For global travelers, Asia aficionados and Indochina enthusiasts, there’s one destination that is constantly popping up on “The Best” lists: Hoi An.
Southeast Asia’s favorite port town, this ancient hub wins a place in every visitor’s heart from its stunning coastline to its mango-colored alleyways. Why visit Hoi An over the other 980 UNESCO World Heritage Sites around the world?
Here are ten reasons to visit Hoi An, Vietnam
10. The Beaches
Hoi An is home to one of Southeast Asia’s best beaches. Un-crowded, clean sands, warm, inviting waters, unobstructed island views and tiny restaurants serving delicious food and cold, local beers. What else can a traveler ask for? With a “tourist” beach and a “local” beach, whatever experience you’re looking to have, Hoi An’s beaches can deliver.
9. The Diving
Off the coast of Hoi An are the gorgeous Cham Islands. A chain of tiny islets loaded with ancient Champa history and beautiful marine life, visitors can dive, snorkel, boat tour or overnight on this quiet, secluded slice of paradise.
One of Hoi An’s ancient trades, still going strong today. Hand crafting clothes for centuries of Champa, Vietnamese, Chinese, Japanese and Western merchants… the locals haven’t lost their touch. Get that dress, shirt, 3-piece suit, pair of shoes or matching couples onesie jumpsuit that you’ve always wanted. It will fit perfect, look exactly the way you want it, and cost a quarter of what you’d imagine.
7. Cooking Classes
Taking a cooking class in Hoi An is one of Lonely Planet’s Top 10 Iconic Travel Experiences… so it’s obviously one of the top reasons to visit Hoi An. Cook with some of the world’s freshest ingredients, learn the secrets behind each Hoi An specialty, and try your best to memorize and bring home those unique Hoi An flavors.
6. The Food
You take a cooking class in Hoi An for one reason: because you’ve tried the food. While Vietnam as a whole is known for its delicious cuisine, Hoi An specifically has some of the best. With local dishes (Cao Lau & Mi Quang) that are strictly made within the region, you will fall in love with Hoi An’s food as quickly as you did with the Old Town.
5. The Countryside
When you think about Vietnam, Hoi An’s countryside is what you’re picturing. Sprawling green rice paddies, swaying bamboo and coconut trees, farmers donning the iconic conical hats, water buffalos trotting along the road and quiet riverside villages that look like they’ve never even heard of tourism… this is Hoi An and Vietnam at its finest.
4. The Pace
A stark contrast to the maddening streets of Saigon and Hanoi, Hoi An enjoys a slow-paced lifestyle. Rent the local’s favorite mode of transport (a bicycle) for a dollar a day, and pedal your way through the Old Town, beaches, rice paddies and tiny villages.
3. The Price
Despite spending upwards of 1,500$ USD to fly roundtrip to Southeast Asia, once you get to Hoi An, your wallet can relax. With accommodation options ranging all across the board, most attractions free of cost and food putting you back as little as 5 dollars a day (for three meals)… you can enjoy an unforgettable trip without having to take out a second mortgage.
2. The Locals
Stories circulate all throughout travel books and websites about the Vietnamese making travel difficult for foreigners. Though you may be charged an extra 5 cents for parking a bicycle (ouch, I know), locals in Hoi An are some of the friendliest, helpful and most hospitable in the country. It’s often meeting locals that makes one’s Hoi An experience so amazing.
1. The Old Town
This is the main reason over a million tourists visit Vietnam’s central coast each year. Petrified in time as the ancient trade port that it once was, Hoi An’s Old Town looks today the same way it did 200 years ago (minus the obvious additions). The streets are painted mango-yellow, the nights are lit by traditional, colored lanterns and the architecture, river life and historic sites remain entirely unscathed.
By far the most unique, well-preserved site in Vietnam and one of Asia’s most memorable destinations, Hoi An should be on every traveler’s must-visit list.
Daniel Robbins lives and works along the central coast of Vietnam. He is passionate about travel, writing, music and all things that make life enjoyable. Daniel has teamed up with Davidsbeenhere as an Insider for Vietnam.