Discover The Charms of Hoi An

There’s no denying that Hoi An is one of the most captivating cities in all of Vietnam. The city’s history as a bustling, international South East Asian trading port from the 15th-19th centuries exposed it to many foreign influences. Because of the constant exposure to other Asian and European countries, Hoi An’s Old Town city structure and architecture is one of a kind.

To this day, Hoi An still retains its Old World feel thanks to the extremely well-preserved area around the port. The original 17th and 18th century buildings show perfectly the fusion between Chinese, Japanese, French, and Vietnamese culture for which Hoi An is famous. It’s even earned itself an UNESCO World Heritage title.

Hoi An is a Vietnamese town that should be explored, appreciated, and savored. Read on to find out the must-see-and-do Hoi An highlights:

1. Peddle around Old Town

Peddle around Old Town Hoi An
Peddle around Old Town Hoi An

Set aside one day in Hoi An to rent a bicycle and get lost in the city’s Old Town. Cycle along the canals while admiring the French-colonial homes, Chinese temples, Japanese-style bridge, pagodas, and the old wooden store fronts. This section of Hoi An draws tourists and travelers from all over the world hopping to glimpse what life was like centuries before.

At night, the Thu Bon riverside is the most popular place for travelers to eat, drink, and hang out. Post up at an elegant bistro or laid-back local restaurant and watch the boat traffic on the river. This is definitely the most charming time and place for Old Town. Chock full of restaurants, bars, and set all aglow by hundreds of old-fashioned lanterns, you’ll find it hard to pull yourself away.

2. Visit the tailor

A clothes store in Hoi An
A clothes store in Hoi An

Hoi An is renowned for the number of tailors that operate in the city and the low price at which travelers can have anything they want tailor-made. This is the result of it being a trading port located on the Silk Road in its former life. Fast-forward to present-day and Hoi An has one of the densest population of tailors per capita in the world! This sounds cool until you actually go and try to pick a shop to produce the garment of your dreams. Then it becomes extremely overwhelming.

There is one important thing you should know about the tailors in Hoi An: not all of them are reputable. Many shops that advertise themselves as tailors are simply sales office. Once you’ve selected your fabric and been measured, the work is completed at an off-site location by someone else who may or may not be as skilled as you were led to believe. Also, working with a middle man results in many of the details of your future-garment being lost in translation.

In order to avoid the disappoint of a poorly made item, here are a few recommended Hoi An tailors: Be Be (known for their precision and promptness), Yaly (known for fancy and intricate detailing), Kimmy Tailor (in business nearly 50 years), and A Dong Silk (one of the best rated, professional shops in Hoi An).

3. Lounge on peaceful beaches

Woman relaxing at the beach in Hoi An Vietnam
Woman relaxing at the beach in Hoi An Vietnam

Escape the masses and head to Cua Dai Beach where you can snag your own piece of white-sand paradise with uninterrupted views of Cham Island in the distance. The 3km long beach is a considered one of the most beautiful coasts in the country. The beach remains relatively uncrowded during the week, making it feel like you’re one of the few to have made its discovery. Sunbeds and umbrellas are available to rent and hawkers patrol the beach selling refreshments and freshly-cut fruits. There’s also several seafood restaurants lining the beachfront. Although it’s only located 3km from Old Town, Cua Dai Beach feels like a million miles away from the hustle-bustle of the city.

An Bang Beach is another popular beach just a few kilometers further along from Cua Dai. An Bang is relatively undeveloped and therefore remains unspoiled when compared to many other beaches in Vietnam. There are a few water activities, including surfboard rentals if your visit falls between the surf season of September and March. There are various accommodation and dining options nearby and a few beach bars serving cold drinks and playing lively music well into the night.

4. Browse Hoi An Central Market

Browse Hoi An Central Market
Browse Hoi An Central Market

No trip to Vietnam is complete without a friendly haggle at the local market.  Hoi An Central Market is located on the banks of the Thu Bon River in the Ancient Town, just 600 meters from the iconic Japanese Bridge. The market is a daily occurrence, starting at 6:30am and running all day. Get there early and witness the fish arriving at the docks, fresh off the boats.

Once you step inside the market and your senses will immediately kick into overdrive. The smells of herbs and spices, salty seafood, and sweet exotic fruits combine to create an intoxicating scent you won’t soon forget. The energy from the vendors is electric as they try their best to push their products on passer-byers. There’s also a tailoring section within the market offering some of the best deals on fabric and labor – just remember to heed our prior warning!


Even though these are the top four things to see and do in Hoi An, you’ll merely be scratching the surface of Vietnam’s most charismatic city. Travelers visiting Hoi An should spend a little extra time and effort uncovering its secrets as there’s a certain magic here not found anywhere else in the country.

Vietnam visa on arrival office in Da Nang Int'l Airport
Vietnam visa on arrival office in Da Nang Int’l Airport