Welcome to Hoi An! The small city that everyone raves about and spends way too much money and time in. Hoi An is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and once you step your foot inside the city, you will know why. Wander around this fascinating city and see temples, old Buddhist pagodas, colonial shophouses and museums that are all inside the Ancient Town and Riverside. The architecture itself is worth going for, with influences from Vietnamese, Chinese, French and Japanese architecture.
Hoi An is a city worth visiting more than once and I’d recommend staying there for at least 3-4 days. However, if you do not have much time to spend in Hoi An, here are my personal recommendations on what to do in the charming city if you only have 24 hours.
1. Get your day ready with some delicious breakfast or brunch!
Have you ever tried the Vietnamese “banh mi”? It’s a Vietnamese baguette filled with pate, vegetables, eggs, cold cuts, sauces… you name it! It’s one of the most beloved street food in Vietnam and you can literally have it for breakfast, lunch, dinner, evening snack… whenever. If you prefer to sit down somewhere, head to “Goda Café” at Goda, 310 Cua Dai. Try the Vietnamese breakfast set – it will start off your day just right.
2. Hit the beach
If you love the sun as much as I do, rent a bicycle and bike to An Bang beach. Relax in one of many sun chairs, swim in the water and enjoy your well deserved vacation. The road to the beach is beautiful and the bike ride alone is a joy.
3. Lunch is served!
Bike back to the Ancient Town of Hoi An and prepare fill up your energy with some food. Are you already craving another “banh mi”? Go to Banh My Phuong: on Phan Chau Trinh near the intersection with Hoang Dieu. This is the place where Anthony Bourdain deemed the “best banh mi place in Vietnam”. If you want something more fancy, head over to “Morning Glory” for some authentic and magnificent Vietnamese cuisine. It is a bit more on the pricey side, but shouldn’t cost more than 6 dollars for a meal.
4. Wander around the Ancient Town and Riverside
Get lost in one of the many small streets, go souvenir shopping, be mesmerized by the beauty of the city and sit down by a café on the Riverside and drink some delicious Vietnamese coffee. You could easily wander around the streets in Ancient Town for several days without discovering everything, but since you are only here for 24 hours, go see the Japanese Bridge, pay an entrance fee and see the preserved area of Hoi An, and if you love shopping, there’s an abundance of small souvenir shops who sell shoes, clothes, various souvenirs, jewelries, etc.
5. Be mesmerized by the lanterns
If you’ve heard of Hoi An before, you’ve probably seen all the lantern photos. If not, you’re about to see the beauty of Hoi An. When the sun is down, Hoi An transforms entirely. The city becomes a light fest, with lanterns left to right.
6. Go have dinner by the river
One thing you absolutely should do while in Hoi An is to eat. And then eat a bit more. The food here is absolutely spectacular and you will surely miss it when you’re gone. Have dinner at one of the many beautiful restaurants by the river, or do it in a more local way and eat in one of the street food stalls.
7. Night Market
Before you go to bed, head to the Night Market and wander around the various stalls. Here you can find some of the most beautiful hand painted lanterns that will make for an excellent souvenir. Why not splurge on a happy hour cocktail as well, to end your day in Hoi An.
If you feel like the night is still too young to be going to bed, Hoi An has some bars that you can go to. Although there isn’t much of a nightclub scene in this quaint little town, there’s always something to do. We hope you’ll enjoy your stay in beautiful Hoi An and that you’ve made memories for life.
Don’t forget to apply for the E-Visa if you’re planning on being in Vietnam for more than 15 days. Vietnam is now allowing citizens from 46 countries to apply for an E-Visa, and you are permitted to stay in the country for 30 days.