Planning a solo trip to Hoi An, Vietnam? Here’s everything you need to know for your visit:
- Also known as Faifo, Hoi An is a small coastal city, with a population of about 160,000.
- Not to be confused with Hanoi (the nation’s capital).
- Grew to prosperity as a major spice trading port between the 7th and 10th centuries AD.
- The city is recognized as an UNESCO World Heritage site.
- Known for its amazing food, beaches, and classical architecture.
- Currency: Dong (VND). US dollars (USD) are preferred by most businesses.
- Spoken languages: Vietnamese. Limited English is spoken by hospitality industry workers.
- Best time to visit: from February to April (cooler time of year and low rainfall).
- Arriving via airport: Metered taxis are available from either Da Nang airport or Da Nang train station for approximately $20 USD. No other public transit services are available.
WHERE TO STAY
- Best hostel for solo travelers: SnapStay Hoi An. This place has an almost perfect rating for a reason: exceptionally clean, welcoming, and organized (shout out to Ernest, the owner). Lots of games and activities organized if you ever get bored of sightseeing, or simply want to meet other travelers. Book ahead, especially during high season!
- Central Hoi An had many small guest houses and hotels.The prices and amenities vary, from the very basic $5 guest house to places in the $100 range.
- Most hotels are centered around Hai Ba Trung Street and Cua Dai Street.
- Considering the small size of Central Hoi An, walking is by far the most common way of getting around. Most landmarks will be no more than a 10-15 minute walk from your hotel.
- As in many Asian cities, the motorcycle taxi is the primary method of local transport for hire. These taxis are very cheap and priced based on distance, with rides starting at about $1.
- Most hotels (and many shops) rent out bicycles to tourists for low prices ($1–$2 per day). The city is small and traffic is limited, so this can be a good way to see the sights and get around.
- Metered taxis can be found in the city, but are generally only looking for out of city fares to Da Nang or farther destinations. If you need a taxi, look for a Vinasun or Mai Linh car.
HOI AN NIGHTLIFE
- No official drinking age.
- The nightlife in Hoi An is fairly low-key, with bars only staying open late if they already have customers inside. Your best bet for nightlife is the area around Nguyen Thai Hoc Street.
- Great bars to start your night: Market Bar, 3 Dragons Sports Bar, TANK, and Woop Woop Bar.
UNIQUE LANDMARKS TO VISIT
- The Japanese Covered Bridge (Chùa cầu) is a must-see. Built by the Japanese Community in Hoi An during the 1600s, it has a distinctive Buddhist pagoda on one side.
- Take a day trip to see the My Son ruins of the ancient Cham Empire. These ruins are unique and different from those typically seen elsewhere in Vietnam or Cambodia.
- Central Hoi An is itself a unique landmark, as the city is a architectural fusion of Vietnamese and European structures built during the days when Hoi An was a key trading post between the two continents. Each nationality built unique structures in the style of their home country, and the buildings have held up well over time.
- Hoi An offers organized Eco Walking Tours, during which you can explore the nearby fishing villages. Many tours also offer the chance to learn different local trades, such as pottery making or fishing.
- Take a walk through nearby Cam Island. Often overlooked by visitors, the island is decidedly off the beaten track. Observe the bamboo bridges, rice paddies, and herds of water buffalo.
- Located close to Central Hoi An, the Old Town contains a cluster of interesting museums and temples. Go for a stroll through the area, keeping in mind that locals ask visitors to dress decently (make sure you wear a shirt, and don’t show off too much skin).
- Hoi An is home to many custom clothing and shoe makers. Do inspect your purchases very closely before paying, however, as some shops have a habit of slapping things together that look good but will fall apart in a week. Make sure you don’t prepay the full balance.
- The countryside can provide some amazing sights and views, and is relatively untouched as Hoi An is still considered “off the beaten path.” Rent a motorbike (or motorbike taxi) for the day and go exploring!
- Great restaurants to try: Hoi An Riverside Restaurant, The Soul Restaurant, and Green Mango Restaurant.
- Where to find good cheap eats: everywhere! Hoi An has a well earned reputation as a foodie heaven. There are many restaurants offering great food at very low prices. Many of the restaurants offer cooking lessons – take advantage of this opportunity to learn how to make unique Vietnamese, Chinese, and various fusion dishes.
- Dangerous areas: safety is not a big concern in Hoi An, and crime targeting tourists is rare. As in any city, exercise caution and common sense when walking alone at night.
Recommended trip duration: 2-3 days