Hoi An, once known as Faifo, with more than 2,000 years of history, was the principal port of the Cham Kingdom, which controlled the strategic spice trade with Indonesia from the 7th to the 10th century and was a major international port in the 16th and 17th centuries. The foreign influences are discernible to this day.
The culture and heritage is mostly from the Cham people whose kingdom originally stretched from Hue south to Phan Tiet (south of Nha Trang). The Champas were most likely originally from Java. The original Cham political capital was Tra Kieu, the commercial capital was Hoi An and the spiritual capital was My Son (Hindu). The Cham people were Hindu, and by the 10th century the influence of Arab traders to Hoi An resulted in the conversion of some to Islam.
The second major influence was Chinese, first by traders, then by escaping Ming Dynasty armies, who after settling in Hoi An for some years, moved further south and created Saigon as a major trading port.
The third and last major influence of culture and heritage was from the Vietnamese and is fairly recent and only came after the Cham lost control of this area. For a tourist wanting Vietnamese culture and heritage, Hue is a much better destination than Hoi An (but the weather is much rougher too!).
While the serious shipping business has long since moved to Da Nang, the heart of the city is still the Old Town, full of winding lanes and Chinese-styled shophouses, which is particularly atmospheric in the evening as the sun goes down. While almost all shops now cater to the tourist trade, the area has been largely preserved as is, which is unusual in Vietnam, and renovation has proceeded slowly and carefully. It's mercifully absent of towering concrete blocks and karaoke parlors.
The culture and heritage that UNESCO WHS status for Hoi An Old Town was trying to preserve is long since gone. Since 1999, when UNESCO status was awarded, there has been a massive increase in mass tourism, with the result that most houses have been sold to speculators and shop owners to be used for commercial purposes. The community and with it their culture and heritage is gone and in their place are shops, restaurants, art galleries, etc. There are literally hundreds of tailor shops in Hoi An all selling similar low value products to ever smaller numbers of Western tourists.
UNESCO Biosphere Reserve status also applies to Hoi An Old Town, but in reality this status, like all other UNESCO designations, has not been matched by enlightened site management.
The main thoroughfare in the Old Town is Tran Phu. Just south of the Old Town, across the Thu Bon River, are the islands of An Hoi to the west, reached via Hai Ba Trung, and Cam Nam to the east, reached via Hoang Dieu.
[Note on November 2013 flooding: Hoi An is open]
Although tourist evacuations have been reported on the news, the town is open. As hotels near the river flooded, tourists started moving to hotels on higher ground. As of Nov. 19, only the street next to the river remains flooded, other streets have been cleaned and reopened as the water recedes.
The nearest airport is in Da Nang which has domestic connections to Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, and Hue and some international flights to Bangkok, Singapore, Siem Reap (for Angkor Wat), and charter flights to China.
A taxi from Da Nang airport to Hoi An costs about USD22 using a taxi with a meter. This is one occasion where haggling to set a fixed price is cheaper than going by the meter. One traveller reports paying around 300,000 dong while the meter read over 400,000 dong. Air conditioned minibus taxis cost USD5 per person to the airport (there are no minibuses from the airport, you must first go to the city). The ride takes about 45 min.
Generally good practice in Vietnam is to call and book a taxi with Mai Linh Taxi as they are the most reliable and honest and pay the metered fee.
A word of caution about flying Jetstar: they are frequently up to 8 hr late, many times arriving at Da Nang from Saigon at 02:00. If you arrive late, you should arrange an airport transfer in advance if you don't want the taxi haggling hassles.
- Go Travel Vietnam, 61 Phan Chau Trinh St (At the corner of Le Loi St), ☎ . Offers transfers from Hoi An to Da Nang Airport and train station at 5 set times per day for 80,000 dong. This was by far the cheapest way to get from Hoi An to Da Nang airport or train station. They might also be able to organize cheap transfer from the airport or train station as well. They were also able to arrange motorbike transfer to the airport for 150,000 dong for a midnight flight.
- Da Nang Railway Station, 202 Hai Phong, Tan Chinh Ward, Thanh Khe District, ☎ . There is no railway station in Hoi An. The nearest is in Da Nang, which receives several trains a day from Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Hue, Nha Trang etc. Most travel agents and hotels can book a train ticket for you.
There are two different bus stations in Hoi An now (older guide books just show the one on D Hung Vuong). But the public buses to Da Nang leave from the station about 2 km northwest of the centre on Le Hong Phong. A xe om from Hoi An bus station to the old town should be around 10-15,000 dong.
There is a public Bus 1 from Da Nang bus station to Hoi An bus station (15,000 dong, the fare is written on the side of the bus. They try to charge foreigners 50,000 dong. Just grab all your stuff and stay on the bus. They can be very aggressive. Same goes for Hoi An - Da Nang). The bus passes through downtown Da Nang as well. If you come from Da Nang airport, the closest bus stop on the route to Hoi An is at the roundabout where the streets Nguyễn Tri Phương and Điện Biên Phủ meet (a nice 10–15 minute walk; you can walk along the lake). This bus stop is clearly marked with a road sign.
There is no shortage of travel companies and private buses travelling to and from from Hoi An to destinations such as Hue, Hanoi, Saigon, Dalat, and Nha Trang.
Travellers arriving by bus not on an open ticket should be aware you may not be dropped off at the Hoi An bus station, but at a guesthouse about a 10min walk from the station. The motorbike taxis or tuk-tuk waiting for your bus there will take you to your lodging for USD1–2.
By motorbike or taxi
It is easy to take a motorbike or taxi to and from Da Nang via the Marble Mountains, from where you can catch a train onwards. This trip costs 490,000 dong from Da Nang bus station, by the meter with Mai Ling Taxi.
- Hanoi Transfer Service, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. 08:30-24:00. 24/7 airport transfer service from Da Nang Airport to Hoi An (30 km) and travel service. Airport to Hoi An, USD17.
The old Champa way was to travel by the river system. The rivers of Hoi An cover hundreds of kilometers and offer an interesting and adventurous alternative to travelling by road. Get on a boat and you'll begin to see a whole lot more of Hoi An and the delta. You can charter boats for about USD1/hour.
The centre of Hoi An is very small and pedestrian-friendly, so you will be walking around most of the time. Motorbikes are banned from the centre of town during certain times of day, but you should keep an eye out for motorized kamikazes, even in the most narrow alleys. The city government does not allow motorbikes to enter Old Town on the 14th and 15th of each lunar month. On those evenings, a lot of activities, including traditional games such as bai choi, trong quan, and dap nieu are held in all over the town.
To go to the beach or reach some of the more remote hotels, it is easy and cheap to hire a bicycle (about 20,000 dong per day). Taxis can be found in the middle of Le Loi St, over the river in An Hoi or summoned by phone. When busy, taxis may refuse your fare back to your hotel from town if it is too close, opting for larger fares. Arranging a shuttle from your hotel may be a better option although prices may be higher.
Motorbike taxis, of course, are always an option.
Traffic in Hoi An is minimal, so if you've been avoiding getting on a bike in the big cities, Hoi An and the surrounding countryside like is ideal to get used to the road rules.
Get a car to visit My Son early in the morning, about an hour away, or the Marble Mountains, about forty minutes north towards Da Nang.
There are plenty of places in Hoi An offering motorbike rentals. Take a short ride down to the beach and enjoy the water, explore the island community of Cam Thanh, or travel toward Da Nang to visit the stunning Marble Mountains.
The most common rental motorbike or scooter is a Honda Nouvo which is fully automatic, comfortable for two people and has storage space under the seat for helmets or other similarly-sized gear. It's standard practice for a rental bike to have only enough fuel to make it to the next filling station (hopefully!) Make sure you get a helmet for everyone on the bike.
As of May 2013 you can get a bike for 120,000 dong without haggling. Petrol costs around 22,000 dong/litre and 2-3 litres is enough for a good day of sightseeing, going to the beach and zipping around town. In addition to filling stations, there are also little hand-operated roadside pumps everywhere; these can be convenient, but they're more expensive (30,000 dong/litre) and the quality of the fuel is questionable.
The usual disclaimers apply to motorbikes in Vietnam: foreign driving licenses are not valid. In the event of an accident, foreigners driving a motorcycle without a valid license are considered to be at fault and therefor liable for damages and may face a citation. Check your travel insurance exclusions, as generally you will not be covered for accidents when riding a motorcycle here. That means no reimbursement for hospital treatment or, worst case, the repatriation of your body. Drink-related motorbike collisions are a major issue in Vietnam. Traffic accident statistics for the region are frightful. As well, emergency services are not up to international standards.
Hoi An is commonly used as the base for half-day trips to the ancient Cham ruins of My Son, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the jungle of the Central Highlands. Trips to My Son can be arranged through almost any hotel or car/motorbike taxi driver in Hoi An.
Entry to all historical sites in Hoi An is via a coupon system, where 90,000 dong (USD5) gets you a ticket that can be used to enter five attractions: one museum, one old house, one assembly hall, the handicraft workshop (and traditional music show) or the traditional theater, and either the Japanese Covered Bridge or the Quan Cong Temple. Tickets are sold at various entry points into the Old Town, including Hai Ba Trung St, and also at some of the attractions, including the Cantonese Assembly Hall. The city requests that visitors dress "decently" while visiting sites in the Old Town, as in men wear a shirt and women don't wear a bikini top, sleeveless blouse or skirt above the knees. Respect the local culture and remember that you are not on the beach.
First, you may choose one of the two landmarks of Hoi An:
- Japanese Covered Bridge (Chua Cau or Lai Vien Kieu) (At the west end of Tran Phu St). The bridge was constructed in the early 1600s by the Japanese community, roughly 40 years before they left the city to return to Japan under the strict policy of sakoku enforced by the Tokugawa Shogunate, and renovated in 1986. Today, it's the symbol of Hoi An. Entry is one coupon, but it's possible to cross back and forth several times without meeting a ticket-checker. If your scruples are bothering you, feel free to leave tribute for the pig statue or the dog statue who stand guard at opposite ends of the bridge.
- Quan Cong Temple, 24 Tran Phu St (near corner of Tran Phu and Tran Quy Cap). Founded in the 15th century, this temple is dedicated to Quan Cong, a Chinese general who is remembered and worshipped for his qualities of loyalty, integrity, and justice. Statues of him and several others can be found inside the temple
The ticket allows admission to one of the four museums in the Old Town:
- Hoi An Museum of History and Culture, 7 Nguyen Hue St. The museum contains some old black and white photos of Hoi An taken in the early 20th century. It also houses an old cannon, some two-thousand year old pots from the Sa Huynh period, and a case full of 9th century bricks and tiles from the Champa period.
- Museum of Folk Culture, 33 Nguyen Thai Hoc St. Some may be put off by the bizarre-looking plaster sculptures of Vietnamese peasants, but this museum documents the dress and culture of rural Vietnam.
- Museum of Sa Huynh Culture, 149 Bach Dang St. The museum's main collection consists of pottery and urns from the 1st and 2nd centuries. Upstairs is another museum, the Museum of the Revolution. Its main collection consists of pictures from war heroes and a collection of weapons such as grenade launchers, machine guns, and AK 47s.
- Museum of Trade Ceramics, 80 Tran Phu St. The dusty, unlabeled displays of broken pottery are eminently forgettable, but the house itself is nice enough, and it provides a good opportunity to explore the shape and layout of an old Hoi An home.
There are three old houses that exist in an awkward halfway state between museum showpiece and somewhat shabby residence for the family that lives there. Your ticket allows admission to one.
- Phung Hung House, 4 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai St (Just west of the Japanese Bridge). Traditional two-story wooden house, inhabited over 100 years by eight generations; and the current one guides you around in hope of a tip.
- Quan Thang House, 77 Nguyen Thai Hoc St.
- Tan Ky House, 101 Nguyen Thai Hoc St. As above, a younger member of the family will provide a cup of tea and a "tour" that doesn't stray from the front room of the house, as you'd need to step over sleeping members of the older generation to go anywhere else. The design of the house shows how local architecture incorporated Japanese and Chinese influences. Japanese elements include the crab shell-shaped ceiling supported by three beams in the living room. Chinese poems written in mother-of-pearl are hanging from a number of the columns that hold up the roof.
Numerous congregation halls, where Chinese expatriate residents socialized and held meetings, are dotted about the town. They are typically named after the home region of their members, such as Fujian and Canton. Your ticket allows admission to one. Some do not have ticket-takers, so it's up to you if you want to try wandering into a second.
- Cantonese Assembly Hall (Quang Dong), 176 Tran Phu St. Built in 1885, it has a calm courtyard with ornate statuary. Take a peek at the half-hidden back yard and its kitschy pastel dragon statues.
- Hokien (Fujian) Meeting Hall (Phuc Kien), 46 Tran Phu St. Built in 1757.
- Chinese All-Community Meeting Hall (Trieu Chau), 157 Nguyen Duy Hieu. Built in 1887. It's near the Fujian hall, also occupying the block.
Finally, you can choose one of the following:
- Hoi An Handicraft Workshop, 9 Bach Dang St. Folk music performances are offered at 10:15 and 15:15 every day except Monday.
- Traditional Theatre, 75 Nguyen Thai Hoc St.
- Cam Kim Island Bicycle Tour. 08:30-12:00. Cam Kim is a scenic rural island which is almost entirely free of tourists. Stunning rural scenes, rice paddies, villages, fields of water buffalo and quiet roads are the big draws of Cam Kim. With your bike, you will be able to explore numerous picturesque pathways along with some bamboo bridged. There will be plenty of opportunities for taking photos and just taking in the wonderful scenery. You are led by a student volunteer keen on improving her English. Free except for ferry.
- Heaven and Earth Bicycle Tours, 57 Ngo Quyen (An Hoi Islet), ☎ . Pascal, French expat, and his wife, Thu, a native of Hoi An, own this company. If you take this tour, they will guide you to destinations that are not accessible to large tour groups. USD17+.
- Hoi An Love of Life Bicycle Tours, 95 Phan Chu Trinh St, ☎ . 5 hours. Organised by local professional tour guides. Places visited include the Buddhist pagoda and a picturesque fishing village while cycling through luscious green rice fields where buffaloes roam. USD19.
- Cham Island Diving. Has been operating from Hoi An since 2002. The dive centre and international team offer daily boat and speedboat tours to Cham Island for scuba diving and snorkelling.
- Cooking lessons are offered at several restaurants around town. If you enjoyed your meal there, it can't hurt to inquire. There are also several established cooking schools with good reputations including Gioan Riverside, Morning Glory, and Red Bridge who offer a variety of courses ranging in price from USD16-55. In any of these schools you will learn only the mechanics of Vietnamese cooking: how to chop the vegetables and roll the spring roll, etc. All the rest are closely-guarded secrets: the making of the sauce, the techniques of frying the spring roll, or the grilling the beef. What's so inadequate about these schools is that the instructors are locals who are not really used to English pronunciations and they speak very fast. At the end, you will have to complete a survey. Everybody (100% of the students are Westerners) agrees about the sub-standard hygiene (an average score of 5 of 10). Best is learning to cook at the Green Moss Restaurant. Just walk in around midday or in the evening, choose 2 dishes, and you can watch them prepare them while you take notes on how to do it. The cook's explanations are good, and the price is only USD2 (in addition to the cost of the dishes). The kitchen looks chaotic, but the food is really good.
- Hội An Eco Tour. Is a unique cultural tourist attraction. Learn how to catch fish, row a basket boat with local fisherman in the coconut palm paradise. Rather than focusing on historical artifacts of Vietnam, the eco tour focuses on the historical, and living culture of the people of Hội An. Very friendly tour guide and staff. All drinks and a great dinner included (Fisherman to Coconut palm paradise tour). A bit more expensive than other tours but a very nice experience (doing rather than seeing).
- Lifestart Foundation Tour & Craft Lessons, 77 Phan Chu Trinh. Lifestart Foundation, a charity founded in Australia, offers a half day tour to find out more about the Lifestart Foundation Workshop and take part in lantern making and art classes. The morning includes the opportunity to make Hoi An lanterns, one-on-one dialogue with Lifestart Foundation workshop members and a traditional painting class. At the end of your experience you’ll have two miniature Hoi An lanterns and your hand painted notecard to take home and share with friends. All of the money raised goes towards helping local people in difficulty. USD20.
- Hoi An Silk Village, 28 Nguyen Tat Thanh St, ☎ . Daily 09:00-21:00. Revived 300 year-old Champa silk traditions. Half day tours encompassing the entire silk process, from silkworms to dressmaking. Showroom in a converted Quang Nam-style house with 100 different ao dai, representing all of the 54 different minority groups in Vietnam. Also a spacious colonial-style restaurant serving local dishes and a silk showroom where professional tailors custom design and make garments for visitors. USD19.
- Len Silk, 74 Tran Phu St, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. The owner is the 6th generation in the family business. Her grandmother learned to make silk by hand as a young girl. She continued for fifty years. Then mass-produced imported silk became the norm and the village women mostly dropped the craft. Reasoning that traditional techniques of making hand-produced silk resulted in a superior product, she kept the business of using time-worn techniques going. Nearly all the garments in the store made by this method. Only women's clothing is available in hand-crafted fabrics at the present time.
- Song Trang 'Moon River', 166 Nguyen Truong To (Next Tran Hung Dao crossroads), ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. 09:00-21:00. Mens and ladies tailoring. 2 piece suits start about USD100. Many similar in nearby Le Loi St. USD100+.
- Wall Street Tailors, 667 Hai Ba Trung, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Founded in 2010 when Anna Briggs, a young stylish professional from London, England dropped by Hoi An and met a top local tailor. Wall Street Tailors have gone on to offer impressive customer experiences, wide fabric ranges and in the process, gaining good reviews from many tourists.
- Yaly Couture, 358 Nguyen Duy Hieu St, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. 10:00-22:00. Top end pricing. You pay for the name, and the bag the clothes come in. USD150+.
Food in Hoi An is, even by high Vietnamese standards, cheap and tasty. In addition to the usual suspects, there are three dishes that Hoi An is particularly famous for:
- Cao lầu, a dish of rice noodles which are not quite as slippery as pho and a bit closer in texture to pasta. The secret is the water used to make it, and authentic cao lau uses only water from a special well in the city. The noodles are topped with slices of roast pork, dough fritters, and this being Vietnam, lots of fresh herbs and veggies.
- White rose (banh bao vac), a type of shrimp dumpling made from translucent white dough bunched up to look like a rose. Eat it at 533 Hai Ba Trung St.
- Wonton dumplings, essentially the same as the Chinese kind, served up in soup or deep-fried.
If you are really adventurous, walk to the Central Market, and have a local breakfast. Seating on stools, eating a bowl of cao lau with wooden chopsticks, and sipping the ice cold "white coffee with vinamilk" is an adventure. Beware though, prices will vary immensely, as shopkeepers swarm over you to sell you things, or even shove plates of food before you. Just keep declining politely and return the food you don't fancy. Keep small denominations of dong with you, as you probably won't get change if you give them USD. Also, confirm the prices before you eat the food. Prices range from about 7,000-10,000 dong for a bowl of noodles, and 5,000-7,000 dong for a coffee. The baguette is a nice snack, and should not cost more than 10,000 dong. You can point and say "yes" or "no" to the vegetables and chilli that they will add. A good way to order is to just say "everything" and say "yes" to the chilli. Mineral water is around 10,000 dong for a 1.5L bottle.
Walking along the river at night, you will find a lot of pubs. Beer is around 30,000 dong. Cocktails are 20,000-50,000 dong. There are some bar foods available, such as fried prawn crackers for around 15,000 dong a plate. Just walk into any pub and have a seat.
- Bale Well restaurant, 45-51 D Tran Cao Van (Off the road, up a side alley). Busy in the evenings, less so at lunchtime. Set menu: bánh xèo, pork savoury pancakes; barbecued satay pork loin, wrapped in a lettuce leaf, with side salad. Enjoy with a local beer. 220,000 dong.
- Cafe Bobo, 18 Le Loi. Popular and reasonably-priced. The frappucino-style mocha shakes are great.
- Cafe 43, 43 Tran Cao Van. Biere Lerue for 10,000 dong and bia hoi (pronounced doy in the south) fresh beer for 3,000 dong. The food is general traveller fare but tasty. Try the cao lao noodles which is the local speciality. Portions are adequate. The "fresh spring rolls" (steamed) are around 40,000 dong, but are huge.
- Huu Nghi, 56 Bach Dang, ☎ . Very good food at reasonable prices, with a view of the river and the market. Set meals with 3 or 4 kinds of local specialities for 40,000/70,000 dong respectively. Fresh beer (bia hoi) for 5,000 dong. They also provide a free tiny cup of caramel/vanilla yogurt for dessert.
- Lantern Town Restaurant. Hoi An is the home of lanterns and Lantern Town restaurant, housed in an ancient house, combines French colonial architectural influences with traditional Vietnamese style. 20,000 dong.
- Laugh Café, 126 Tran Cao Van St. Laugh Café is a low key café with great, cheap traditional food. It provides vocational training for young people in the provinces surrounding Hoi An, to help give them future opportunities in hospitality. The manager Peter is a laugh (no pun intended) and is happy to have a chat with you about anything.
- Pho Ha Noi, 448 Cua Dai Rd, ☎ . Early/Breakfast. The real deal. Pho and bun. Popular with locals. Try out your Vietnamese. Limited English understood here. 20,000 dong.
- Restaurant 96. One of the numerous restaurants on the river bank, this restaurant is packed every night of the week. Many of the guests are returning customers, so the food must be good. There are plenty of vegetarian options and excellent spring rolls. The wait for food tends to be longer than normal, but it's worth it. The surliness of the owner does detract from the overall dining experience. 20,000 dong.
- Sun Shine, 46 Tran Cao Van St (diagonally opposite Phuoc An Hotel), ☎ . 07:00-23:00. A homey and cheap restaurant. Serves fresh and home-cooked Vietnamese and Western food. Prices start at 20,000 dong for a bowl of cau lau, and a plate of 6 spring rolls will only set you back 30,000 dong. 3,000 dong for fresh beer and Vietnamese ice tea is free of charge. Proprietor Hoi is offering cooking lessons for 120,000 dong per person, plus the cost of the menu items you wish to prepare. The lesson takes place in the house kitchen behind the restaurant, giving you an insight into Vietnamese town life.
- Thanh Phuong, 56 Cong Dong (An Hoi Island, just across bridge). Cheap and cheerful local eats. A steaming seafood hotpot is 109,000 dong, codfish hotpot 89,000 dong.
- 31 Nguyen Thai Hoc St. Here you can find many small stands which serve good and cheap food quickly. 20,000 dong.
- Trung Bac, 87 Tran Phu. 100 years of cao lau and still going strong. A bowl of chewy noodles and lots of veggies will set you back 15,000 dong.
- White Lotus, Phan Bội Châu (walk along the river from Old Town, through the central market, and straight on for about 50 m, after passing Brother's Cafe). New restaurant with Australian owner. Serves good Asian and Western dishes, staff very helpful and obliging to any request. 20,000-60,000 dong.
- White Rose, 533 Hai Ba Trung. 07:00-early afternoon. The shop that makes most of the "white rose" dumplings served all around town. 40,000 dong per serving, and if you ask nicely they'll let you try to make them yourself.
- Alfrescos, 83 Tran Hung Dao St, ☎ . Offers comfort food: Aussie steaks, pasta, pizza, Mexican, and ribs. Also deliver. Do a Tuesday, Friday special deal of two for one pizza for delivery. Shows rugby and Aussie rules football.
- Bazar Cafe & Restaurant, 36 Tran Phu (Next to the town market), ☎ . 08:00-24:00. New in town, serves the best Vietnamese and Mediterranean barbeque in the garden. Comfortable lounge, cocktails and shisha inside the traditional wooden house.
- Brother's Cafe, 27 - 29 - 31 Phan Boi Chau St, ☎ , fax: +84 510 3923012, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Tranquil French colonial riverside setting. Big selection of local food, especially seafood.
- Bon Café and Restaurant, 320 Nguyen Duy Hieu St, ☎ +84 510 386 1919 or +84 918 452302, e-mail: email@example.com. Traditional Minh Huong family-run restaurant from former 17th century Chinese immigrants to Hoi An.
- Casa Verde, 99 Bach Dang St, ☎ . This German-owned restaurant serves some of the best pizzas in Hoi An town His expertise comes from years of experience, as he used to work at the nearby Victoria Hotel as head chef. His homemade bread, ice cream, and soft-centred hot chocolate cake are not to be missed. Fantastic salads..
- Dingo Deli, ☎ . 07:30-19:30. This delicatessen offers an extensive selection of gourmet foods through the restaurant and European grocery store. The ambiance, and aroma of brewed coffee is the attraction for travellers ready to find some favourite tastes from home. A wooden constructed adventure play ground is open for children to play on and over looks views of paddocks, buffalo, and the Thu Bon River.
- Hoi An Cruise Restaurant (Sunset dinner and cooking cruises), 32 Le Loi St (Reservation office at the city centre), ☎ . Cruise restaurant with a sunset dinner cruise and cooking class.
- Mango Rooms, 111 Nguyen Thai Hoc, ☎ . Offers Asian fusion food made of fresh local products. As an example try the duck breast marinated in five spices served with bitter-chocolate passion fruit spicy garlic butter sauce. The atmosphere is very relaxed with a colourful interior design. Prices rather upscale. 350,000-550,000 dong.
- Mermaid (Opposite the Cloth Market). Open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Mermaid serves some of the best food in Vietnam, and is among the best expensive restaurants. Do not miss the grilled mackerel in banana leaf, the minced pork with eggplant and the sweet and sour Black King Fish hotpot. The owner came from generations of cooks and in fact was featured in New York Times for her restaurant's good food. 2 dishes and rice costs between 70,000-100,000 dong.
- Morning Glory. Choose from a variety of local dishes, and be sure to experiment, because everything is truly excellent. The staff speak good English, the place is beautifully decorated, and the food will have you coming back for more. (And if you really enjoy the food, ask about their cooking classes.) While there are cheaper places to eat in Hoi An, this one is by no means expensive, especially considering how good the food is. Most main courses are between 40,000 and 70,000 dong. Dinner and a drink cost about 80,000 dong per person.
- Moon Restaurant & Lounge, 321 Nguyen Diuy Hieu (East of the market), ☎ . 07:00-22:00. Beautiful old house, laid-back atmosphere and superb Vietnamese food. Main courses 50,000-80,000 dong; drinks 20,000-50,000 dong.
- Red Bridge Restaurant & Cooking School, Thon 4, Cam Thanh (about 3 km out of town), ☎ . 10:00-21:00. Next to the Thu Bon River within 2 acres of tropical gardens. Offers a wide range of Vietnamese Food, in an open air restaurant. Cooking Classes begin around 08:00 at the Hai Scout Cafe for a coffee (Italian-style) then a tour of the market to shop for fruit & veg. Booking for dinner are essential. They sometimes close early if there are no customers. They offer cocktails as well as the usual beers and an extensive wine list.
- River Lounge, 35 Nguyen Phu Chuc (Across the bridge on Hoi An Island, it's the first double-storey building on the left), ☎ . 08:30-24:00. Run by two entrepreneurial Austrian brothers who are bringing excellent tastes and tunes to this historical town. If you ask them nicely they might even show you their Austrian sausages which are meaty and mayonnaise exuding. Western/Vietnamese fusion food. Set menu for 120,000 dong, 3 course meal..
- Son Hoi An, 177 Cua Dai (Riverside on the Cua Dai beach road). Very popular stopping point for those cycling back from the beach.
- Thanh Restaurant, 76 Bach Dang (City centre, riverside), ☎ . Great Vietnamese and Western food. Excellent grilled fished in banana leaf and nice river view.
- Vinh Hung 1 Restaurant, 147B Tran Phu St (Opposite the Cantonese Assembly Hall, near the Japanese Bridge). Open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner. One of the first restaurants in Hoi An to open it's doors to Western travellers. A true family-run restaurant offering a stylish blend of classic Vietnamese, traditional Hoi An specialities, and modern dishes using fresh ingredients. It's a fabulous place to relax over a drink and watch the hustle and bustle of life pass by. The pho bo is exceptional!
Vegan / vegetarian
- Hong An, 343 Cua Dai (On Cua Dai, 15 minutes walk from the centre), ☎ 01225992823. Good vegan Vietnamese food. Small menu, but includes local specialties. USD1 for a bowl of noodles.
- Karma Waters, 213 Nguyen Duy Hieu (Hoi An centre, opposite An Phu Hotel), ☎ . 06:30-20:00. Vietnamese and international food, Indian food, quick healthy vegan food, vegan ice cream, all pure vegetarian & vegan! This place is on the expensive side: USD2.50 for a bowl of noodles soup with vegetables. USD1.50 for orange juice. However, the food is good and the staff nice. mid range.
Hoi An is not a party destination and has a rather limited number of nightlife locations.
- Before and Now, 51 Le Loi St. Morning-24:00. The most popular bar in Old Town. Reasonably priced drinks and food. Happy hour specials available in the evening. Offers seating, pool tables, and bar stool seating. Usually closes at midnight. USD2-10.
- Dive Bar Restaurant, 88 Nguyen Thai Hoc St, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 11:00-02:00. Great bar in a traditional house with a back garden, pool table, Wi-Fi. Meet people from all over the world in a friendly atmosphere. All kinds of music on request (live music once a week). Great choice of cocktails and beers, wine by bottle or by glass. Food: from small tapas to Vietnamese salads, from pasta or lasagne to hamburgers, from seafood to rice salads, everybody find his choice. Cocktail class available (only place in town). 20,000-150,000 dong for drinks and food.
- Volcano Club, 86 Bà Triệu, Hoi An 12345 (A good distance away from old town and most lodgings, as well as being confusing to find. A taxi or motorbike is by far the best way to travel here.). Open until late. The most popular (but that's not saying much) late night bar in Hoi An. Offers 100,000 dong for all you can drink (on selected mixed drinks), a large dance floor, and pool table. Volcano Club is the closest Hoi An has to a party spot. While the bar is open earlier in the evening, patrons do not arrive until at least midnight. Goes until late. USD1-5.
- Why Not Bar, 10B Pham Hong Thai (On the eastern edge of old town). Open until late. One of two late night bars of Hoi An. Not to be confused with the much different bar/club of the same name in Nha Trang. This very small 3 storey bar advertises free drinks. The drinks are free, but they are very weak. Prices for standard drinks are still quite low though. Patrons do not come to this bar until at least midnight, when the rest of the town has closed down. Open until late. USD2.
Hoi An New Town
The atmosphere of the Old Town hasn't been preserved by accident: strict bylaws prohibit new construction within its narrow lanes. As a result, there's a building boom just outside the borders of the Old Town, most noticeably as you head north of Le Hong Phong. Walk a few blocks from that old world ambience, and suddenly you're in a construction zone. Several hotels have sprung up in this area, which is completely lacking in the charm that brings visitors to Hoi An. Not surprisingly, those are the hotels (Phuong Nam Hotel is among the worst offenders) that are most likely to pay commissions to open-tour bus companies and use Internet sites to describe the dusty construction zone as a "peaceful area". They're also cheaper and easier to bargain with, but the reason they're so cheap is that they're missing the whole point of a visit to Hoi An. There are plenty of options closer to the centre of town. Once you've taken a night-time stroll through the Old Town, you won't mind if you had to fork over an extra dollar or two for a better location.
Hotels in Hoi An are fiercely competitive, which means plenty of choice and generally high standards. Budget options are slightly pricier than many other parts of Vietnam, with USD6 being about the cheapest. Many are clustered around Hai Ba Trung St (formerly, Nhi Trung St), just north of the Old Town and within easy walking distance, and also along Cua Dai St, off to the east and a bit of a hike away.
Most of Hoi An's high-end hotels are located along the unbroken beach stretching from Da Nang to Hoi An. Closest is Cua Dai Beach 5 km away.
- An Hoi Hotel, 69 Nguyen Phuc Chu, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Nice and quiet, very near old town (opposite riverbank). Nicely decorated wide rooms. Free Internet and Wi-Fi USD15-25, including breakfast.
- An Phu, 30 Nguyen Duy Hieu St, ☎ . One of the biggest budget hotel operations in Hoi An. South of the centre, about a 5-10 minute walk away. Nice rooms and a relaxing pool in the middle. Be careful of the recommended hotel doctor in event of emergency as he has been known to provide out of date drugs and/or sub-standard versions which have been known to cause some very dangerous reactions. USD20-40.
- Dai Long. A 7 minute walk from the heart of the old town. Extremely clean, spacious rooms. Beds come complete with a mosquito net. The staff are incredibly helpful and speak excellent English. Free Internet and Wi-Fi. Doubles ~USD20.
- Green Field Hotel, 423 Cua Dai St, ☎ , fax: +84 510 863136, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Good value hotel with some English-speaking staff and a location that is not particularly central. Satellite TV and decent air conditioning in some rooms. Other rooms have no air-con. Many rooms smell mouldy, so have a look before you check in. Free computers with Internet in the lobby, free Wi-Fi (patchy in rooms), swimming pool, and free cocktails for one hour in the evenings. They also have dorms available (three single beds in a room) for USD6 per night. Singles from USD12.
- Ha My TT Hotel, Thon 1, Dien Duong, Dien Ban, Quang Nam, ☎ +84 908 220747 (French), +84 908 112825 (English and Japanese). This ancient French-style beach resort about 6 km from Hoi An centre is recently been renovated. It has a special atmosphere and its friendly owner, Mr. Nguyen Van Hien, will do everything to make you feel comfortable. Don't be rejected by its unpainted facade, as the rooms are nice, and the beach is great! USD20-30.
- Hoa My, 201 Ly Thuong Kiet St (Corner Hai Ba Trung), ☎ . Cheap, modern, very clean, but of course a bit outside the old town. There are two more similar hotels next to it. They sell bus tickets at approximately double the real price. from USD12.
- Hoang Trinh Hotel, 45 Le Quy Don St (Corner Tran Hung Dao St opposite Confucius Temple), ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Great hotel in good location and scenic setting. Well furnished en suite rooms with cable TV with excellent reception, air-con, ceiling fan, fridge, Wi-Fi and balcony restaurant with an impressive view. Has bicycles for hire for 15,000 dong and motorbikes also. The staff are friendly, and they continuously offer small snacks for free. USD14-25.
- Hop Yen, 103 Ba Trieu & 694 Hai Ba Tru'ng St, ☎ . Check-out: 11:00. In the "backpacker town" area, 7 minutes from Old Town. Clean rooms, spacious, staff moody (very friendly when you inquire after rooms but it doesn't last!) with moderate to good English, and tour advice. The open bus tickets they sell are not however with the companies they say they are, an inferior company, book elsewhere. Free internet and Wi-Fi before 21:00. doubles ~USD12 no air-con, +USD2 with air-con, dorms USD5.
- Nhi Nhi Hotel, 60 Hung Vuong St, ☎ . Check-out: 12:00. About 10 min walking from the Old Quarter, near the Bridge Pagoda, Nhi Nhi Hotel offers affordable, nice rooms and swimming pool in an authentic Vietnamese neighborhood. Near a local market but a bit far from tourist sites. Bargain to get good price. Normally price doesn't include breakfast. USD32-40.
- Phuoc An Hotel, 31/1 Tran Cao Van St. Check-out: 12:00. A clean, friendly and modern atmosphere make the Phuoc An Hotel one of Hoi An's more notable. An indoor restaurant on the first floor overlooks the hotel pool. The hotel is a stones throw from the markets and old quarter. Bicycles are offered to patrons free, however motorbikes can be rented at a cost of USD4 per day from across the road. Good service and complementary all you can eat breakfast each day before 11:00. (This hotel is not connected with the Phuoc An River Hotel on Cua Dai beach road.) USD18-30.
- Sunflower Hotel, 397 Cua Dai St., ☎ . Check-out: 12:00. This is the hot spot for backpackers to try to stay at in Hoi An. Cua Dai St leads directly to the beach (about 2.5 km away). 4 km to An Bang Beach (turn left out of hotel, turn right on Hai Ba Trung St, go straight.) Motorbike and bicycle rental places both sides of the hotel (80,000 dong if renting for a few days, 100,000 for one day) (20,000 dong for a bicycle). Rooms are spacious with large beds, air-con, fridge, cable TV, fast Wi-Fi. Some rooms have balconies. Both dorms and private rooms available. Hotel has a clean, medium sized pool and lounge chairs, with an outdoor bar and restaurant located next to the pool. Room rate includes surprisingly good buffet breakfast (egg station makes good omelettes/pancakes). A 15 minute walk to town and 15-20 minute bike ride to the beach. USD20.
- Tan Phuong, 209 Ly Thuong Kiet, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Small fan room for USD6, larger nice rooms for USD8. North side of town, but easy walking access to town centre. Also rent bikes/motorbikes. USD10-20.
- Thanh Binh 3, 98 Ba Trieu St (Off Hai Ba Trung St), ☎ . Popular budget hotel done up like a Chinese temple, with a pool and pleasant rooms, all air-con equipped. The mattresses are on the hard side though and the breakfast isn't much to rave about. Free Wi-Fi throughout and Internet at the lobby. From USD25.
- An Huy Hotel, 30 Phan Boi Chau St (City 1km, taxi 25,000 dong), ☎ +84 510 862116 / 914627, e-mail: email@example.com. Fourteen rooms conveniently located near the river and Central Market, away from the din of most streets in the heart of Hoi An. The hotel was converted from a traditional Hoi An shophouse. Not as squeaky clean as a newly-built hotel, but nice, with plenty of historic charm. Good breakfast, such as pancakes with banana fillings. There are 2 computers set up in the lobby to provide Internet access. USD28 for a double room.
- Bai Huong Homestay, Cham Islands, 213 Nguyen Duy Hieu (Office opposite Anh Phu Hotel), ☎ . The homestay on Cham Islands, 10 miles offshore from Hoi An. USD120/each shared room all included.
- Betel Garden Homestay, 161 Tran Nhan Tong St, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: 06:00, check-out: 12:00. A bit out of the centre of town and a beautifully landscaped garden with several unique species of areca and betel trees, complete with an array of songbirds and fish in small ponds. Staff is incredibly friendly and tries a lot to make you feel at home, including complementary fruit in your room each day and the free bicycles. Their area also offers a nicely laid out secluded pool area, as well as two covered dining areas the 20 guests. The Vuon Trau Family organises a complimentary dinner together with their guests twice a week, offering free beverages (and beer) and excellent food. Be sure to try their amazing banana flower salad.
- Ha An Hotel, 6 Phan Boi Chau Rd, ☎ . In a quiet area beyond the main markets, this hotel consists of a few buildings built in a semi-French colonial style around a central courtyard. The rooms are airy, light and pleasant with air conditioning, baths, and TV. A basket of fresh fruit is usually provided in the room. There's a collection of books in the reception area that can be borrowed by guests. The price includes an excellent breakfast and free use of bicycles. USD55-104.
- Hoai Thanh Hotel, 187 Ly Thuong Kiet St (200 m from the centre of town), ☎ , fax: +84 510 861135, e-mail: email@example.com. USD24-75.
- Hoi An Indochine Hotel, Cua Dai Rd, ☎ , fax: +84 510 923578, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Only 5 min walk from the beach, by the calm and romantic river and garden. French-style architecture with 61 river view rooms. USD65/night (10 superior rooms), USD75/night (45 deluxe rooms), USD105 (6 suites).
- Hoi An Vinh Hung 3 Hotel, 96 Ba Trieu St (5 min walk from Old Town). Check-in: 13:00., check-out: 12:00. A beautiful small hotel with modern marble baths and the added bonus of in-room Wi-Fi. The deluxe rooms even have computers. The room service menu is packed full of local delicacies and the hotel features the only rooftop swimming pool in Hoi An. Breakfast is included in the price. What really makes this hotel though are the staff, welcoming, helpful and professional, with excellent English. USD30-48.
- Long Life Hotel, 30 Ba Trieu St, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Comfortable hotel with a nice pool and excellent breakfast. Wi-Fi and computers are available. Friendly staff. Wide range of room prices with the internal rooms having tiny windows the cheapest and the upper floor rooms with a balcony being the most expensive. The attached baths for all the rooms are about the same and include a nice whirlpool tub. USD17-35.
- Lotus Hotel, 330 Cua Dai Rd, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Beautifully designed resort-hotel draws from a range of styles & influences resulting in a perfect blend of Eastern culture & French architecture, immaculately furnished and equipped rooms in a relaxing combination of Vietnamese, Japanese and French styles. Free ADSL/Wi-Fi available throughout. USD36-55.
- Orchid Garden Homestay, 382 Cua Dai St, ☎ . Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 12:00. The name Orchid Garden originates from the owner's long held passion for orchids, with more than 30 varieties of orchid in the garden. The homestay has four secluded bungalows built in traditional Vietnamese architecture, surrounded by a variety of tropical trees, and equipped with modern convenient facilities. Each bungalow is named after a kind of orchid that you can find around the garden. Orchid Garden also has a traditional sanctuary for worshiping ancestors and for family activities.
- Phuoc An River Hotel, 242 Cua Dai Rd. Check-in: 13:00, check-out: 11:00. Roof garden restaurant on the sixth floor provides the best views in Hoi An. Clean rooms, good food, friendly staff, and beach road riverside location make the Phuoc An River Hotel unique in Hoi An. Spa, Gym, Pool, Poolside Bar, Coffee Garden. The hotel is a 15-20 min stroll to/from the beach, and within walking distance of the ancient town. Bicycles are free for guests. Good service. Great breakfast. USD30-60 per night.
- Le Belhamy Hoi An Resort and Spa, Hamlet 1, Dien Duong Village, Dien Ban District (10 min from Hoi An Old Town and 30 min from Da Nang International Airport.), ☎ . All rooms are equipped with private pool, balcony, garden, living area, refrigerator, minibar, Wi-Fi, and TV with satellite/cable. Restaurant, room service, concierge, swimming pool, pool bar, spa, fitness room/gym. USD101+.
- Dong An Beach Hotel, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Overlooks the Thu Bon River, and less than a 5 min walk to Cua Dai Beach. Some 5 km away from town. USD79-195.
- Furama Beach Resort. Luxury resort on fabled China Beach. About 20 minutes to Hoi An by taxi (5 minutes to Da Nang). Internet rates starting at USD150, walk-up rates from USD200.
- Hoi An Glory Hotel & Spa, 358 Cua Dai St, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. With 1 restaurant and 2 bars, Glory Hotel has 94 rooms built in 4 areas with garden, swimming pool and green field views. USD63-93.
- Hoi An Pacific Hotel, 167 Cua Dai St (Halfway between beach and town), ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. 1 restaurant and 2 bars, including the "Sky Bar", located on the 6th floor of the hotel with terrace view of the area. USD70-120.
- Hoi An Vinh Hung Hotel & Resort. USD70-110.
- Life Heritage Resort Hoi An, 1 Pham Hong Thai St (East end of street fronting the river), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Lovely French colonial style architecture with rooms overlooking the Thu Bon River at the east end of Hoi An, a short walk from the Old Town but just far enough away that a quiet night's sleep is practically assured. Rooms are spacious (many are bi-level with a sitting area) and have good air-con, but restaurant and bar are open to the breezes. Two-day package (off-season) was USD250 incl 2 x breakfast for two, 1 x dinner for two, and 20% discount to a comprehensive spa. The breakfast is a buffet, making it easy to dart in and eat before or after a morning excursion. USD98-268.
- The Ocean Villas, Hoa Hai Ward, Ngu Hanh Son District Non Nuoc Beach (On the beach side opposite the Colin Montgomerie and Greg Norman Da Nang Golf Club links, halfway between Hoi An and Da Nang.). You will need a car and driver for this beach and sport club resort oasis. Great for a real grown-up treat or second honeymoon!
- River-Beach Resort, 05 Cua Dai St, ☎ . 2 min walk from the beach, a resort that offers stunning views of surrounding paddy fields, river, and sea. 120 rooms, ranging from deluxe, superb deluxe rooms to executive, family and presidential suites. All fully equipped with modern facilities and comforts. Each room has a private balcony or terrace and offers views of the river, pool, garden or countryside. Free Wi-Fi throughout. There is also a fitness centre, beauty salon and spa, bar, baby sitting services, and gift shop. USD60 for deluxe room, USD165 for a presidential suite.
- Swiss-Belhotel Golden Sand Resort & Spa, Thanh Nien Rd - Cua Dai Beach, ☎ . This beautiful hotel with a gigantic swimming pool is located by the river a short stroll from the market. Evening musical entertainment in the lobby makes it all the more delightful. Internet rates from USD105, beach front suites USD285.
- Victoria Hoi An, Cua Dai Beach, ☎ . Internet rates from USD125, walk-up rates from USD165, honeymoon suites USD210-300.
- Vinh Hung 1 Hotel, 143 Tran Phu St, ☎ . With maybe the best location in Hoi An, this small historic hotel has the charm and beauty that many of Hoi An's larger hotels lack. USD60-100.
If motorbiking you can check out a Google Map of Ancient Cham Sites near Hoi An.
- Cham Islands - UNESCO Biosphere Reserve Cu Lao Cham - Hoi An 9 nautical miles offshore. Get there by slow boat, or fast-boat. Day trip (arrange with your hotel or local tour operators).
- Dalat - originally the playground of the French, who built villas in the clear mountain air to escape the heat and humidity of the coast. (Dalat is more than a day trip).
- Dong Duong - ruined Cham tower, the sole major remnant of a large Buddhist Cham period (9th century, 875-915 under Indravarman II) temple-complex that was originally 155 m x 326 m. Other minor remnants are also visible.
- Hue - the former imperial capital, a few hours away by car or train. Early start day trip from Hoi An (arrange with your hotel or local tour operators).
- Lang Co - fishing village that includes mountains, a river, a lagoon, an island and a 32 km beach located between Da Nang and Hue.
- The Marble Mountains, 9 km short of Da Nang, are well worth a morning or afternoon trip from Hoi An. Get there by hiring a motorbike (costs less than organised tour).
- My Khanh - Rare seaside ruin of a Cham tower dating from the 8th century.
- My Son - Best done as an early morning half-day trip from Hoi An (arrange with your hotel or local tour operators) since there is no accommodation there, not even toilets.
- Nha Trang - Vietnam's premier beach resort town and the next stop for backpackers traveling south on the open bus or train.