A comprehensive list of things to do in Hoi An ancient town, includes all the major sights and activities in and around Hoi An and how to explore the local Vietnam.
Biking & Cycling
Biking is a must in Hoi An regardless of your level of fitness. Leave the city behind to explore 12th century pagodas, remote country villages, war memorials and rice fields.
Excursions will give you the chance to really get up close and personal with some of the more rural villagers and to see how they live from the land. There are two main companies offering a variety of tours and include all equipment hire.
Choose from a full- or half-day countryside bicycle tour and get to see a glimpse of the beautiful areas surrounding Hoi An. The Hoi An full-day bike tour includes a river ride on the Hoi An river and one hour’s biking around the Kim Bong carpentry village. Both bike trips, including cooking and enjoying lunch with a local family, and the chance to wander round local markets and vegetable villages. Hoi An Bike Tours also offers motorbike tours to the most famous attractions around the city: Marble Mountain, My Son, etc…
Hoi An Motorbike Adventures
Specializes in short trips (from US$35) along the beautiful Backroads in the Hoi An region with well-maintained Minsk bikes. Longer tours, up to the DMZ and Hue are also offered.
After working really hard for a long time, Hoian easyriders have been strongly recommended in many different guidebooks such as Lonely Planet, Rough Guide etc…
Hoi An Food Tour
If you are “foodie” travelers, you cannot miss. You will discover plenty of great stalls and really get a feel of the area and its food history. Do it on the first day in Hoi An so you will have the chance to come back and enjoy yummy food. Most foods are not available in the restaurant.
Hoi An Free Tour
A local university student organization, who offers as free bicycle tours to the unexplored countryside in Hoi An such as Kim Bong Village and Tra Que Vegetable Village. You can bike around villages and see stunning rural scenes, rice paddies, fishing villages, fields of water buffalo and Bamboo Bridge. You will learn and get many insides which are never written on guide books. It’s all about a cultural exchange and giving the volunteer students opportunities to practice their English language skills through outdoor activities.
Hoi An Cooking Schools
Hoi An is a great place to learn how to cook real Vietnamese cuisine via half-day, full-day or evening courses. Plenty of restaurants offer their own cooking classes, including the picturesque Red Bridge where you get the chance to learn directly from the professionals.
Many of the classes include a visit to the local fresh produce market as part of the course where you’ll get a chance to ask questions and perhaps even sample some exotic delights. With so many places to try your hand at conjuring up some delicious flavors, you’ll also be pleased to discover that most classes are offered at very reasonable rates.
Morning Glory Cooking School
Based at the eponymous restaurant, this is the best-known course. It’s directed by the acclaimed Trinh Diem Vy, born and bred in Hoi An and owner of several restaurants in town, or Lu, her protégé. The day starts with a visit to the market to learn about the key Vietnamese ingredients. Classes then concentrate on local recipes including “Cao Lau” (doughy flat noodles combined with croutons, crispy rice paper, bean sprouts and greens and topped off with pork slices), “Banh khoai” and ‘white rose’ (steamed minced-shrimp dumplings served with dipping sauce), plus a dish or two from north and south Vietnam. You’ll learn to cook in a very professionally organized, school-room-style environment with your own gas burner, ingredients and kitchen gear. However, note that classes can have up to 30 people.
Red Bridge Cooking School
At this school, going to class first involves a relaxing 4km cruise down the river. There are half-day (US$27) and full-day (US$43) courses, both of which include market visits. The half-day class focuses on local specialties, with rice-paper making and food decoration tips thrown in for good measure. The full-day class, which has a maximum of eight people, takes on a more ambitious menu. You’ll learn how to cook “cha ca” (clay-pot fish with dill), and visit the Tra Que organic herb gardens. Or for a taster, go for the US$16 evening class. As an added sweetener, there’s a 20m swimming pool at the school! Bookings are made through the Hai Cafe.
Conkhi Cocktail Classes
This is a fun way to learn all about the art of mixology. Courses (either ‘virgin’ or alcoholic) include a market visit, drinks, bar snacks and a recipe book. The Viet Espresso Martini is something else.
Highly professional and enjoyable spa that offers a full range of treatments (a 40-minute scrub is US$16), facials, hand and foot care (manicures from US$5) and other beauty services. Massages are wonderful and excellent value; options include Asian blend, Indian head massage, Thai and Swedish.
On the road to the beach, 2km east of the town center, this treatment center is owned by the ex-manager of the Victoria Hotel spa. Staff are well trained and know their stuff. Try the foot beauty ritual (US$15) or a botanical wrap (US$17).
This luxury hotel’s spa is a lovely place to unwind, and has the full gamut of treatments and massages, including anti-oxidant facials (US$52), sea-salt scrubs (US$26) and hot-stone therapies (US$57).
Ba Le Beauty Salon
Up a little lane off Tran Hung Dao, Ba Le is run by a fluent English speaker, who has trained in the UK, and offers inexpensive threading, waxing and facials.
Hoi An Eco Tour
Hoi An Eco Tour runs tours along the river, where tourists can see traditional village life and try their hand at fishing or paddling a basket boat.
Cham Island Diving Center
This business has been operating since 2002. It has a large boat and also a speedboat for zippy transfers.
Blue Coral Diving
This new professional outfit has an 18m dive boat, additional speedboat and highly experienced team.
You can book dives at Cu Lao Cham Marine Park with Rainbow Divers.
Hoi An Golf Courses
Vietnam is a great place to play golf with championship courses located in most major locations. Hoi An is no exception and offers two outstanding courses with equipment rental available.
Weekdays offer the best rates and also more space on the course and both the courses listed here have a clubhouse and restaurant on site.
Hoi An Spas
Many of the hotels and resorts in Hoi An offer spa treatments, but you might discover the better pampering at a significantly lower price at one of the local day spas.
There are a few to choose from and it’s worth checking out what discounts are available as most of them offer at least 10% off during their quieter hours.
Hoi An Blind Massage
290 Cua Dai (on the road to the beach, a yellow building to the left). 8am to 10pm. Professional and clean place, you can get a full body massage for U$5.00. This is the best deal in Hoi An. The staff can understand if you want softer or harder, and they will ask you if it is ok during the massage. They have real massage beds and they put clean blankets on them in front of you. U$5.00.
Scuba Diving & Snorkelling
Scuba diving and snorkelling are superb off the cost of Hoi An with hundreds of different varieties of coral and tropical fish thriving in the warm tropical waters.
Additionally, the Cu Lao Cham Marine Park is just 21km from Hoi An old town and comprises eight islands in the South China Sea that are just teeming with marine life, the most exciting of which is Cham Island.
The old town of Hoi An is definitely worth a walk around, and with so many historically vibrant streets to explore it’s easy to see why it was awarded UNESCO World Heritage status. The best way to visit some of the buildings in the old town is by purchasing a multi-entrance ticket which gives access to one of the three museums, one of the three ancient houses and one of the three assembly halls.
Your money is well spent offering superb value and the proceeds are filtered back into the old town maintenance. Tickets are easily purchased at one of the many kiosks across town and valid for one day.
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