As one of the best destinations for independent travelers in Vietnam, Hoi An is attractive to travelers not only for its rich variety of activities (food tours, countryside tours, cooking classes, lantern making, and so on) and its long history, but also for its serene beaches and idyllic scenery.
It is well worth visiting Hoi An for 2 to 7 days, or even longer. The city is suitable for travel all year round. Thanks to its great geographical location, flights (domestic and international), trains and buses all have easy access.
- December to April are the best months for visiting Hoi An.
- During festival times (such as the Lunar New Year and full moon festivals), the city is crowded and prices rise.
- The peak travel season begins in August.
- Hoi An is easy to reach by all kinds of transportation
- It is one of the best places for independent travelers in Vietnam.
- Hoi An is popular for its variety of activities, including Foodie Tours, Eco Tours, Ao Dai Photography Tours, Lantern Making Classes and so on.
Best Time to Go
Due to the diversity of tourism resources, Hoi An is suitable for a visit all year round.
December to April is the best time. The weather is cool and pleasant for outdoor activities and for enjoying the delicious cuisine; but the price of flights and accommodation rises in these months.
From May to August the weather is hot and dry and the whole country becomes a cauldron. As a result, beaches around Hoi An become boisterous. August is Vietnam’s busiest travel month, so it is highly recommended to book flights and hotels in advance for August.
From September to November it is wet and hot. The area adjacent to the river is sometimes disturbed by flooding during the rainy season. If you like tranquility, however, you can enjoy a less-crowded Hoi An in these months.
The Full Moon Festival is convened once a month. On the 15th [Changed to 15th. Please check!]day of the lunar calendar every month, the whole town is lit up with lanterns instead of lamps. Beautifully decorated lanterns become the main ambassadors of this old town. Traditional drama and music concerts make the town much busier on these days.
The TET Holiday (Lunar New Year Holiday) usually falls between the end of January and early February of the western calendar. People celebrate the New Year in traditional and ceremonial ways. If you visit Vietnam during this time, you’ll enjoy a strong festival atmosphere.
However, the holiday also leads to the temporary closure of some shops and offices, the shortage of some tickets, and general price increases.
How Long to Stay
Two to three days is enough in Hoi An both for sightseeing and for some interesting activities. But if you want to understand more about the lives of local people or to relax on the beach, a week or more would be better.
For two to three days, you may choose to visit the ancient town of My Son and have fun doing some interesting activities. If you stay for a week, apart from Hoi An and My Son, your exploration can extend to Da Nang.
Cycling through the beautiful coastal highways or relaxing on the beach are other optional activities.
If you stay in Hoi An for over a week, you can live like a local. You can visit the lively fish market early in the morning, then visit a local market for ingredients to prepare your meals. Bargaining with the vendors should be interesting, and will help you obtain the best price.
Tips: An entrance ticket to the ancient town is valid for 3 days, and all the scenic spots in the town are free with the ticket.
How to Get There
It takes about an hour from Hoi An to the nearest airport, Da Nang. As the busiest airport in central Vietnam, Da Nang has a great many flights connecting north and south, and also connects with some popular Asian cities such as Bangkok, Singapore, Siem Reap, Guangzhou and Hangzhou.
Trains or Buses
As Hoi An is located just between north and south, it takes the same time (17 hours) to or from Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City by train, or about 20 hours by bus.
Once a USA naval base, Da Nang is still one of the most important international cruise ports in Vietnam today. Most international liners stop in Hue or Da Nang for a day, which facilitates a day-tour to Hoi An.
Choose a Tour Style
As one of the best places for independent travelers in Vietnam, you can explore Hoi An on your own. Alternatively, a private guided tour in Hoi An provides good value for money. It’s a time-saving option and can enhance your travel experience too.
If you are traveling with kids, then a private guided tour will be more convenient for making good use of your time, and for guaranteeing comfort and safety.
Where to Stay
As a tried-and-tested travel destination, Hoi An has a wide range of accommodation to choose from, including hostels, guest houses, boutique hotels and luxury resorts.
Around the Old Town
As most of the scenic attractions are focused in the old town, living there would be most convenient. Scenic spots, night markets, and living facilities are all accessible by foot or by bike.
Along the River
The area along the river outside the old town is suitable for guests who are looking for more tranquility. Most of the hotels along the river are endowed with river-view rooms and swimming pools, which are good for relaxing. It takes about 15 to 25 minutes to reach the old town by bike or motorbike.
Along the Beach
High-end hotels and luxury resorts are concentrated in this area. Along the beach near Hoi An, bikes or motorbikes are still suitable. If you stay along the beach near Da Nang, however, a private car would be more convenient.
A foodie tour by bike or motorbike is one of the must-do things in Hoi An. You can expect more than just a food tour. You will learn about Vietnamese customs, the meaning and importance of each dish, and will walk away with a deeper understanding of the vibrant local culture.
Joining a cooking class is another way to get to know more about Vietnamese cuisine. You will visit a local market to find out more about the ingredients, then make your own Vietnamese dishes and enjoy the fruits of your own labor.
This is especially suitable for couples or families with kids, for it is good fun doing it together.
Have you ever thought of being a farmer or a fisherman for a day? An Eco tour will give you such an opportunity. You will observe original methods for irrigation and will practice farming yourself.
Visit a fishing village and you will learn the traditional fishing methods in Vietnam. You can also explore water palm coconut gardens in your basket boat, and try to fish for small crabs hiding amongst the reeds and in the mud. The local life in the narrow canals will be vividly displayed in front of you.
Lifestart Foundation Painting and Lantern-Making Class
The Lifestart Foundation was established in 2000 by an Australian, Karen Leonard, and a team of volunteers.
You will take part in a traditional painting class and draw your own greeting cards under the guidance of your teacher. Then you can make your own lantern as well. This activity is especially suitable for families with kids.
Ao Dai Photography Tour
Your moments of elegance will be recorded for posterity by the camera. You will put on makeup and traditional dress, and have some nice photos taken in the ancient town of Hoi An.
The Japanese Covered Bridge, the Old House of Tan Ky, and other famous scenic spots in the ancient town, will serve as background for you.
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