There is something for everyone in Hoi An. You can walk through ancient ruins or you can dance the night away. You can learn how to make the perfect bowl of phở or you can body surf in the waves at a local beach. If getting a suit custom-made is not your thing, then head to the market for a one of a kind noddle dish. Whatever your feeling, Hoi An has got it.
Before you travel to Vietnam
Obtaining a visa for Vietnam was a bit tricky, but lucky for you we have a guide detailing the all the steps you need to get a tourist visa for Vietnam.
1. Relax at An Bang beach
Rent a scooter and head north on Hai Bà Trưng street for about 5 km until you reach An Bang beach. Park your bike at any one of the restaurants where you're required to buy a drink for the owner to "watch" your bike. But it's a good idea to get a water, because the beach is hot. You can lounge there all day either with a in the sand or in a lounge chair that you can rent. There are plenty of restaurants around so you won't go hungry.
2. Get something tailor-made!
One reason people come to Hoi An is because it's one of the cheapest places in the world to get custom-made suits and dresses. We went with a popular (but cheaper) tailor to get a suit made for Ben. While he was happy with the final product we wouldn't recommend this shop because the service was not great. Make sure to do your research before you shop and only go to top rated places. We stopped in Kimmy Tailors in Hoi An and from what we experienced (and heard from others) we would recommend them if you're looking for a place to have a suit made. I also decided (last minute) to have a dress made, because why not?! Since I just wanted something fun and inexpensive, I stopped in a shop where the girl seemed friendly and the fabrics were pretty. I was happy with the dressed I had made. Tip: If you are getting something custom-made, be PICKY. They will tell you what is possible when it comes to alterations, but sometimes the shops want to make your clothing as quickly as possible. Be sure you are happy, especially if you are having something important (like a suit) made.
3. Have lunch at the local market
Hoi An is famous for cao lầu (noodle dish) because Hoi An is the only place you can order it. The fresh noodles are made using water from a special well in the city that gives them the unique taste. The dish is delicious and the best place to try it is at the local market. Sit down at any of the stalls and order a bowl for yourself, just make sure you know the price before you order.
4. Motorbike Hải Vân Pass
Take a cruise another day to the famous Hải Vân pass, one of the most scenic coastal highways in the world. Make sure to pack a lunch, because the food at the top is not that great. And by "not that great", we mean you'll have a choice of different flavors of packaged Ramen. Don't forget to buy this before you take your motorbike out for a spin.
5. Explore the historic downtown at night
This town really comes alive at night. The streets fill up with food stalls, plastic chairs and hungry travelers. Sit by the Thu Bồn River and watch as people stroll by. Be stunned by the beauty of the four-century old Japanese covered bridge. Interact with other travelers and locals, and take in the sights, sounds and smells of this historic city.
6. Head across the river to the cheap bars and nightclubs
There are a plethora of small bars just over the bridge and you'll be surprised by their names. Pop in a grab a drink at Tiger Tiger Bar or Mr. Bean Bar or even perfectly named Backpackers Bar. They all seem to have the same happy hour deals so it just depends on what's your fancy.
7. My Son Ruins
Rent a motorbike and get out of town. A trip to My Son ruins is a good way to spend part of a day if you have the time (we wouldn't recommend going out of your way for it though). If you've been to the Temples of Angkor in Cambodia you'll be disappointed, but since we hadn't yet it was interesting to see and stop in a nearby village for lunch.
8. Green Bamboo Cooking School
One of our favorite things to do while traveling is to take cooking classes. Perhaps one of the best cooking classes we've participated in (it's hard to choose just one!) was in Hoi An. We highly recommend the cooking class at Green Bamboo Cooking School, which includes a market tour, TONS of food and some special gifts! There were 14 of us and we made 14 different courses for everyone to share family-style. If you are interested in this class, be sure to book early because she fills up fast.