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The one and only Hoi An, Vietnam | © Efired/shutterstock
The one and only Hoi An, Vietnam | © Efired/shutterstock
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How To Spend 48 Hours in Hoi An, Vietnam

Picture of Matthew Pike
Writer
Updated: 29 November 2017
If you’re on holiday from work, then you don’t really have time to spend weeks in any one spot. Every stop is a whirlwind of tours and new places to visit, and usually there are dozens of equally interesting things competing for both your attention and your money. Hoi An is no different. It’s chock-full of things to do, so here are our recommendations if you have 48 hours to spend in this lovely city.

Day 1

Get some clothes tailored

As you’ve likely read a billion times by now, Hoi An is famous for its tailors. They’re skilled, but it’ll still take them at least a day to stitch together your new outfit — whether that’s a new suit, some leather shoes, or even a wedding dress. Get in there early on your first day so you’ll have plenty of time for fittings and alterations.

Go on a biking tour

The agrarian villages surrounding Hoi An don’t have the same historical and cultural significance as that of the Ancient Town, but they’re vibrant communities where you can get away from the tourism industry for a bit and see how people actually live in the region. You’ll see water buffaloes, rice paddies, ancestral burial plots, and people just going about their day. Several tour companies offer interesting packages, so do your research and choose one that suits both your athletic ability and what you’d like to see.

Rural Vietnam is simply wonderful | © Matthew Pike
Rural Vietnam is simply wonderful | © Matthew Pike

Try some local food for dinner

So your legs are burning and you’ve been kissed by the harsh sun. Now it’s time to replenish your energy. Luckily for you, Hoi An has restaurants to match whatever budget you’re working with. There are many excellent restaurants in the centre of Ancient Town, where the Thu Bon River gently flows by on its way to the ocean. We recommend you try the local dishes, since the locals have had thousands of years to get them right.

Local Vietnamese food in Hoi An | © Mack Male/Flickr
Local Vietnamese food in Hoi An | © Mack Male/Flickr

Shop in the night market

Hoi An is a mecca for Vietnamese souvenirs. If you need to pick up an arm-load of knick-knacks to give to friends, family, and colleagues from home, then the night market is the place to go. Even if you don’t need to shop, it’s a vibrant scene of tasty smells and bustling energy — a great way to end your first day. Or maybe you’d like to have a few drinks? Have a look around and you’ll find no shortage of spots to sit and enjoy your drink of choice.

Lanterns for sale at night in Hoi An | © Tristan Schmurr/Flickr
Lanterns for sale at night in Hoi An | © Tristan Schmurr / Flickr

Day 2

Load up on caffeine

To get your morning going, check out one of Hoi An’s many cafes. You can get artisan tea blends, aromatic local roasts, or even some Italian brews. We recommend you give a local blend a try though, since Vietnam’s caffeine game is strong. If coffee is what you’re after, then check out our list of the best places to get coffee in Hoi An.

Mia Coffee in Hoi An | © Bex Walton/Flickr
Mia Coffee in Hoi An | © Bex Walton/Flickr

Go to a spa

The midday sun is relentless in Hoi An, and you’ve probably had your fill of it after your biking tour. Avoid the heat by spending some time in a spa. Get a massage and spoil yourself with a manicure and pedicure. Maybe even get your hair done. Because Hoi An is a tourist town, there are spas on just about every street. Do your research, though. Not all spas are created equal.

Visit the Japanese Bridge

After you’ve gone back from your fitting at the tailor, take a stroll over to the beautiful Japanese Bridge. It’s over 300 years old and conjures images of the days when Hoi An was a booming little trading port, with merchants and sailors from around the world stopping in to sell spices, silks, and exotic wares.

Architecture from days long gone | © Jean-Etienne Minh-Duy Poirrier/Flickr
Architecture from days long gone | © Jean-Etienne Minh-Duy Poirrier/Flickr

Go to an art gallery

If you have time, you should try to visit the art galleries around the Ancient Town. They’re a great way to learn about local culture while also getting a tour of the area. You could even pick up some pieces of art for yourself to bring home. Here’s our list of the best art galleries to see in Hoi An.

Watch the sunset from the river

There’s a timeless charm to Hoi An — the burnt yellow paint, earthy red clay bricks, and historic architecture. To see the city at its best, find a spot near the river and watch the sunset. Once the sky’s gone through its radiant display of colours, the lanterns light up to make the city even more beautiful. Lounge around the river and take in the wonderful sights. For good luck, send one of the floating candles into the river current and snap some pictures. It’s great way to cap your stay while also bringing with you the positive vibes for the rest of your travels.

A great way to finish your visit to Hoi An | © ND Strupler/Flickr
A great way to finish your visit to Hoi An | © ND Strupler/Flickr