Hoi An is a beautiful step back in time. A perfectly preserved city and a lovely example of a Southeast Asian trading port from the 15th to 19th century. From the yellow city walls, to the lanterns hanging above and stunning greenery all around, there’s so much to love about this beautiful Ancient Town.
Location & Time Zone
Located on the East Coast, around the middle of Vietnam, Hoi An is in the Indochina Time Zone (GMT +07:00).
Most of the locals working in tourism and hospitality jobs are able to speak a little English, especially in the markets, restaurants and tourist hot spots.
Currency & The Money Situation
ATMs are accessible in some spots around the city, but as this is a smaller city they can be few and far between. It’s a good idea to carry some cash on you at all times just in case.
One Australian dollar converts to approximately 16,515 Vietnamese Dong in October 2018.
Getting To Hoi An
The closest airport to Hoi An is Da Nang International Airport (DAD), which services flights from many international airports around Southeast Asia, as well as many domestic flights per day from around Vietnam.
There’s no train station in Hoi An, so the only way to get from Da Nang to Hoi An is by taxi or the bus.
It takes about 45 minutes to drive from Da Nang Airport to Hoi An’s main town. As an average, most taxis cost around $20 – $25USD for the trip, or about 380,000 VND. Taxi or private car is definitely the easiest and fastest way to get from the airport to your hotel.
Getting Around Hoi An
Once you’re in Hoi An it’s quite easy to get around. If you’re staying in a hotel around the Ancient Town, most of the major highlights and attractions are within walking distance. However, there are a few other options.
Bicycle: Renting a bike is definitely the cheapest and easiest way to get around Hoi An. Traffic is relatively quiet, and renting a bike will allow you access around the Ancient City, as well giving you the freedom to get out to the beaches and countryside. Bikes are roughly 30,000VND to rent per day.
Taxis & private cars: To get away from the ancient town and explore more of the countryside around Hoi An, taxis and private cars are also quite cheap. The reliable taxi companies are Faifoo and Mai Linh, or your hotel will be able to organize a good private driver for you.
Motorcycle: Perfect for exploring some of the beaches and rural villages that surround Hoi An, motorbikes are a great way to get around. They cost around 100,000VND per day to rent which should always include a bike helmet.
> Only consider renting a motorbike if you have experience riding in your home country. As always, driving conditions in Southeast Asian countries can be quite hectic and unsafe if you don’t know what you’re doing.
> Also, make sure that you always check the condition of your motorbike before you leave the rental shop. Take photos of any scratches and dents, and check your headlights and brakes before you go to document any issues as being present before you drive away.
Visa Information for Vietnam
If you’re travelling to Vietnam on an Australian passport you need a Visa to enter the country. A tourist visa allows entry to Vietnam for up to 30 days. You can either apply for the visa online or by mail.
To apply online visit the Vietnamese Embassy website where you can fill in the online form, upload a photo of yourself and your passport and then transfer your money. You will then receive a loose visa that you need to take with you.
We applied for our visa by mail. You just need to fill in this form and send it to the Vietnamese embassy along with your passport, a photo, the fee in cash (they also accept money orders and cheques) and an envelope for them to return your passport.
> Send your passport and application to: The Embassy of Vietnam – PO Box 98, Mawson, ACT 2607.
It’s a good idea to send your passport and visa application with a tracked mail service, and include a tracked envelope for the way home so that you can always see where your passport is. Don’t forget to pre-address your return envelope as well so it gets back to you! The whole process took less than a week, and our passport came back with a shiny new visa.
You can also apply in person by visiting the Vietnamese Embassy in Canberra. The address is 6 Timbarra Crescent, O’Malley ACT 2606.
You can find out more about visas for Vietnam here.
There are lots of different reports online about Vietnamese visas on arrival, with some being accepted while others are rejected, and people being banned from boarding their flights.
To be safe, the best idea is to always organize your visa in advance – it ensures a smooth immigration process when you arrive in Vietnam and there’s no chance your visa will be rejected or refused.
There’s lots of internet to access around Hoi An. Most of the hotels and restaurants will offer free wifi if you ask for their password, and different parts of the city will also offer free wifi hot spots. If you need it, you can usually find it!
Read more: Experiencing Hoi An’s Lantern Festival
Best Time To Go to Hoi An
The best time to visit Hoi An is during the dry season, between February and July. During this time of year there’s plenty of sunshine and nice warm temperatures.
Between July and January the weather is still quite pleasant, if not warm it’s still quite a mild temperature, although the rainfall during this time is significantly higher.
Main Areas of Hoi An
There are two distinct main areas of Hoi An – the Ancient Town and the beach areas.
Hoi An’s Ancient Town is a perfectly preserved step back in time and a beautiful look at the way things used to be in Hoi An. While it is now considered by some as massively touristy and inauthentic, we really loved exploring all the streets and cute little stores and restaurants that can be found amongst the city walls.
The other popular place to stay is around An Bang Beach, Hoi An’s most popular and beautiful beach. Lined with beach clubs, big luxury hotels and lots of space to relax and unwind, it’s a very unique piece of Vietnam to see.
Top Things To Do In Hoi An
+ Explore the streets of the Ancient Town
+ Visit the Japanese Covered Beach
+ Take a bike ride out to An Bang Beach
+ Learn more about Vietnamese culture at the Fukian Assembly Hall and Cantonese Assembly Hall
+ Explore Phung Hung House, a historical Japanese home in the Ancient Town
+ Shop up a storm around the Ancient Town
+ Take a day trip out to the My Son Ruins
+ Explore the Marble Mountains
+ Make sure you’re in town at the right time of the month to experience the Hoi An Full Moon Lantern Festival
Good To Know
Hoi An’s Ancient Town actually requires you to purchase a ticket to enter. The ticket includes entry into the Ancient Town for 10 days, including access to 5 of the attractions within the city itself. Tickets cost 120,000 VND for international visitors and can be purchased at designated ticket booths, which are found near each entrance of the city.
Make sure you carry these tickets with you at all times, even if you’re not planning to visit any of the attractions within the city, as you might be asked for them each time you enter the city.
10 Interesting Facts about Hoi An
When we were having breakfast at Rosie’s Cafe they had this list of 10 interesting facts about Hoi An Ancient Town on the back of their menu! It’s a great quick summary about Hoi An –
- Hoi An means ‘peaceful meeting place’.
- Westerners referred to Hoi An as Faifo back in the day.
- Hoi An was recognized as a world cultural heritage site by UNESCO in 1999.
- Hoi An was the first Asian city offering free wifi.
- Time frame for pedestrians and non-motorized vehicles in the Ancient Town everyday is 9am – 11am and 3pm – 10pm (9:30pm in winter).
- The Japanese Bridge is an emblematic of Hoi An.
- Walking is the best choice to experience the Old Town and discover all the little alley ways.
- The Full Moon festival is held on the 14th day of the lunar cycle each month.
- “Bai Choi” is a game similar to bingo accompanied by Vietnamese folk music.
- Must-try food in Hoi An is Banh Mi, Cao Lau, Quang Noodle and Chicken Rice.
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