Big & Small Travel spent nearly 3 months in Hoi An, Vietnam. As digital nomads, we feel very fortunate to have been able to enjoy this beautiful town.
The historic town of Hoi An may just be the most charming city in Asia. Located in central Vietnam, just south of the country’s third largest city Danang, Hoi An is a growing tourist destination. The Ancient Town is a UNESCO Heritage Site and it’s a stunning place in which various cultures collide—see lasting remnants of the strong Chinese history and influence, the Japanese Bridge and merchant houses, and French colonial architecture.
And don’t forget the incredible Vietnamese cuisine. It’s a wonderful destination to eat, relax, and soak up traditional Vietnamese culture. If you’re planning to visit...
Here are 7 quick tips to enjoy Hoi An to the fullest:
1. Skip An Bang Beach and Head South
An Bang Beach is the main beach of Hoi An, but it can be a bit of a tourist trap. But it’s easy to get away and find your own private patch of sand. Just head south along the beach. A good spot to stop is Sound of Silence Coffee, which specializes in espresso-based drinks (which aren’t easy to find here in Hoi An). If you order a drink, you have free access to a beachfront seat. Nothing is better than having a fresh cup of coffee with toes in sand and the sea as your backdrop. Check out Sound of Silence here.
2. Enjoy the Local Cuisine
The cuisine of central Vietnam is fresh and flavorful. Our personal Hoi An favorites are the Cao Lau (a noodle and pork dish) and Banh Xeo (a savory, crispy pancake that's rolled in rice paper). There are also a few spots where you can order an egg coffee, a Hanoi specialty.
3. Take Your Bicycle to the Fields
Escape the manic roads and take a bike ride through the tranquil rice paddies. Most hotels, villas, and homestays in the area offer free bikes to rent—definitely take advantage of this. It definitely takes some nerve to get on a bike in Hoi An, but once you reach the rice fields and Vegetable Village (Tra Que), you’ll find some serenity amongst the plants, cows, and water buffalo.
4. Visit the Hoi An Museum
The main museum in Hoi An is small, but has some interesting artifacts, especially from the Vietnamese/American war. Because of its location, Hoi An was somewhat neutral during this time, as it sits near the demarcation line between the north and south. Still, there was plenty of fighting going on in this region, and the chilling artifacts at this museum—including missiles recovered not long ago by the Vietnamese—remind you of the recent and dark history here in Vietnam.
5. Protect Your Valuables When Biking
Petty crime can be a problem in Hoi An. We have heard stories of cyclists being bumped into and robbed during all times of the day. If you’re carrying a bag, the best way to avoid any potential problems is to simply strap your bag around the bike's handlebars. Keeping your bag attached to the bike makes it much more difficult for quick-handed scooterists to snatch your stuff.
6. Get Lost and Explore
Even within the busy Ancient Town, you can find plenty of small streets and quiet alleyways to sneak into and explore. Outside the main town, take your bike through the rice fields and around the quaint neighborhoods of Cam Thanh and Cua Dai.
7. Loosen Up with a Yoga Class at Nomad Yoga
Yoga can be hard to come by in this part of Vietnam, but Nomad Yoga offers a great selection of classes daily (except for Sundays) for all levels. The studio is in a beautiful setting, located just near the rice fields in Cam Ha. Classes on offer include Ashtanga, Hatha Vinyasa, Gentle Flow, and Yin Yoga. You can also take an early morning class right near An Bang Beach.