hoi an itinerary
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Hoi An Itinerary: 1, 2, 3 or 4 Days in Hoi An (+ What To Do)

Hoi An was the most picturesque town we saw in our three months of travel around Southeast Asia.

Between the 16th and 19th centuries, it was a major trading port, which brought people here from across the world. Chinese and Japanese communities had a big influence on the architecture of the town, with later French colonial rule adding European touches, turning Hoi An into an eclectic and beautiful place, which was our third favourite of all the towns and cities we spent time in.

This post will give you four great Hoi An Itineraries. We visited for four days, which was perfect, but I’ve also created versions for stays of one, two and three days. With a mix of culture, creativity, beaches and a chance to see two UNESCO Heritage Sites there is lots to do.

So if you’re wondering how many days to spend in Hoi An, you’ll find all the information you need in this post…

Hoi An Itinerary

Let’s get straight on with the Hoi An itineraries.

Later in this post, you’ll find more information on how to get to Hoi An, where to stay and what to do, but in this section, I will outline itineraries for one, two, three and four days in Hoi An.

Hoi An Tours

One of the fastest ways to see a town quickly is to book a tour.

Here are some ideas that will help you experience the town with an experienced guide:

  1. Hoi An ‘Town & Country’ Private Tour of the Town and a Local Village (from $82)
  2. Hidden Gems of Old Hoi An Walking Tour (from $38)
  3. Hoi An Evening Walking Tour with Night Market Visit & Boat Ride (from $67.50)
  4. Hoi An Old Town Food Tour by Night (From $31)

One Day Hoi An Itinerary

If you’ve only got one day in Hoi An, things will be a bit of a rush, but the Old Quarter is compact meaning you can see lots in a day.

I would recommend getting up early and going to the Hoi An Central market, the bustling centrepiece of local life, where you’ll see lots of colourful produce and experience a little of what it means to live in Hoi An.

After a strong Vietnamese coffee, it’s time to explore the Old Town. It took us around five hours to see the diverse range of Assembly Halls, Pagodas and Bridges whilst popping in and out of the little shops that line the streets (you can see all of these in the ‘What To Do in Hoi An’ section below.

revealing our lanterns at the lantern lady workshop in hoi an

In the afternoon, book into a lantern-making workshop. Hoi An is famous for its lanterns, so this will be a memorable and creative couple of hours.

In the evening, walk along the river, head to the Night Market and get some amazing photos of the beautifully lit up town.

One Day Hoi An Itinerary:

  • DAY 1 AM: Up early to see the Central Market, and explore the Old Town
  • DAY 1 PM: Book into a Lantern Making Workshop, then visit the Night Market

Two Day Hoi An Itinerary

my son sanctuary hoi an itinerary

If you are coming to Hoi An for two days I recommend keeping the first day the same and then using the second day to visit My Son Sanctuary, a UNESCO World Heritage site about an hour away from town.

It’s best to get to My Son Sanctuary early, so you’ll probably be back by lunchtime, leaving you the afternoon of the second day to do some shopping, enjoy some more of Hoi An’s Old Town or go watch the sunset on An Bang Beach which is only 7km from town and easy to access via a Grab.

Two Day Hoi An Itinerary:

  • DAY 1 AM: Up early to see the Central Market, and explore the Old Town
  • DAY 1 PM: Book into a Lantern Making Workshop, then visit the Night Market
  • DAY 2 AM: Head to My Son Sanctuary
  • DAY 2 PM: Bike out to An Bang Beach to see the sunset

For an easy trip to My Son Sanctuary, book this tour which comes in at less that $40 a person.

Three Day Hoi An Itinerary

With three days in the bank, a new possibility is opened up – some wonderful handmade clothes.

If you didn’t know it already, Hoi An is famous for its tailors and dressmakers, but they normally need around 48 hours to make a product. If you are interested I would suggest doing this early on the first day to give yourself time.

Three Day Hoi An Itinerary:

  • DAY 1 AM: Go dress or suit shopping
  • DAY 1 PM: Explore the Old Town
  • DAY 2 AM: Head to My Son Sanctuary
  • DAY 2 PM: Bike out to An Bang Beach to see the sunset
  • DAY 3 AM: Up early to see the Central Market, book in to a Lantern Making Workshop
  • DAY 3 PM: Pick up clothes, explore the Old Town some more, visit the night market

Four Day Hoi An Itinerary

With a fourth day, you have a couple of options.

Personally, I would stick around in Hoi An, eating Cao Lau, sipping coffee, exploring the narrow streets and watching the world go by however, there are other exciting things to do locally.

First would be the Marble Mountains, a cluster of five limestone mountains near Da Nang. There are cave temples and mountaintop pagodas here which are well worth the visit.

You could also take a boat out to the Cham Islands with their traditional conical boats. If you are a diver, they are absolutely fantastic with Hon Nhan seen to be one of the best dive spots in the country.

READ NEXT: How We Learned to Dive While in Nha Trang, Vietnam

Four Day Hoi An Itinerary:

  • DAY 1 AM: Go dress or suit shopping
  • DAY 1 PM: Explore the Old Town
  • DAY 2 AM: Head to My Son Sanctuary
  • DAY 2 PM: Bike out to An Bang Beach to see the sunset
  • DAY 3 AM: Up early to see the Central Market, book in to a Lantern Making Workshop
  • DAY 3 PM: Pick up clothes, explore the Old Town some more, visit the Night Market
  • DAY 4 AM: Take a tour to the Marble Mountains (or Cham Islands, whichever you prefer)
  • DAY 4 PM: If you still have steam left you could go an see the UNESCO protected Cham Islands as well as the Marble Mountains, if not just have one last afternoon enjoying the amazing Hoi An Old Town

Hoi An Q&A

Hoi An, How Many Days?

I would say a minimum of two days is needed to appreciate Hoi An, with four days the perfect amount to see the Old Town and other attractions in the local area.

Where is Hoi An?

Hoi An is in central Vietnam, with the closest airport and train station in the nearby city of Da Nang, which is 30km away by car.

Getting to Hoi An

Many tourists will come to Hoi An on a trip through Vietnam by train, either heading south from Hanoi or heading north from Ho Chi Minh City. It is also possible to come by plane, landing at the airport in Da Nang.

Once you’ve got to Da Nang airport or train station, you will then need to travel to Hoi An, either by taxi (I recommended using Grab as it’s simple to organise and the drivers have ratings) or by bus.

Below is a simple search form with 12GoAsia which will show you Grab bookings and local bus times from Da Nang to Hoi An. We used 12GoAsia for travel bookings in Thailand and Vietnam and it took the hassle and worry out of waiting to book a ticket when arriving at a destination.

Powered by 12Go system

Where to Stay in Hoi An?

If you’re heading to Hoi An for the first time you want to stay as close to the Old Town as possible.

Here are my recommendations for great places to stay in the Old Town at different price points:

BUDGET PICK: Tribee Ede Hostel (9.3/10)

This is widely recognised as the best hostel in Hoi An. Clean rooms with a choice of dorms and private rooms, it’s located a quick walk from the historic areas. They serve a great breakfast and also help guests to find local tours of the city to join.

MID RANGE PICK: Nu Ni Homestay (9.3/10)

This is where we stayed on our trip to Hoi An. It was a great price and only a few minutes to get to the Old Town, with some great little restaurants nearby. The owners were very friendly and the rooms had a homely feel to them. They even have an indoor pool!

LUXURY PICK: Allegro Riverside Hotel (9.4/10)

A wonderful luxury hotel and spa with views over the river and rooms packed with vintage furniture. Whilst a luxury hotel, with prices around $60 a night, it’s certainly not expensive by western standards. Aim for a room with a balcony and make full use of the spa and fitness suite to unwind after wandering the streets of Hoi An.

What To Do in Hoi An

Here are some great things to do while in Hoi An, covering off the most famous buildings of the Old Town and some other activities.

For entry to the Houses, museums and Assembly Halls it’s best to buy a sightseeing ticket which will allow you into five of the ancient buildings and museums from a selection on the list. These are sold from stalls on the edge of the Old Town. This article from HiddenHoiAn.com tells you everything you need to know about the sightseeing ticket.

Cross the Japanese Covered Bridge

japanese bridge hoi an

One of Hoi An’s most famous landmarks, the bridge was constructed in 1593 by a Japanese trading community who were based west of the town and wanted an easier link to the Chinese quarter.

Join a Lantern Making Workshop

lantern making in hoi an with the lantern lady

Hoi An is famous for its lanterns, and there are a number of places which offer lantern-making workshops in the town. My recommendation would be The Lantern Lady, who can be booked via Tripadvisor or her Facebook Page.

READ NEXT: Lantern Making in Hoi An with the Lantern Lady (We Did it!)

Take in Sunset by the River

sunset at the riverside hoi an

The riverside is Hoi An is magical at dusk. As the orange sunset fades, lanterns light up on surrounding buildings and candles are lit, floating on the water in-between traditional wooden boats. It’s like being dragged into a Disney movie, I’ve honestly never seen anything like it.

Get Up Early to See the Market

hoi an central market

Hoi An’s Central Market is alive in the morning, with local people buying fresh goods for families and restaurants. This was the one place in Hoi An I didn’t see another tourist, giving a bit of a window into local life and trading as it’s been at this port for centuries.

Explore the Vibrant Fujian Assembly Hall

fujian assembly hall hoi an

The unusual colours of the Fujian Assembly Hall (Phuc Kien Assembly Hall) are what struck us most. Pink bricks with aquamarine roof tiles lead into a hall with yellow floors, a giant green table and classic Hoi An red lanterns.

The temple is dedicated to Thien Has, Goddess of the Sea, who was said to watch over sailors and help them infix they get shipwrecked, which is a big nod to Hoi An’s trading port past.

Get Out on the River

boats at hoi an

There are dozens of boats waiting to take you out on the river every evening, ranging from short sunset trips to longer cruises out to the local islands.

For something a bit different why not book on a guided kayak sunset tour. One reviewer said “While everyone was crowding the ancient town, we had the whole river to ourselves and was able to get a more ‘local’ feel of Hoi An” and another “Just back from an amazing kayak trip along the river into the heart of Hoi An; through backwaters and creeks, past fishermen and local families, and into the bustle of tourist boat rides just in time to see the sun go down!” .

Visit Family at Duc An House

duc an house

This traditional Vietnamese home is still owned by direct descendants of the family who’ve lived on the land for centuries. The wooden interior reminded me of Jim Thompson House in Bangkok, with the original furniture still in place. Part of the house was also a bookstore and in it there are displays of some old newspapers and books.

READ NEXT: Bangkok Travel Guide: What To Do, Where To Stay & Great Tips

See the Bas Reliefs and Sculptures at the Cantonese Assembly Hall

The Cantonese (or Quang Trieu) Assembly Hall, is the closest to the Japanese Bridge. It is a beautiful wood and stone building combined built in the 19th Century. Our overriding memory of this place was of detailed bas reliefs, the scent coming from huge incense rings hanging from the ceiling and the colourful dragon sculptures rising from the lake in the rear gardens.

Eat Hoi An’s Local Dish Cao Lau

cao lau

Cao Lau is Hoi An’s quintessential local dish. Legend has it that the noodles are infused with ash grown on the nearby Cham Islands and that the water to cook them in has to be from a specific local well. Given the dozens of stalls and restaurants selling it around the town, I’m sure, even if the legends are true, not all are produced this way, but regardless the distinct, earthy flavour is well worth a try, it’s unlike anything else you’ll taste in the country.

Experience the Craftsmanship of Quan Thang House

quan thang house 1

The House of Quan Thang is adorned with ornately carved teak walls, windows and doorframes and detailed stucco bas-reliefs. Dating back to the 18th century it is a typical example of a Hoi An ‘shophouse’.

Go Shopping

hoi an itinerary

Hoi An has been a trading centre for centuries, at the centre of the silk and leather industries in the area. This certainly hasn’t stopped, with suits, dresses, shoes and lanterns now top of the list of many who come here. It has gained a reputation for having some of the best tailors in Southeast Asia, with many now ditching Bangkok to come here to have suits and dresses made.

READ NEXT: Shopping in Hoi An: A Complete Guide to Vietnam’s Shopping Capital

Hear the Story of Seafarers Killed by Pirates at Hainan Chinese Assembly Hall

hainan chinese assembly hall

Hainan Chinese Assembly Hall with its stunning gardens and pastel blue walls is dedicated to 108 Hainanese sailors who were killed by a Vietnamese pirate-general in 1851. There were 109 on board, with only the cook living to tell the tale, which then prompted an apology from the Vietnamese Emperor with funds provided to build this shrine. Inside is a wonderfully colourful hall, with a huge wooden boat and plaques telling some of the story.

Take a Bicycle Trip

Cycling is a wonderful way to see Hoi An, not just the town itself, but out to the local rice fields, lanes and islands, which will give you a view into rural Vietnam.

The video above shows you just how beautiful (and flat!) the surrounding area is. He even goes out as far as My Son Sanctuary!

If you’re not confident venturing out by bike yourself, then check out some of the tour groups you can join below.

Day Trips From Hoi An

My Son Sanctuary

my son sanctuary things to do in hoi an

If you are in Hoi An you absolutely must visit My Son Sanctuary. A major city of the Cham Empire, there are around 70 temples here despite the Americans’ best effort to destroy them during the Vietnam War. Many are now being restored and, given my obsession with UNESCO Heritage Sites, there was no way we weren’t finding our way out here!

There are many local guides and taxis who will take you there, but if you feel uncomfortable leaving it to chance. you can book a tour online instead.

READ NEXT: The Legacy of a Secret War (this gives some more context to the number of bombs dropped in the area).

READ NEXT: How to get to My Son Sanctuary from Hoi An (The Easiest Way!)

Marble Mountains

The Marble Mountains are around 20 minutes from Hoi An by road, in the city of Danang. Famous for their magical shrine caves and pagodas, they offer a wonderful viewpoint over the city and towards the road made famous by Top Gear, the Hai Van Pass.

Cham Islands

The Cham Islands are a series of eight islands off the coast of Hoi An, famous for their round traditional boats, amazing beaches and some of the best diving in the country. Head to Hon Nhan for the best scuba diving in the area.

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