How to spend 24 hours in Hoi An like a true local
“Wishing we had more time in Hoi An”.
This is one of the deep regrets of many tourists who JUST spent 3 days in Hoi An. Hoi An has so much to offer to its visitors from the photogenic Ancient Town to the charming countryside and beautiful beaches…
You can easily spend a week here. However, even if you don’t have that amount of time, we will help you how to spend 24 hours in Hoi An like a true local.
Hoi An is the best cycling city in Vietnam, so let’s pedal!
5:30 - 6:30 Swimming with the locals at An Bang beach
Your day begins with something unusual.
It will surprise you to see how packed the beach is at 5:00 in the morning. An Bang beach is the most popular beach in Hoi An, it’s 5km from the Ancient Town.
People in the countryside are more likely to wake up early to go for a morning swim. Additionally, Vietnamese women seem to be obsessed with having white skin, and they like to go to the beach as early as the sun rises.
So, start your day in Hoi An by going to the beach at 5:30, immerse yourself into the beautiful sunrise, enjoy the waves, have fun with the locals and experience the beauty of cultural differences.
7:00 - 8:00 Having breakfast at Vegan Banh Mi Chay Le Hoi
Started selling 10 years ago as a small cart that offers special Banh Mi for vegans in town, Banh Mi Chay Le Hoi is a popular spot for both the locals especially Buddhists who eat vegans at least twice a month and tourists who look for the meatless option of the Banh Mi.
Whereas most of the Banh Mi Carts have many varieties, the lady here only does one vegan Banh Mi—and that’s good enough!
We have tried hundreds of Banh Mi carts all over the country, and this is definitely in our top five Banh Mi. We often have two Banh Mi every time I come here, so should you.
8:00 - 9:30 Walking around the Ancient Town
We love to explore the Ancient Town in the early morning, and I’m sure you will be amazed by its beauty. This is the best way to go ahead of the crowds, to avoid the mad crush of selfie-stick tourists who invade the Ancient Town after 9:00.
The streets are cleaned overnight and there is no one but the locals who are actually living in the old town doing their morning shopping and beating the heat. It’s a perfect time for taking photos without crowded and vehicles.
9:30 -12:00 Visiting Hoi An Museums
Time to know more about the history of Hoi An. To gain access to the many sites of Old Town you will need to buy a ticket for 120,000d ($6). There are many old houses, Chinese Assembly Hall & museums that you can visit. We recommend visiting 2-3 sites.
Museum of History & Culture: this is home to over 434 archeological objects and images and materials associated with the development of the ancient town of Hoi An.
Precious Heritage Museum: Hoi An–based French photographer Réhahn has conceived this cross between a museum and a gallery, combining his outstanding photos of Vietnam’s hill tribes with artifacts and clothing he collected from each group during his wide-ranging travels in remote areas. This is the place to understand the rich cultural diversity of the ethnic minorities in Viet Nam.
12:00 - 13:00 Having lunch at Mi Quang Bich
Mi Quang is a traditional noodle dish that originated from Quang Nam – the province home of Hoi An. It is a flat rice noodle eaten with fresh vegetables, herbs, crackers together with a bit of broth made from pork, shrimps, and/or chicken stock.
This restaurant is about 10-minute cycling from the Ancient Town. They have been selling for 3 generations. It fronts the river, making it a pleasant place to have lunch. Being far away from the touristy areas of Hoi An, most of the customers here are locals. You know this place is the real deal.
13:30 - 15:00 Noon Break at the Riverside U Cafe
Vietnamese do siesta, but if you don’t want to take naps, head to the riverside eco-friendly sustainable U cafe. This is our No1 favorite cafe in Hoi An. It’s time to have a Vietnamese coffee, read a book, and enjoy the river breeze.
This quiet cafe combines Vietnamese and Japanese culture. Founded by Mrs. Reiko — General Secretary of Japan — Vietnam Friendship Association, with the aim to join hands to support the poor and protect the environment. U cafe is like a pure gem of Hoi An, though not far away from the city center.
15:00 -18:00 Afternoon ride in Central Rice Paddies & Tra Que Vegetable Village
Back to your adventure with a bike ride around the central rice paddies at sunset time. The huge rice paddies are in the midway between the Ancient Town and the beach. For the last few years, the city has been building a network of concrete cycling paths through the paddies, making it safe for tourists to cycle around.
On the way, you can have a visit to Tra Que Vegetable Village. This is a 300-year-old growing vegetable organically. Before sunset is the best time to explore the village as the farmers come back to their works after the siesta. You can walk around the paved brick path seeing over 20 different types of herbs & vegetables grown at the village. If you are a photo enthusiast, Tra Que Vegetable Village is one of the best places in Hoi An to take capture the local activities.
18:00 - 19:00 Wrap & roll at Banh Xeo Hai Dao
Hungry again? Head to Banh Xeo Hai Dao which is next to the rice paddy. Banh Xeo is a crispy savory rice pancake, originated from the Central Coast of Vietnam but it is now eaten everywhere in the country, with slight regional differences in ingredients.
This restaurant has been selling their Banh Xeo for the last 15 years and gain a reputation as one of the best Banh Xeo place sin the city. They sell only two dishes: Banh Xeo & grilled pork skewers.
19:00 -20:00 Walking under the romantic lanterns in the Ancient Town
As the sun sets, the lanterns turn on, lighting up the town in the warm glow of yellow, red, and green light, Hoi An is nicknamed “The Lantern City”. This is an impressive experience for any tourists who first come to Hoi An. However, it could be very crowded at night time. In our experience, you should not spend a lot of time here.
20:00 - 22:00 Drinking with the locals in Cam Nam Island
There’s a “kind of” culture in Vietnamese, named “Nhậu”. It means drinking & eating with friends. And we can not find a better place to “Nhau” then the small island overlooking the Ancient Town named Cam Nam.
They set up plastic low tables & chairs by the river. The busy Ancient Town is just the other side of the river, from here you can see the lantern-lit sampans bringing the tourists up & down the river. Vietnamese like drinking, and now it’s time to explore another aspect of Vietnam life: drinking culture & drunk food.
There are menus in English, but if you have no ideas what to order, try the BBQ pork belly & grilled fish. Not a good selection of alcohol options they have though, but with the river breeze, seeing the lanterns and beautiful Ancient Town from the other side of the river, this experience is a perfect way to finish your exploring day of Hoi An like a true local.