Hoi An — The Prettiest Town in Vietnam

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After four months on the road, I’ve learned which kinds of destinations I like the most: gritty cities, hippie beaches, small towns that have yet to be discovered by the masses.

I’ve also learned what I don’t like: any place that caters to wealthy, upmarket tourists.  By the time the upmarket tourists arrive, a place has usually been toured to death by everyone else.

Hoi An, an adorable little town in central Vietnam, is like one of the towns that I would be inclined to hate.  But against all odds, I loved Hoi An anyway.

Look at how pretty it is!

Hoi An is most famous for its custom clothing shops.  You can have formal wear, casual wear, traditional Vietnamese clothing or even shoes designed for you and priced far cheaper than you would pay at home.

Hoi An is also the best place in Vietnam for buying quality souvenirs, from artwork, furniture and antiques to cloth products and jewelry.

There’s a beautiful riverfront, and there’s no better way to explore it than to take a boat ride!

But I think that I like Hoi An because, unlike Luang Prabang or Siem Reap, it has a genuinely local feeling to it.  Hoi An is a destination for the Vietnamese as well as international tourists.  It helped that we stayed several blocks north of the main touristy area, where we met more locals.

Hoi An also has lots of delicious culinary specialties unique to the city.  My favorite dish?  Cau Lau Heo, wheat noodles in broth with slices of pork!

And it’s hard to find a town more photogenic than Hoi An.  There was a beautiful moment around every corner.

Go to Hoi An and enjoy it.  You might stay longer than you think.

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28 thoughts on “Hoi An — The Prettiest Town in Vietnam”

  1. Very nice and simple write, I like how you presented Hoi An.

    I like small towns, less crowds and generally seem to have more to offer (or lack of if you will)).

    I have never been to Asia so I have no idea what its like, I hope to one day and seeing this would just make me remember to stop by :).

    I like all sorts of cities, though you are right I could only imagine going where the masses haven’t been yet because I haven’t done that myself.

    Thanks for sharing 🙂

  2. I’ve heard good things about Hoi An — including the awesome custom shopping you can do! Did you get anything cool made while you were there? Or are you just sticking to those hippie pants of yours?

    It does definitely look like a very colorful and photogenic sort of place. Glad to hear you liked it!

  3. Pictures are beautiful! I’m really hungry now…

    I love when you can get a taste for the local life and get away from the tourist strip. I agree with you that you tend to learn more about the culture and place. I like to ask where the locals like to eat (although it can be hard to get a truthful answer since many times they get kickbacks for suggesting places).

    Thanks for sharing!

  4. we loved hoi an when we were there – i think we ended up staying 7 days in the end! We really liked their cao lau speciality and one tiny restaurant did the nicest garlic mushrooms on toast ever! 🙂

  5. Matt and I ended up staying Hoi An for almost two weeks because we absolutely fell in love with that place! The food, the people, the scenery, the shopping… We still talk about going back to Vietnam and Hoi An just to eat the cau lau and com ga!

  6. Vietnam has been my most favourite place that we have travelled to yet……and Hoi An..ah…Hoi An! I was like you as well, thinking i wouldn’t enjoy it, but it really is such a lovely town and sooooo photogenic! we took so many photos while we were there! I didn’t buy ONE thing while we were there (how good am I!?!?) But we plan to head back through there on our way back to Aus and Ant might get his suit made for our wedding there too!
    Glad you liked Hoi An just as much as I did!

  7. Hoi An was amazing!

    So nearly had a suit made. Got put off because I found several copy-cat shops of the place I was researching online!
    A freind of ours went CRAZY buying cloths. 2 proper suits, shirts, trousers – everything!

    Maybe get something designed when I go back again…
    Did you see the candles being floated down the river?!


  8. I got back from Vietnam last month having visted Hoi an for the 3rd time in four years. I just love it there.
    I’ve had a couple of things made and been pleased with them but it is pot-luck – so many tailors.
    Just released a new post today on Hoi An http://wp.me/p1tbVN-q8 would love you to drop
    by and let me know what you think. 🙂

  9. I stumbled upon Hoi An a few month’s ago whilst visiting beautiful Vietnam – a real highlight Food is superb and on the whole the clothes were great. Go visit this place.

  10. I loved Hoi An. It was so beautiful and felt more like a large village. Everyone I met was very nice and it was a lot safer than Saigon. I would recommend anyone going to Vietnam to spend a few days here. Also, the best beach is the small beach to the north (up the hill). It is smaller but a lot less crowded and if you get their by bicycle you will get some great photos of the paddy fields and water buffalo.

  11. Hi Adventurous Kate…
    I realise it has been some time since your last post about Hoi An, however, I am heading to Vietnam (from Australia) for my 30th with my 8 yr old son, and plan it spend my actual birthday in Hoi An..
    Can you please tell me where you stayed or where you recommend? I am overloaded with reviews and can’t commit to anything yet.. I to like the hippy beaches, gritty cities and small towns… However want to find a real gem for my bday.. Price isn’t really an issue. We are making out way down from Hanoi to HCMC so plan to be in Hanoi for 2 or 3 nights.
    Thanks 🙂

    1. Hi, Jaya — I stayed a long time ago and don’t remember the name of my tiny guesthouse. But Agoda.com is a great source for the cheapest prices on accommodation in Asia.

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