WHAT TO DO IN HOI AN – Best Attractions and Food – Low Budget

Hoi An Travel Guide - Header

Here we go again with another travel guide, created expressly to save you money, time and make your stay in Hoi An, an unforgettable experience. During my trip to Vietnam, I wrote down all the best advice and information and I collected all of them in this article to answer your questions about what to do in Hoi An! 

I love this city, the lanterns for which is famous, the river and the food. But there is so much more, so let’s jump into the article and let me show you what to do in Hoi An. I have some interesting treats for you.



The old town of Hoi An is itself the biggest attraction here and is legitimately recognized as UNESCO World Heritage Site. More than 800 hundred heritage buildings are in well-preserved conditions and 22 of these are open to the tourists. You don’t need to be a big passionate about architecture or history to fall in love with this town. Just walking among its charming streets you will have the chance to admire most of the top attractions the city offers without any effort.

lanterns in the street of Hoi An during the night with vietnamese bycicle


As I mentioned above, the interesting part of Hoi An to visit is the Old Town, UNESCO World Heritage Zone.  Officially to enter the Old Town you should buy a ticket, which cost 120 000 VND (4.50€), but for personal experience, the area restrictions and the control of the tickets are limited to specific buildings. 

The ticket will provide you with 5 coupons, needed to enter in as many choosing attractions as Museums, Old Houses, Temples and Pagodas. Some of these spots are very small or fairly mediocre and may not be worthy of the entrance.

Here a list of the sites you can visit around the UNESCO World Heritage Zone (link to the locations and business hours):

Hoi An Museum10B Tran Hung Dao Street – 7.30 AM / 5.00 PM 

Museum of Folklore33 Nguyen Thai Hoc Street – 7.00 AM / 9.30 PM (closed on the 20th every month)

Museum of Trade Ceramics80 Tran Phut Street – 8.00 AM / 5.00 PM (closed on the 15th every month)

Museum of Sa Huỳnh Culture 149 Tran Phu – 8.00 AM / 5.00 PM (closed on the 10th every month)

Old House of Đức An 129 Tran Phu – 8.00 AM / 9.00 PM

Old House of Phùng Hưng 4 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai – 8.00 AM / 6.00 PM

Trần Family’s Chapel 21 Le Loi – 7.00 AM / 9.00 PM

Nguyễn Tường Family’s Chapel 8 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai – 8.00 AM / 5.00 PM

Old House of Tấn Ký 101 Nguyen Thai Hoc – 8.30 AM / 5.45 PM

Old House of Quân Thắng 77 Tran Phu – 9.30 AM – 6.00 PM

Xứ Đàng Trong 9 Nguyen Thai Hoc

Hoi An Traditional Art Performance Theatre39 Nguyen Thai Hoc – 10.30 AM / 10.00 PM

Quan Công Temple & Quan Am Pagoda 24 Tran Phu

Japanese Covered Bridge’s PagodaNguyen Thi Minh Khai

Cẩm Phô Communal House / Cẩm Phô Temple 52 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai

Minh Hương Communal House / House of Tụy Tiên Đường – 14 Tran Phu – Hours: 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Quang Trieu Assembly Hall – 176 Tran Phu – 7.00 AM / 6.00 PM

Phúc Kiến / Fukian / Fujian 46 Tran Phu – 8.00 AM / 5.00 PM 

Triều Châu / Chaozhou Assembly Hall  157 Tran Phu – 8.00 AM / 5.00 PM

Hải Nam / Hainan Assembly Hall 10 Tran Phu – 8.00 AM / 5.00 PM

Getting lost around the postcolonial streets of Hoi An is a journey of colours, smells and tastes. In the night the Old Town shows its most attractive face thanks to the colourful lanterns which decorate every corner of the city. I don’t really suggest you go for all the 22 sites available, don’t follow a checklist, rather follow your inspiration!

lanterns in the street of Hoi An during the day


During your walks for Hoi An will be impossible to miss the Japanese Covered Bridge’s Pagoda (Chua Cau or Lai Vien Kieu), landmark and symbol of the Town. This 18th-century wooden bridge features elaborate carvings and will steal surely a snap photo. Crossing the bridge is free, the ticket is needed only to access to the small annexed interior pagoda.


One of the biggest attraction in all the city in South East Asia is the local market and Hoi An is no exception. Exactly in the centre of the old town, the Hoi An Market is the heart of all the local activities. This is the perfect place to breath the traditional Vietnamese vibes, especially if you didn’t travel extensively for the country.

Whatever are your needs, buying fresh food or souvenirs, eating some street food from the local stalls, a visit to the Hoi An Market is a must. Avoid going during the rush hours (9-10 AM / 4-5 PM) if you get stressed to be stuck among a big crowd of tourist and be ready to bargain for a fair price when it will be the moment.

women selling vegetables in hoi an market


The Mekong River is the treasure of Vietnam and even in Hoi An, you can appreciate the typical Vietnamese landscape featured by the coconut forest. In this site, the locals offer a ride on a traditional basket boat around the water coconut forest, stopping time to time for short “shows” (see the pictures).

Before you decide to go for this experience there are several things you should look out carefully.

There will be plenty of tour operators in the city centre of Hoi An will offer you the trip to the Bay Mau Coconut Forest for a cost of 600-700k VND (23-25€) all included with the transportation to the site. Personally, I decided to go by taxi (45k VND) to the Tour Rung Dua Bay Màu the place where the actual basket boat trips start, only 5 km from the old town.

Here I paid only 100k VND/ person for the whole 45 minutes ride. My personal experience was very nice because of my guide kept his way far from the crowd of tourists and let me row the way back. 

I understand some people may no enjoy as much me because usually, the big groups stop close to big speakers located in the forest, listening to a questionable noisy Gangnam Style. I suggest so to follow my pieces of advice, save some money organizing for your own and offer a tip to your guide/basket boat driver to bring you for a quieter round.


I won’t tell you that Cua Dai is the best beach in Vietnam, but if you are looking for a break from the crowd of the old town, with only 50k VND you can easily reach Cua Dai Beach by taxi. Here you can decide to relax drinking coconut, rent a sunbed for around 50k VND/day or looking for a seafood restaurant nearby.

I have to sadly mention how part of this beach is protected with huge long sandbags to avoid the erosion of the shoreline and some spots are left at the mercy of trash.



You can have an amazing experience of Hoi An without jumping on any kind of vehicle. For a short stay, the old town of Hoi An will be more than enough to keep you busy with endless walks. Don’t limit your visit only to the Minh An district, but explore even the neighbours Cam Pho and Cam Nam.


The traffic in Hoi An is rarely so busy, except during rush hours, so a sustainable choice to getting around Hoi An Old Town may be to rent a bike. An honest price for renting a bicycle in Hoi An is of 30 000 VND / day, slightly more than 1€.

You can easily rent it from your hostel/hotel or bike rental shop, take some photos if there is some evidence of previous damages.

The distances between the points of interest are not big and the Ancient Town is closed to the traffic from 8.30-11.00 AM and 3.00-9.00 PM.


A scene like that in the picture will be very common to see in Hoi An, clearly, a service nowadays targeted for foreigners, especially in a touristic city as Hoi An. The price for a ride on a trishaw in Hoi An can change a lot, firstly because they will try to rip off your wallet.
Well, I didn’t try the thrill of a ride on a cyclo, but the cost for a ride around the city is about 200-300k VND (8-12€). A standard fare would be around 22k VND / km (0.80€), but naturally, you will need to bargain for a fixed price.
Despite the price of a ride with the trishaw in Hoi An is more expensive than other cities in Vietnam, keep in mind to be respectful and don’t force to have ridiculous prices, the riders make a demanding job under the sun and most of them are old.


If it’s too hot for walking or riding a bicycle, there is the most comfortable, but still cheap option of a taxi. Useless to remind you, that you can easily call a taxi using the app GRAB, the Asian version of UBER. A ride will cost you for almost all the places in the Hoi An’s neighbourhood, not more than 35k-60k VND (1.30 – 2.30€).


What’s better than eating Vietnamese food? Eating the best local Vietnamese food in Hoi An! I have eaten in several places during my stay, but only three restaurants stolen a piece of my stomach with their flavours and traditions.

My mouth is watering writing this, so it’s better just go straight to the core of this section, the best local food places in Hoi An!


I will be very clear without dancing too much around, “Cafe 43”  is the best restaurant where you can eat local Vietnamese food in Hoi An. I spent a month in the South of Vietnam, but this place, oh… is crazy good.

Let’s start saying that a glass of beer is 3000 VND (0.11€), just this should be enough to convince you, but I go on. I came here to eat three times in two days because the variety is impressive and all the meals are prepared carefully, to not say with love.

It’s the heaven in Vietnam if you are vegetarian since almost all the meals are available in a free meat version, even the “White roses dumplings” traditional of Hoi An.

It’s limited suggesting you a specific meal, just take the menu and be creative. Last but not least, you can forget about the bill and it won’t be a problem since the prices are affordable and more than fair considering the quality meal you had. I spent usually 160k – 180k VND / 2 people (6-7€)

Cafe 43 - Interiors
© TripAdvisor


Another great place to have another bellyful of Vietnamese traditional food is the Restuarant & Cafe Tuấn. It’s a little place on the side of the street where you will find a very kind staff, ready to fulfil your desires of spiciness. Here I wasn’t so so angry and I had the chance to take some shots of some Vietnamese delights. Slightly more expensive than the previous one, but with 120k VND you won’t be unsatisfied.


If the previous restaurants were super good, but you could still breath the touristic vibes, why not going for a walk to Cam Nam Village, few minutes outside the city centre and trying a 100% real traditional place with 101% best local Vietnamese food? yes, exactly, there are no reasons for not doing it.

In this way, I found the Quán Ăn Bến Tre, the typical Vietnamese restaurant with red chairs and tables.

What’s special with this place? Here, only a few tasty dishes are prepared and the prices are super cheap, around 25-40k VND /dish (1-1.50€). 

Here, the speciality of the house is the Hen Xuc Banh Trang matched with the Bahn Dap. The first one is basically a dish of minced baby clams with peanuts and herbs, the second one is a “smashing rice paper”, called in this way because you should break it with your hand and use it as a scoop. 

If you are super angry don’t hesitate to order a bowl of noodles and meat, the portion is very generous and nothing, I am just waiting for your thanks message.



Oh Yes! Are you a photographer in Hoi An? Oh Yes! How did I manage to not talk about the lanterns in Hoi An’s travel guide? I will touch this point don’t worry. When I was teaching English in Ho Chi Minh, I talked a lot with the students about my next trip to Hoi An and they confirmed how this tradition of design lanterns is kind of new. 

Hoi An, Vietnam, street, lantern, lanterns, lights, chinese, colorful, old, city, tourism, tourist,hat, bycicle,

A new tradition is not necessarily a bad one, especially if this involves art and creativity. Well, the connection with the topic of photography in Hoi An is clear. All your shots will be enriched and will acquire a new character thanks to this decoration.

And naturally we don’t forget people, I love the vibes and what’s going on there. Hoi An is one of the best places for street photography in Vietnam. I already talked too much, here some photos from my stay in Hoi An, the city of lanterns (and not only).



There are plenty of ways to reach Hoi An, in this section I will explain how I did it and other ways to arrive in this magic city.


After 3 weeks in Ho Chi Minh volunteering in English school, I decided to have some chilling time in a beautiful Vietnamese city. So as I decided to go straight to Hoi An, place which has been suggested me several times by the students.


After some research and considering my strict budget I decided upon a night bus from Ho Chi Minh to Da Nang, which usually cost around 400 000 VND (15€).
The ride takes 19 hours, but when you are in low-budget this is not a deal-breaker. There are some bigger cons you should consider if you wanna follow my same path.
Firstly the attitude of the driver, who will drive like a crazy in the unsafe dark Vietnamese roads, using the horn for around 18 of the 19hours of the journey (choose a sit on the back). Secondly the dimensions of the seat, naturally Vietnamese size (if you are shorter than 160cm, you shouldn’t have problems with that).
Despite this, the run was smooth as silk and I arrived safely to Da Nang bus station.


To improve the flow of tourists in the city of Hoi An the Vietnamese government launched a direct bus route from Da Nang to Hoi An. This is the cheapest option available and it will take around 45-60 minutes to cover the 30 kilometres which separate Da Nang and Hoi An. Officially the ticket costs 30 000 VND (1.15€) and you will be able to make it on board, but probably the person encharged of this task will try to charge you more. Easy right?


If you read above you already know how to arrive from Ho Chi Minh to Da Nang, but naturally, this is not the only route. Since Da Nang is in the middle of Vietnam, it’s rich with bus connections. Whenever you need to consult the best routes for your trip to Asia I suggest you check here.

Once arrived in Da Nang see above “How to get from Danang to Hoi An”


Another valid option to get to Hoi An is to catch a train and change with the bus. The train ticket costs slightly more than the bus one, but it’s safer and more enjoyable, thanks to the stunning Vietnamese landscapes which surround the rails.

From the official website of the Vietnam Railways, it’s possible to reserve your seat, between different level of comfort (hard seat, soft seat, room 6-beds, room 4-beds).

For example, a train ticket from Ho Chi Min to Da Nang with the hard seat costs around 600 000 VND (23 €). Don’t wait last minute to book the train ticket, be sure to find a place available.

Train Vietnam
Wikimedia – calflier001


The Da Nang International Airport (DAD) is only 2km far from the city centre. Thanks to this position catch a flight to get to Da Nang is an easily advisable option, especially if you are short in time. Just to make you an idea, the cost of a flight ticket from Ho Chi Minh to Da Nang stands at around 20-40€.

Once at the Da Nang International Airport you have several ways to get to Hoi An. You can catch a shuttle bus for around 120k VND/person, take a taxi for 300k -400k VND (negotiate the fare before or ask for the taxi meter), or the usual public bus (30k VND).


Since Hoi An is a big touristic centre, you will be able to find accommodation of all price ranges. Here I will briefly tell you about my 5 days experience in a perfect quiet homestay.

Probably the best accommodation during my stay in Vietnam. Here you will find all that you need for a great vacation in Hoi An, for an unbeatable price of  260k VND / Night (10€). I spent 4 nights in the River Sound Villa in a double room bright, large, super clean and with balcony. And as if this is not enough, a freshly prepared breakfast was included, where you can choose from a variety of meals, like pineapple pancakes or Vietnamese Pho. The homestay is 10 minutes far from the crowd of the city centre in a quiet area close to the river.

Follow the >> LINK << to check more details about services and prices.


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