The following is a Hoi An itinerary guest post by Yen, a Malaysian travel enthusiast who prefers to travel solo or with someone he’s really close with. He opts to travel for an extended period in a particular destination to embrace and learn the cultural differences and share them, along with the travel tips and guides in this travel blog, Wandering Journal.
Located in the Quang Nam Province in Central Vietnam, Hoi An is yet another destination that shouldn’t during your Vietnam trip. Stepping into Hoi An, you’ll see numerous tourists and travellers from all around the world, especially in the Old Town area. Despite the overwhelming tourism, there is a lot more to Hoi An for you to explore than just the Old Town.
Here’s a Hoi An itinerary for 2 days that will help you to plan your trip accordingly and see the best of what Hoi An has to offer!
First of all, what makes Hoi An so special anyway? Well, Hoi An is also known as the Ancient City of Vietnam, where you can find an obvious blend of Vietnamese and French influences in the architecture and town planning. In 1999, the Old Town was recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site as a well-preserved Southeast Asian trading port. Did I mention the beautiful lanterns that light up the streets every night?
Standing on par with Hanoi city, Hoi An will give you a unique and unforgettable experience. Now, without further ado, let’s dive in and check out this Hoi An itinerary!
Getting to Hoi An
The nearest city with an international airport to Hoi An would be Da Nang. There are several ways you can get from Da Nang to Hoi An, here are two of them.
First, private car transfer. Most of the hotels or hostels you stay with will offer this service. However, this might be a little pricey for some. It starts around 200,000 Vietnamese Dong.
Second, take the public bus. The government launched a direct bus line from Da Nang to Hoi An, which is Bus No. 1. This trip will cost you only 30,000 VND per trip and takes around 45 minutes to an hour. The buses are pretty frequent, coming around every 20 minutes. Check out this bus schedule if you’re opting for the latter choice.
I said two options, but if you’re only spending 2 days in Hoi An, consider renting a motorcycle from Da Nang (preferably from your hotel or hostel manager), and ride to Hoi An. It only takes slightly more than 30 minutes, and the highway is pretty enjoyable.
Many backpackers come to Hoi An by motorcycle from Hue in the north, or take the train to Da Nang so will need to make their way there in the same way as above.
Hoi An Itinerary Day 1
Get yourself some tailor-made clothes
This is probably one of the most popular things to do in Hoi An. Tailoring industries in Hoi An have been around for ages and now, they’re making a great living out of the rise in tourism.
When it comes to tailor-made clothes, you might want to compare the prices and reviews of the tailor shops to get the best deal. There are literally dozens of them in the Old Town area, and you definitely want to get the best one for yourself.
In the shop, you’ll get to choose the materials you want for your clothes and you can also customize patterns and the textiles to make a unique suit or dress, or even bags and shoes.
But before you get too excited, make sure to ask how long it will take for them to complete the work. Some of them may take up to 3 days or more if business is good. That’s why I recommend looking for a tailor shop when you first arrive in Hoi An.
Visit the Japanese Covered Bridge
Located not far away from the cluster of tailor shops, the Japanese Covered Bridge is one of the few attractions that made it to the back of the Vietnamese banknotes. This one is the 20,000 VND notes!
The 12-meter long bridge is located at the very centre of the Old Town, featuring beautiful complicated carvings and sculptures of dogs and monkeys. This landmark has been around for more than 300 years, and a glance at the structure will tell you that it’ll still last for many centuries to come.
Give Cao Lao a go
Cao Lao is the specialty dish of Hoi An, featuring thicker brown rice noodles with sauces and no soup. The dish usually comes with pork slices, fresh greens (like any other Vietnamese dishes) and rice crackers. It can only be made in Hoi An as it’s made with water from a particular well.
If it’s your first try of Cao Lao, there might be a type of herb that you may not like (coriander). Every person describes the taste differently, but it tastes like pork liver to me. Who knows, you might like it!
Shopping for local handicrafts and souvenirs
Shopping in the Old Town area is one of the most enjoyable things to do for your Hoi An itinerary. With plenty of shops selling lanterns, souvenirs, handicrafts, books, shirts and more, there is always something for you. Want to get an “I Love Pho” shirt? Or get a book to learn about Vietnamese history? Hoi An Old Town is the place to be. There are some shops with mass-produced goods, but you can also get unique pieces so keep looking!
If you haven’t got your caffeine dose, there are a handful of cafes there too that sell traditional Vietnamese coffee. Before & Now is a favourite!
Nightlife in Old Town
The Old Town in Hoi An is the most colourful town in Vietnam when the sun goes down. The streets and the bridge are lit up by the lanterns hanging across the whole heritage area, absolutely awe-inspiring. Streets are filled with bars for those who want a drink, coupled with plenty of restaurants for those who want a bite to eat. You can literally find all types of cuisines here of all budgets.
Don’t forget to spend some time strolling along the riverbank to enjoy the view!
Hoi An Itinerary Day 2
Banh Mi Phuong For Breakfast
Banh Mi is often favoured by foreigners more than Pho, according to my own research in my social circle. Even though Banh Mi can be found all across the country, it is said that Hoi An has the best Banh Mi of all. The Banh Mi store at Banh Mi Phuong was made famous by the visit of Anthony Bourdain. Even though a lot of people said that it’s not that worth of hype, I still think that it’s undoubtedly one of the best in the country.
If you don’t know what it is yet, Banh Mi is a French baguette, and you can choose a filling of meat slices and vegetables. You get to choose whether you like chicken or pork slices, and some stalls even have avocado or egg options.
Visit Hoi An Central Market
Visiting Hoi An Central Market is one of the most “local” things to do in Hoi An. The Central Market is the main spot where the locals come to shop for daily groceries.
Stepping in, you’ll smell the fragrant spices and herbs, and you’ll also find all types of poultry and fish available. On top of that, there are also stalls selling silks, fruit, clothing, and many more. The garment shops here can tailor-make your clothing within 24 hours too!
The Central Market is best visited in the early morning, around 6.30 am when it’s busy and happening. You can also see the fresh fish get unloaded at the dock at this time.
Take a cooking class in Hoi An
Vietnamese cuisine is one of the best in the world, and also one of the healthiest. If you’re interested in learning how to make the delicious dishes you’ve been eating, there are many cooking classes all across the town.
These cooking classes usually include shopping in the local market for fresh ingredients before getting started in the kitchen, so you could do this day 2 of your Hoi An itinerary. What’s better than preparing your own lunch?
Enjoy the sun in An Bang Beach
One option for the afternoon of your second day in Hoi An is to visit An Bang Beach. The long white sandy beach is perfect for those who fancy sunbathing or simply reading a book under an umbrella while sipping some juices.
There’s a little distance (5km) between An Bang Beach and the Old Town area so it’s best if you have a motorcycle. Otherwise, a cab is a pretty good option.
On this beach, there are plenty of beach beds for you to choose from. You’ll have to pay a small fee though in order to “rent” it and order some drinks from the owner of those beds.
The Marble Mountains
If you’re not spending much time in Da Nang on your trip then you could still take a trip from Hoi An to the Marble Mountains. It’s a bit further than the other two options and on the main road, but still possible on a motorbike too. The group of 5 limestone hills and marble mountains dominate the landscape and are a popular tourist destination.
Explore My Son Sanctuary
Another afternoon option is visiting the My Son Sanctuary. These UNESCO-listed ruins of Hindu Temples from between the 4th and 13th centuries. You’ll need to take a motorbike or cab here also.
This 2-day Hoi An itinerary gives you plenty of things to pack into your time this beautiful area of Vietnam. Hoi An is such a wonderful town and I’m sure you’ll love it as much as I did.
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