TOP 10 BEST ATTRACTIONS IN HOI AN
The best attractions in Hoi An are mostly set within the popular areas of Riverside and Ancient Town, where you can easily explore on foot or cyclo. Between the 15th and 19th century, Hoi An was a prominent Vietnamese trading port for silk, porcelain, pepper, cinnamon, and medicinal plants as it’s set nearby the Thu Bon River. As a result, the city offers a mix of Vietnamese, Japanese, Chinese, and French architectural feats.
Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999, Hoi An is teeming with beautifully-restored houses, shops, and temples, offering sightseeing opportunities you won’t find in other cities in Vietnam. Ranging from centuries-old Buddhist pagodas and temples to pristine beaches and quaint museums, read on to discover our list of Hoi An’s most popular attractions.
Hoi An Ancient Town
Hoi An Ancient Town offers a breathtaking mix of ornate Chinese temples, a Japanese-designed bridge, wooden shop-houses, French-colonial houses, and old canals. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999, most of the old shops have been carefully converted to modern businesses aimed at tourists including countless tailors, souvenir shops, art galleries, restaurants and cafés. An entrance fee of VND 120,000 is required for foreign tourists and VND 80,000 for locals – each ticket is valid for 10 days and covers entrance to entrance to Hoi An Ancient Town, six points of interest, and street entertainment (folk dancing, singing, and traditional games).
Hoi An Riverside
Hoi An Riverside was a prominent stop amongst foreign traders between the 16th and 18th centuries due to its location on the banks of Thu Bon River. The waterfront area is best known for its lively bars, bistros, and restaurants, where you can enjoy fresh seafood, beers, cocktails, coffee and cakes, as well as local and international fare. There are plenty of local boats to charter at the docks, which you can hire for a day of fishing or cruising along the tranquil river. During annual festivities, hundreds of colourful hand-crafted lanterns illuminate the wooden bridges, verandas and windows of shophouses.
Japanese Covered Bridge
The Japanese Covered Bridge, which dates back to the 18th century, is one of the most prominent attractions in Hoi An Ancient Town. Spanning 18 metres in length, locals believe that it was built by the Japanese then living in Hoi An as a way to reach the Chinese quarter across the water. In 1719, Lord Nguyen Phuc Chu officiated the bridge by carving three Chinese symbols above the entrance. The Japanese Covered Bridge also features intricate sculptures of two dogs and two monkeys to represent the birth years of prominent Japanese Emperors.
Cua Dai Beach
Cua Dai Beach offers a relaxing seaside escape from the ancient streets of Hoi An. Boasting three-kilometre stretch of white sand and gentle waves, the beach is relatively quiet most of the time apart from weekends and public holidays. After a day of swimming, and snorkelling, Cau Dai Beach is also worth staying for dinner at the numerous seafood restaurants located around the coast. Easily accessible via taxi or xe om, Cua Dai Beach is a 15-minute drive from Hoi An Ancient Town.
Van Duc Pagoda
Van Duc Pagoda dates back to the late 17th century, where locals pray to Buddhist deities such as Amitabha Buddha, Dia Tang Bodhisattva, and Avalokitecvara Bodhisattva. Hailed as one of Hoi An’s oldest Buddhist temples, the yellow-hued establishment is fitted with three worship halls, intricate animal sculptures, paintings of deities, potted plants, and plenty of shady trees. Its peaceful surroundings draws numerous visitors looking to pay their respects, get fortunes told, or simply marvel at the well-preserved architecture. On full moons and auspicious celebrations, you can also see local monks releasing paper lanterns into the river whilst chanting prayers.
Hoi An Museum of History & Culture
Hoi An Museum of History and Culture showcases relics that span 2,000 years of Hoi An’s rich history. Set within the vicinity of Quan Am Pagoda, one of Vietnam’s oldest, built in 1653, the museum offers an interesting insight into the local heritage, including traditional burial rites with authentic coffins on display, photographs of local architecture, ceramics and pottery depicting the changing faces of Hoi An, as well as several Cham artefacts such as bronze temple bells and gongs. Hoi An Museum of History and Culture is a 10-minute walk from the Japanese Covered Bridge.
Fujian Assembly Hall
Fujian Assembly Hall is a symbolic icon of Hoi An architecture and Fujian artistry, boasting beautiful statues of Buddhist deities, altars adorned with delicate carvings of dragons, bronze bells drums, and lacquered artwork. Constructed in 1690, this World Cultural Heritage Site was utilised by residents from Fujian in China to meet up and socialise whilst living or visiting Hoi An. Fujian Assembly Hall is also the home of Jinshang Golden Mountain temple, which is dedicated to Thien Hau, the goddess of the sea and caretaker of sailors. There is also a fertility shrine where childless couples pray in hopes of conceiving.
An Bang Beach
An Bang Beach houses an array of beachfront resorts, seafood restaurants, and hippy bars with stunning views of neighbouring mountains and islets. It’s one of the few stretches of beach in Hoi An that’s relatively unspoiled by development, where you can enjoy activities such as swimming and paddle-boarding, or simply relaxing on sun beds (expect to pay between VND 15,000 and VND 40,000). Surf season is from September until March, and there are plenty of surf and stand-up paddling classes available for inexperienced visitors. Great for soaking up the sun after a day of exploring Hoi An Ancient Town, An Bang Beach is a mere 10-minute drive away.
Chuc Thanh Pagoda
Chuc Thanh Pagoda was founded by Monk Minh Hai of Chine in 1454, making it the oldest Buddhist pagoda in Hoi An. Featuring a mix of Vietnamese and Chinese architectural designs, the temple houses a marble statue of Guan Yin (Goddess of Mercy), intricate animal carvings, lacquered pillars, and 16 grave towers of eminent monks. Chuc Thanh Pagoda is regarded as the birthplace of the “Thien Tam Te” religion, where antique ritual objects such as a 200 year-old stone gong, a carp-shaped wooden gong, and several bells are still in use to this very day.
Hoi An Museum of Trade Ceramics
Hoi An Museum of Trade Ceramics is set within a restored timber house along Tran Phu Street, displaying a vast selection of foreign ceramics with detailed English-written descriptions. Offering a cultural insight into the history of Hoi An and foreign relationships with countries such as Japan, China and India, these artefacts mainly date back between the 8th and 18th centuries. Entrance is free of charge, and visitors can experience what it’s like to live in a traditional Vietnamese house. Located in Hoi An Ancient Town, Hoi An Museum of Trade Ceramics is just a five-minute stroll from the iconic Japanese Covered Bridge.