanks to big laughs with Where Goes Rose and seabed explorations courtesy of Sea Trek Vietnam.  

For more on my day out with Rose sea trekking, read my post here. 

 how cute is Rose tho? Seriously. follow her! 

how cute is Rose tho? Seriously. follow her! 

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LEARN HOW TO MAKE TRADITIONAL VIETNAMESE COFFEE

I was lucky enough to be invited to some free coffee classes offered in old town, but you can always find ones for an affordable price.  Egg coffee, coconut coffee, and Vietnam's famous coffee with condensed milk-- you get to not only learn about the varieties of traditional Vietnamese coffee and make yourself a cup, but you also get to take home a nifty recipe book as a free souvenir.  Their are travel agencies all around old town that can help point you in the right direction, but many cafes have signs out front with times and dates for classes. 

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GET ACTIVE WITH  MUAY THAI OR YOGA

Hoi An has an incredibly active community. While working for the soon-to-launch website, Hidden Hoi An, as a writer on staff, I was able to test my stamina and strength with free muay thai classes at Hoi An Muay Thai. I was also able to give sunrise and sunset yoga a go thanks to partnerships with  bePrana {soon to launch}, Hoi An Muay Thai {yeah, they offer night-time yoga classes too}, and Nomad Yoga. 

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TAKE A TRADITIONAL COOKING CLASS 

The Vietnamese know how to make a mean meal, seriously. The food you'll find at any restaurant in town and at any of the thousands of food stalls you'll stroll passed all offer fantastic flavour for a fraction of what you'd pay for Vietnamese take-aways, making the country's cuisine an instant winner in my book. I was lucky enough to take a cooking class this time around with Taste Vietnam – Ms Vy’s Cooking classes {blog post coming soon}! There are plenty of cooking classes to choose from, but I've heard great things about Hoi An Eco Cooking Class and Tra Que Waterwheel Organic Farm Cooking Class. Shop around for the experience you want, but definitely book yourself a spot. 

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GET your dream CLOTHES TAILOR MADE 

I have an entire post coming regarding tailoring in Hoi An with the most special thanks going to BeBe Tailor. But, let's just say getting clothes custom made by experts in a fully air-conditioned store exactly as you envisioned...it's a priceless experience and something truly "Hoi An". 

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 jumpsuit tailor made for me courtesy of BeBe Tailor

jumpsuit tailor made for me courtesy of BeBe Tailor

 

GET A SPA TREATMENT

USD $3 for a massage...I mean...c'mon! There is much controversy surrounding the cheap spas and salons that cover Southeast Asia and the unfair work environment they potentially promote. It's always good to try and find a reputable spa, so ask around! I got a manicure and pedicure at Calm Spa as recommended to me by my homestay owner, Hanh. I also got a moisturizing facial at a random hole-in-the-wall spa {no one's perfect}. Treat yo'self to a spa treatment at an affordable price. If you can find a place that has a good reputation, even better! 

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There is a never-ending list of things to see and do in {and around} Hoi An. It's truly a little dream city in a very dreamy country. I can't wait to return to Hoi An, and Vietnam for that matter {soon, soon soon}.

What are your favourite things to do in Hoi An? Let me know in the comments below!