Hoi An is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Vietnam, and it’s not hard to see why. An ancient town embodied by colorful lanterns, adjacent to vibrant rice fields and boasting some of Vietnam’s best cuisine. Hoi An has every reason to be a fan favorite for travelers in Vietnam.
And yet, it took me a minute to warm up to Hoi An. The old town felt overwhelmingly touristic at first. I feared that this ancient town’s mystique may be lost on me.
Luckily, first impressions don’t mean everything and by the time my five days in Hoi An were up, I found myself totally under its spell.
La Terrazza: This family run guesthouse is set on an idyllic rice field surrounded by roaming water buffalo. It’s owned by a Vietnamese woman and her Italian husband, along with their daughters and numerous pets. Their included breakfast is also divine- don’t leave without trying the soup!
Staying a bit outside of the main town was a game changer for us. With such a busy tourist center in Hoi An, it was wonderful to be able to come home to this oasis.
Bale Well: This garden restaurant still sticks out as perhaps one of my favorite meals from all of Vietnam. The have a fixed-menu, and only serve enormous plates of DIY spring rolls and banh xeo. Trying to haphazardly assemble our dinner was almost as fun as actually biting into the classic Vietnamese dish.
Nu Eatery: Tucked away from the center of town, this small-plate restaurant serves delicious Vietnamese cuisine!
Central Market: A no frills, chaotic market with out-of-this-world pho and plenty of specialties from the area.
Bahn Mi Phuong: Anthony Bourdain got it right- this bahn mi was delicious, and still super cheap despite becoming an A-List Celebrity in the world of the Vietnamese sandwiches.
Faifo Coffee: Just like pretty much all of Vietnam, the coffee is amazing here. But, the real sell is the beautiful rooftop view where you can take in this lit up village from a birds eye view.
See the Old Town: Of course the evening is a must, as the lanterns glisten over the narrow river, creating a magical glow. However, I especially enjoyed waking up early and crisscrossing the fairytale-like streets of the old town before the crowds rolled in.
Go to the Market: If you do manage to wake up early, the market is a fantastic way to start the day. It’s wonderfully chaotic, and makes for premium people watching.
Have clothes custom made: Travelers often flock here to have handmade garments created for them. Hoi An is known for its tailors, and you’re guaranteed to come home with something truly one of a kind!
Get out of town: The old town is beautiful, but there is so much more to see in Hoi An. From small, nearby villages to endless rice fields, it would be a pity to miss out on this majestic scenery. So hop on your bike or scooter and explore the rest of the village!
Visit the My Son Ruins: Hoi An is a great base for day trips, particularly to the My Son Ruins. While there are many buses you can take, we woke up at sunrise to ride our scooters and beat the crowds. The ride took us about an hour, and we had the ruins all to ourselves.
Have a Beach Day: An Bang beach is super close to town and an easy option for a few hours of soaking in the sun. There are several bars and restaurants along the beach, just be prepared for super inflated tourist menu prices.
Hoi An is definitely worth visiting, although with the old town being quite touristic, it can feel overwhelming. However, it’s easy enough to venture outside the beautifully lit center and discover all this area has to offer.