Hoi An: Vietnam’s Most Charming City

If Paris is the city of lights then Hoi An is the city of lanterns. It may be an anagram of Hanoi, but this little city couldn’t be more different. Think less hustle and bustle, and more soft lighting and strolling.

Getting to Hoi An

Located an hour outside of Da Nang, Hoi An is a historically preserved town on the central coast of Vietnam. Coming from Ninh Binh we had quite the travel day. We took a shuttle from Ninh Binh to Haiphong and then flew on VietJet from Haiphong to Da Nang. Then we took a shuttle to our hotel in Hoi An.

Where to Stay in Hoi An

This hotel was the best place we stayed in Vietnam. It was SO nice and such a treat. Grant’s parents went to Vietnam a year or two before and I didn’t realize it at the time of booking, but they stayed at the same place! Perks included a super nice pool, included bikes, and a shuttle to town and to the beach.

What to do in Hoi An

Day 1 in Hoi An

Visit a Tailor

We started our day by hopping on bikes and heading to town. We noticed right away all of the tailors. It is popular to have custom garments made there but we didn’t really need anything. Grant had the flag patches sewn onto his backpack since they were barely holding on by superglue. We hopped in temples and grabbed a beer along the way. The town is the perfect size to explore on foot or by bike.

Eat Banh Mi

For lunch we had to try Banh Mi Phuong, the famed Banh Mi that Anthony Bourdain coined the best sandwich. There was a long line and it was well worth it. Get the trio one…even though it has pate. The best part it was only $4 for two sandwiches with beers! Gah, Vietnam is so cheap, a backpacker dream.

A block or two away is the Central Market Food Hall. Stop in and try the cao lau, white rose dumplings, and crispy pancakes!

Drink Mot

Mot is a traditional herbal drink that was as delicious as it was beautiful! Grab one to go as you stroll the lantern-lit city streets.

Release a Lantern

Head to the river and buy a lantern to release into the water. This was really beautiful and romantic!

Eat Dinner at Morning Glory

This was a bit of a splurge for us but it was so delicious. The restaurant is in a cute house and feels like you are in a Vietnamese mom’s kitchen. It tasted healthy and homemade. So good!

Try Durian at the Nguyen Hoang Street Night Market

We love a good night market. What we don’t love…durian! This smelly fruit kept following us around SE Asia. Me, being our “weird food try-er”, had to taste it. I got it in a smoothie and it wasn’t bad but just smellier and meatier than I like my fruit!

Day 2 in Hoi An

Hit the Beach

When I was planning our Vietnam trip I wasn’t picturing beaches, but who knew that the South China Sea was so beautiful?! You could ride bikes or take the shuttle from the hotel. We lazily took the shuttle. Our hotel had a sister restaurant / beach club so we got to use their chairs. It was such a nice day to read and relax by the sea.

Drink Wine

We grabbed a glass of wine and soaked in this pretty city at White Marble Wine Bar. I think it’s closed now, but there are dozens of other cute restaurants to people watch from.

Day 3 in Hoi An

Relax at the Pool / Get a Massage

We relaxed at the hotel pool for a while and got foot massages. Our masseuse was young and cool and asked us if we wanted to go out with her and her friends after work. Heck yes!

While we were waiting on them to get off of work we got Vietnamese Coffees, duh! And (you guessed it!) we visited some more temples.

Hang with the Locals

They took us to an awesome restaurant we wouldn’t of found on our own and we went bar hopping with them. It was so cool to chat with them about their lives and how they were different yet very much the same as our own. They drove us back to the hotel on the back of their mopeds. It was super fun!

What we didn’t do in Hoi An: Take a cooking class. This is a popular activity I wish we would have done. We opted to relax and catch up on a little work rather than cram it in. Next time!

Happy in Hoi An,


Note: We visited Hoi An in April 2019

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