Hoi An is beautiful no matter the time of the day, but it’s exceptionally spectacular at night. As the sun sets, the pedestrian-friendly streets turn into a sparkling display of colourful lanterns while folk dance and live music performances electrify the atmosphere. Here are our favourite things to do here at night.
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Hoi An Ancient Town is utterly beautiful at night. There is nothing more peaceful than strolling through the big and small alleyways, each of which is coloured by lanterns strung above from wall to wall. Explore the streets and hop in and out of shop houses. Oh, and there are no vehicles to bother you either – just other curious souls.
A symbol of Hoi An, the Japanese Covered Bridge is in the heart of the Old Quarter. It was built in the 17th century by the Japanese as a way of getting to the Chinese quarter. When darkness falls, the bridge is illuminated by colourful lights which reflect on the water, making it an even more beautiful spectacle. It’s also a popular spot for engagement photo shoots.
The rivers and canals in and around Hoi An are full of life and colour, and what better way to explore this than on a sunset cruise on the Thu Bon River? There are plenty of options, but we recommend Cinnamon Cruises – a traditional local barge that has been refurbished to the highest standards. The tour consists of a five-course meal, juicy cocktails, mellow music and, of course, incredible scenery.
The Night Market is just across the bridge over the Hoai River, on An Hoi Island. This is where you find most dining and drinking venues. The market is full of stalls stacked high with souvenirs – from clothes, accessories and shoes to lacquer wear, lanterns and jewellery. If you’re looking to buy some gifts for your friends back home, get them here. There are plenty of street food vendors around, so grab some snacks such as a banh mi – the famous Vietnamese baguette sandwich – as you jump from stall to stall. Make sure to try the famous coconut popsicle ice cream, too.
Bai choi is a traditional Vietnamese game. By the Hoi An bridge, there’s a wide yard with a daily crowd playing what looks like a card game. If this ignites your curiosity, join them – they are very welcoming. Buy in and get some cards and they will teach you how to play. All you have to do is listen to the Hoi An folk songs the locals sing. At the end of each song, you’ll hear the name of the card you have to play. If you get three, you get a gift. Enjoy.
The cooking classes of Hoi An are some of the most popular in Vietnam. Instead of just getting dinner at a restaurant, why not try to cook dinner? Head over to Hai Café – they offer a fantastic introductory-level cooking class in the evenings. You’ll learn to cook some of central Vietnam’s favourites, and then eat the food you prepared. Hai Café is in the heart of the Ancient Town, so a stroll afterwards under the starry night sky will be the cherry on top of your evening.
After 6pm, you’ll start to see street vendors of all ages starting to sell paper lanterns by the river. A common tradition is to buy these, light them and make a wish as you set them afloat on the water. It’s thought to bring you luck and happiness. The river twinkles with hundreds of these lanterns floating into the distance, making for a perfect evening backdrop in Hoi An.
Squeezed between the river and the Hoi An Market on Bach Dang Street is a row of simple beer stalls that have some of the best river views in town. If you’re a little tight on cash and can’t afford the sunset cruise price tag, then this spot is ideal. After a long day of exploring, grab a few cheap drinks and watch as the sun sinks below the hills. You’ll most likely be surrounded by locals – as this spot is relatively unknown by tourists – so it’s as authentic as it gets.
In a peaceful countryside town, you don’t expect the party scene to be great. However, Hoi An attracts many tourists and now has a small expat community – which means there are a fair share of bars scattered around. Q Bar is a favourite among the immigrant crowd: it’s an opulent bar, serving an extensive list of drinks and finger food for affluent customers looking for a sophisticated night out. Despite getting categorised as an affluent bar, the prices aren’t too steep.
Everybody loves going to the beach at night – the weather is cool, the sound of the waves are extra soothing and you’ll have the beach all to yourself. Grab a bicycle and cycle your way through Hai Ba Trung Street to An Bang Beach. Find an entrance where you can be alone and enjoy yourself. There is barely any light pollution in Hoi An, so you’ll get to see plenty of stars as you appreciate your surroundings.
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