Hoi An was once a prosperous trading port that attracted the Chinese, Japanese, Dutch, Portuguese, and Spanish between the 15th and 19th centuries. Today, Hoi An Ancient Town is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the city attracts many visitors from around the world. The best part about visiting Hoi An is finding little streets lined with lanterns, discovering all the little shops and sampling local coffee and delightful cuisine.
Outside of the Ancient Town, rice fields are peppered between the town and the coast, and the main road will take you to some of the best beaches in Central Vietnam. And beyond that, there are a few interesting cultural villages you can check out during your time in Hoi An.
And it is possible to see all of these highlights in Hoi An in 3 days. I put together a 3 day Hoi An itinerary for anyone who has never been to Hoi An before. The itinerary is tailored for solo travellers and for anyone who wants to explore the city independently.
So, follow along and learn how you can spend 3 days in Hoi An as a first-time traveller.
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Before you start your 3 Day Hoi An Itinerary
Before you take your solo trip to Hoi An, take a look at some of these travel tips first:
- Hoi An is safe for female solo travellers. It is safe to walk or bike around during the day and night. I felt comfortable 100% of the time with the Old Town and outside of Hoi An.
- Plan your solo trip to Hoi An with the following festivals and events:
- Buddha Birthday or Vesak (late April to early May) – see the parade in the Old Town and lanterns placed on the riverbank.
- Mid-Autumn Festival (early to mid-September) – see street performances and lantern processions in the Old Town.
- Hoi An Lantern Festival (14th day of each month) – see thousands of lanterns light up the Old Town.
How to get to Hoi An Vietnam
Many domestic and international flights arrive at Da Nang Airport, which is 30km north of Hoi An. The best way to travel from the airport to Hoi An is by prearranged airport shuttle transfer. Or when you book your hotel or Airbnb, they may offer a similar car service for about 350,000 VND. Or you can order a Grab car.
Train and Bus
If you are travelling to Hoi An from different parts of Vietnam, overnight trains or sleeper buses are economical options, but the journey can take a long time.
Vietnam Railways and private train companies operate trains to Da Nang Train Station daily. Hoi An doesn’t have a train station. The closest one is in Da Nang.
Many sleeper bus companies operate similar routes from different parts of Vietnam to Hoi An. The cost is very affordable, and they make bathroom stops along the way as there are no toilet facilities on the bus.
Bus transfer and private car transfer
Many shared bus transfers and private car transfer options exist if you travel within Central Vietnam. They travel between Hue and Hoi An (which includes stops at tourist sites like Hai Van Pass, Lang Co Beach and Marble Mountain) or Da Nang to Hoi An.
How to get around Hoi An for 3 Days
Walking is the best way to see all the tourist attractions in Hoi An Ancient Town.
For places outside of the Old Town, you can borrow a bicycle from your hotel (most hotels offer complimentary bikes) or rent one in Old Town for about 30,000 VND for the day.
Or you can order a Grab bike or car. Both options are very affordable for visiting the places in this itinerary. And when you hire a bike, your driver will provide a helmet for safety and a raincoat if it rains.
Map: What to do in Hoi An for 3 days
For all the attractions mentioned in this itinerary, I pinned them on the interactive map below. Red pins are all the best things to see in the Hoi An Ancient Town on day 1, purple pins are must-see attractions outside of the Old Town on day 2, and blue pins are the places to visit outside Hoi An on day 3.
In addition to the 3-day Hoi An itinerary, I included several green pins that represent day trip ideas outside of Hoi An if you spend more time in the city. And my recommended Hoi An accommodations are marked with yellow pins.
Here is a quick summary of the 3 Day Hoi An Itinerary:
Hoi An Itinerary Day 1: Hoi An Ancient Town
- Best attractions in Hoi An Ancient Town
- Make custom clothing at a tailor
- Local coffee at a rooftop coffee shop
- Hoi An Night Market
Hoi An Itinerary Day 2: Activities around Hoi An
- Thanh Ha Pottery Village and Terracotta Park
- Cam Thanh Coconut Village
- Local market tour and cooking class
- Riverboat ride on Thu Bon River
Hoi An Itinerary Day 3: Things to see outside of Hoi An
- Tra Que Vegetable Village
- An Bang Beach
- Sunset at the rice fields
- Hoi An Central Market
Day 1 of Hoi An 3 Day Itinerary: Hoi An Ancient Town
The first day in Hoi An is all about Hoi An Ancient Town. The Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and it has many old merchant houses, assembly halls, temples and museums. There is so much to see, and you will need an entire day to appreciate it fully. And the best way to get around the city is on foot.
1-20. See all the best attractions in Hoi An Ancient Town
There are many attractions within the pedestrian zone of Hoi An Ancient Town. I’ve grouped them into several categories, so choosing what you want to see is easier.
But first, you’ll have to buy an entrance ticket from one of the ticket booths around the Old Town. It costs 120,000 VND for 5 tickets. And it looks like this:
With the ticket, you can visit 5 of 25 sites in the Old Town. I listed the major ones you can choose from and bolded the ones I visited and can recommend those attractions.
Also, I suggest following the numbered pins on the interactive map and using that as your walking route to see these attractions. And if you want to see more sites, you can always buy more tickets.
|Temples, Chapels, Highlights
|2. Nguyen Tuong Family Chapel
5. Japanese Covered Bridge
8. Tran Family Chapel
14. Guan Di Temple
19. Hoi An Traditional Art Performance House (10:15am, 3:15pm, 4:15pm)
|7. Cantonese Assembly Hall
12. Chinese Assembly Hall of Hoi An
13. Phuoc Kien Assembly Hall
15. Hainan Assembly Hall
16. Teochew Assembly Hall
|Heritage Houses & Communal Houses
|1. Cam Pho Communal House
3. Japanese Cultura Gallery
4. Old House of Phung Hung
10. Quan Thang Ancient House
20. Old House of Tan Ky
|6. Museum of Sa Huynh Culture
9. Hoi An Museum of History and Culture
11. Museum of Trade Ceramics
17. Museum of Traditional Medicine
18. Museum of Folk Culture
21. Get custom clothing made at a tailor
One of the best things to do in Hoi An is to get tailored clothing. You can make dresses, pants, shorts, a full suit and anything you can dream of.
It takes one to two days to make custom clothing. Usually, you go in on day 1 for measurement. If your clothing is a bit complicated, you return on day 2 for a fitting. And either by the end of day 2 or 3, you will get your finished custom clothing.
Or you can get something made with leather. Anything from shoes, bags, jackets to anything else you can imagine, they can do it. It’s the same process for making clothing – it will take a couple of days, so make sure you visit one of the stores on day one.
So, while you are walking through the Old Town, pay attention to the tailor shops and the type of clothing they make. Get inspiration from the mannequins’ clothing, or bring a photo of something you want to wear.
22 or 23. Take a coffee break at 92 Station Restaurant & Cafe or Faifo Coffee
Between finding interesting places around Hoi An Old Town, take a break at one of the many coffee shops. Hoi An coffee shops serve many local drinks, including coconut coffee, salt coffee (a specialty from Hue), egg coffee (a specialty from Hanoi) and Vietnamese coffee.
Look for 92 Station Restaurant & Cafe, order your drink and walk straight to the top floor. There’s a rooftop with a wonderful view of the streets and roofs of the Old Town.
Or find Faifo Coffee, which is nearby, and there is a rooftop area for drinking coffee and taking photos.
There aren’t a lot of tall buildings and buildings with rooftops in the Old Town. So these two coffee shops are amazing spots for taking photos for your Instagram.
24. Eat and shop at Hoi An Night Market
One of the best things to do at night is to visit the Hoi An Night Market. Every night, vendors set up their stalls on Nguyen Hoang Street and sell many things like clothing, trinkets and food.
This is an excellent spot for buying souvenirs. You can buy locally made products like lanterns, bowls, paintings, scarves and more. Prices are affordable. Protip: buy souvenirs from the vendors at the end of the night market street; it’s cheaper at the back.
There are also many street food vendors and restaurants along the river. Try some of the street food or find a local restaurant and enjoy a nice dinner.
Day 2 of Hoi An 3 Day Itinerary: Best activities around Hoi An
For your second day in Hoi An, visit some of the highlights outside of Hoi An Old Town. These villages are quite interesting, and you can get there either by ordering a Grab bike or car or borrowing a bicycle from your accommodation.
Then, in the late afternoon, hone your cooking skills and learn to make a few classic Vietnamese dishes. Finally, finish the night with a leisurely boat ride on the Thu Bon River.
1 & 2. Visit Thanh Ha Pottery Village and Terracotta Park
Thanh Ha Pottery Village is 3km west of the Ancient Town and is a quick ride on your bicycle or a Grab bike.
Even though the village was formed in the 16th century, master craftsmen still uses traditional techniques to make decorative pottery, architectural decors, and fine art pottery. The entire village is like a living museum and is officially recognized as a National Intangible Cultural Heritage site.
During your visit, visit Xuan My Temple, learn about the traditional pottery-making process, try making pottery yourself and take home a small souvenir (spoiler alert: it’s a ceramic whistle).
Besides the village, you can see other pottery displays at the Terracotta Park. There is a 3-storey ceramic exhibit, a terracotta museum, a miniature world and an installation garden.
Address: Pham Phan, Thanh Ha, Hoi An | Hours: 8:30am-5pm | Admission: 35,000 VND for Pottery Village and 50,000 VND for Terracotta Park
3. Take a paddleboat ride at Cam Thanh Coconut Village
Coconut Village is an eco-village in the Cam Thanh ward. The traditional village was once a base to rescue soldiers and people during the Vietnam war. Today, you can take a paddleboat trip in a unique Vietnamese bamboo basket boat down the waterways lined with coconut palm trees.
During the boat ride, you can see how the locals fish, cruise through the coconut palm trees waterways, karaoke on a basket boat, fish purple crabs, and you can even do the boat spinning if you like. Yikes!
When you book a visit to the Coconut Village on your own, the fee includes the entrance ticket to the village and a 50-minute bamboo basket boat ride through the mangrove forest. I thought the tour was well-organized and excellent for solo travellers.
Address: Tran Nhan Tong, Cam Thanh, Hoi An | Hours: 7am-5pm | Admission: 60,000 VND entrance fee + fee for the boat ride
4. Tour a local market and learn to cook Vietnamese food
Spend between 3-4 hours in the afternoon and learn how to cook Vietnamese food at Gioan Cookery School. The cooking class includes a 30-minute market trip where the teacher shows you what to buy from the local market. Then, head back to the kitchen and cook several Vietnamese dishes for dinner.
I really enjoyed my cooking class at Gioan Cookery School. If you want to join, make sure to book ahead to reserve a spot. Group cooking sessions include 3 dishes. Vegan or vegetarian options are available. Cooking sessions are either at 9am or 4pm.
Alternatively, there are many other cooking classes around Hoi An. You can browse around the city or book a cooking class ahead of time.
Address: 222/17 Ly Thuong Kiet Street, Son Phong, Hoi An | Hours: 9am or 4pm | Admission: $25USD
5. Take a riverboat ride on the Thu Bon River
Lanterns have been used for hundreds of years in Hoi An. And one of the best way to see them is by going on a riverboat on the Thu Bon River. A 20-minute boat trip costs 150,000 VND for 1 to 3 passengers and 200,000 VND for 4 to 5 passengers. It is available between 4-9:30pm. It’s a nice leisurely activity, and you can see all the lanterns from the boat.
And you may be approached by little old ladies selling candles in a paper lantern. You can buy one and release the lanterns on the river. They are the ones floating in the river in the photo below.
Day 3 of Hoi An 3 Days Itinerary: Things to see outside of Hoi An
One of the best things to do in Hoi An is to cycle around the city. And with a bicycle, you can see many places outside the Old Town, including rice fields, vegetable gardens and beaches.
For Day 3 of your Hoi An itinerary, cycle across rice fields and see an organic vegetable village. Then, spend the day at the beach before watching the sunset by the rice paddies. And finally, return to the Old Town to pick up your tailored clothing and do a bit of last minute souvenir shopping.
1. Cycle to Tra Que Vegetable Village
From the Old Town, cycle in the northeast direction towards the beach for about 3km. Soon, you will reach Tra Que Vegetable Village, a local farming community that grows most of the produce for Hoi An and the surrounding area. The area has good soil and climate, which is ideal for growing lettuce, basil and other leafy vegetables.
When you buy an entrance ticket, you can get a free cup of basil seed drink. Plus, the local farmers can show you some of the traditional agricultural techniques. You could also get a foot bath with local herbs (for additional fee) and have an early meal at one of the restaurants.
However, I didn’t see many restaurants offering food during my visit. But I found a lovely coffee shop in front of the vegetable garden called Slow Cafe.
It is possible to take a cooking class here (but you already did that the previous day), so enjoy a cup of joe before heading to the next destination.
Address: Tra Que Village, Cam Ha, Hoi An | Hours: 6:45am-10pm | Admission: 35,000 VND
2. Visit An Bang Beach
There are several beaches near Hoi An that are worth visiting. An Bang Beach is the most popular one. The white sand beach is very clean, and it has many beachfront cafes and seafood restaurants. Besides suntanning on a lounge chair, you can rent a bodyboard or kayak for a few hours.
I went to the beach several times while I was there and had food at The Deckhouse and the Shore Club. Prices are inexpensive (but more than Old Town), and you can choose between Vietnamese and Western food.
There are a few more beaches to the south of An Bang Beach if you want to explore further. Tan Thanh Beach is quieter but still has a few beachfront cafes. There are round basket boats parked at Hidden Beach and Coconut Beach. And Cua Dai Beach is further down and it has a few seafood restaurants.
3 or 4. Cycle around the rice fields and watch sunset
One of my best memories of Hoi An was cycling around the rice fields. I thought that was such a magical experience so I included this activity in the itinerary.
After you leave the beach, take a leisurely bike ride around the rice fields in the Cam Chau ward. There are a few coffee shops by the rice paddies where you can relax, enjoy a cup of coconut coffee and watch the sunset. I really like both Roving Hill House and Chic Chillax. They both have great views and yummy drinks.
5. Pick up your tailored clothing
And if you haven’t done so already, go back to the tailor and pick up your tailored clothes.
6. Buy souvenirs at Hoi An Central Market
I purposely put Hoi An Central Market as the last thing to do for this itinerary. This is an excellent spot for picking up any last-minute souvenir items you want to bring home.
Inside the market has many food stalls, tailors, and vendors selling handicrafts, leather products, aromatic spices and other local food.
Outside the market is lined with shops selling all types of souvenirs. Street vendors come out during the evening so there are lots to see and lots to buy. Whether you are buying things from a shop or street vendor, always negotiate so you can get the best deal.
Day trips from Hoi An
Hoi An is an excellent home base for day trips. Some can be done independently if you order a Grab car, and others can be done through tours.
If you add one or two more days to your Hoi An itinerary, you can see a few of these highlights:
- Marble Mountains – see natural caves, towers and pagodas at the five limestone peaks 20km north of Hoi An.
- Da Nang – take a day trip to Da Nang, roam around the city, and visit some of the best beaches in Central Vietnam. There are two areas to stay in Da Nang if you want to stay overnight.
- Ba Na Hills – take Asia’s longest cable car to Ba Na Hills Sun World and see the famous Golden Hand Bridge.
- My Son Sanctuary – see the most important site of Champa’s ancient kingdom and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The day trip includes a cruise down the Thu Bon River.
- Cham Islands – take a speedboat to the Cham Island and swim or snorkel in the blue sea.
Hoi An in 3 days: where to stay
During your 3 days in Hoi An, stay near the Old Town so you can be within walkable distance to many attractions in this itinerary. There are some fantastic and affordable hotels to the west and east of the Old Town.
Here are some of my favourite places to stay near the Hoi An Ancient Town:
- Cozy Savvy Boutique Hotel Hoi An ($$) – the boutique hotel has modern design aesthetics mixed with traditional materials and furniture. Only 5 minutes west of the Old Town. The price includes complimentary breakfast and free bicycle.
- Cozy An Boutique Hotel Hoian ($$) – the newly opened hotel from the same hotel chain, is located near the riverfront east of the Old Town.
What to Eat in Hoi An
The diverse flavours of Hoi An are genuinely unique. Influences from China, Japan, and other neighbouring countries contribute to central Vietnam’s flavours, which are noticeably different from the North and the South.
While you are in Hoi An, you must try a few dishes. Here are my top picks:
- Cao Lau – Hoi An’s signature dish, which is made with pork, vegetables and noodles
- Mi Quang – flat rice noodles with shrimp, pork and vegetables and a bit of bone broth
- White Rose Dumpling – steamed shrimp and pork dumpling with crispy shallot with unique dipping sauce
- Com Ga – Hoi An chicken rice is made with shredded chicken, turmeric rice and fresh greens and herbs
Are you ready to spend 3 days in Hoi An, Vietnam?
I’ve been to Hoi An thrice in the past few years and cannot get enough of the lantern town. There is something so special about the ancient streets and old shophouses. And the food is some of the best I’ve had in Vietnam!
If you have never been to Central Vietnam, the first place you need to see is Hoi An. And if you spend three days in Hoi An, you can properly see all the best attractions in the city and try all the local specialties. And hopefully, you can stay longer to see some places outside the city.
What are you most excited to see in Hoi An? And if you’re following my itinerary, let me know if it was helpful.
Thank you for reading my solo Hoi An itinerary
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