Hoi An, located in central Vietnam just 28km southeast of Danang City, is a relaxed tourist town with a charm, culture and history that continues to please visitors. A former international trading port with its heyday in the 17th to 19th centuries, the cultural influences of the Japanese and Chinese merchants are still evident today in the town's architecture and the distinctly Chinese atmosphere of the Old Quarter.
Hoi An is known not only for its old-world atmosphere and architecture but also for its cheap tailors, quaint restaurants serving delicious Hoi An specialties, and relaxed atmosphere, as well as the nearby beach.
What to Do ?
A day in Hoi An can easily be spent relaxing over coffee or lunch, a stroll or bike ride around town, and a walking tour of the sites in the Ancient town. Highlights include the Japanese Covered Bridge, the ancient assembly homes and the ancestral homes, most of which can easily be explored on foot or by bicycle.
A trip to Hoi An is not complete without a visit to one of the many tailor shops which can make a new wardrobe (with varying degrees of success) in only one or two days. Hoi An also features a wide selection of restaurants, cafes, and bars, as well as cooking classes for those who want to learn to make the local Hoi An specialties.
From Hoi An, it is approximately 4 km (or 5-10 minutes) to Cua Dai beach, a nice beach to relax and unwind after a day of shopping, tailors or exploring.
When to Go ?
The best time to visit Hoi An is between February and April, when rainfall is low and temperatures are comfortable. During summer, the temperatures can get hot, and during the rainy season, particularly during October and November, rains can be frequent and heavy.
If you can, time your visit to Hoi An for the full moon during on the 14th day of the lunar year each month for the Full Moon festivals, when the town becomes the stage for traditional songs, dancing, games and food, with lanterns lining all of the streets.
How To Get There ?
Most tourists arrive in Hoi An via the larger nearby city of Danang. Hoi An is less than an hour by car from Danang, and can be reached by public bus, taxi or private car.
Danang is the closest airport from Hoi An, with several flights per day to Hanoi and Saigon, as well as limited flights to Nha Trang and international flights. The nearest train station to Hoi An is also in Danang, which is part of the North-South Reunification Express, with trains departing daily for Hanoi and HCMC.
You can also reach Hoi An by public or open-tour bus from most destinations along the coast. Besides Danang, one of the closest destinations to Hoi An is Hue, which is approximately two to three hours by car or bus.
The tailors in Hoi An are popular with good reason, but yet many tourists do not have good experience and end up paying for clothing that they will not wear. The highest success rates come from playing it safe - copying clothes that you already know you like or customizing clothes found as a sample in the shop windows. If trying a new design, or for more expensive items, find one of the more reputable (and often expensive) tailors.
Please keep in mind that most recommendations that you get in Hoi An for tailors from hotels and restaurants are based on relationships (everyone has a sister or cousin that is a tailor), rather than on the quality of the tailor.
Aggressive vendors are increasingly becoming an issue in Hoi An. If vendors approach you in restaurants, the street or follow you, do not give them your business since this only encourages them and aggravates the issue.