1 Day Hoi An Itinerary & Travel Guide: Best Things to do in Hoi An in one day

Hoi An is one of the cutest towns in Vietnam. I’ve visited Hoi An twice and absolutely loved it there. My essential Hoi An itinerary will show you the best things to do and the best food to eat in Hoi An if you are spending one day there based on my personal experience.

You probably have heard this over and over again on how Hoi An is a must-do when visiting Vietnam. Hoi An is probably the cutest place I have ever visited in Vietnam and it is so cute that I decided to go there twice!

Hoi An is a historical trading port in Vietnam renowned for its well preserved ancient architecture, cute streets, rich cultural heritage and much more. Since it was an important trading port, many foreign traders, especially the Japanese and Chinese, had settlement in Hoi An. This is why in this one day Hoi An itinerary you will see may buildings with Japanese and Chinese influences.

Is Hoi An touristy? Absolutely, but for good reasons! From the lantern-lit streets to the traditional buildings to the delicious food and to beach resorts, Hoi An really offers everything you would want on a trip. In addition, the ancient town of Hoi An has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of its history and architecture, so you can imagine how popular it is!

In this Hoi An itinerary, I will show you the best things to do in Hoi An and other useful informations to plan your perfect trip to Hoi An.

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Where is Hoi An

Hoi An is located in Central Vietnam, specifically in Quang Nam Province. It sits along the eastern coast of the country, facing the South China Sea. The town is about 30 kilometers (19 miles) south of Da Nang, one of Vietnam’s major cities.

Hoi An Itinerary & Travel Guide | Where is Hoi An on a map?
The star is where Hoi An is

How to get to Hoi An

The closest major city to Hoi An is Da Nang. There is no train station or airport in Hoi An, so the fastest way is to land in Da Nang and take a taxi to Hoi An directly. You can also take a bus from Da Nang to Hoi An which is half of the price of taking a private taxi.

Here are some ideas on how long (and how much it costs) to get to Hoi An from nearby cities in Central Vietnam. I have taken all of the routes below so these are based on how much I spent on private taxis.

  • Da Nang to Hoi An: 1 hour by private car cost VND 250,000 – 350,000 ($10 – $15 USD) one way or shared van for $6 USD
  • Ba Na Hills to Hoi An: 1 hour by private car, costs VND 300,000 – 350,000 ($12 – $15 USD) one way
  • Hue to Hoi An: 3 hours by car, VND 300,000 ($12 USD) one way in a shared van or you can take the train from Hue to Da Nang then take a taxi or bus to Hoi An.

If you are traveling from Hanoi or HCM to Hoi An, you can either take an overnight train to Da Nang or fly to Da Nang. Obviously flying is faster than taking an overnight train and flights would cost no more than $50 USD one way.

How to Get Around Hoi An

If you only have one day in Hoi An you will be spending it in the Ancient Town. The town is not very big so you can get around Hoi An by walking.

If you are planning to explore the countryside of Hoi An, you can rent a bike from your hotel or take a biking tour with a guide.

If you are doing day trips or planning to go to the beach, you probably needs a tour or a private taxi to take you around. The best tour booking websites for Hoi An is are linked here and here.

Hoi An Lanterns | Hoi An itinerary and travel guide

How many days should you spend in Hoi An?

One day is the perfect amount of time to explore the Ancient Town of Hoi An. The town is not very big so you can see all the major attractions, get 2-3 meals, relax in a cafe, and even get clothes tailored all in one day in Hoi An.

If you like a more relaxing pace and see things on the outskirts of the Ancient Town of Hoi An or chill on the beach, then you will need at least 2 days in Hoi An.

You need 3 days or more in Hoi An if you want to fully explore the surrounding area, take day trips to Ba Na Hills (Golden Hand Bridge) or My Son Sanctuary.

Is Golden Hand Bridge Worth It | Golden Bridge at Ba Na Hills in Da Nang
Golden Bridge

What months should you visit Hoi An

There are only two seasons in Hoi An (and Central Vietnam for that matter): dry season and wet season. Dry season is from February to July and wet season is from August to January.

In terms of weather, the best time to visit Hoi An is between February to April during the dry season and the worst time to visit Hoi An is between October and January. I visited in February both times and the weather was comfortable, not too hot, not too cold!

During the summer months in Hoi An, it gets very hot and you can expect heavy rainfall during the fall months. In fact there are flooding risks in Vietnam from October to January (and yes there have been floods there in recent years).

In terms of festivity, the best time to visit Hoi An is during the Lantern Festival, which takes place on the 14th day of the lunar month every month. The festival usually starts at night from 6pm to 10pm.

Keep in mind that you should try to avoid visiting Hoi An during Tet, the Vietnamese New Year celebration. Tet celebration can last up to a week.

Although there are more and more stores and restaurants remaining open during Tet to cater to foreign tourists, you can expect many things to remain closed during that time. It’s best to visit Hoi An one week after Tet to ensure things are open.

Tet is on Saturday, February 10 in 2024.

Other Things You Should Know Before Visiting Hoi An

Currency: Vietnamese dong. And yes shops in Vietnam prefer Vietnamese Dong over USD! I have seen many people asking if they can use USD in Vietnam, but you should definitely be using Vietnamese Dong.

ATMs in Hoi An: you can find ATMs in Hoi An to take out cash (this is better than trying to exchange money since the exchange rate is much better with ATMs). We took out money from the ATM at Ngân hàng Agribank (you can google map this) and saw other tourists take out money there with no issues.

You can use credit cards in Hoi An at restaurants and hotels, but you definitely should have cash with you to pay for street food, night markets, boat rides, and entrance tickets to attractions

You need to buy an Old Town entrance ticket to visit the famous monuments. Each entrance ticket is good for 5 attractions, and costs VND 120,000 ($5 USD). You can buy the entrance ticket at an office near the Japanese Covered bridge (just ask the people checking tickets and they will tell you where to buy it).

You should get a sim card (or eSim) from Da Nang or before you arrive in Vietnam. I did not see any shops selling sim cards in Hoi An. Some restaurants and cafes in Hoi An offer free wifi.

Download Whatsapp (especially if you are from the US). Whatsapp is the default way hotels and tours contact you in Vietnam. Another reason why you need to have the internet on your phone.

Detailed Hoi An Itinerary: Essential things to do in Hoi An in one day

During your one day in Hoi An, you will be exploring the Ancient Town. This one day Hoi An itinerary assumes you have 24 hours in Hoi An (although if you are just spending the day and not overnight, you can shorten this based on your own interest).

During our most recent trip we spent one night in Hoi An and it was perfect. We got to experience both the busy afternoon, the beautiful evening and a quiet morning in Hoi An and was able to get really nice photos. Therefore if you can, I strongly suggest you spend the night in Hoi An to spend 24 hours there.

You will start your day in Hoi An visiting the tailor [optional] if you want to get your clothes made and then walk around the Ancient Town to check out shops and street food. Stop by Ba Mu temple for a quick photo before lunch. In the afternoon, start exploring the main attractions of Hoi An and relax in a rooftop cafe to do some people watching. Spend your evening with a boat ride and check out the night market.

If you have a few hours the next morning, pick up your tailored clothes and explore the quiet Hoi An to get those Instagram worthy photos before heading out to your next destination.

Getting Clothes Tailored in Hoi An [Optional]

Did you know that Hoi An is known as the “Tailor capital of Vietnam”? It is one of the best places in the world to get clothes tailored! The Ancient Town of Hoi An is home to a vast number of tailor shops and ateliers.

One of our goals for visiting Hoi An was to get a few dresses custom made based on photos from the internet. We simply did not want to pay $300 for a dress when it can be replicated for about $100 USD.

There are so many tailors just in the ancient town area and every corner you turn you will find a tailor who is willing to make you a custom suit, jacket, swimsuit, dress, etc. It typically takes 1-2 days to get a dress or shirt or a skirt custom made (jackets and suits would take longer).

If you do plan on getting clothes custom made, you should do this first during your one day in Hoi An. Tailors in Hoi An generally open at 8-9am and close late at night.

Ba Mu Temple

Ba Mu Temple is not always on everyone’s radar and I am here to tell you that it is worth a stop! The most unique feature of Ba Mu temple is its 3 entrance gate which leads to the temple complex. In front of the gate you will find a large pool of water with lily pads reflecting the three-entrance gates.

It is said that Ba Mu temple is dedicated to deities, heavenly protectors and midwives and many locals come here to seek blessings.

You will also see local families (and tourists) come here with professional photographers to do photo shoots.

Ba Mu Temple is free to visit and does not count towards the tourist attraction ticket.

Japanese Covered Bridge

The Japanese Covered Bridge, also known as Chùa Cầu in Vietnamese, is an iconic sight in Hoi An. It is probably the most well known attraction in Hoi An Ancient Town.

Hoi An Itinerary | Japanese Covered Bridge is a must see attraction in Hoi An

The bridge itself is not big, only about 18 meters (59 feet) long. It has two levels, with the first level serving as a regular pedestrian walkway and the second level as a temple.

Since Hoi An used to be a major trading port city, many Japanese traders settled in Hoi An. They built the bridge to allow themselves to cross the canal and they also put a cover on it to protect the pedestrians from the weather.

It is pretty quick to walk through the bridge and you can see the outside as you are walking across.

It costs one (out of 5 stubs) on your Old Town Entrance Ticket and there is always someone at the entrance of the bridge checking tickets.

Assembly Halls of Hoi An

In the Hoi An old town, there are a number of notable assembly halls:

  • Quảng Đông: Cantonese Assembly Hall
  • Phuc Kien: Fujian Assembly Hall
  • Trieu Chau: Chaozhou Assembly Hall
  • Ngu Bang: Chinese Assembly Hall
  • Hai Nam: Hainan Assembly Hall

These assembly halls were built by the Chinese communities that lived in Hoi An during its trading period and they serve as religious, cultural, and social centers.

For these assembly halls, they typically feature a beautiful gate decorated with Chinese words and architectural ornaments. Inside the gate you will find specious courtyards with Chinese style statues such as dragons. There are also halls where you can pray and there are incense burning everywhere.

These assembly halls count towards your attraction tickets so you should pick a couple of them to visit. In my opinion the prettiest one is the Fujian Assembly Hall followed by the Cantonese Assembly Hall.

Hoi An Old Houses

One of the best things to do in Hoi An is to visit well-preserved old houses. These old houses are generally built in the 18th century as merchants’ residences for their family. Due to the mixture of various cultures during Hoi An’s trading days, these Old Houses in Hoi An also exhibit a blend of different countries’ architectural styles.

The houses typically feature an intricately carved wooden facade, a central courtyard with a small garden, and an interior with well-preserved antiques.

Typically you will follow a tour guide (that works in the house) for a brief tour. Ticket is covered by your 5-attraction Old Town Entrance Ticket.

The most popular house to visit in Hoi An is the Tan Ky Old House. But if you are interested in learning about others, the other popular Old Houses in Hoi An include Quan Thang, Phung Hung and Duc An Old Houses.

Relax in a Rooftop Cafe

One thing Hoi An does not lack are coffee shops and tea houses. As you walk around the Old Town area you will find plenty of them all over the place.

The one we went to is called Faifo Coffee. Given its location near all the touristy sites and its famous rooftop view, Faifo is very popular among tourists (so yes it is very touristy).

To be honest the food was just ok and the coconut coffee was not bad, but the best part is always the rooftop view of the Hoi An area.

Walk Around the Old Town

The absolutely best thing to do in Hoi An is really to just walk around the Old Town and take in the vibes of the place.

Since the Old Town is not too big, you can certainly explore it on foot or ride in a carriage as I saw some tourists did.

Old Town Hoi An | What to do in Hoi An in one day

As you walk around you will see a lot of shops selling clothes, shoes, leather goods, arts, as well as many restaurants, cafes and tea houses. You will also see a lot of street vendors selling different sorts of street food. The best way to try different street food is to take a food tour in Hoi An so the guide can show you the best places to eat.

We actually bought Ao Dai, which is a traditional Vietnamese dress, since they are so beautiful (also because we saw a lot of women dressed in them). You absolutely should walk around and compare prices at different shops because the prices can vary A LOT (like $30-40 USD difference).

Check out the Hoi An night market

One of the things you cannot miss in Hoi An is the night market. Starting around 5pm everyday, vendors start setting up their booths on the south side of the river. At the night market you will find all sorts of things, from snacks to BBQ food to clothing to souvenirs to other cute trinkets.

A super popular thing to do is to visit a lantern shop. Sure you can visit them during the day but they look MUCH better when it’s dark and all the lanterns lit up. From there you can pick out the lanterns you want to buy as souvenirs or just pay them to take a few photos. We paid about VND 10,000 per person to take photos at a lantern shop.

Take a boat ride on Thu Bon River at Night

Hoi An is beautiful during the day but it is even more charming at night as the lanterns lit up the entire town.

Besides the night market, one of the most magical things to do in Hoi An at night is to take a relaxing boat ride on the Thu Bon River, the river that runs through the old town of Hoi An.

Magical things to do in Hoi An | Riding the boat on the river in Hoi An at night to see the Hoi An sign lit up

The boat ride itself costs about $6-7 USD and you also have the option to pay more to release a lantern in the water. You can pre-book the boat here or wait in line to buy tickets (right next to the river on both sides) and pay for a boat. You have to wear a life vest on the boat since it is a regulated activity.

The boat ride is only about 20 minutes long but it really was one of my best memories of Hoi An.

Walk Around Hoi An At Night

If you are not too tired you can walk around Hoi An a little more at night. Hoi An actually feels more alive at night as the temperature becomes cooler and people are out finding restaurants and taking photos of the lanterns.

If you did custom tailoring like we did, you probably need to go back at night to do a fitting so they can make any changes needed before giving it to you the next morning.

Best Things to do in Hoi An if you have 2 or 3 days in Hoi An

Depending on how your schedule looks, you can take more photos the next morning when it’s not crowded and pick up your custom made clothes.

Or if you have a few more days in Hoi An you can explore the town and the surrounding area a lot more! The first time I went to Hoi An I spent about 3 days there and was able to see a lot more.

Hoi An Market

Besides the night market, Hoi An actually has a day market as well. This day market sells everything from fresh produce to clothes to shoes to household products (like I bought a nail clipper there before). The market opens from 6am to 8pm so you have a lot of time during the day to check it out.

Get a Massage in Hoi An

If you are not in a rush and just want to relax, the best thing to do is to get a massage in Hoi An. The first time I went to Hoi An I got a massage everyday since it was so cheap and relaxing.

The most popular massage spa in Hoi an is Aaron Spa. Other popular ones include Coral Spa and Green Grass Spa, which is slightly more further away from the Old Town center. You can also do this fancy spa a bit further away but with pick up options for less than $15 USD.

Do a Cooking Class in Hoi An

I always do a cooking class whenever I travel, I find it enjoyable to learn about different cuisines and how to prepare them. With a cooking class, you get to walk through local markets, pick the ingredients, ride in a boat, get a foot massage and then start cooking (and of course eat the food you cooked).

Go to An Bang Beach

Things to do in Hoi An | An Bang Beach in Vietnam

One great thing about Hoi An is its proximity to the beach and the mountain. If you are not staying on a beachfront resort you can visit the public beach near Hoi An.

One of the best beaches near Hoi An is An Bang beach; on this beach you will find sun beds and even public facilities.

Learn to make lanterns

Hoi An is the lantern city after all, so it is only right to learn to make them yourself. The good news is that it is easy to find a good lantern making class where you can learn the history of why lanterns are a thing in Hoi An and pick a design you like.

Take a day trip from Hoi An

There are a few really fun day trips you can take from Hoi An, such as Marble Mountain, Ba Na Hills (where the Golden Hand Bridge is), My Son Sanctuary, Hue Discovery Tour, Silk Village, etc.

My Son Sanctuary | Day trips from Hoi An
My Son Sanctuary

I did hear that the day trip to Cham Islands is not worth it, so you can probably skip that. But Marble Mountain and My Son Sanctuary are definitely worth a trip to.

Read Next: How To Visit the Golden Hand Bridge in Ba Na Hill.

What to Eat in Hoi An

There are some really good street food and restaurants in Hoi An that we tried during my repeated trips there.

If you are looking for the best Banh Mi (Vietnamese sandwich made with pate, meet, cucumber, shredded carrots and dressing), then you should not miss Bánh Mì Phượng. Anthony Bourdain ate there and subsequently made this Banh Mi restaurant world famous. We tried two different ones (with different meat) and they are actually the best Banh Mi we had in Vietnam.

Pho is another Vietnamese dish that I just absolutely love. While Hoi An is not really known for its pho, we just had to try it in the morning.

Based on Google review, we ended up trying Phở Tùng, which is ran by these old ladies in a small courtyard. We saw a lot of locals eating there in the morning so we figured it’s probably a good place to go. The pho was really flavorful and yummy! The beef they use is different from the one we found in Hanoi, but it was delicious nevertheless.

Another well reviewed pho place in Hoi an is Pho Xua. We didn’t get to try it but it is very popular.

The most popular restaurant in Hoi An is probably Morning Glory (original one). The restaurant is always busy and offers all the specialty food in Hoi An such as white rose dumpling, Cao Lau (sliced pork with noodle).

Street food in Hoi An is also something you certainly should try. There are many different street vendors selling things from pancakes to drinks to crepes. I tried the banana pancake and another dessert from my previous trip and they were really good!

For other things to eat in Hoi An, check out my friend Melissa’s Hoi An Food guide.

Best Hotels in Hoi An

If you are just doing a day trip to Hoi An then this obviously does not apply to you. But I really think you should spend a night in Hoi An so you can thoroughly experience the fun nightlife in Hoi An.

Hoi an Q village where to stay
Q Villa

There are a lot of cute (and cheap) family owned hotels in Hoi An that are very centrally located. When we were planning our trip two hotels really stood out with consistently good reviews were Q Villa (where we stayed), Serenity Villa, and Lantana Boutique Hotel.

If you are thinking about staying at a beach resort on An Bang beach, then the best reviewed ones that don’t break a bank are AIRA Boutique and Sol An Bang Beach Resort.

Is Hoi An Worth Visiting?

Everyone talks about how amazing Hoi An is, so you may be wondering if Hoi An is worth visiting or if it’s all hype.

Hoi An is definitely worth a visit on any Vietnam itinerary since it offers a little bit of everything to everyone, whether you are a history buff, a content creator, a beach bum, or a foodie.

The Old town of Hoi An is probably the cutest town you will find in Vietnam. There are numerous photo spots in Hoi An and tons of cheap and good food to eat. Whether you have just one day or 3 days in Hoi An, you will for sure have an amazing time there.

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