Hoi An Ancient Town Vietnam: A Complete Guide
Hoi An ancient town is one of the most popular places in Vietnam. With its rustic beauty bearing the stamp of time, the town has charmed many visitors, including us. We visited Hoi An several times and spent countless hours wandering and exploring the old town.
About Hoi An ancient town
Hoi An developed in the second half of the 16th century, under the reign of the Le Dynasty. During the 17th and 18th centuries, Hoi An became the busiest international trading port in Southeast Asia. The town was the meeting place for merchant ships from all over the world.
Later, the importance of Hoi An port began to diminish, ceding prosperity to Da Nang city. Fortunately, during the wars and massive urbanization process at the end of the 20th century, Hoi An was not destroyed, keeping the original beauty that it always carried.
The old quarter has an area of about 2 km² and includes 1360 monuments. Here, there are more than a thousand ancient houses, several temples, pagodas, and assembly halls.
Best time to visit Hoi An ancient town
The best time to visit Hoi An ancient town is from February to April.
The weather at this time is cool and pleasant with little rain. Also, the sun shines gently and not as harshly as in the middle of summer. So this period is the perfect time for all outdoor activities and visiting the old town.
May to August is a great time to visit Hoi An. However, it becomes hotter, and there may be summer rain.
Also, you should avoid visiting Hoi An in the rainy season (from October to November) because there will be floods. There are often storms, and the sky is also murky and cloudy, with little sunshine.
The streets are usually quiet and deserted in the morning before 8 am, with few tourists and vehicles. So if you like peace, don’t hesitate to wake up early in the morning, walk around and breathe in the fresh air.
Check here for the complete Hoi An best time travel guide.
Best places to stay in Hoi An
Don’t forget to book your hotel near Hoi An old town, in advance for the best experience. As it’s a popular destination, the best rooms are usually fully booked, and prices increase to a great extent.
We loved our stay at Hoian Central Hotel. Its location is fantastic, taking only a few minutes to walk to town. This hotel also offers comfortable rooms with an outdoor swimming pool, a restaurant, a bar, and free private parking.
La Siesta Resort is also an excellent choice for a relaxing getaway. This resort is beautiful, with four swimming pools surrounded by lush green tropical plants. Also, it has a spa, an onsite restaurant serving delicious food, and friendly staff.
Hoi An ancient town architecture
The houses in Hoi An were mainly rebuilt by Vietnamese and Chinese people on the old ruins of the Japanese quarter. In 1617, the Japanese community was formed and reached its peak. Around the middle of the 17th century, Chinese communities developed more.
Later in the French colonial period, Hoi An was strongly influenced by French architecture. Therefore, it can be said that Hoi An ancient town is a harmonious blend of Western and Asian styles, creating unique characters in this neighborhood.
The most common housing type is the one or two-story tubular house with a narrow width and a long depth. The materials generally have high quality and durability due to the harsh climate here.
The houses have brick walls and wooden frames, divided into three compartments. Each house combines living space and nature with a beautiful courtyard, water tanks, and ornamental plants. Learn more about old houses in Hoi An here.
Best things to do in Hoi An ancient town
- Address: 186 Tran Phu, Minh An, Hoi An, Quang Nam
The Japanese Bridge (Chua Cau) is one of the most famous landmarks in Hoi An ancient town. Built over 400 years ago, the bridge is dyed with moss and appears amidst Hoi An town’s old and quiet scenery.
Standing on the bridge and watching the ancient town of Hoi An light up at night full of shimmering lights is a pleasant feeling. I also like to visit it in the morning, standing there and watching the area.
Visit the ancient houses
One of Hoi An’s most famous old houses is Tan Ky’s ancient house. It was built about 200 years ago and combined Chinese, Japanese, and Vietnamese architecture.
Its original decorations are still intact, from the brick tiles to the elaborately carved patterns. Visiting the house, you can also see the scarce and valuable paintings and antiques.
- Address: 101 Nguyen Thai Hoc, Minh An, Hoi An, Quang Nam.
Visit the Assembly Halls
There are five assembly halls in Hoi An; the most famous are Fujian and Cantonese Assembly Halls.
Visiting the halls, you will be overwhelmed by the unique construction, including decorative patterns and carefully carved motifs.
The museums are also exciting places to visit in Hoi An. There are a Folk culture museum, Sa Huynh Museum, a medicine museum, and an ethnic gallery.
Enjoy delicious food
Wandering around Hoi An ancient town, don’t forget to stop by little restaurants and cafes. From delicious Cao Lau to chicken rice, check out my Hoi An food guide for more tips.
Another excellent food place is Hoi An market, with diverse and tasty local dishes. The market is open from 6:00 am to 10:00 pm, with stalls ranging from seafood to fresh vegetables and cooked dishes.
See the lanterns
Nothing is more wonderful and magical than seeing the shimmering night scene of colorful lanterns in Hoi An. Do you know that you can learn how to make lanterns?
Cycle the town
On an afternoon, rent a bicycle and explore small alleys and shops in the old town. You can also cycle further to the vast rice paddy fields.
How to get to Hoi An
To get to Hoi An, you can choose different transportation methods depending on your location and budget. Please check my Vietnam transportation guide for more tips.
Flying is the most convenient option to get to Hoi An. However, you’ll need to arrive at Da Nang airport, the closest airport to town. It takes about 1 hour to get from Da Nang to Hoi An.
There are no train stations in Hoi An either, so you will need to get to Da Nang station and travel from there. The distance is about 30 km, taking about 1 hour to reach Hoi An.
You can also travel to Hoi An by sleeper bus or van. If you depart from Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh, it will take nearly a day, about 18-20 hours, depending on the traffic.
If you arrive at Da Nang bus station, you can get to Hoi An by bus no. 01.
Traveling by car or bike is also a comfortable option if you are in nearby cities. The roads leading to Hoi An ancient town, are beautiful and easy to drive, and you can stop at any place on your road trip.
Getting around Hoi An old town
The old town area is relatively small, so you can walk or ride a bicycle to explore it. You can also sit on a cycle and move around the town.
Hoi An has different vibes and charms at other times of the day. We enjoy walking around Hoi An in the early morning or the late afternoon when the sun starts going down.
We also love leisurely cycling through the small alleys, feeling each gentle breeze in our free time, and enjoying the peace and tranquility of Hoi An town.