Hoi An, one of Vietnam’s most visited places, yet the intimate and charming atmosphere still remains here. The city is located about 30 km south of Danang, in mid Vietnam. The Ancient Town was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999. The town is a fusion between foreign and indigenous culture, with Chinese, Japanese and later on European influences that has shaped the town. Besides being one of the most beautiful places in Vietnam, it’s also the perfect place to visit if you want to escape the hustle and bustle of big cities.
If you’re backpacking in Vietnam and are heading to Hoi An, check out this backpackers guide to get some tips on where to stay and what to do if you’re on a backpackers budget.
Where to stay
The first thing you need to decide is where to stay. And since Hoi An is a very popular place, make sure that you book it in advance so you’ll get to stay in the place you wanted to. There are several good hostels here, but if you’d like to stay in the Ancient Town, check out these:
- Tribee Bana
One of the best hostels where you’ll get very good value for your money. The hostel staff is nothing but friendly, the facilities are clean and it’s in a very good location in the Ancient Town, in a quiet street away from the noise. They also arrange free spring roll cooking course and dinners, free beer pong tournament and their free breakfast is really delicious as well. You’ll have plenty of chances to meet other travelers here as well, since it’s quite the social hostel. It’s definitely one of the more popular hostels in this area.
- The Seaside Bungalow
If you want to live close to the beach, you should check out this rustic beach house which is located just a short walk from Ha My Beach. They offer comfy beds, hot showers, good service, hammocks and a big garden where you sit and relax. They also arrange family dinners, bonfires on the beach and BBQ evenings. It’s perfect for the ones who wants to live close to the beach. It’s literally 1 minute away – does it get any better?
What to eat
As in the rest of Vietnam, Hoi An has some spectacular food. Whether you’re on a budget or not, you have to try some of the local delicacies here. Don’t shy away from the street food either, since this is where you might be able to try some of the best local food. Here are some dishes you can get in Hoi An for a cheap buck (and it tastes so good)
- Quang Noodle
This is one of Hoi Ans signature dishes. The noodle is either white or yellow in color and made of rice flour. You can either get it with vegetables, shrimp or pork, and it’s topped with different spices and toppings. It might sound like other type of noodle dishes in Vietnam, but what makes Quang stand out is that it uses very little broth, making it almost like a dry noodle dish instead of a soup. The noodles are also thicker. You can get this dish in most restaurants and local street food places.
- Cao Lau
Another rice noodle dish that you can only get in Hoi An. The reason for it is because of the water that is used to cook the noodles – it comes from the well-hidden ancient Cham wells. The greens are from the Tra Que Vegetable Village as well. If there’s a dish you have to try, it’s this one.
- Banh Mi
Did you know that you can find one of the best ‘banh mi’ places in Hoi An? This famous Vietnamese baguette has taken the world by storm. Not only is it really delicious and will fill you up, it’s also one of the cheapest dishes you can buy. A pretty good investment, in other words. The late Anthony Bourdain said that the best banh mi can be found in Hoi An, more specifically in “Banh Mi Phuong”. Prepare for the long queues though! There’s a reason for why this place is so popular and when you dig in, you’ll understand why.
What to do
If you’re short on money, you should just walk around the Ancient Town, admire the French-Chinese-Vietnamese-Japanese architecture, be amazed by all the lanterns at night and snap some photos! You should also rent a bike, which is really cheap, and bike down to the beach – or if you live there, bike to the Ancient Town. Most of the things that are special in Hoi An, are the things that come for free.