Hoi An One Day Itinerary: See the Highlights in 24 Hours

Hoi An, which was once an important trading port from the 15th to 19th century, is one of the prettiest and most popular cities to visit in Vietnam. Its Ancient Town, colorful lanterns, and affordable custom tailoring is what attracts most visitors. I spent almost a week in Hoi An and it wasn’t enough. While I would strongly recommend staying for at least a few days here, you might be on a tighter schedule. So if you only have one day here, you’ll be able to see Hoi An’s Ancient Town, city center, and nearby rice fields and beaches, but you won’t have enough time to visit other attractions outside of the city.

Whether you’re visiting Hoi An on a day trip or staying for just one night, here’s the complete one-day itinerary to make the most of your time here.

Start off with one of the best banh mi sandwiches in Hoi An

The most well-known banh mi spot in Hoi An is Bánh Mì Phượng, which was popularized by Anthony Bourdain. However, this place gets insanely busy and crowded. Instead, go to Madam Khanh – The Banh Mi Queen for what was one of the best banh mis that I had in my entire time in Vietnam (and I was there for over a month). The banh mi sandwiches come out hot and fast. While you’re there, wash it down with fresh fruit juice or Vietnamese coffee. One banh mi is enough for a light breakfast. If you’re particularly hungry, get two.

For a different type of banh mi, head to Ốp la Đông. The roadside stall is run by a friendly family that serves a limited but delicious menu, and it’s often busy with locals. Get the omelet with bread or bread with fried eggs or meat. Although I didn’t try it, the sticky rice with pork is also very good.

If you prefer a Western breakfast, Ellie’s Cafe Hoi An is a popular spot that’s known for its smoothie bowls and avocado toast. However, you can’t go wrong with anything on the menu. Another option is nourish eatery., which is a vegan café that’s a short walk outside of the city center.

Explore the Old Town

A couple sitting in front of the Japanese Bridge in Hoi An

The main draw of Hoi An is its Old Town, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the most picturesque and touristy part of the city. Its well-preserved yellow wooden houses and lantern-strung streets are iconic. It’s free to walk around the Old Town, but there are a few museums and historic buildings that require a paid ticket. Tickets aren’t always checked though, so you may be able to see a few sites for free.

There are several ticket booths throughout the Old Town – one of the more convenient ones is located toward the central entrance of the town. A ticket costs 120,000 VND ($5 USD) and gives you access to five out of the 20+ sites. If you’d like to visit more, you can always buy another sheet of five tickets. I recommend buying just one pack of tickets, since most of the museums are small and five tickets is enough to see the most interesting sites.

Japanese Covered Bridge

In the 16th century, Japanese merchants built a covered bridge to cross the canal that separated the Japanese and Chinese communities in Hoi An. You can walk across the Japanese Covered Bridge (Chùa Cầu), which is 18 meters long. It costs one ticket to cross the bridge, although you may not be asked for a ticket depending on how busy it is.

Ba Mu Temple

Ba Mu Temple, and its picturesque three-entrance gate called Tam Quan Gate, is actually a fairly new attraction in Hoi An. It only opened to the public in December 2018 and has quickly become a popular place to take photos. The temple was built in 1626 and has undergone major restorations over time. Most recently, the local government spent 5.3 billion VND ($228,000 USD) to restore the gate and make over the entrance of the temple with lighting, a pool, and flower beds.

Assembly Halls

There are five assembly halls in Hoi An: Fujian Assembly Hall (Hoi Quan Phuoc Kien), Cantonese Assembly Hall (Hội Auán Quảng Đông), Teochew Assembly Hall (Hội Quán Triều Châu), Hainan Assembly Hall (Hội Quán Hải Nam), and the Chinese Assembly Hall (Hội Quán Ngũ Bang). They’re are all clustered around the Old Town, so you can easily pop into each of them.

The halls were built by Chinese immigrants who settled in Hoi An and were used as a place to worship and gather. Each hall has a gate, garden, main hall, and altar room. While all of them are ornate, and full of color, the Fujian and Cantonese Assembly Halls are the most stunning. If you don’t want to see all five, you should prioritize those two.

Hoi An Traditional Art Performance House

Hoi An Traditional Art Performance House was one of my favorite attractions in the Old Town. The theater hosts live performances with music and dance daily. If you’re interested in catching a show, get there early since the venue is small. Luckily, it is air-conditioned, which makes it a great place to escape the heat.

Try white rose dumplings and other local dishes for lunch

Lunch is the perfect opportunity to try a number of dishes specific to Hoi An. There are a few local dishes, with one of the most well-known being white rose dumplings. White rose dumplings (bánh bao bánh vạc) are made with a translucent rice paper, filled with shrimp, and folded to resemble a rose. The dumplings are then topped with fried shallots and served with a sweetened fish sauce. You can find them in many restaurants in and around the Old Town. I tried the dumplings at White Rose Restaurant, along with another regional dish – Hoi An “pizza.”

Cao lau was my favorite Hoi An specialty that I tried. It uses a specific type of rice noodle that’s different from those that you’ll find in other Vietnamese dishes. These noodles are soaked in lye water, which gives them a pale brown or yellow color, and steamed. They’re chunky and chewy, and served with lettuce, bean sprouts, pork, and herbs. I recommend A Little Kitchen Restaurant, which is where I had cao lau twice, along with other delicious dishes.

Go shopping, walk/bike through the rice fields, or enjoy the beach

Shop for custom clothing, leather goods, and souvenirs

Hoi An is one of the best places in Vietnam to pick up souvenirs and other items to bring home. The city is rich with art and craftsmanship, with its most well-known products being custom tailor-made clothing, leather shoes and accessories, and paper lanterns. There are plenty of stores offering all of these, so you can just walk around, talk to multiple vendors, and comparison shop.

Aside from clothing and lanterns, there are lots of other things that make great souvenirs, like local art, jewelry, ceramics, and trinkets. You can go from shop to shop or head to the Hoi An Central Market for a central place with multiple goods.

Head out to the rice fields

If you’re looking for picturesque rice fields with farmers and water buffalo or if you’re just looking for a change of scenery, head out of town to the north on foot or by renting a bicycle. Hai Bà Trưng is the main street that will take you out of Hoi An, and eventually, you’ll be surrounded by rice fields on both sides. You can veer off on to any of the small dirt paths to get into the fields, or you can continue on to Tra Que Vegetable Village (also known as Tra Que Herb Village).

Tra Que is an organic farming community that uses algae as fertilizer and the local rich soil to produce high-quality crops. There are a few restaurants in Tra Que that you can take a break at, like Tra Que Culinary Village and Tra Que Herb Garden.

Out in the rice fields or vegetable fields of Tra Que is an amazing place to be for sunset. As long as the conditions are right, the sky becomes washed in vibrant colors. I recommend staying out there for sunset and then returning to town so you can enjoy Hoi An at night.

Soak up the sun at An Bang Beach or Cua Dai Beach

Hoi An’s proximity to several beaches are another reason why it’s a popular place to visit for travelers. Northeast of the city center is a long strip of beaches that runs all the way up to Da Nang, a coastal city that’s also worth visiting. The best beaches to soak up the sun on are An Bang Beach and Cua Dai Beach.

It’s about a six-minute drive to Cua Dai and a 10-minute drive to An Bang. While you could technically walk to them (it would take around an hour), it’s much easier to rent a bicycle or motorbike or order transportation via Grab.

Watch the lanterns light up the night

Boats and lanterns lighting up Hoi An at night

As the sun goes down, make your way to An Hoi Bridge for a gorgeous lantern show. Although Hoi An is beautiful during the day, it’s magical at night. Boats carrying colorful lanterns fill up the Thu Bồn River, and for a fee, you can take a ride in one of them. The bridge can get crowded with tourists and vendors, so it’s best to quickly take your photos and keep on moving.

On the other side of the bridge, you’ll find the Hoi An Night Market, which happens every night from 5 to 11 PM. Take a wander around, pick up a lantern or souvenirs, and try street food from the many food carts.

Get dinner

If you find yourself at the southern end of the night market, grab dinner at Pause and Enjoy Restaurant. It has all the typical Vietnamese dishes, but what makes the restaurant special is the hospitality and attentiveness of the owner and her family. Aside from freshly made and beautifully presented food, you also get free fruit at the end of your meal.

For a bit of an upscale restaurant, try CHÂU Kitchen & Bar. The interior features colorful booths and fabric set against dark wood. There’s also a few outdoor seats that face the street – perfect for people watching.

Lastly, 7 Bridges Hoi An Taproom is the place for craft beer, pizza, burgers, and wings. I had some of the best beer on my trip here. The taproom is quite large, with table and bar seating and a large outdoor patio in the back.

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