The city is less frenetic than other places in Vietnam, so holidays to Hoi An tend to be more laid-back; soaking up the sights on foot or by bicycle are great options. Browse quaint cobbled streets lined with art galleries, authentic restaurants and rickety shops selling bespoke silk garments, and take the time to really appreciate the city’s eclectic and beautifully preserved architecture. Gorgeous French colonial houses, a mix of Japanese, Chinese and Vietnamese-style buildings and a network of pretty canals set the city apart from the get-go; you’ll also find a 400-year-old bridge which previously joined the Japanese and Chinese communities and Quan Kong Temple, dedicated to a Chin Dynasty General.
The city was also one of the finest ports in South-East Asia during the 18th Century, and some of its traditions date back to this time. The monthly Lanterns Festival celebrates the full moon, a key part of Buddhist culture; on the 14th of every lunar month (of the Chinese calendar), you’ll be able to watch locals pay respects to their ancestors and decorate the city with colourful lanterns, lighting up the river and skyline.
Hoi An is just as big on cuisine as the rest of Vietnam, with favourite street foods including the pork noodle dish Cao Lau. Head to the buzzing Central Market to barter for fresh meat, fish, fruit and vegetables, take an evening stroll down to one of the numerous riverside restaurants, and book a cooking class at the renowned Red Bridge Cooking School, where you’ll be able to meet local market traders, buy ingredients and learn how to create classic Vietnamese dishes.
And as well as its beautiful old town, Hoi An is also known for its area of sandy coast. One of the best Hoi An beaches is Cua Dai Beach, translating as ‘big sea mouth’ and just a 10-minute drive from the centre of town. It’s often busy here on the weekends but you’ll have a great selection of bars and restaurants, plus some picture-worthy sunset views over the nearby Chám Islands. Further inland, you’ll be able to take an excursion to UNESCO World Heritage-listed My Son; this former capital of the Champa Kingdom is an hour’s drive from Hoi An and is home to a superb collection of Hindu temples.
GMT +7 hours
Vietnamese. Some speak French and English.
A service charge is usually included in the bill in large hotels and restaurants. In small restaurants and bars, leave a tip for good service. You should also tip baggage porters, drivers and guides.
Vietnamese cuisine is similar to Chinese, with lots of noodles and rice. Buy a breakfast soup called 'pho' from street stalls and don't miss the chance to try a delicious spring roll. On the coast you'll find lots of seafood and fish.