Hoian Highlights - Vietnam Travel guide A-Z

Hoian Panorama - Ancient Town in Vietnam

Hoi An is a city on Vietnam’s central coast known for its well-preserved Ancient Town, cut through with canals. The former port city’s melting-pot history is reflected in its architecture, a mix of eras and styles from wooden Chinese shophouses and temples to colorful French colonial buildings, ornate Vietnamese tube houses and the iconic Japanese Covered Bridge with its pagoda.
Many shops lining the narrow, pedestrianized streets still craft the wood, stone and ceramic goods that have been Hội An specialties for centuries, as documented by the Museum of Trading Ceramics. Nowadays the city is also known for its bespoke tailors. It’s also famed for a vibrant culinary scene and busy riverside food market. Just outside town, wide beaches including popular Cửa Đại and An Bang, lined in palm trees and seafood huts, are within biking distance via meandering country roads.

Being reached by either Da Nang Airport (30km) or Hue (150km), Hoi An ancient town is a heritage town, small, classy and peaceful – the kind of place where you may get stuck for a few days, whether it is intentional or not. Originally known as Faifo, this antique town is bordered on its southern side by the Thu Bon River, along which there is a number of small boutique cafes and local restaurants, antique shops, art galleries in their fusion architecture mix of Japan, China, Holland and Portugal. Despite the fact that it is now a tourist haven, the artistic atmosphere, and local people create an inviting environment. Tourists are often being lured into the markets to buy silk and to have quality garments tailor made for a very down on earth price.

Another noticeable quality of Hoian is its relative silence. There are few cars and people do not feel the urge to use their horns every two seconds. The streets are filled with the hum of voices, motorbikes and the shuffling of thongs along the ground. Hoian is small enough to get around on foot, and you will need a set of wheels if you are going to Cua Dai Beach, or on a day trip to the Marble Mountains or Da Nang.A relaxing activity around sunset is to hire a boat from the waterside by the market place. Many of the locals will wait on the river and offer you this service throughout the day and night.

Hoian Travel Map

Hoian Must See And Do

Hoian Must Do

  • A slow walking tour of this ancient town with continuous lines of well-preserved red-roofed houses from its prosperous period as a major Asian port. Hoian is a town in which fusion is exemplified at every turn.
  • Boating to a fishing village where you will see & experience the life of a fisherman and learn their fishing tactics. Followed by a short basket boat row along the village of water coconut.
  • Enjoy a cold drink at one of the bars along the river to cool down the day’s heat and chill out with the incredible scene of many lit lanterns along the river.
  • A feast of fresh seafood and calm sea at Cua Dai Beach is another option for ones looking for beach experience while in Hoi An.
  • Taking on a day trip to Marble Mountains and My Son Sanctuary is a recommendation for a day excursion from Hoi An.

Hoian Must See

Hoi An Ancient Town
Bustling heritage site with a preserved port city & commercial center reflecting foreign influences.

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Hoian Ancient Town full of color at night.

Van Lan Fishing Village


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Hoian, Vietnam Travel – Ride rowboat in Van Lan Fishing Village


Japanese Covered Bridge
Landmark 18th-century wooden bridge featuring elaborate carvings & a pedestrian passageway.

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Hoian, Vietnam Must See – Japanese covered bridge.


An Bang Beach
Tranquil, tree-lined beach featuring white sand, palapas, lounge chairs & eateries
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Hoian, Vietnam Must See – An Bang Beach.
Old House of Tan Ky
Preserved 18th-century merchant’s house, with guided tours of antiques-filled rooms & a gift shop.

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Hoian, Vietnam Must See – Old House Tan Ky.

Hoi An Impression Theme Park


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Hoi An Impression Theme Park – Hoian Memories Show.

Hoi An Night Market


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Hoian, Vietnam travel – Colorful lantern in Hoian night market.

Cu Lao Cham Insland


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Hoian, Vietnam Travel – Cu Lao Cham Island.

Cua Dai Beach


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Hoian, Vieanm travel – Cua Dai beach.

Most travelers arrive Dec–Apr & Jul–Aug. The tropical climate is hot year-round, and during rainy season (Sep–Jan), monsoons are possible. Along with the monthly full moon celebrations, key cultural events include Tết, or Vietnamese New Year (Jan/Feb, dates vary), as well as the Nguyen Tieu festival (dates vary), celebrated 15 days later and focused on temple rituals. The energetic Mid-Autumn Festival (fall, dates vary) is known for moon cakes, traditionally eaten at this time, and parades featuring lion dances.

Hoian Culture and Art

The Hoi An Traditional Art Performance Theatre is a great place to experience the local music and folk dancing of Hoi An. The venue is intimate and modest but the performers and their colourful traditional costumes do a great job of bringing the fascinating history and folklore of the town to life.

Hoi An is awash with art galleries and numerous studios are dotted around the town. There is a great variation of mediums and styles on show from traditional painting to photography, woodwork, and ceramics. The skilled work reflects Hoi An’s development and gives a beautiful illustration of how tastes have changed over time. Hoi An is also a great place to see the work of some amazingly skilled contemporary artists or even choose an original piece to take home.
Arguably the most amazing piece of art in the whole town is the living mural of the lantern lined streets. Each lantern glows, revealing the intricate patterns embroidered on the silk. The light radiates down the streets illuminating the richly textured yellow houses and reflecting softly on the river. This tranquil yet captivating scene is such a large part of what makes Hoi An so magical to visitors and locals alike.


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Hoian Art – The paper lanterns of Hoi An have become famous due to the festival.

A great place to experience local culture is Cam Kim Island which sits peacefully in the middle of the Thu Bon River. The recent addition of a bridge connecting Cam Kim to the mainland means it is now even more easily accessible. Whilst cycling around this serene island, visitors can learn more about the local culture. Here there are many families each specialising in a different skill. You can meet the families handmaking weaved floormats, their gardens decorated with the brightly dyed grass drying in the sun. You can learn about the production of traditional Vietnamese foods such as rice paper that is used in so many of the traditional dishes, and the infamous local rice wine. Also on the island is the fascinating wood carving village of Kim Bong where you can see the skill that goes into each handcrafted piece. The island itself is a serene haven away from the shops and stalls, surrounded by luscious nature and roaming buffalo. It is the perfect place to meet local people and find out more about their trades and traditions whilst drinking in the beautiful surroundings.

Hoian Food and Drink

Hoi An has a whole host of restaurants and cafes for visitors to enjoy cuisines from all around the world. It is particularly beautiful during the evening when delicious, freshly prepared dishes can be enjoyed while taking in the lantern-lit scenery.

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Hoian, Vietnam Food – Cao Lau being served, a famous food in Hoian.

Hoi An has a distinguished cuisine with a number of dishes that are specific to the town. One example is Cao Lau, a flavoursome noodle dish served with thinly sliced pork and green vegetables. It is the special mixture of water and ash used in the preparation that gives this dish its unique taste and texture. The water comes from an ancient Cham well and is combined with the ash of special trees from the Cham Islands to create a lye mixture which is used to cook the noodles. The somewhat mysterious and secretive recipe makes this dish even more enticing.

White rose dumplings are another speciality and local favourite of Hoi An. Rounds of rice paper are filled with either shrimp flavoured with herbs and spices (banh vac) or pork and mushrooms (banh bao) and formed into delicate dumplings.  Once steamed, the edges of the rice paper curl slightly and the dumplings resemble small white flowers. Again this delightful food is a well-kept secret with the recipe being held by one family who supplies all of the restaurants with white rose dumplings.

Another dumpling dish popular in Hoi An is Hoanh Thanh wontons. Wontons are Chinese in origin however the recipe has been altered over time to incorporate local taste. This crispy fried wonton is stuffed with seasoned pork and topped with fresh salsa made with cilantro, pineapple and cucumber. The flavours and textures compliment each other beautifully in these mouthfuls of Chinese and Vietnamese fusion.

A sweet treat to top off the amazing savoury foods of Hoi An is Xi Ma. This is thick black pudding made from black sesame has a wonderful, rich, nutty flavour. It is made using local well water and served hot from steaming cauldrons at the side of the road.

Hoian Festivals and Events

Each month, the already charming Hoi An takes a step back in time as all of the electrical lights in the city are switched off, and motor vehicles are prohibited from entering the town. Rather than being plunged into darkness, the town glows with the light from hundreds of coloured lanterns. This spectacular event happens on the 14th day of every lunar month to celebrate the full moon and creates a truly magical atmosphere. This is a chance for people to take time out to socialise and worship their ancestors and gods. The soft, warm light of the lanterns illuminates the crowds of people carrying out the ritual offerings to their ancestors and partaking in traditional games and activities. It is particularly beautiful from the water where people float small lanterns that bob down the river. A great way to enjoy the ambience is on one of the long sampan boats that float lazily down the river carrying visitors over the shimmering reflections and past the floating paper lights.


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Hoian Festival – Floating latern on the river.

Hoi An also has an annual Chinese festival celebrated by the Chinese inhabitants at the Guangdong and Chaozhou Assembly Halls. Nguyen Tieu is held on the 15th day of the lunar new year in celebration and honour of Emperor Shen Nong. People gather in temples and pagodas to make ceremonial offerings to their gods and the pray for health and prosperity in the coming years. The celebration lights up the town and brings with it a great sense of unity and community.

The festival of Long Chu is celebrated on the 15th day of the seventh and eighth lunar month to ward off the disease and ill health that was often a threat during the warm, humid months of the summer. During the festival, a royal barge carved in the shape of a dragon floats down the river to rid the town of evil. The procession involves ceremonies in which the village’s appointed spiritual doctor performs rituals to send the evil spirits into the water thereby protecting the health of the villagers. After the completion of the ceremonies, people from all around join in the celebration with singing, dancing, and traditional games.

Highly Recommended Hoian Tours For You - Ancient beauty of the Old Town

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