I am in love with Hoi An! My first visit to this memorable town was three years ago. I remember the dimmed lanterns lining the streets, wonderful aromas from restaurants and friendly people. I knew I love this town as soon as I arrived.
Compared to Hue, Hoi An is a well-preserved town with centuries-old architecture that is still intact today. The blend of Chinese, Japanese and Vietnamese design styles created a unique combination of aesthetics that is one of a kind. As one of the busiest trading ports in Southeast Asia, Hoi An was attracting foreigners like the Chinese and Japanese between the 15th and 19th centuries. With their settlement in this part of the country, the mixing of all the cultural influences can be seen in everyday life from food to architecture. For all the beauty and history of this peaceful town, UNESCO recognized Hoi An to be a World Heritage Site.
If you are planning to visit Vietnam, you must visit the central region as well. Whether it is Hoi An, Da Nang and Hue, each place is unique, and it’s not something to be missed. There was no way I was going to leave out Hoi An for our three-week itinerary in Vietnam.
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Why Hoi An is Great for a Solo Female Traveller
As a solo female traveller, I feel entirely safe in this city. It is safe to walk or bike around during the day and night. I never felt threatened at any point, but I also practice safety precautions wherever I go (it’s just second nature to me now).
It is super easy to get to Hoi An. Many domestic and international flights arrive at Da Nang airport, which is just less than an hour away from Hoi An. Choosing a flight over a bus or train can save you some time and also very economical. For example, we paid less than $50USD for a flight with Vietnam Airlines, flying from Hanoi to Da Nang. Between Vietnam Airlines, VietJet Air or other airlines, you will find one that will suit your itinerary and budget.
Another option is to travel by sleeper buses. Many bus companies operate on similar routes to popular tourist destinations. The cost is very affordable, but they make various bathroom stops along the way as there are no toilet facilities on the bus. Check The Sinh Tourist for their route and timetable.
And not to mention all the activities that you can enjoy as a solo female traveller. There are a lot of cooking schools where you can learn to make various local dishes. We spent a morning cooking cao lao at Gioan Cooking School. And if it happens to rain while you are there, spend the day at one of the many spas in the town. Indulge a little and enjoy your time there!
Where to Stay in Hoi An
If you only have a few days in Hoi An, stay in the Old Town where the majority of the attractions are available on foot or via bicycle.
And if you are lucky and have extra time, there are some fantastic and affordable resorts between the old town and the beach. Some of these resorts will even have bikes to lend you for the day. And of course, there are resorts right on the beach where you are always by the water.
- Cozy Hoian Boutique Vilas ($) – tucked away in a small street close to the Old Town, the 3-star boutique hotel has ultra-modern design aesthetics mixed with traditional material and furniture. And the complimentary breakfast is superb!
- Check prices & reviews: Agoda
- Hoi An Historic Hotel ($) – located in the Old Town, the entire hotel complex is welcoming and comfortable. The 4-star accommodation has a magnificent pool, gym, spa and restaurant.
- Check prices & reviews: Agoda
Check Airbnb for local accommodations. A typical room can range between $20-50USD in the old town, and the beachfront resort will cost slightly more.
Staying in Da Nang is another excellent option. If you choose to stay in Da Nang, check out these two areas to stay in Da Nang.
What to Eat in Hoi An
I came here three years ago and tried my quang, a Hoi An specialty, and I will never forget that moment. That memory has seared into my brain, and I couldn’t stop thinking about it. And I’ve talked about coming back to Hoi An just to eat the noodles (no joke!)
So this time around, I came back for the same thing at the same place. It didn’t disappoint at all! I loved all the flavours of central Vietnam and all their regional dishes.
The diverse flavours of Hoi An are genuinely unique. Influences from Chinese, Japanese and other neighbouring countries all contribute to the flavours of central Vietnam, and it is noticeably different from the North and the South. You must try these Hoi An specialties:
- Cao lao (Hoi An’s signature dish: pork with yellow noodle)
- White rose (shrimp and pork dumpling with crispy shallot with unique dipping sauce)
- Mi quang (shrimp, pork and vegetable rice noodle)
- Com ga hoi an (Hoi An chicken rice)
Where to Eat in Hoi An
- Lantern Town Restaurant – 49 Nguyen Thai Hoc Street; my absolute favourite noodle is my quang and cao lao with seafood is quite impressive as well.
- Banh Mi Phuong – 2B Phan Chau Trinh; we saw a long line up for this place so it must be good, right? Well, if the banh mi sandwiches are good enough for Anthony Bourdain, they are good enough for us.
- Morning Glory – 106 Nguyen Thai Hoc Street; there are several restaurants which are just across the street from each other. They serve fabulous Hoi An specialties. It is too hard just to pick a few.
- The Deckhouse An Bang Beach – at the left side of An Bang Beach; the food is great at the Deckhouse. But it is the view of the beach that will blow your mind.
- Cotic Art Gallery – 60 Nguyen Thai Hoc; this renovated space houses a gallery in the front, a coffee shop in the middle and a shop at the back. It was nice to sit in the courtyard and have coffee.
Related Post – The Ultimate 3 Week Itinerary for Vietnam
What to do in Hoi An
Hoi An is one of those places that you just immediately fall in love with. The best part about touring through Hoi An is finding little streets lined with lanterns, discovering all the little shops and sampling local coffee and delightful cuisine.
Beyond the old town, there are rice fields peppered throughout and the main road that will take you to the beach. And beyond that, Da Nang is just less than an hour away.
So whether you explore by foot or join a bike or car tour, there are endless options to discover all the best qualities of Hoi An.
Here are some sites you must visit:
Hoi An Ancient Town
Japanese Covered Bridge
Museum of Trade Ceramics
Hoi An Museum
Thu Bon River
Hoi An Central Market
Hoi An Night Market
Tra Que Vegetable Village
An Bang Beach
A day trip to My Son Sanctuary