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Last Updated on July 24, 2023 by Madison Krigbaum
Hoi An is a quaint, colorful and charming ancient town located only a short drive from the bustling metropolitan city of Da Nang. Earlier this year, I was lucky enough to spend a whole month traveling around Vietnam experiencing and eating the best that this vibrant country has to offer. Before I ever arrived in Southeast Asia, I knew Hoi An was a must-see for any first-time Vietnam itinerary. My Hoi An itinerary is filled with my favorite authentic Vietnamese restaurants, cultural attractions, photo spots and more in beautiful Hoi An.
Now you may be wondering how much time you need to spend in Hoi An. Is one day enough for Hoi An? Is 2 days in Hoi An enough? Personally, I would budget at least 3 days in Hoi An to make sure you have time for your entire Hoi An itinerary!
Sneak peek of the beautiful Thu Bon River pictured above!
How to Get to Hoi An from Around Vietnam
The easiest way to get to Hoi An is to fly in to the nearby Da Nang International Airport (DAD) and hire a Grab taxi to Hoi An. Although you can book a train ticket from Ho Chi Minh City or Hanoi on 12Go, the ride will take you around 18-20 hours one way.
With flights around 90 USD, it seems worth it to save yourself 17 hours! However, if you’re already in Hue, you can easily grab a train to Hoi An for around 7 USD (the trip is around 2.5-3 hours).
Where to Stay in Hoi An
Mad Monkey Hoi An Hostel
Since I was visiting Hoi An as a solo female traveler, the hostel life was definitely the way to go. I booked four nights in the Mad Monkey Hoi An Hostel and it was the perfect accommodation for the best price. The hostel offered spacious and clean dorm rooms (with the option of all-female dorms) and included a bar, restaurant and outdoor swimming pool.
The only downside of staying at the Mad Monkey Hostel is the location outside of Old Town. If you’re comfortable booking a Grab or Gojek scooter, you can get an easy ride to Old Town in 10 minutes for less than $1. If you’re not comfortable on a scooter, you can book a slightly more expensive (but still budget-friendly) Grab taxi.
For less than 7 USD per night, Mad Monkey is the perfect budget-friendly accommodation for your Hoi An itinerary. Book your stay at the Mad Monkey Hostel!
*Grab and Gojek are Asia’s version of Uber.
The Imperfect Downtown Hoi An Hostel
If you’d rather be able to walk everywhere than rely on rideshares, the Imperfect Downtown Hoi An Hostel is the spot for you! With dorms ranging from 8-11 USD, this hostel won’t break the bank but it will allow you up-close and personal access to Old Town Hoi An.
The Imperfect Downtown Hostel boasts a 9.5 rating on Hostelworld, includes free breakfast with your booking and features a bar, security lockers, a swimming pool and air conditioning for those hot summer nights in Vietnam. Book your stay at the Imperfect Downtown Hostel!
Budget-Friendly Hotels for Solo Travelers
If the hostel scene isn’t your thing (no judgement!), Hoi An has no shortage of quaint, boutique hotels that won’t break the bank. With rooms starting at only 25 USD per night, the Hoianese Hotel is the perfect spot for a solo female traveler that values her personal space.
For those spa-inclined travelers, check out the Hoi An Nostalgia Hotel & Spa! Rooms start at only 21 USD per night and you can relax in style with the luxurious spa treatments. Book your stay at the Hoi An Nostalgia Hotel & Spa!
Buying a Ticket to Old Town Hoi An
If you’d like to admire the city’s ancient heritage sites when you visit Hoi An, the Hoi An Old Town Ticket is going to be the right move. Many of the best attractions in Old Town require a pre-purchased entry ticket that can be bought at one of the many ticket stands around town. The ticket costs 120,000 VND (around 5 USD) and buys you entrance to five sites of your choosing.
Keep in mind that Old Town bans all motorized vehicles after 3:00PM. It’s a lot more enjoyable to wander around the city in the afternoon!
My Hoi An Itinerary for Solo Female Travelers
Let’s get to the good part 👏🏼 Hoi An is a magical city…with photo spots around every corner. If you follow my Hoi An itinerary, you’ll see the best that this UNESCO World Heritage Site has to offer, and have the photos to prove it.
Get Custom Clothes made
Hoi An is well-known in the traveling community as the place to order custom-made clothes. The city is dotted with tailor shops, and NONE of them are shy about wanting your business. Expect to be constantly harassed by shop owners as you walk down the street.
Although I had limited suitcase space, I wanted to get one piece made in Hoi An (you know – for the mems). A friend I met in the hostel suggested Peace Tailors, so we headed over to browse their designs.
I looked through a design book (that was mostly screenshots from Shein 😂) and settled on a simple dress with spaghetti straps (below, right). I picked out my fabric and the tailor took my measurements. The next day, we stopped by for the first fitting and the tailor made a few changes. The following day, my dress was ready for pickup!
Although I enjoyed my overall experience with Peace Tailors, my advice would be to shop around before deciding on a shop. I realized (too late) that I wasn’t in love with any of the fabric options and should have browsed the nearby shops for fabric I liked more.
Phuc Kien Assembly
Admiring the Phuc Kien Assembly Hall (or Fukien Assembly Hall) is one of the best things to do in Hoi An – especially for solo travelers. Built in 1690, this assembly hall was originally built for a Chinese group from Fujian to socialize. Later, it was converted into a temple to the diety Thien Hau: the Goddess of the Sea. It was believed that she protected sailors from danger.
Conveniently, the Phuc Kien Assembly does not require an Old Town ticket. Entrance is free!
The Japanese Bridge
The Japanese Covered Bridge is a long-standing symbol of Hoi An. It was constructed way back in 1590 by the Japanese community as a link to the Chinese quarters.
Unfortunately, due to insane crowds, I wasn’t able to wander over the actual bridge. However, keep in mind that walking over the bridge does count as one of your five attractions on the Old Town Ticket.
Next to the Japanese Bridge is one of the cutest stores in town – Sunday in Hoi An. Stop by to browse their jewelry and home goods collection and enjoy their photo-worthy, pastel decor!
Hainan Assembly Hall
The Hainan Assembly was built in 1851 as a memorial to the merchants traveling from Hainan to Hoi An who were killed in Quang Nam after being mistaken as pirates. The front hall, main hall and open air courtyard are all ornately decorated and stunningly beautiful. It’s clear why the Hainan Assembly Hall is one of the most visited structures in Hoi An!
To enter the hall during your 3 day Hoi An itinerary, you’ll need a valid Old Town Ticket.
Chùa Long Tuyên
The Chua Long Tuyen pagoda was one of my favorite spots I visited during my Hoi An 3 day itinerary. The temple’s bright colors and ornate details make it one of the most beautiful examples of old architecture in Hoi An (and a great spot for some Insta-worthy photos!).
Construction began on the temple in 1913 and it was named “Long Tuyen” because of the way the spring flows and is shaped like a dragon. No ticket needed for this stunning temple!
Wander the Hoi AN Central Market – Cho Hoi An
The Cho Hoi An market can be summed up in two words: exciting and overwhelming. If you plan to visit this market during your 3 days in Hoi An, get ready to bargain! Here – everything is negotiable.
To get the most out of your visit, I suggest visiting a few stalls before buying anything. Especially when it comes to the food court at the intersection of Tran Phu St and Nguyen Hue. Open from 5:00AM – 6:00PM daily, this food court is stocked with vendors selling fresh fruit smoothies, local Vietnamese dishes, coffees and more delicious snacks!
You’ll also find tons of stalls selling handmade souvenirs, kitchen utensils and accessories. And don’t forget the rows of fresh produce, fish and meat! For more information on the Cho Hoi An market, visit this helpful post by Hoi An Now.
Visit the Nguyen Hoang Night Market
One of Southeast Asia‘s biggest appeals are the unique and exciting night markets that dot every city in every country. Hoi An’s famous night market – Nguyen Hoang – is a must-see on any Hoi An itinerary! From 5:00 – 11:00PM every day, the street in front of the Japanese Bridge comes alive with street vendors selling lanterns, local cuisine and all sorts of trinkets and souvenirs.
Pro tip: after sunset, snap a pic with the light up lanterns at one of the many lantern vendor stalls!
Experience Hoi An’s Nightlife Scene
With Mad Monkey’s surplus of common areas (and alcoholic drinks), you’re guaranteed to meet fellow solo travelers to expereince the Hoi An nightlife scene! Although the nightlife in this ancient town isn’t on par with Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City, Hoi An has its fair share of nightclubs and bars.
If you’re looking for a chill, but fun spot for some late night Saigons, check out Dive Bar or Tam Tam Bar. If swanky, upscale cocktails are more your vibe, head over to Q Bar! And for those dance-floor-addicted traveleres, the Zero Sea Mile Beach Club or the Before and Now Bar will be more your scene. For more information on Hoi An’s nightlife, check out this post by Holidify.
Safety tip: for the most part, Hoi An is a sleepy town. Although the bars and clubs stay open until around 3:00AM, it can sometimes be impossible to find a taxi after midnight. My best advice is to use the buddy system and never let a friend (or yourself!) walk home alone. Click here for more safety tips for solo female travelers.
Enjoy Hoi An’s COffee Culture
Vietnam is known for serving some of the best coffee in Southeast Asia – and Hoi An is no exception. If you love your morning cup of Joe, make sure to enjoy Hoi An’s coffee scene during your 3-day Hoi An itinerary.
During my time in Hoi An, I visited three exceptional coffee shops: 92 Station, Faifo Coffee and The Espresso Station. Both 92 Station and Faifo Coffee were 3-story shops with gorgeous rooftop views of Old Town from floor #3! The Espresso Station was a quaint and colorful little coffee shop with phenomenal espresso and a large garden seating area.
Precious Heritage Museum and Art Gallery
I stumbled upon the Precious Heritage Museum in Hoi An with a Dutch friend I met at the hostel. This fascinating and charming museum is the permanent home of Réhahn’s Precious Heritage Collection.
The five rooms in this 19th century French home feature hundreds of portraits, over 60 traditional costumes from ancient Vietnamese tribes and tribal songs. The museum is meant to document Réhahn’s decade-long journey to document and preserve traditions from 54 ethnic tribes left in Vietnam.
The museum is open daily from 8:00AM – 8:00PM and entrance is free.
The Foodie’s Hoi An Itinerary: Where to Eat in Hoi An
Now that you’ve learned what to do in Hoi An for 3 days, let’s get to the good part: the VIETNAMESE FOOD. Vietnamese cuisine is loved worldwide – for good reason. Hoi An is filled with local eateries selling the classics, like Pho and Banh Mi, but you’ll also find dishes native to this region specifically. Keep reading to find out which restaurants should make it on your Hoi An itinerary!
Buttercup by Rosie’s
First on the list of best restaurants in Hoi An is Buttercup by Rosie’s! This charming brunch spot can be a little tough to find, since it’s nestled in Hoi An’s winding alleyways. However, once you find it and grab a table, you’ll be surrounded by leafy plants, flowers and minimalist decor.
I ordered the Avo Bagel with a fried egg on toasted sesame and an iced specialty coffee. Everything was delicious and it definitely won’t break the bank!
Morning Glory Restaurant
This street food-stye restaurant was the site of my favorite meal in Hoi An. The region is known for a dish that’s a little hard to find around the rest of the country: crispy pancakes. Morning Glory’s Hoi An Crispy Pancakes with Grilled Pork Skewers consisted of crispy rice flour pancakes filled with pork, shrimp and beansprouts. The dish is accompanied by barbecued pork skewers, salad, dipping sauce and fresh spring roll wrappers.
The waitress was kind enough to give me a quick lesson on how to eat this scrumptious dish! First, cut the crispy pancake into strips. Next, roll up the pancake, salad and bean sprouts into the rice paper to make a DIY spring roll. Dip into the sauce, and you’ve got a delicious Vietnamese lunch!
If you make it to Morning Glory, I also suggest ordering the White Rose Dumplings. Consisting of rice flour dumplings filled with shrimp and mixed veggies, these are another dish Hoi An is known for.
Note: the Morning Glory Restaurant is part of Vy’s Restaurants – a restaurant group in Hoi An. If you wander deeper into the building (through Morning Glory’s restaurant), you’ll find the Vy’s Market Restaurant. This is the place to be if you want to add a cooking class to your Hoi An itinerary!
Madam Khanh – The Banh Mi Queen
When you search “the best banh mi in Hoi An,” you get two hits: Banh Mi Queen and Banh Mi Phuong. Luckily for you, I tried both and I’m here to deliver my reviews 👏🏼
Between the two, I got the sense that the Banh Mi Queen might have been a bit more authentically Vietnamese. However, I would have to choose Banh Mi Phuong as my favorite based on taste. I did love the bread from the Banh Mi Queen, but the filling wasn’t my favorite.
I ordered the BBQ Banh Mi with veggies, BBQ pork, pate, egg sauce, papaya, cucumber and tomato. It’s hard to beat 30,000 VND ($1.20) for lunch!
Banh Mi Phuong
According to Anthony Bourdain, Hoi An’s Banh Mi Phuong is home to the best banh mi sandwich in Vietnam. Although, I wouldn’t go quite that far (my favorite was in Ho Chi Minh City), I did thoroughly enjoy my banh mi with avocado! With prices ranging from 15,000 – 35,000 VND ($0.65 – $1.50), this is not a banh mi spot to be missed on your Hoi An itinerary.
Cao Lau Khong Gian Xanh Restaurant
Last, but definitely not least, is the Cao Lau Khong Gian Xanh Restaurant! This is the perfect spot to try one of Hoi An’s specialty dishes – cao lau. This dish consists of smoky, chewy rice noodles, sliced pork, crackling pork, bean sprouts, lettuce and herbs.
Cao Lau Khong Gian Xanh serves some of the best cau lau in Hoi An. The best part? This huge bowl of noodles only set me back 35,000 VND ($1.50).
Day Trips from Hoi An
Unfortunately for my travel guides, I was injured during my entire month in Vietnam. A wound on the bottom of my right foot made it difficult to walk and impossible to swim or enjoy any water-adjacent activities.
Because of my injury, I didn’t have the mobility to embark on all the exciting day trips accessible from Hoi An. But that doesn’t mean you should miss them! Keep reading for a sneak peek of the best day trips from Hoi An.
My Son Sanctuary
The My Son Sanctuary is a 1,600 year old UNESCO World Heritage Site from the Champa Kingdom. The Cham Tower complex, featuring the 20 temple towers still standing, has vast cultural and historical signifiance in Vietnam.
To visit the My Son Sanctuary on your own, check out this helpful blog post by VinPearl. If you want to skip the hassle, consider booking one of the Viator tours below!
🇻🇳 Other Tours by Viator You May Enjoy:
Basket Boat Rides at Hoi An’s Coconut Village
Cam Thanh, or the Coconut Village, is located just a few kilometers east of Hoi An’s ancient town. This village is known worldwide for their “basket boats.” Legend says that the boats were a way for fisherman to get around paying taxes during the French Colonial rule. Others say the baskets were simply a more effective way of getting around. Whatever you believe, a basket boat ride in Cam Thanh would be a day to remember!
Hidden Hoi An has a very informative blog post about booking a basket boat ride in the Coconut Village. Otherwise, you could always book a dual basket boat ride and cooking class tour on Viator for only $50.
the Golden Hand Bridge
It’s been months and I’m still DEVASTATED I missed visiting the famous Vietnamese Golden Hand Bridge in Da Nang. Chances are, you’ve seen photos of this unique bridge on Instagram. If you get the chance, carve out some time in your Hoi An itinerary to experience this magical bridge and get some awesome IG shots in the process!
Check out Kevin & Amanda’s guide to the Golden Hand Bridge here! Or browse Viator’s day trips to the Hand Bridge below.
🤚🏼Other Tours by Viator You May Enjoy:
If you have even more time in Hoi An, you could consider adding Bang Beach, the Cham Islands or the Marble Mountains to your Hoi An itinerary! There’s no shortage of exciting sites in this beautiful region of Vietnam.
If you enjoyed my Hoi An itinerary for solo female travelers, you might enjoy my related guides below! And don’t forget to follow along for the adventure on Instagram @madisonsfootsteps.