Discover Hoi An
With a picturesque Old Town that has been named a unesco World Heritage Site, and just south of the very laidback and peaceful city of Da Nang, you’ll find Hoi An—a small, dreamy town that is packed with atmosphere and sights despite its size. Formerly an important port for the region, the town is filled with all kinds of surprises in store for the discerning traveller: expect to find grand architecture, a culinary mecca and attractions to rival some of the best in Vietnam.
Hoi An has been touched by many cultural influences due to its status as a major international port in both the 7th to 10th century and the 16th and 17th century. Distinct Javanese, Chinese, and, of course, Vietnamese cultural touches make the town an unforgettable melting pot that is evident in the city’s architecture: find Chinese temples mixed in with Japanese merchant houses and many French-influenced colonial structures.
There are several religiously-themed festivals that take place in Hoi An throughout the year, and given the variety of cultures that have come to settle in this town over the years, one must expect a wide range of religious traditions to be observed in this town – there are Buddhist, traditional Chinese, traditional Vietnamese and even Christian influences that permeate the everyday life of citizens living in Hoi An.
The local culture here is a cosmopolitan blend of influences from around the world, and this is reflected in the wide choice of museums, old houses and other attractions that dot the town. One unique way to get understand how several foreign influences came to leave their mark on Hoi An is to visit the community halls, workshops and theatres representative of certain cultures – for example, that of the Chinese and Japanese.
- The Vietnamese believe in the concept of face
- Don’t touch people’s heads, or their feet, as these two areas have great significance in this culture
- Both sexes should dress modestly, although this is a more serious issue for women
- Avoid public displays of affection
Hoi An is located in the coast of central Vietnam, 800km south of Hanoi, and experiences a tropical monsoon climate. Expect calm, mild weather during the summer season, which lasts from May/June towards the end of August. The rest of the year, the weather alternates between cold and rainy and hot and mild.
Hoi An’s most prominent landscape feature is the unique coastal environment of river, seashore, dunes and islands that helped constitute its status as a crucial port in the past. The original townscape and street plan have remained mostly unchanged since the birth of the town, creating an authentic feel that is hard to replicate in most other areas of Vietnam.
The green landscape around Hoi An and its neighbouring city Da Nang have remained largely unscathed from modernity—take advantage of the opportunity to visit the water buffalo working upon fields of farms in surrounding villages, or take a short detour to the nearby Son Tra Nature Reserve (Monkey Mountain) if you’re particularly fond of our simian cousins.
Before you go
- Language: Vietnamese, a Vietic language formerly written in Chinese characters
- Currency: Vietnamese dong (VND)
- Voltage: 220/380
- Electric Socket:
- Make sure you have an unlocked phone that is gsm-compatible, you can fit this phone with a pre-activated gsm sim card available at almost every shop in Vietnam.
- The most popular are the standard Mobifone cards. A normal voice and sms card from Mobifone costs around 80,000 dong and is valid for 2 months.
- Note that in Vietnam, you must always dial the city code (04 for Hanoi) when calling from your mobile before the telephone number.
- Banks are generally open Monday to Friday from 8.00am to 4.00pm.
- On Saturdays, banks will open only in the morning, from 8.00am to 11.30am.
- There are a few large international banks that will open on Saturday afternoons and Sundays, but all banks are closed on public holidays.
- ATMs can only dispense cash in Vietnamese dong.
- The amount of cash that can be withdrawn is usually: 2,000,000 dong with an additional usage charge variable from 30,000 dong upwards.
- Cao lầu– thinly-sliced pork simmered in soy, crispy fresh lettuce, fresh herbs, crackly squares of deep-fried dough – all placed on a bed of beans and noodles, drizzled with meaty broth and served with kalamansi and a sweet chili jam.
- Banh bao vac– ‘white rose dumplings’ made by a single family that delivers them to restaurants all over Hoi An. These dumplings are served topped with toasted garlic bits and served with a sweet dipping sauce.
- Hoanh Thanh– Noodle soup served with pork wonton, with an accompaniment of vegetables and chili on the side. You can find particularly good variations of this in Noodle Street (Pham Hong Thai Street) , which is open from 5 pm to 1 am daily.
Tipping is not a common habit in Vietnam, but feel free to show you appreciation for good service through a small tip of $0.50-1.
Taxis: Feel free to just leave behind loose change as a courtesy to your driver, should the service be of a good quality.
Restaurants: Tip as you see fit. One example of a very generous tip is a 50,000 dong note which is equivalent to around $2.5.
Hotels: In general, tipping in hotels is not expected but is appreciated.
- Suggested Vaccinations: hepatitis A and typhoid
- Keep an eye out for motorbikes, which are only banned from the city centre during certain times of the day.
- Keep even more of an eye out for mosquitoes, which pose a serious risk of Dengue fever in this region.
- Drink bottled mineral water rather than tap water.
- Police: 113
- Ambulance: 115
- Pacific Hospital (private): 06, Phan Dinh Phung Street, Tel: (+84) 510 3 861365
- Hoi An Hospital: 4 Tran Hung Dao Street, Tel: (+84) 510 3 921656
- Hello (in general): Zhao-ay (when greeting a male)
- Hello (in general): Zhao-zhi (when greeting a female)
- Excuse me. / Sorry: Zeen-loy
- Thank you (to male): Cahm-un-ong
- Cảm ơn bà to (to female): Cảm ơn bà
- You’re welcome: Kung-coh-gee
- Good morning/evening: Chao-booy-shang / Chao-booy-doi
- Goodbye (to male): Zhao-ay
- Goodbye (to female): Zhao-zhi
- How much is this?: Cao-uy-ha-bao-nyo
- Cheers! (Toasts when drinking): Ju-shu-chwe
- Bon appetit!: An-nyon-nye
- Where’s the toilet?: Co-dyow-euh-doe
- Help!: Kiu-veui
- Tôi hiểu: Toy-hee-yow
- I don’t understand: Toy-hong-hee-yow
How to get into this area, and how to get around it!
Hoi An isn’t served by an airport, but the Da Nang International Airport is relatively close by and flights regularly come in from Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, as well as overseas destinations such as Seoul and Tokyo. From the airport, there are frequent bus services costing 17,000 dong that run to and from Hoi An in the daytime (the service stops at 6pm everyday). Alternatively, take a taxi from the airport to Hoi An, which should cost about $22 with the meter running – you may be able to negotiate a fixed price of about 400,000 dong. This price is not so different from that of the Hoi An airport transfer service, which costs around $20 but uses better cars with more professional drivers.
Several travel companies and private buses travel to and from Hoi An and other major destinations around Vietnam.
Hoi An is not served by its own railway station, but by that of Da Nang—the station there receives several trains a day from several major cities in Vietnam. If arriving by train, note that there is a bus nearby the station (50m left of the Pizza Hut at 299 Le Duan road) which will take you to just outside the centre of Hoi An for 20,000 dong. Try to haggle for the real price, as conductors may try to charge you as much as five times this amount. This bus, Bus #01 for Hoi An, passes the stop every 20 minutes until 6pm.
The city centre is small and pedestrian-friendly, so prepare to be walking most of the time. The best way to get around Hoi An is definitely to rent a bicycle. Standard bikes are easy to find, but for mountain bikes, head to Anh Cuoc shop, at 635 Hai Ba Trung.
Taxis can be found in the middle of Le Loi St, over the river on An Hoi or called by phone. A 15 minute taxi fare comes to around 60,000 dong (as of late 2014).
Renting a motorbike in Hoi An town is a good option for those looking to ride to the outskirts of the town to explore its surroundings. Expect to pay around 80,000-100,000 dong per day, and be advised that renting one through your hotel may result in a charge around double of that available in private shops. Always make sure you are offered a helmet, there are plenty of roadside helmet checks and you will be fined if you or a passenger of yours is found not to be wearing a helmet.
Things to see
The top locations to visit in this destination.