Central vietnam – Best of Hoi An

Vietnam is one of my most favourite countries in the whole world and I’ve been fortunate to have visited the country several times over the past ten years since my backpacking husband and I decided to sell our house and everything we owned to travel the world full time and long term.

I’ve explored Vietnam extensively from the South and Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) formerly but still known also as Saigon to Hai Phong (for Ha Long Bay) in the North, and on two occasions, I’ve deliberately lingered in the central region of Vietnam to purposely slow my pace of travel and to experience the very best of the UNESCO World Heritage old town of Hoi An.

“Vietnam. It grabs you and doesn’t let you go. Once you love it, you love it forever.” – Anthony Bourdain

Hoi An is an extremely well-preserved and authentically charming old town with cobbled streets and old world architecture that reflects its origins as a South-East Asian 15th century trading port.

Hoi An is also an eclectic fusion of Chinese, Japanese, and European influences that shouldn’t work – but it somehow it do – and so the town has evolved into a modern day sensory experience of colourful lanterns and flickering candles and yellow brick prettiness and higgledy-piggledy wooden buildings that attract many visitors from all over the world.

In my opinion, Hoi An is the prettiest town in the whole of Vietnam and there is no better way to soak it in than to take a rickshaw ride through the narrow streets or enjoy a slow paced walk.

Motorised transport is prohibited for several hours of the day and in the evening, which makes exploring the old town by foot or by ‘cyclo’ a real pleasure and a sunset cruise on a traditional wooden boat the Thu Bon River a perfect end of a Hoi An day.

THE BEST OF HOI AN VIETNAM #hoian #hoianancienttown #hoianvietnam #vietnam #vietnamtravel


In Hoi An old town, one of my favourite things to do is to stop off at a café to people-watch from a restful viewing spot or from a balcony while sipping a ‘cà phê sữa đá’ (a delicious Vietnamese iced coffee).

Then later, in the late afternoon, at a cocktail bar while enjoying a glass of wine or a delicious lychee martini at The White Marble Bar.

The White Marble Bar Hoi An Old Town
The White Marble Bar Hoi An Old Town

The slow-moving Thu Bon River flows through Hoi An and at sunset it becomes the focus of more cultural activities.

Lantern sellers line the riverbank, encouraging you to buy a paper floating lantern from them and to make your wishes and whisper your blessings, and set down your floating lantern onto the river and thousands of flickering candles all floating slowly down the darkened river is a breathtakingly beautiful sight every evening.

On each side of the river there are heritage buildings and shops and restaurants and bars, linked by ornate bridges that span the river and offer the visitor fabulous spots, to stop and soak in the atmospheric feeling of stepping back in time and to observe the candle-lit scene and take photographs.

The Backpacking Housewife at Hoi An Vietnam
Ornate bridges crossing the river offer the visitor fabulous spots from which to take photographs


Not surprisingly, Hoi An old town is not only a national treasure as it is also a UNESCO Heritage Site. An ‘old town ticket’ is required to explore some of the UNESCO sites and to cross the Japanese Bridge.

Located in the centre of town, the world famous covered Japanese bridge was first constructed in the 1590s and it still stands strong today.

The covered Japanese Bridge Hoi An
Hoi An River
Cycling in Hoi An Vietnam
The Backpacking Housewife in Hoi An Vietnam
The Backpacking Housewife in the streets of Hoi An Vietnam
The Backpacking Housewife in Hoi An Vietnam


Lots of people come to Hoi An specifically to have new clothes made to measure.

I was amazed to see the amount of tailor shops in Hoi An – there are several in every street – and the incredible talent of the local tailors and seamstresses is evident everywhere with beautifully created clothes – all personally made to measure – for sale at incredibly affordable prices.

We saw brides, grooms, and bridesmaids all being measured up. One lady I met had brought several of her favourite (designer) dresses with her to Hoi An to be faithfully and skilfully replicated in fabulous fabrics and stunning colours.

The backpacking husband and I stayed at a wonderful small hotel in Hoi An called Moon Villa – just a short walk away from the old part of town and we discovered that our host – a lovely lady actually called Moon – was also a tailor and she had a shop on the premises.

We browsed her intricate work and the fabulous fabrics on offer in the finest cottons, linens and silks.

And, we soon asked to be measured up for some new shirts, trousers, and a new dress for me.

I found and booked Moon Villa using (affiliate link) Booking Dotcom and I’ve now stayed there on two occasions.

Moon at Moon Villa Tailor Shop Hoi An Vietnam
Moon at Moon Villa Tailor Shop Hoi An Vietnam

Our hotel experience in Hoi An was absolutely fabulous and so I would heartily recommend Moon Villa to you. Breakfast is included in the rate and the rooms at Moon Villa are lovely and have aircon and there’s also a small swimming pool.

The Backpacking Housewife at Moon Villa Hoi An
The Backpacking Housewife at Moon Villa Hoi An

As the sun goes down on Hoi An and in the evening, the heat becomes more sultry and the sights even more stunning.


The river at Hoi An Photo by Janice Horton
The river at Hoi An Photo by Janice Horton
The river at Hoi An Photo by Janice Horton

There are fairy lights and colourful lanterns lit everywhere and the effect is quite magical, especially on the river and the riverbank where the lights of the bridge and the boats and lanterns and candles are reflected all around. Beautiful!


The Backpacking Husband and I went cycling one day from our hotel and set off along the paths between rice fields and through a couple of small towns all along the coastal roads for the beautiful beaches at An Ban and Cua Dai.

VIETNAM CYCLING - HOI AN TO CUA DAI BEACH #travel #vietnamtravel #vietnam
Hoi An to Cua Dai Beach in less than a minute!


An Bang Beach is a vast and popular huge stretch of shimmering beach and the whole oceanside area is well set up for tourists with hotels, homestays, and bars with live music and open air restaurants. An Bang beach once featured on CNN’s ‘Top 100 Best Beaches in the World’. It is just 7km from Hoi An old town.

An Beach Vietnam by The Backpacking Housewife
Cua Dai Beach Vietnam

Cua Dai Beach was once an exclusive place favoured by the jet-set with its hi-class accommodations and fabulous seafood restaurants. It’s just a few miles further up the coast from An Bang and was once known as one of the most beautiful beaches in Asia with powder white sand.

But around 10 years ago, it began to suffer from severe erosion by strong waves and tropical storms due to climate change.

VIETNAM - RETURN TO CUA DAI BEACH #travel #vietnamtravel #vietnam

The erosion causing Cua Dai beach to narrow is currently being countered by extensive anti-erosion works to stop the beach sand being shaved away by the elements. I was happy to see that during my second visit to Cua Dai that the efforts to save the beach has been really successful. The beach is now much wider and more extensive than it had been on my first visit.

We found Cua Dia to be a perfect, laid-back and quiet place, to really relax and rewind.

Cua Dai Beach Hoi An Vietnam
Cua Dai Beach


I have visited Hoi An both in the Springtime and also in the height – and heat and humidity – of summer.

Ultimately, the best time to visit Hoi An depends on your personal preferences. If you want to enjoy pleasant weather and avoid the rainy season, consider visiting during the dry season.

However, if you prefer fewer tourists and don’t mind the occasional rain, the shoulder seasons can also offer a unique and enjoyable experience.

Keep in mind that major Vietnamese holidays, such as Tet (Lunar New Year), can lead to increased tourism and limited availability for accommodations and services.

Dry Season (February to August)

March to May: Spring is a fantastic time to visit. The weather is pleasant with warm temperatures and low humidity.

June to August: While the summer months are quite hot and humid, this is still a popular time to visit. The beaches are inviting and it’s a good time for water activities. Just be prepared for higher temperatures.

Rainy Season (September to January)

September to November: This is the start of the rainy season, and you can expect occasional showers. However, it’s still a good time to visit if you prefer fewer crowds and lower prices. The countryside is beautifully green.

December to January: These are the coolest months, and the weather is generally dry, making it a pleasant time to visit. The old town of Hoi An is beautifully decorated during the Christmas and New Year period.


By Air: The nearest major airport to Hoi An is Da Nang International Airport (DAD), which is approximately 30 kilometers (18.6 miles) away. You can book a flight to Da Nang from various international and domestic airports, and from there, you can take a taxi or arrange for a private transfer to Hoi An, which usually takes around 30-45 minutes.

By Train: Travelling from other places in Vietnam another option is to take a train to Da Nang Railway Station and from there, you can take a taxi or a shuttle bus to Hoi An. The train journey can offer scenic views of the coastline and is a comfortable way to travel if you have time to spare. I travelled on to Hue by train from Da Nang station on a truly fabulous coastal route.

By Bus: As with trains, there are various bus services that connect Hoi An to other major cities in Vietnam, such as Da Nang, Hue, Ho Chi Minh City, and Hanoi. You can take a sleeper bus or an open bus, depending on your budget and comfort preferences. The journey by bus may take longer than other options, but it can be an economical choice.

Have you ever travelled to Vietnam?

Did you visit Hoi An?

Let me know. I’d love to hear from you!

Leave a comment or contact me directly though my Contact Me Page.



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