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Hoi An’s lantern-lit allure has long been adored by tourists. Located in central Vietnam, this UNESCO World Heritage town boasts rice fields, beautiful beaches, as well as its famously skilled tailors. It only takes 48 hours to fall in love with laidback Hoi An – here’s your ultimate guide.
Dive into Hoi An’s Central Market
The early hours of the morning are the best time of day to stroll through the city’s Central Market. A morning visit to the market comes with the perk of fewer tourists and lower temperatures. From fish to flowers, jewellery to produce, the market is a fantastic introduction to local Hoi An culture.
Enjoy brunch at Rosie’s Café
Kick start your time in Hoi An with brunch at Rosie’s Café. With multiple airy rooms, a plethora of plants, and beautiful smoothie bowls, Rosie’s is run by two women and named after their mutual favourite movie. The menu features fusion health foods and classic Vietnamese coffee, heavy on the condensed milk.
Get custom-tailored clothing
After brunch, stop by one of the expertly skilled tailor boutiques Hoi An is known for. These tailor shops produce top-quality, custom-made clothing in no time. Dropping in as soon as you arrive in Hoi An guarantees you’ll have your new threads packed in your suitcase before you head to your next destination. Wondering where to start? BeBe Tailor has one of the best reputations in town for tailoring, and is known specifically for its attention to detail and incredible customer service. If you’re not looking for new clothes, spend the morning checking out the handicrafts at Sunday in Hoi An in the Ancient Town.
Visit the Japanese Bridge
Near the centre of Ancient Town Hoi An is a Japanese Bridge that dates back 300 years. You do have to pay to walk across the bridge and enter Hoi An Ancient Town, but the minimal fee is worth it to step through a literal piece of history.
Try Anthony Bourdain’s favourite banh mi
Refuel your tank after your afternoon pedalling around by trying banh mi. This Vietnamese sandwich consists of a flaky baguette, pickled carrot, chilis, cucumber, and minced pork. You can grab yours from a number of sandwich shops in Hoi An, but Hoi An is home to Anthony Bourdain’s favourite – Banh Mi Phoung.
Learn about Vietnamese cuisine by taking a cooking class
Vietnam’s cuisine is packed with flavour, so you’d be remiss to not learn how to cook traditional Vietnamese food with Hoi An Eco Cooking Class. This particular cooking school includes a trip to the local market to shop for ingredients, a ride in a bamboo basket boat, and finally guided instruction for how to make local specialties like pho bo (beef noodles) and banh xeo (crispy pancakes). By the end of your class, your belly will be filled and you’ll have learned a thing or two about Vietnamese cooking.
Get a taste of Vietnamese culture
After enjoying the fruits of your cooking endeavours, you deserve to kick back and enjoy a show like nothing you’ve likely seen before. Lune Productions hosts nightly cultural performances that sell out regularly. Expect anything to happen, even occasional power outages. We recommend you book your tickets online in advance to guarantee your seat for the show.
Go for a morning swim at Ang Bang Beach
Start your morning off right with a cycle north through Hoi An’s rice fields for a swim at Ang Bang Beach. This stretch of waves is increasingly popular with tourists due to the erosion of Cua Dai Beach. Ang Bang was once a sleepy beach frequented primarily by locals, but it’s increasingly becoming a hippie haven of bamboo beach huts and vegan restaurants.
Stop for breakfast at Sound of Silence Café
Since Sound of Silence is located right on the beach, why not stop for your morning meal while your toes are still sandy? Pancakes with fresh fruit, Vietnamese coffee, and the sound of the ocean – a perfect start to the day.
Take a lantern-making class
Hoi An Handicraft Tours holds classes for how to make the city’s signature silk lanterns. This hands-on workshop includes all 11 steps in the lantern-making process, including how to make the bamboo stakes that create the lantern’s shape and how to carefully apply the delicate silk outer layer. Taking two hours out of your afternoon will result in a souvenir you’ll want to keep forever.
Drop by the night market
Hoi An’s night market is reminiscent of most Southeast Asian evening bazaars – spices, silks, and souvenirs are all on sale from vendor stalls under the cover of tarps. Unlike other night markets, however, Hoi An’s is a 300m (985ft)-long display of silk lanterns and string lights. The night market is open daily from 5pm until 10pm.
Try the Hoi An specialty cao lau
Cap off your time in Hoi An by tasting one of the delicious dining specialties local to Hoi An – cao lau, made with pork, local vegetables, bone broth, and hand-cut noodles. Wash down the dish with a drink along the riverside, the banks of which are illuminated by twinkly lights and lanterns as the sunsets over the city. Whether you hunker down on a plastic stool streetside or find yourself sitting at one of Hoi An’s more renowned restaurants, you’re sure to have a fab final night in Vietnam’s yellow town.
This is an update of an article by Matthew Pike.