Hoi An is a charming little old town. Cherry on the cake, you can also chill by the sea on the nearby beaches. Hoi An is a town of charm and character, low rise charming and attractive architecture, beautiful character and friendly people. Part of the town is completely traffic free with cycle rickshaws only. There are many hotels in and around Hoi Ann along with great restaurants, shops, exciting markets and many tailors.
Between the old town and the beach you will also be able to see the Tra Que area with its gardens and quiet countryside life. The beach and gardens are only a few kilometers away so you can get there by bicycle.
Nice charming town + quiet countryside + beach… a great all in one destination for a romantic long weekend or a short holiday with the family.
If you have been to Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City and were put off by the noise and mayhem then Hoi An is the place to go. Although you will see some backpackers there, Hoi An is popular with families and tours and quite touristic (but well preserved). Don’t expect much adventure but head there if you are looking for an easy relaxing time.
How accessible is it from Singapore?
Hoi An is a great destination for a long weekend (3 days or 4 days if you want to get the direct flights – see “getting there”).
If you fly direct with Silkair, the total door to door journey from (your home/office in) Singapore to your hotel will take you about 5 hours 45 minutes. The trip includes flight, and taxi transfers. If you fly through Ho Chi Minh this will significantly impact your travel time.
How much is this going to cost us?
Vietnam is a relatively inexpensive destination in terms of food and accommodation. However, the direct flights are not cheap and the visa if you do not hold an ASEAN passport is a rip-off (45 USD for the visa itself and another 15 to 25 USD for the invitation letter). Hoi An is a popular touristic destination so prices are higher than in many places in Vietnam. There are also many temptations (from ice creams to tailors or paintings and souvenirs).
How remote and risky is it?
Hoi An is a very safe destination. Medical infrastructure is not exceptional but you can get a decent hospital in Da Nang in case of serious problems. Expect a few scam attempts but nothing too serious.
What about the kids?
Hoi An is a family friendly destination and you can bring kids and babies. You can easily use a stroller in the streets. A lot of them are for pedestrians only. If you plan to cycle or explore the beach or Tra Que area, bring a baby carrier or rent bicycles with a baby seat.
When should we go?
Connections from Hoi An
Hue is a classic combination as it is also close to Da Nang. Another classic if you have more time is to cross Vietnam from South to North or the other way and to include Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi, Tam Coc – Ninh Binh, Halong Bay and/or Sapa in the itinerary.
Getting from Singapore to Hoi An
From Singapore fly directly to Da Nang airport (DAD). Silk Air / Singapore Airlines and Jetstar are currently the only carriers offering direct flights to Da Nang (some flights are only available a few days a week).
Jetstar flights are good for a 2 day 2 nights weekend if you can leave the office early on Friday:
Getting there: Jetstar – Singapore to Da Nang – 7.55 AM – 9.40 AM (2h 45 flight)
Coming back: Jetstar – Da Nang to Singapore – 6.30 PM – 10.15 PM
Return ticket from SGD 240
With Silkair, the best is to take 4 days and fly on Friday morning and come back on Monday evening. Direct flights are expensive.
Getting there: Silk Air – Singapore to Da Nang – 6.05 PM – 7.35 AM (2h 30 flight)
Coming back: Silk Air – Da Nang to Singapore – 8.15 PM – 11.45 PM
Return ticket from SGD480
Alternatively, you can also fly via Ho Chi Minh City.
Get your ticket NOW to enjoy the best fares.
Getting from Da Nang airport to Hoi An
- Taxis are available at the airport. 30 minutes (there is usually no traffic in Hoi An) – about USD 20.
- Hotel pick up: You can ask your hotel to arrange pick up. It’s a good option to make sure your driver knows where your hotel is.
Where to stay in Hoi An
There are many hotels in Hoi An.
Personally we stayed at the Vinh Hung Heritage hotel. It’s an old house right in the middle of the old town. Great to get the most of your stay in a very nice atmosphere. Now, and old house comes with poor soundproofing and a few other small issues but what a nice building. Probably not the best with young children. Great staff. If it’s fully booked on Agoda, try Booking.com. Alternatively they have another branch by the riverside with a pool (we have not tried that one).
If you wish to explore Hoi An itself and enjoy the bars and restaurants day and night we suggest you stay in the town of Hoi An. To do so, you can use the Agoda booking box below and choose the area “Hoi An City Center”, there are many cozy hotels.
or, if you prefer, you can book with
To see & to do in Hoi An
A few ideas of things to do and see.
Hoi An old town
A Unesco World Heritage Site. Great architecture that reflects influence of Chinese, Japanese, Portuguese, French and British traders. Much of the city is pedestrians only (no vehicles). Walk around the city and get tempted by the touristic (but nice) craft. There is a small free show at 7.30 PM. You can buy a USD 5 pass to visit 5 of the old town places (old houses, temples, pagodas, Japanese bridge, etc). Get one at one of the counters.
The closest beach, approximately 5km away from Hoi An, is China beach. You can also go to My Khe (North) or Cua Dai (South). Cua Dai has a lot of nice restaurants and deck chairs for hire. You can get there by taxi, motorbike or bicycle. It’s an easy ride (flat and easy to find). If you drive your own motorbike or bicycle, you will need to pay a parking fee (less than a US dollar).
Tra Que countryside
Rent a bicycle and go explore the quiet countryside to see locals grow vegetables in Tra Que. Tra Que is half way between Hoi An old town and the beach. It makes it a good place to stop for a relaxing break. Get some food at the simple and quiet Baby Mustard restaurant for a good lunch or drink.
Located 20km north of Hoi An (and 10 km south of Danang). You can book a tour in a hotel or rent a motorbike in most guesthouses (USD5 for a full day + around USD5 for fuel). Expect to climb a lot of irregular stairs (some of them quite steep) so plan to spend some energy there. You can take the lift (chargeable) to save you some of the journey. You can spend up to half a day there.
Admission fee: USD1 (+USD1 to see the cave).
55km away from Hoi An, these Cham ruins are a nice excursion. To get there, you can either:
- Rent a motorbike in a guesthouse (USD5 for the rent +USD5 for the fuel) to get there and enjoy the beautiful countryside.
- Rent a bike + driver (USD 7,5, one way).
- or get a bus tour (USD5) + potential combo with a boat (one way) from USD7 to 10 (the sunrise tour is more expensive).
The visit will take you from 1 to 2 hours. You can hire a guide to get more insights and learn more about the history and culture of the Champa. The entrance fee is USD 4
Snorkeling & Diving
There are 7 nice islands around Hoi An where you can snorkel or dive. The Cua Loa Cham islands are 25 nautical miles from the main land. There are a few diving centers that can arrange diving and/or snorkeling expeditions for you.
Hoi An is famous for its tailors. A man’s suit in good fabric will cost approx. US$200 and can be ready 24 hours or less. Shop around and get recommendation.
More info to prepare your trip
Wifi is available in most restaurants and hotels.
What to pack for Hoi An
Your main bag
That’s the one you leave at the hotel. Ideally you want to avoid checking in your luggage when flying. So check the weight and dimensions for hand carry luggage with your airlines (some airlines will allow only 7kg, some will allow up to 10kg). From head to toes.
- Short sleeves tops: your main outfit. Everybody will see them on all your pictures. You really want to take that old Mickey Mouse T-shirt? Be mindful that you will be in a different environment so it might be a good idea to adjust your wardrobe.
- Long sleeves tops: to protect yourself from the sun (if you’ve stayed for 5 hours on a motorbike with short sleeves you know what I mean) or to enter religious buildings or to protect yourself from mosquitoes in the evening.
- Pullover. Yes I know, you’re going to a country where the temperature never goes down below 25 degrees and you need to pack a pullover? You will thank us when you’re back. Remember that flight during which you were freezing? Or this museum where the aircon is set to the “polar bear” temperature?
- Short/skirt (you should be able to chose the appropriate one by yourself).
- Trousers for the same reasons you need to take long sleeves tops. Jeans are usually not a good option. They are heavy and keep you too warm.
- Underwear: well, you know. If you plan to walk or ride motorbikes for long hours, take something comfortable as the combination heat + friction can make you regret this sophisticated silk underwear. Cotton is good.
- Shoes: one pair of flip flap and one pair of confortable shoes. Remember that you are going to spend most of the time on your feet. Forget about high heels and leave your Westons at home.
- Swimsuit: even if you don’t plan to go to the beach, you never know. A nice river, a swimming pool, a heavy rain? Always have one with you.
- Raincoat and protection for your bag. Even if you are visiting the country during the “best season”, you never know what the sky will be like.
- Torch: take a pocket torch with you if you visit countries where the power is not reliable… Can come very handy when stuck in the dark in your room.
- Toilet bag: Shampoo, soap, toothbrush & toothpath, deodorant, sun screen, tiger balm. Ideally, all these in miniature formats.
- Sleeping bag liner (if you plan to stay in very cheap or dirty places, not required if you are staying in a 5-star hotel…)
- Your IT stuff: iPad, eBook, laptop, chargers, memory card, batteries, etc.
- Dryer sheets: they will help keep a fresh smell in your bag.
Your small bag
That’s the one you keep with you, all the time. Hence, a backpack is the best option.
- Your passport, cash, credit cards and other life saving items like your insurance card with emergency contact details. Not a bad idea to put them in a zip-lock bag in case it rains. It will keep your documents dry.
- Your driver’s licence if you plan to rent a car or a motorbike (some countries are quite particular about this so take it with you in case you are not sure, even for a motorbike rental).
- Your emergency medical kit: painkillers, mosquitoes repellent, dressing/plaster, disinfectant, anti diarrhea, eyewash
- Tissues and toilet paper (you will thank me later). Remember that in a lot of countries, you will not be provided napkins when having a meal.
- Water – plastic bottles are a good option as they are lighter than a gourd/flask.
- Biscuits (always buy some before you go when you are not sure what you will find. Always have “emergency” biscuit and water in case you cannot find food around and need to recharge batteries)
- Sunglasses: you’ll need them. Take them even if it’s raining. Weather can change very fast in the region.
- Scarf (krama, or any kind of fabric that you can use to put around your neck, put on your head to protect it from the sun, cover your shoulders in temples, dry your sweat, etc). Can come very handy in some situation. It will not stay clean for long so it’s wise to pick a dark color…
- Camera and its protection.
Remember that this one comes on top of the Regular pack (above)
- Beach towel or equivalent (pareos / sarongs are lighter)
- Snorkeling equipment: mask, scuba, (fins?)
- Shoes you can wear on the beach or in the water (to protect your feet from being cut by corals)
- Dry bag if you plan to go on a boat and want to keep your stuff dry.
Well, you will probably adjust your bag after a few trips. Remove the stuff that you have not used and add the one that you missed. Post a comment to share your tips!
Happy packing (it’s the worse part of the trip but it’s worth it…) and travelling!
Immigration and airport taxes on arrival
Depending on your nationality you may need to get a Tourist Visa to enter Vietnam. ASEAN passport holders and nationals from a few European countries (including France) are exempt of Visa.Getting a visa to Vietnam is quite simple and easy now. There are 2 options:
- On Arrival Visa at the airport immigration checkpoint. You’ll need an Approval letter BEFORE you travel; you can either ask a Travel agent or apply online on Vietnamvisa. There will be fees for processing to the Approval letter and then for the visa itself check the rates here. The “on arrival visa” is only possible at International Airports (Noi Bai International Airport (Hanoi), Tan Son Nhat International Airport (Ho Chi Minh City) and Danang Airport (Danang)). If you are travelling by land the Approval letter will not be accepted, then you need to contact the Embassy. At the airport immigration counter you need to pay cash 45 USD for single entry (95 USD for multiple-entry) and bring along 2 photos + your passport + the Approval letter. To save time, you can print the form that you will need to fill in and give to the counter when you arrive. You can download it here
- Or, Before flying to Vietnam. You can contact the Vietnamese Embassy and apply for a visa. In Singapore, 10 Leedon Park 10, 267887. Visa Hours: Mon-Fri (9AM – 12PM noon)
National Public Holidays in Vietnam
|January 1||New Year’s Day|
|February 17-22||Tet Nguyen Dan (Chinese New Year)|
|April 28||Hung Kings Commemoration|
|April 30||Victory/Independence Day|
|May 1||Labour Day|
|September 2||National Day|
* check the exact date on this website as it varies from one year to another.