I already wrote about how much I love Hoi an here, however, I thought it’s worth to write also a practical guide from this town. I won’t write about the history, because I’m not an expert, but I think it’s good to read about it at least a bit in a guide or in the internet to understand its importance and architecture.
The ancient city
First of all, Hoi An is divided into two parts – the old and the new part. The old part, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is pedestrianized. You can find there some restaurants, bars, souvenir shops, temples, museums and old houses of the merchants and assembly halls. I don’t think many people live there. In some places there are small stands where the tickets to the ancient city are sold (120 000 dongs). However, it is not mandatory to buy a ticket, if you don’t want to visit any buildings. The entrance tickets lets you enter 5 chosen by you places, so with the ticket you can for example cross the famous Japanese Bridge, enter Chinese assembly halls, temples, etc. Theoretically the ticket should be used during one day only, but the ladies in the ticket office told us that we can use it for a couple of days, so we don’t need to go to the five places the same day. The ticket is not cheap, but I think it’s worth it as there are some nice places to see. Still, have a look at the map you get with the ticket and chose something that interests you.
Hoi An is small enough to be able to walk to most of the places. Nevertheless, if you want to go to the beach, I recommend renting bicycles or a motorbike. We decided to have a small tour around, so we rented a motorbike in the town for 100 000 dongs per day. Thanks to that we were able to see the countryside and the beach. Renting motorbikes costs around 20 000 dongs per bike.
On Hai Ba Trung and Thih Quang Doc there are maybe dozen hotels where you will pay 15-30 dollars for a double room. It’s 10 minutes walking from there to the old town. There are a couple of supermarkets there and some places to rent motorbikes and bicycles. The whole city is full of small, big, cheap and expensive hotels, so I’m sure you will find something perfect for you. In the old town itself there also are some hotels, but expect to pay a bit more.
Around Hoi An. One day trips from Hoi An.
You can make some day tours from Hoi An:
- Go to the An Bang beach. It is located 5km from the old town. It’s very easy to get there, just find Hai Bai Trung street and follow it to the coast. At the end of the road there is a restaurant that also rents sun chairs. You can use them for free if you order some food from the restaurant or pay 15 000 dongs. You need to pay for parking as well (for both bikes and motorbikes, 5000 dongs).
- Cycle around Cam Kim island. There isn’t anything especially interesting there, but it’s a peaceful ride where you can see the real rural life. You can take a boat from next to the market every half an hour for 10 000 dongs per person. Rent the bikes in town and take them with you. On the island just get lost on the narrow lanes and then try to ask for the way back to the ferry. It’s a funny game with gestures, as the local people don’t really speak English.
- My Son, a complex of hindu temples from 4-14th century also listed as UNESCO. Unfortunately, most of the buildings were destroyed during American bombing, so most of the temples are in ruins. My Son is located around 40km from Hoi An so you can either go with an organized tour or rent a scooter and go on our own. We chose the second option and were able to visit the temple at our own pace and see some villages on the way.
- Marble Mountains is a complex of five mountains made of limestone and… marble 🙂 located around 20 kilometers from Hoi An. To get to the top you can either climb the stairs (10-15 minutes) or take a lift. The entrance fee is 15 000 dongs and 15 000 more if you want to use the elevator. At the top there are some colorful temples, a great view point and two or three caves. One of them is really big and there are some Buddhist statues inside. At the base of the mountains there are dozens of shops selling sculptures made of marble, some little enough to use it as a necklace, some too big to put it in your garden. It’s a very pleasant visit that you can join with a quick visit in the nearby town of Da Nang. It’s a modern and industrialized city on the coast with a decent beach and a famous dragon bridge that allegedly spits real fire at night.
More photos from Hoi An here.