No place in Vietnam is quite like Hoi An. There’s the perfectly preserved ancient city, a rare survivor of the country’s many wars. There’s the stunning coastline, the white-sand beaches against clear turquoise waters. And there’s the night-time thrills, with a wonderfully eclectic range of bars both on the beach and in the pedestrianised old town. Take a look at the best bars to while away an evening in Hoi An.
Ask most folk who’ve come through Hoi An for a bar recommendation, and nine times out of ten they’ll send you to Soul Kitchen. It’s a staple of the city, a longstanding classic that’s set right on the coast, that crucial ramshackle beach bar where the beers are always cold and the seafood mostly fried. Call ahead and book one of their sunset-facing tables, and then stay on late-night, as one of the area’s many live acts take to the stage.
Next door to Soul Kitchen sits this slightly more upscale take on a beach bar. It’s chic and cosy, a sign of how Hoi An is changing. The cocktails are, of course, as beach-friendly as you’d imagine – Mai Tais, Piña Coladas, each perfectly concocted by its trained team of mixologists. But honestly, we’re more impressed by its long line of craft beer taps, sourced from all across the country, served up with as much respect as any other drink.
One the other end of Hoi An’s long coast, Salt Pub is an Aussie take on the classic beach bar, a surf-inspired spot that serves the draft beers at sub-zero and the mixed drinks strong enough to incapacitate. The stunning views of the beach upfront certainly do help, and late-night after the sun sets, head downstairs to its pub-like bar, where you’ll find the town’s older expats huddling together in front of the live-broadcast football game.
Every town has that down-and-dirty dive bar, a fun-for-all pub where locals and tourists rub shoulders. Three Dragons ticks that necessary box for Hoi An, a longstanding favourite that still carries a no-fuss charm. Take a seat at the bar alongside the many local bar flies, or if you’re looking for something chilled, head out back and grab a table sitting on the river’s edge, where the Saigon Specials goes down a treat while soaking in the unrivalled charms of Hoi An.
The newest addition on this list, Tama is a bohemian-chic bar near the beach that sometimes also doubles as Tempo, a DJ-centric music spot where the tunes are heavy on the vinyl. Be warned, it’s a place for the young folk, a spot where man-buns are everywhere and the smoky vape fumes reveal a drink list of beers, rum-and-cokes and the like. A fun spot that taps into the next generation – it’s what the city needed.
The Quiet American, the Michael Caine-starring 2002 adaptation of Graham Greene’s classic Vietnam novel, was filmed largely in Hoi An, with the ancient city doubling for the Saigon’s long-destroyed 1950s charms. A key bar scene was filmed at this 200-year-old house and, seeing dollar signs, the owners quickly converted the spot into an actual watering hole. It’s tasteful rather than tacky, though, and everything from the Indochine decor to the period music and simple, straightforward cocktails hark back to the era.
This fairly new addition to the Hoi An scene holds an enviable location, an al fresco terrace facing the river and overlooking the town’s historic street market. With a long line of sofas taking up one end of the bar, plus high tables and a small live-music stage on the other, Market Bar is a charming spot serving up a fine selection of wines by the glass, as well as sunset-friendly cocktails like the Aperol Spritz and crisp gin and tonics.
The best wine bar in town, White Marble is set right in the centre of the ancient town, in a preserved heritage building that is well suited for its range of tipples. Over a dozen wine varieties from across the world make up the by-the-glass options, while the bottles are priced from the cheap and cheerful through to the celebratory. Pair it with a cheese or charcuterie board, and it’s almost as if you’d step back in time to those Indochine days.
ThirtySeven might be more renowned for its wood-fired chunks of prime meat, but the stunning bar up front rivals any in town. It’s arguably Hoi An’s first proper cocktail bar, a speakeasy-inspired spot where the mixologists shake up both classic cocktails and local-inspired drinks. They do mean Negronis and Manhattans, but why not try something more innovative, such as the lemongrass-infused vodka with chilli, or better yet, the strangely delicious mix of bourbon, coconut milk and chocolate bitters. Alongside its retro-inspired decor, ThirtySeven is changing the Hoi An bar game.
Hidden down an alley right in the centre of town, Tadioto is set in an ancient shophouse that’s almost a labyrinth to its many charms. Snake your way through its many corridors to discover an art gallery space, a sushi and ramen counter, a zen-inspired rock garden and, of course, the cocktail bar itself. Here, it’s Japanese whiskeys, Bordeaux reds, Prohibition-era cocktails, plus an impressive selection of G&Ts, making this Hoi An’s strangest, coolest spot.