Asia,  TDM,  Travel Journal,  Vietnam

A jump into the past in Hoi An (Vietnam): Travel Diary

After Ha Noi, it is in Hoi An that we decided to settle for a month. But don’t worry, you can do everything we did below in 2 days 😀

Part 1: Travel Diary
Part 2: Practical Tips

Part 1: Travel Diary

How to go to Hoi An?

We chose to fly from Ha Noi to Da Nang (75€/person checked luggage included with VietJet Air), then a cab from Da Nang airport to Hoi An (300,000VND a 4-seater car).

Our hotel

As the city is very small, most tourists stay only one or two nights. So, with our 25 booked nights, all the hotels gave us sick discounts, and we ended up choosing Green Apple (3 stars hotel), 15mn walk and 5mn bike ride from the old town, with work tables in the room, swimming pool and work tables in the restaurant if needed.

This comes back to 650,000VND/night for a double room with a balcony or 23€/night => 690€/month, breakfast and cleaning included. Several shuttles take the guests to the old town and the beach for free and bicycles are available, free of charge. Internet is very fast and available everywhere.

Travel Notebook

The old town

Access to the Old Town is only allowed to pedestrians and cyclists. Motorcyclists are allowed late at night. And during the full moon party, only pedestrians are allowed to enter. We each buy a ticket that costs 120,000VND which gives access to 5 paying places of your choice (out of the 22 in Hoi An). When we want to enter a paying place, we have to show the ticket and they will cut us a piece of the ticket, until there is no more.

We choose to visit two “assembly halls”, former meeting places of the city’s merchants, an old house, a pagoda (Chùa ông) reserved for merchants and the Japanese bridge.

But what we like the most is the atmosphere of the old town, and this feeling of going back in time (500 years). The city center of Hoi An is a museum city, with houses classified UNESCO, no new construction is allowed, the only work tolerated is interior decoration.

And in terms of decoration, they really have taste! The cafés in the city center are all very well decorated, the hardest thing is to choose.

Shopping is so tempting, you don’t know where to look anymore.

The only hotel in the center of the old city is Vinh Hung 1 Heritage (be careful there are several Vinh Hung), booked months in advance, but it is a real luxury to spend the night in the center.

Every night the (electric) lanterns are lit and the city is more beautiful than ever. Everything becomes more animated, ephemeral restaurants appear out of nowhere, and people walk around, shop, go from one restaurant to another…

The Full Moon Party (once a month) isn’t that different from a regular party, there are just a few extra activities like Vietnamese opera, some traditional games, no bikes allowed, free access to some religious sites in the evening, and a little more lanterns than usual (especially on the river).

The river

Juxtaposing the old city of Hoi An, the river was the source of Hoi An’s economic success 6 centuries ago. The river joins the ocean a few kilometers away, and thanks to this river, Hoi An had become one of the most important ports in Asia .

Now, along the river, there are restaurants in the evenings, and the very lively Night Market on the other side of the little bridge.

We can pay for a boat (120,000VND for two after negotiation), paper lanterns included – to go and deposit the lanterns and our wishes in the middle of the river. This practice comes from a sad story: the boy who went to the sea never came back. And his girlfriend, who is still waiting for him, sends these lanterns (and her thoughts) across the river, so that they reach the ocean – where her lover would be.

Tailored clothing in Hoi An

We will devote a separate article to this. But Hoi An is very famous for its tailor-made clothes, especially because the dressmakers here are able to make them for you in 24 hours or even 3 hours.

In Vietnam, everyone has recourse to dressmakers, but in the other cities, you have to call, threaten or bribe your dressmaker to get the clothes on time. One month in general! But in Hoi An, 24 hours is the standard to be able to sell to tourists who do not stay long.

The price has NOTHING to do with measure in France, it can be even LESS EXPENSIVE than the ready-to-wear in France, hence an army of vendors, stores … and tourists coming to order 9 items at a time. It’s a fun experience, which I recommend to everyone. There is a very satisfying side to choosing right down to the color of the sewing thread, and seeing the fruit of one’s imagination one day later, made by a couturier.


Although Vietnamese find the gastronomy of a higher level in Da Nang (45km from Hoi An), for non-Vietnamese, the gastronomic experience in Hoi An is more than satisfactory. The sandwiches here are really delicious.

We have tested all the addresses known to foreigners and Vietnamese. I almost died on the spot in the addresses known to foreigners because it was so bad, so fame isn’t necessarily a guarantee of quality. In Hoi An, the most famous dishes are Cao Lau (pork noodles), Banh Hoa Hong (white rose), Bun Thit Nuong (vermicelli & barbecued pork), Thit nuong (bbq pork) and Com Ga (chicken rice).

I will give you a detailed article on this point because people (especially Vietnamese) only come here to eat.

JB and I found a Ha Noi style restaurant, run by a couple of North Vietnamese. It’s good for us because despite the excellent gastronomy in Hoi An, the dishes here tend to be a bit too sweet, and as I’m from the north, I prefer the saltier dishes, like in Ha Noi 😀


Massages in Vietnam are really more expensive compared to Cambodia, Thailand or Indonesia. Hoi An being a hyper touristic city, it is very difficult to find massages under 300,000VND. But everything is negotiable! JB and I were able to negotiate massages at 50% off for exactly the same quality (Anh’s bi-nationality helping).

We also tested the massages reserved only for the Vietnamese (which cost 3 times less), but the quality isn’t there: the masseurs talk among themselves during the massage, laugh, and it hurts even more when we go out.

The beach

You may not know it but Hoi An is next to 2 beaches: An Bang and Cua Dai. The locals advise us to go rather to An Bang, it is less touristic, cleaner. The first time, we take the tourist way to go there and end up in a very expensive restaurant (130,000VND for 4 shrimps)

But the 2nd time, we spot a starter 100m further and have lunch on the beach, for much less (hence my happy face on the picture) 95,000VND for a big plate of small crabs).

We go there either by bike (20mn) or by motorcycle (10mn). In March, the water is too cold for me (and there is a big permanent wind), but the other tourists have no problem, they even do parasailing.

This is where JB chose to get his hair cut, inspired by a photo in front of the hairdresser’s storefront. After a while, you have to take responsibility for your baldness! (note from Anh: it was JB who wrote it, I didn’t say anything)

Tra Que Village

On the way to the beach, we pass by beautiful rice fields (March 2018).

At one point, you have to turn right to reach the village of Tra Que, which grows organic vegetables. The fertilizers come from seaweed, and it is quite possible to go through a travel agency to participate in other fun activities in the village: learning how to cook and grow vegetables like a real farmer (an activity very appreciated by the children).

Coconut Village

As my parents visit us in Hoi An, we rent two motorcycles to go to Coconut Village (also accessible by bike). We stop at “Ecotourism destinations Coconut” (type on Google Maps) and discover a warm place, very “Vietnamese countryside” with different activities (boat, fishing, cooking lessons…)

We opt for a round boat trip (thuyen thung), 200,000VND/boat, maximum 2 persons.

The area is called Cam Thanh, but tourism agencies use the term “coconut village” because this area, which is half salt and half fresh water, has water coconut trees (which look like coconut trees but grow in water).

We are made to taste the fruits of this tree, which has a taste similar to coconuts, it’s super good.

Then, starting from a young leaf, they make us rings in the shape of locusts (all this is included in the price).

At the end, we ask to row ourselves, to turn at best in a circle, or to follow the current, at worst 😀 as the boat is round and there is only one oar, we have to row in a U-shape to make the boat move forward. It’s harder than we thought.

Cua Dai Bridge

After Cam Thanh (coconut village), we take again the motorcycle to go to see the ocean. For that, we cross the bridge of Cua Dai (type Cầu Cửa Đại on Google Maps), on one side we see the river and a piece of Hoi An.

On the other side, we see the ocean and we understand why Hoi An was such an important port: the river being very wide and very deep, capable of holding very large boats.

Silk Village

We come back to Hoi an to go to Silk village (it’s called Village but it’s a workshop linked to a hotel) – type Silk village on google maps. This place has a shop part and a workshop part. If you want to visit with a guide, you have to pay for the visit, otherwise it’s free.

The products here are very expensive but we are at least sure that the silk products use only Vietnamese silk (and not imported silk as is the case elsewhere). Vietnamese silk is more expensive than Chinese silk, hence the rather expensive price of clothes and scarves (between 500,000VND and 2,000,000VND).

Pottery Village

We continue our way to the pottery village, visited by whole buses of Asian tourists in the afternoon. The entrance to the village costs 15,000VND/person, including a small class and the making of a pottery vase (which we can’t take home though). As we have already visited similar villages (especially near Ha Noi), we go directly to the Terracotta museum (type Terracotta Parks on Google Maps), a new and very nice museum whose entrance costs only 30,000VND/person.

The first part is a bit boring, with expos and explanations that I’m lazy to read.

On the other hand, I particularly like the wall “paintings” in pottery, it’s super well done, nice, I like I like !

And finally, it was fun to go around the world thanks to the pottery miniatures of famous monuments (or famous only in Vietnam).

I highly recommend it because it isn’t yet part of the organized tours.


Hoi An is a small town full of treasures. In spite of our long stay in Hoi An, we have not yet been able to test all the gastronomic addresses recommended by the locals, nor the points of interest a little further away (Tam Thanh village, Cu Lao Island), I think we will come back there, maybe not exactly in Hoi An, but in Da Nang, a very dynamic city with several dream beaches, only 45km away from Hoi An.

Part 2: Practical Tips

All this can be visited in 2 days 1 night without any worries. Here is the route that we advise you:

  • Day 1 (by bike) :

    • Early in the morning: go to the dressmaker to have one (or more) garment(s) made to measure
    • The day: Visit of the old town on foot and by bike (5 points of interest with your ticket)
    • In the evening: Walking tour of the old town, dinner at the Night Market, boat on the river

  • Day 2 (by motorcycle) :

    • Tra Que Village (with an agency): cooking classes, apprentice farmer, lunch at Tra Que
    • An Bang Beach: take a nap at the beach
    • Pick up the clothes at the dressmaker’s and ask for alterations to be made
    • Silk Village
    • Terracotta Park
    • Coconut Village : boat trip (40mn)
    • Massage
    • Pick up the clothes at the dressmaker’s


  • Transportation :

    • Da Nang Airport => Hoi An : 300,000VND by 4-seater cab
    • Hoi an => Da Nang Airport by shuttle: 110,000VND/person, or 250,000VND by 4-seater car (contact travel agencies)

  • Hotel: from 10€/double room, depending on the location of the hotel. Ours (Green Apple) costs 23€/night a double room with balcony, swimming pool, breakfast, shuttle and free bikes
  • Massage : minimum 300,000VND/hour
  • Visit :

    • Old town of Hoi an: 120,000VND/person, allowing to visit 5 places of interest. The purchase of the entrance ticket is compulsory
    • Pottery village: 15,000VND/person, entrance ticket is mandatory
    • Terracotta Park: 30,000VND/person
    • Coconut Village : 200,000VND/boat, 2 people maxi
    • Rent a deckchair on the beach: 30,000VND/chair, umbrella included
    • Silk Village: free entrance (without guide) – I don’t know how much it costs with a guide
    • Tra Que Village: don’t know
    • Automatic scooter rental: 100,000VND/day, gas not included
    • Gasoline: about 40,000VND

  • Restaurants :

    • from 35,000VND/flat
    • bBQ pork skewers cost VND 10,000 per skewer (it sells by 10)
    • sandwiches: between 25,000VND and 35,000VND/sandwich
    • water: 10,000VND the small bottle, 20,000VND a Coke

  • Price of custom-made clothes in Hoi An (it depends on the fabric, and your size too, if you are too big, it will cost more)

    • Short sleeve shirt : between 20USD and 35USD
    • Long sleeve shirt : between 30USD and 40USD
    • One dress: between 50USD and 75USD, up to 150USD for pure silk
    • A top/top: between 20USD and 35USD

See the ultimate guide for any traveler to Hoi An here

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