A charming ancient town located in Central Vietnam. The Old Town of Hoi An is a perfect example of a historic district with a well-preserved trading port in Southeast Asia dated back to the 15th to 19th century. The living houses, assembly halls, temples, communal houses, pagodas, shrines, bridges, market, wharf and street plan in this wonderful Old Quarter of Hoi An were designed under the influence of Vietnamese, Japanese and Chinese architectural styles. It is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999.
Getting There and Around
The closest airport to Hoi An is Danang International Airport (DAD). You can take a minivan (recommend Hoi An Express), or a private car if traveling in a group. There are several private bus operators from Danang city center going to Hoi An. If you are opting for a budget option, hop on the local yellow bus No. 1: Danang – Hoi An route which only costs 30,000 Dong per person. The journey will take 45 minutes to an hour’s drive.
Hoi An is less congested with cars compared to Saigon and is safe to ride a bicycle. You can hire them from your hotel or hostel for free or with a small fee. There are also a few bike rental stores in town too. Riding a bicycle will help to ease traffic flow and is environment-friendly by not causing any air pollution. Grab car and Grab Bike are available in Hoi An.
In the Old Quarter of Hoi An, you can roam around the ancient town and visit up to 23 old temples and museums by foot or bicycle. It is a car-free zone and only bicycles are permitted to enter. After sunset, the streets will be filled with many entertainment and activities such as folk games, street art activities and night market.
Things to Do in Hoi An
My Son Sanctuary
Take a half-day morning tour to visit My Son (mi sen), a UNESCO World Heritage Site located 10 km from Hoi An town. This sanctuary is a cluster of abandoned Hindu temples built between 4th and 14th century by the kings of Champa and dedicated to the worship of God Shiva. These sites were used for religious ceremony and burial place for Cham royalty and national heroes.
The majority of the Hindu temples were destroyed by US carpet bombing during the Vietnam War. It was believed to be used as a hideout and military base operation for Viet Cong troops. The restoration was made after the war to maintain the site and prevent further degradation.
This Japanese Bridge was built over the stream by the Japanese who established their own quarter for permanent habitation in the early 17th century to reach the Chinese quarter and do business. The two entrances of the bridge are guarded by a pair of Monkey Gods (Than Hau) and Dog Gods (Thien Cau) at both ends of the bridge.
The Chinese and Vietnamese continued to restore the bridge in the later centuries and built a small temple dedicated to the Taoist God of weather, Tran Vo Bac De. Today, it remains a sanctuary for worship by the locals over the past four hundred years and become famous for having supernatural power.
Old House of Phung Hung
With over 200 years old, Old House of Phung Hung was a typical house constructed with high wooden logs and broad corridors. It was owned by a Vietnamese merchant and was used as a shop selling forest products such as cinnamon, pepper, salt, silk, chinaware and glassware. The present house owner is the eight descendant who lives and preserves the ancient house.
Address: 4 Nguyen Thi Minh Street near the Japanese Bridge
Old House of Tan Ky
Old House of Tan Ky was used for trading agricultural goods with merchants from Southeast Asia and Europe in the 18th and 19th centuries. The name Tan Ky meaning “Progress Shop” was given to the house by the second generation to express the owner’s wish for a prosperous business. With the decline of the town’s business and heavy floods every year, these seven generations of the family still make great efforts to upkeep the house.
Many of the house’s details were very impressive and remain unchanged until today, including the storage area, the outside structure made of bricks and tiles and the floor covered with Bat Trang bricks. The house furniture, thick roofs and wooden walls were made with jack-fruit trees, ironwood and peck-wood to keep the house cool in summer and warm during winter.
Address: 101 Nguyen Thai Hoc Street
Museum of Folk Culture
This heritage building is one of the most interesting attractions in Hoi An. With the collection of 500 original items dated over 100 years ago, you will get to learn and understand the local daily life: Vietnamese family customs, Chinese family customs, songs and dances.
Address: 33 Nguyen Thai Hoc Street
Old House of Quan Trang
The Old House of Quan Trang is one of the oldest and beautiful houses in town. This one-story house was built by a Chinese merchant in the late 17th century with many architectural characteristics. Its upper beams, upright bars, hidden pillars and auxiliary arched roof were designed with a very artistic way. The wall was also engraved with Chinese porcelain fragment, making this old house very unique in a different way.
Address: 77, Tran Phu Street
Nguyen Hoang Night Market
Enjoy the night atmosphere at Nguyen Hoang Night Market. The best highlight of this market is the display of colorful lanterns in those lantern shops. Paper lanterns are also sold by mostly elderly women and lit every night after sunset along the river of Hoi An. There are many street foods here if you are looking for a budget meal.
Take Cooking Class
Join a cooking lesson and learn how to cook some Vietnamese dishes: Deep Fried Spring Roll, Banh Xeo (served with pork, small shrimp and bean sprouts) and Braised Fish in Claypot. After the end of class, sit back, relax and enjoy self-cook delicious lunch.
Hainan Assembly Hall
Hainan Assembly Hall was built in 1851 to worship 108 Chinese merchants who were unjustly killed at sea. They were suspected as pirates, although no weapons were found onboard the merchant ship. Emperor Tu Duc has granted the money to build this assembly hall to honor and worship them forever.
Address: 10 Tran Phu Street
Minh Huong Ancestor Worship House
Being one of the largest religious halls in Hoi An, this worship house was built by the Vietnamese Chinese during the late 18th century and was used to worship their ancestors who founded and kept this village prosperous. This house was also formerly served as an administrative office of their village council. During spring and fall every year, 60 families of Minh Huong will perform seasonal worship rituals and celebrations dedicated to their ancestors.
Quan Cong Temple and Quan Am Pagoda
Quan Cong Temple was built by Minh Huong people in 1653. Two 10 feet tall statues are standing in the altar feature the idol of the protector of Quan Cong and the adopted son of the protector.
During the old days, merchants from various places will come here and pay respect to their ancestors. The temple symbolizes their bravery, loyalty and morality. They make offerings to pray for good luck on their trips.
Address: 24, Nguyen Hue Street
Assembly Hall of Fujian Chinese
This assembly hall was re-owned and restored by the rich Fujian traders from China who come to Hoi An in 1759. Inside the temple holds the statute of the sea goddess Thien Hau, protector of the sea along with other animals that signified different meaning including fish (achievement), dragon (power), turtle (endurance), unicorn (knowledge) and phoenix (nobility).
Address: 46, Tran Phu Street
Museum of Trade Ceramics
This 2 story heritage museum houses about 430 ceramic artifacts that evident for the ceramic trade network dating back from the 8th-18th century. Most of the pottery come from Vietnam (15th century), the Middle East (7-10th century), the Chinese Tang Dynasty (7-10th century), India, Japan and Thailand. Some antiques were also found from a shipwreck in 1733 and evacuations carried out from the sites of Hoi An by archaeologists.
Address: 60, Tran Phu Street
Tran Family’s Chapel
Tran Family Chapel was built by Tran Tu Nhac, a very respectful mandarin under Gia Long reign in the early 19th century. It serves as a place of worship for the family ancestors and as a reminder about the family’s tradition to their next generations. They display and sell many old antiques and coins dated back from 1802 to 1847 during the Nguyen Dynasty period.
This house has been well preserved for almost two centuries and not much has been changed since then. Following the old belief, the drawing-room of the chapel separate the entries with the left side for men and the right side for women. The door at the center of the room is used for festivals, which is said to be the door for the souls of their ancestors to enter the house.
Address: 21, Le Loi Street
An Bang Beach
Head to An Bang Beach as early as 7 a.m. and have a morning walk along the beautiful sandy beach. It is very peaceful and quiet at this hour and pretty much nobody here. The only sound has been heard was the seawater rushes towards its shore. A perfect place to lay back and enjoy sunbathing (Did I not mention that the sun rises before 6 a.m.!)
Tra Que Village
Visit Tra Que Vegetable Village to see the farmers grow variety of vegetables.
Just a short walk from Tra Que Village is a vast paddy field.
The one-and-only place locals will come to buy their groceries and you can witness the market in action starting at 5 a.m. This is because there are not shopping complex or supermarket in this town.
Take breakfast in one of these little cafes and restaurants before begin to explore both inside and outside the market. This market is a great place to shop and bargain for anything to everything you need such as fabrics, Ao Dai, clothes, shoes, handicrafts and local made candies.
Other Things To Do in Hoi An
Wanted to get a tailored-made suit or dress? This Ancient Town has plenty of stores that can get what you needed. The fabrics are of good quality and the clothes can be made that fit you and collected within 3 days.
- Hoi An Express is a tour company that offers transportation services between Danang airport, Danang city and Hoi An. They have minivans that run hourly between both cities. (You can book direct with Hoi An Express or Bookaway).
- Take the local yellow bus No. 1 from Danang to Hoi An which will cost 30,000 Dong per way. Additional charges may apply if carry any baggage. Avoid scams and make sure the ticket officer in the bus give the right change upon ticket purchase.
- Hire a bicycle and park it near to the ancient town. The parking fee costs only 5,000- 10,000 Dong and will be guarded from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.
- Download Grab app into your mobile phone and take a ride on car or motorbike anywhere in Hoi An.
- The best time to visit is between December and August with less rainfall. Monsoon season falls between September and November.
- Purchase a set of ticket from one of the ticket booth stationed at the entrance point of Ancient Town. It cost 120,000 Dong and use to visit 5 out of 23 temples and museums.