As you may know, Hoi An Ancient Town is an exceptionally well-preserved example of a Far Eastern port dating from the 15th century. The combination of Chinese, Japanese, and later, European influences with indigenous culture has shaped this unique UNESCO Heritage Site.
For years, the Old Town center with traditional wooden architecture, the iconic Japanese bridge, Cantonese Assembly Halls, and bright yellow houses backing on to the river is the main attraction to tourists. But believe me, Hoi An has more than that to offer. If you have done with visiting the Old Quarter, here are 7 interesting activities that I have been through in this gorgeous town.
There’re many ways to explore Hoi An: by bike, by boat, or on foot, but I decided to make my day a little different by hopping on a Jeep. In the afternoon, a private driver and an English speaking guide were waiting at my hotel. We drove on a classic military Jeep through small streets in Hoi An to the peaceful countryside, passed by many fragrant lotus ponds, windy rice fields, and shrimp farms. We let the breezes touch our faces while the beautiful scenery softened our souls. We stopped on the way for an enjoyable talk with an old farmer. I had a pleasant walk with his water buffalo before driving back to the center to catch a glimpse of the Old Town.
I decided to make my day a little different by hopping on a classic military Jeep
We drove through the peaceful countryside in Hoi An
We let the breezes touch our faces while the beautiful scenery softened our souls.
Though the glory days of Hoi An as a trading port may be long gone, the Thu Bon River still plays an important role in the everyday life of Hoi An. At the end of the day, I embarked on a traditional fishing vessel and got out on the river at dusk to find the romantic side of this pretty town. I drifted quietly downstream, watching fishing-boats, coconut palms, and iconic tiled roof houses along the water. When the sun goes down and casts an incredible glow over the calm water, it left me in an indescribable feeling that I wanted to keep forever.
Though the glory days of Hoi An as a trading port may be long gone, the Thu Bon River still plays an important role in the everyday life of Hoi An.
I drifted quietly downstream, watching fishing-boats, coconut palms, and iconic tiled roof houses along the water
There are many people in Hoi An still earn their living by fishing. On my stay in Hoi An, I was given a hands-on experience that’s unique and interesting. Jumped on a boat, we passed many fishing nets that a dotted on the water before seeing a small fishing boat that I would get on later. It’s a great chance to witness traditional fishing techniques that the locals still use to catch the fish, try to throw a net yourself from a small fishing boat, or climb on to a fishing tent and pull a giant net out of the water by a bamboo pulley that needs the push of your feet. My guide was informative. He answered all of our questions and was very knowledgeable about fishing villages, culture, and the history of Hoi An. You’ll find this fantastic experience suit all ages.
It’s interesting to see traditional fishing techniques that the locals use to catch the fish
You can climb on to a fishing tent and try to pull a giant nest out of the water
Located about 3.5 miles southeast Hoi An Old Town, Cam Thanh is one of the most attractions in Hoi An, thanks to its vast and beautiful water coconut palm forest that is best to explore by a bamboo basket. When we first saw it, we were afraid the basket couldn’t stand our weight but in fact, it can carry 3 adults. A villager paddled us through the palm forest, taught us to make a ring and crown from coconut leaves, and showed us how to catch the crab by a small handmade fishing net. I asked him if I could paddle the basket myself, but it was not a piece of cake. The basket didn’t move forward as I wished. It just went round and round. But it’s worth trying. We laughed a lot about my clumsiness.
Our basket ride stopped at a local house on the riverside, where we had lunch with delicious seafood and local recipes. This activity well suits for families. The kids will love the fun ride while parents get a real Vietnamese cultural experience.
A bamboo basket took us to the water coconut forest in Cam Thanh Village
The villager who paddled my basket was very friendly. He taught us how to make a ring from a coconut leaf
Smile is the precious gift that you often receive from the locals here
The lunch was much better than I expected. Mr. Vu, the house owner, is not only a good chef but also an interesting host. Was born in Hoi An, Vu's knowledge about his homeland made our talk very enjoyable. Knowing that we were looking to a fishing market, he suggested a place that he guaranteed “one of the most authentic fishing markets in Vietnam.” And it perfectly was.
Borrowed two bikes from our hotel, we cycled through small quiet streets in the early morning. We stopped at Cua Dai Bridge right in time to admire the stunning dawn from the skyline. The sun rose up slowly from the skyline, painted the water, fishing nets, and boats by its glorious. I could feel my heart skip a beat in front of the beauty of Nature Mother. Breathed in the fresh air of the new day, we continued to pedal to the fishing market. It was busy with ships returning from their morning catches when we arrived. Fishes were sold straightly from the fishermen to buyers as soon as they reached the shore. While other fishing markets are more popular, Duy Hai is still a secret to tourists. We were the only two visitors there. And the locals were so nice to us. They smiled friendly whenever my camera directed to them.
The sun rose up slowly from the skyline, painted the water, fishing nets, and boats by its glorious
When we arrived, the market was busy with buyers, sellers, and ships returning from their morning catches.
Just 2 miles northeast from the city center, this 300-year-old village grows the best herbs that serve in every restaurant in Hoi An. You can find here many popular herbs as basil, lettuce, mint, cilantro, and spring onion, which add flavor to Banh Xeo, Nem Ran (Spring Roll), Banh Mi as well as other tasty dishes of Vietnam. While in western countries, it’s a form of modern farming that refers to the industrialized production of crops, farmers in Tra Que are still doing their irrigating, fertilizing, and harvesting by hand. I had a try at the manual irrigating and hoeing myself. Although it was interesting, I don’t think I’ll be changing my career anytime.
Just 2 miles northeast from the city center, this 300-year-old village grows the best herbs that serve in every restaurant in Hoi An
Farmers in Tra Que are still doing their irrigating, fertilizing, and harvesting by hand.
While Hanoi and Saigon are famed for their street food in the North and South, it isn’t an exaggeration to say that Hoi An is food heaven of Central Vietnam. The ancient town is filled with an array of dining options, ranging from Vietnamese restaurants to riverside food stalls where you can fill your stomach with delicious dishes made with care.Banh Mi Phuong was recommended by Anthony Bourdain, as the best banh mi in Vietnam, for just roughly $1US. Banh Mi Madame Khanh is the perfect alternative with her char-siu pork that remains unmatched in all of Hoi An. Chicken rice with a load of shredded chicken and herbs is a must-try. Cao Lau, a special ashy noodle of Hoi An, mixed with char-siu pork, fresh herbs, and fried croutons, is also heavenly.
It isn’t an exaggeration to say that Hoi An is food heaven of Central Vietnam (Photo: Cao Lau - a mix of ashy noodle, char-siu pork, fresh herbs, and fried croutons )
Banh Mi tastes the best in Hoi An
And chicken rice with shredded chicken and herbs
No matter how short your stay in Hoi An is, it’s always a good idea to order a tailor-made dress and have it delivered in 24 hours. If you have a design that you like, show the tailors its picture, they will craft it and deliver it straight to your hotel room. Tailor-made clothes in Hoi An are unrivaled in price, quality, and the time it takes them to be made. To have more tips about shopping in Hoi An, you can read 5 best shopping experiences in our previous post.
If you’re interested in any of these activities, or if you want to add your own interest into your Vietnam trip, talk to our travel experts and we’ll help to design an itinerary that suits you the best. Read our travel blog if you want to have more about stories about Thailand, Vietnam, or Myanmar.