Top interesting things to do and experience in the old town Hoi An
Hoi An has become a favorite destination for visitors to Vietnam in recent years, and with good reasons. This ancient city is packed with lovely sights to see, wonderful cuisine, colorful architectures and surrounded by gorgeous countryside. Let Whatsup Vietnam show you the most fascinating things to do when you are in Hoi An.
1. Walk around the Old Town
By UNESCO’s decree, more than 800 historic buildings in Hoi An have been preserved, so much of the Old Town looks as it did several centuries ago. This means that the beautiful buildings here were spared, and so you will still find some gorgeous architectures here in the Old Town which makes it the perfect place to go for a walk around and contemplate all the stunning sights. Eighteen of these buildings are open to visitors and require an Old Town ticket for admission; the fee goes towards funding conservation work.
The houses themselves host an array of coffee houses (coffee culture is huge in Vietnam and Hoi An is no exception), from trendy hipster joints to creaky old works of art. There’s a range of silversmiths, designed boutiques and special tea shops plus more art galleries and tailors than you can shake a stick at. When you first arrive, orientate yourself with the Old Town by strolling around on a self-guided walking tour, exploring by bicycle or commuting in style with a rickshaw tour.
2. Drink bia hoi (Vietnamese fresh beer)
Bia Hoi (Vietnamese fresh beer) appeared in Vietnam in the 1890s, after the secrets of brewing were introduced by the French. Just one place, the Hommel brewery, turned out the stuff, and it was a fairly modest enterprise employing just 30 workers capable of producing 150 liters a day. The beer was also sold bottled, but it was so expensive that it was only for the wealthy people.
After doing the sights in town (temples, ancient houses, chapels, the covered bridge), you could head to the south over the central footbridge to An Hoi islet, whose riverfront is lined with bars offering ice-cold glasses of the daily-brewed refreshing lager called bia hoi at cheap prices (less than 20p a half pint). It’s delightfully light, with only around 3% alcohol, so it’s easy to while away a couple of hours sipping and watching boats without feeling worse for wear.
3. Visit Hoi An Silk Village
The Hoi An Silk Village is the place to come if you want to get outside the city and check out the ancient weaving techniques for which this part of Vietnam is known. The village is located in Quang Nam Province which is just around one kilometer from the centre of the city and you will find a quaint village with homes built in the traditional style.
The village is filled with artisans who will teach you how to make beautiful silk pieces and you can even feed the silkworms here and help to unravel their cocoons. This is also a great place to buy some traditional silk pieces which make great gifts and souvenirs.
4. Eat Cao Lau
This Hoi An noodle speciality has been favored in the city since the 17th century. The rice noodles get their brown color and unusual flavor from being mixed with lye water. Ash for the lye is supposed to come from the wood of the Cham islands 12km off the coast, and the water for the noodles is believed to be taken from a particular secret well outside town. How true that is doesn’t really matter since this harmoious combination is so delicious. The hand-cut noodles are tossed with sliced pork, crunchy rice crackers, spices, big handfuls of fresh herbs and a small amount of super-tasty broth.
5. Get a tailor-made suit
Hoi An has been important to Southeast Asia’s textile trade for centuries, so it is no surprise that the city’s streets are filled with skilled tailors and leather goods workshops where you can have any item of clothing or accessory you like specially made to order. Many shops have been running for generations, producing top quality garments, but recent years have seen an explosion in poorer quality workshops – make sure to take precautions against unscrupulous business practices. Always go to the tailor with the specific details (material, fit, stitching, etc.) of what you want, shop around for the best rates, and never depend on hotels’ or taxi drivers’ recommendations, if you want the best of Hoi An’s craftsmanship.
6. Check out the Nipa Palms
The mystical Nipa (coconut) Palms that emerge from the Thu Bon River have the ability to transport you back hundreds of years. Take a kayak or paddleboard and explore the peaceful canals through the dense foliage, in gloomy waterways that are uplifted now and then by piercing shafts of light. It’s an auhentic way to find the joys of nature a few kilometers from the city, and it’ll help you to work off all that food you’ve been digging in.
7. Release flowers garlands
On the 14th day of the lunar month every month, Hoi An will throw a full moon festival. At that time, there will also be a "flower festival on the Hoai River". Hoi An is extremely crowded these days. The paper flower-releasing activity also took place more bustling than usual. Thousands of lighted lanterns are dropped all over the place around the Hoai river.
Not just observing, you can soak up the decorations for the party light on the river sides. Travelers will be small drop light flowers gardens twinkling down the river by themselves with hope the lights bring about good luck to their beloved ones.
8. Take a cooking class
Hoi An is known for its diverse and excellent food: a legacy of the many nationalities, including Japanese, Chinese and Portuguese, that lived or traded here. After a visit to the fascinating market to collect ingredients, you will take a river boat and putter eastwards along the river to this low-lying island near the river mouth, completing the final stretch by rowing boat. Then it’s going on with cooking (and eating) a selection of dishes – fresh spring rolls, crispy pancakes, beef noodle salad and classic pho, say – while enjoying the village atmosphere and watching tiny basket boats navigate the water-coconut-lined waterways.
Written by: Hieu La