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Things to Do in Hoi An

Near the center of Vietnam's serpentine coastline and built around the mouth of the Thu Bon River, the former spice-trading port of Hoi An is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site typified by antique wooden buildings and cobblestone streets. A world away from the country's dizzying metropolitan hubs, Hoi An's compact size and slower pace make it a pleasure to explore on foot or by bike. Stroll or pedal along the riverbank, crossing the famous Japanese Covered Bridge (Chua Cau), and marveling at architectural gems such as Quan Cong Temple and Tan Ky House. Along the way, you may meet locals pedaling home from the open markets, their bicycle baskets overflowing with fresh vegetables and flowers. In a country known for excellent cuisine, Hoi An offers some of the freshest and best. Be sure to take a tasting tour in Old Town, or sign up for a traditional market tour and Vietnamese cooking class. Don't miss a tour to the fascinating My Son Sanctuary, a UNESCO-listed archaeological site constructed by Hindu Champa royalty between the fourth and 14th centuries. To get off the beaten path, explore the river islands of Cam Nam and Cam Kim on a bike tour, or visit Kim Bong carpentry village. Just outside of town, the white sands of Cua Dai beach and An Bang beach beckon sunseekers to the coast, where boats set sail for Cham Island and Cu Lao Cham Marine Park.
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Hoi An Ancient Town
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666 Tours and Activities

History lovers flock to this 2,000-year-old UNESCO World Heritage Site, where Hindu, Arab and Chinese influences are reflected in breathtaking architecture, eclectic food and rich culture.

Naturalists will appreciate the quiet beaches just a short bike ride from the city center, while wanderers will love the pedestrian-only streets of Ancient Town lined with quaint shops and bustling vendors.

Urban skyscrapers and big-city development have yet to touch this former shipping port, which means travelers can enjoy a taste of what Hoi An once was and what Vietnam used to be.

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Tra Que Vegetable Village
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Located between Hoi An Ancient Town and An Bang Beach, Tra Que Vegetable Village is an agricultural district that still uses traditional techniques to produce Vietnamese crops. The fertile farmland, which provides a welcome break from the crowds of Hoi An Ancient Town, is awash with fragrant herbs and home to numerous independent workshops.
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Japanese Covered Bridge (Chua Cau)
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Tourists flock both day and night to this small bridge at the center of Hoi An, known as the Japanese Covered Bridge (Chua Cau), because of its picturesque beauty. As a result, attempting to cross the 12-meter structure will likely be faced with a labyrinth of kissing couples posing for photographs and backpackers loitering in its cool shade. Still detailed Japanese carvings, as well as monkey and dog statues—a nod to the years its construction began and finished—are worth the congestion and guaranteed headache of a trip to this Hoi An landmark.

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Kim Bong (Carpentry Village)
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Kim Bồng carpentry village is located within the Cẩm Kim commune in Hoi An. Since the 16th century, the village has been known for its carpentry and traditional woodworking products, the results of which can be found within prominent buildings across the region and beyond.
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Tan Ky Old House
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Hailed as the epitome of antique grandeur, the 200-year-old Tan Ky Old House pays homage to Hoi An’s rich architectural heritage. The beautifully preserved 18th-century house contains Chinese and Japanese artworks, dark-wood furniture, and watermarked walls that attest to the building’s ability to withstand Hoi An’s seasonal floods.
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Phuc Kien Assembly Hall (Fujian Assembly Hall)
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35 Tours and Activities
In a city full of historical and architectural landmarks, Phuc Kien Assembly Hall (Fujian Assembly Hall) is not to be missed. What once served as a gathering place for Chinese merchants, today functions as one of the city’s largest and most ornate temples. Intricate craftsmanship begins with the massive gates that protect this historic structure from the hustle of Hoi An streets, and it continues through the shaded hallways and colorful rooms.
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Cham Island (Cu Lao Cham)
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37 Tours and Activities

The Cham Islands are a group of 8 small islands of Quang Nam that make up the Cu Lao Cham Marine Park and that are a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.

This island offers visitors sandy beaches, rocky cliffs and crystal-clear waters. Hikers will appreciate the scenic views from forested trail heads and basic amenities of tropical campsites. Scuba divers will find coral, tiger shrimp and mollusk unique to this region, while lucky birders can peep Salanganes -- made famous in the country's bird's nest soup -- these islands are known for.

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Hoi An Handicraft Workshop
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This 200-year-old Chinese trading house is a historic structure where contemporary travelers can bear witness ancient Vietnamese crafts. On-site artisans construct silk lanterns, practice traditional embroidery, throw terra cotta pottery and weave fabric. Guides explain techniques and offer insight into these traditional crafts. Visitors will find the prices fair and variety vast. Traditional shows are performed daily and these 45-minute events, which include music, dance and song, are worth sticking around for.

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Tra Nhieu Fishing Village
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Those who enjoy the great outdoors and want to better understand the history and culture of Vietnam’s rural communities shouldn’t miss a trip to Tra Nhieu Fishing Village. Officially recognized as an ecological village in order to preserve its traditional fishing and farming life, Tra Nhieu Fishing Village is located along the banks of the Thu Bon River, not far from Hoi An.
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Cua Dai Beach (Bien Cua Dai)
23 Tours and Activities

Cua Dai beach is a wide bay of palm-fringed coast 4km north-east of Hoi An. All glittering warm waters and white sand stretching for three kilometers, Cua Dai is a popular spot with both locals and travelers in the Quang Nam province. From Hoi An’s old town, Cua Dai Beach is a relaxing bike ride past rice paddies and Thu Bon riverbank. When you get to the water, you’ll see plenty of people enjoying jet-skiing, paragliding and kitesurfing.

Vietnamese for "big sea mouth," Cua Dai beach looks out to the Cham archipelago, and is home to some of Hoi An’s ritzier hotels like Victoria Hoi An Beach Resort. A popular late-night spot, Zero SeaMile beach club is particularly lively, especially at the weekend when it hosts its own beach parties. As Cua Dai Beach is part of the South China Sea, the waves don’t get too big, making it a good swimming spot that’s popular with local families, especially on weekends and local holidays.

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More Things to Do in Hoi An

Red Bridge Cooking School

Red Bridge Cooking School

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Hoi An is a popular spot for Vietnamese cooking classes, and Red Bridge Cooking School offers three different courses.

The most popular option is the half-day class: you’ll start off with a trip to Hoi An’s lively Central Market with your chef and teacher, who will give tips on how to pick the best herbs and ingredients. Then it’s time for a 4km boat ride along the Thu Bon river to the open-air Red Bridge Cooking School. Complimentary drinks and snacks are on-hand as you take your two-hour lesson and learn how to prepare local dishes. Ever wanted to learn how to make your own rose tomato? Here’s your chance. You’ll learn the art of Vietnamese plate decoration and food carving before sitting down to enjoy the meal you just created.

There is also a full-day deluxe cooking class: prepare dishes like beef pho and clay pot fish with dill (Cha Ca) as part of a four-course menu that you’ll learn to create over three hours of cooking.

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Cantonese Assembly Hall (Hoi Quan Quang Dong)

Cantonese Assembly Hall (Hoi Quan Quang Dong)

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For centuries, assembly halls have been a place where migrant Chinese communities socialize and pass on the regional traditions of their home to future generations. With a population that’s over a quarter ethnic Chinese, Hoi An’s Cantonese Assembly Hall is one of five such hubs in town.

Founded in 1786, at the Cantonese Assembly Hall (Hoi Quen Quang Trieu), the colorful building materials you see today were first put together in China then shipped to Hoi An before being reassembled into the assembly hall, which has typical grand entrance gates that lead onto an ornamental garden, followed by a main hall and elaborate altar room.

Look out for the Cantonese Assembly Hall’s special flourishes, like the main altar dedicated to a red-faced Quan Cong, who symbolizes loyalty and righteousness. Also keep an eye out for the mosaic dragon statue by the entrance hall, and the even bigger dragon statue in the garden.

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Hoi An Central Market (Cho Hoi An)

Hoi An Central Market (Cho Hoi An)

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On the banks of the Thu Bon river in Hoi An’s old town, Central Market is a popular spot for travelers looking to experience Vietnamese culture at its liveliest. Occupying two narrow streets, the bazaar sells just about everything you can think of, from local handicrafts to spices to silk garments.

The food stalls are especially popular: each cook specializes in just one or two dishes like pho or banh khoai crepes, and the market is also well-known to those looking to get suited up by a tailor. You can find the tailors in the market’s east end. Prices are competitive and you can usually have your custom-designed suit or Vietnamese silk dress ready within 24 hours.

Look out for the fresh fish coming onto the dock for sale too. For the freshest catch, arrive for sunrise when it’s not yet too hot and the pace of Central Market isn't yet too frantic.

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Hainan Assembly Hall (Hoi Quan Hai Nam)

Hainan Assembly Hall (Hoi Quan Hai Nam)

In 1851, a renegade general of King Tu Duc’s Vietnamese empire plundered the ships of Chinese merchant sailors off the shores of Hoi An, killing over 100 men. In order to protect his back, the rogue general claimed the merchants were actually pirates -- it’s even rumored that he ordered the merchants’ boats be painted black so his case would be strengthened. When the truth came out that innocents were killed rather than pirates, as an apology King Tu Duc granted the Hainan Chinese community of Hoi An the money to build an assembly hall in memory of the merchants.

Built in 1875 near the Thu Bon River, Hainan is built in the typical style of Chinese assembly halls, with grand entry gates and an elegant courtyard full of ornamental trees. The main hall is dedicated to the merchants, and intricate dais contain plaques in their memory. A lacquered board at the entry hall also tells the innocent merchants’ story.

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My Son Sanctuary

My Son Sanctuary

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My Son Sanctuary is more than just the "beautiful mountain" its namesake describes. These Hindu ruins, which were constructed between the 4th and 13th centuries, pay homage to deities like Vishnu, Krishna and Shiva. Ancient and impressive towers and temples sit upon emerald hills in the Duy Xuyen District of the Quang Nam Province in central Vietnam. Visitors to the UNESCO World Heritage site can wander through eight groups of 71 structures, which some visitors say are less impressive than Cambodia's Siam Reap.

Still, what was once considered the homeland of the Cham people today remains an incredible example of Vietnam's indigenous culture.

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Thu Bon River

Thu Bon River

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