If you’re setting up in your mind a Vietnam Tour, you must pay a visit to Old Town Hoi An – if for no other reason than the fact that it’s a beautifully preserved UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s just so pretty you can’t help but be charmed by the hanging red lanterns and bright yellow buildings. Somehow, the streets aren’t that crowded or loud despite the influx of tourists
I was content just aimlessly wandering the streets, doing some (window) shopping, and photographing my surroundings, but if you’re the type who prefers more structured traveling, you might consider investing in an Old Town Ticket. For about $6 US, this one-day pass will get you into 5 attractions of your choice (i.e. old houses, temples, museums, and workshops).
1. Bike around Hoi An and surrounds
Old Town is easily covered on foot, but it’s fun to rent a bike for a day and ride around on two wheels. And for more practical purposes, it might be worth hiring a bike just to get from your guesthouse to Old Town, as much of the budget accommodation is a long walk away.
Even better? Hire a bike and get lost in the countryside. I didn’t follow a particular route, but I started out by following the main road out of town toward the coast, then took a random right (southbound) turn on a side street. Before I knew it, I was navigating a maze of paths through coconut groves. Another time, I took a random left (northbound) turn instead and ended up cycling past paddy fields. It’s like being in a completely different place once you escape town.
2. Cooking classes in Hoi An
There is an absurd amount of cooking classes on offer in Hoi An. Most follow the same general format: a visit to the morning market to pick up ingredients and learn about them, travel to the cooking school (many will take you on a short boat trip up the river, where a lot of the cooking courses seem to be held), learn how to cook 4-5 dishes.
My main take-away from this mini-cooking course was that Vietnamese cuisine is ridiculously simple and fresh. I walked away feeling like I could easily replicate the dishes at home – and none of them called for a bunch of obscure ingredients that I’d only use once, which I appreciated.
3. Beautiful beaches
Who knew Hoi An had a beach? Actually, it has TWO beaches:
Cua Dai beach
This is the main beach and is a straight shot out of town on the main road. However, it is somewhat crowded and you have to pay to park your bike away from the beach. Far better to head a little further to…
An Banh beach
If you continue just 2km up the road along the coast, you’ll find far less developed strips of beach. There aren’t any vendors here, and you can bike right up to the sand and park your wheels for free. If you go for a swim here, note that there’s a sharp drop off into the ocean from the sand, so you probably won’t want to go too far out.
Such an amazingly interesting destination, right! So if just going to Hoi An is not enough for your curiosity and photography passion, you may want to find more attractive destinations in this list: