Southeast Asia has long been a place I keep traveling back to.
There’s something about the shift in lifestyle, the culture, the colors, and the food that keep calling me back.
I have a huge soft spot for Vietnam, especially Hoi An, which is one of my favorite places in the world.
This UNESCO World Heritage town is incredible. Simply walking around the Old Town, you feel as though you’ve entered another world.
Since Hoi An is one of my favorite places to be, I’ve put together a list of my top 10 reasons to visit Hoi An.
Read: 30-Day Vietnam Itinerary
Reasons to Visit Hoi An Vietnam
The Tailored Clothing
Hoi An is known as the best place in Vietnam to buy tailored clothing.
It seems as though every second store you walk past within the Old Town are tailoring stores, and given that there are hundreds of tailors within Hoi An alone, that may well be true!
I’ve been to Hoi An twice, and I’ve gotten clothing tailored both times.
Being my tiny five-foot frame, finding clothes that aren’t miles too long for me can be a difficult feat!
I have amazed by the clothing I have received. They can make a replica of any photo you give, down to the finer details.
But, the thing I was most impressed with was how fast your garments can be completed.
Most places will take around 48 hours from the initial consultation, which will include a couple of fittings to ensure your tailored clothing fits perfectly.
Before you visit Hoi An, save photos of the clothing styles you like, so you have a rough idea of what you would like to get tailored.
More often than not, there will be items on display at the tailors, as well as booklets with sample designs.
The tailor can also help you make decisions on designs, material, and finishes.
As well as buying tailored clothing, shopping, in general, is great in Hoi An, as well as being one of the best things to do in Ho Chi Minh City.
Both towns are filled with high-quality counterfeit clothing, such as The North Face, Gucci, and Under Armour, to name a few.
The Delicious Vietnamese Food
Italian food used to be my preference, but after I had made it to Vietnam, Vietnamese food now takes the top spot.
I can’t get over how fresh the food is. Fresh herbs are used in every dish, giving an intense flavor and wonderful aromas.
The soups or broths used are light and refreshing.
I could go on and on about Vietnamese food, but I’ll narrow it down to my five favorite Vietnamese dishes.
Cha gio is the name given to fried spring rolls. This delicious dish makes for the perfect appetizer to accompany any meal.
Cha gio typically contains pork, but there are often other flavors available, including prawn and vegetarian.
Pair the spring rolls with a nuoc mam cham sauce made of fish sauce and citrus.
A banh mi is a Vietnamese take on the French baguette.
Their secret ingredient is pate and fresh herbs. The best place in Hoi An to try a banh mi is Banh Mi Phuong, made famous by Anthony Bourdain.
Their chicken and cheese flavor is my favorite by far. They have plenty of flavors available, including a few vegetarian options.
If I had to choose a preferred dish, it would have to be cao lau.
This noodle dish is very different to pho. Instead of rice noodles, yellow noodles are used that have been fried first, then steamed in lye water from a specific well in Hoi An.
You’ll find cao lau at almost every restaurant in Hoi An Old Town.
Pho is one of the most well-known Vietnamese dishes.
The noodle dish consists of rice noodles in a broth, with pho bo (beef) being the most common.
Served with your dish will be a plate of herbs, fresh chili, and a lime wedge for flavor. Just mix as you choose into the broth and enjoy it!
White rose is another dish unique to Hoi An.
The easiest way to describe the dish is an unwrapped dumpling.
A meat filling, usually shrimp, pork, or a mixture of the two is placed on a small rice paper, which gives the appearance of a ‘white rose’.
This side dish is a must-try in Hoi An.
The Affordable Prices
Southeast Asia is a great place to go for budget-conscious travelers, and Vietnam, especially Hoi An, is one of my favorite places.
The cost of living in Vietnam is incredibly low for Western standards.
To give you an idea of really how cheaply you can live on your next visit to Vietnam, a dorm room could cost you as little as $3 USD per night, if you choose to stay a little further out from the Old Town. For around $5 USD, you’ll be able to find a dorm room within the Old Town.
If you’re traveling as a couple, there are plenty of options in guesthouses and hostels.
A private room should cost $15 USD to $20 USD per night. But of course, Hoi An will suit other budgets too, including mid-range and high-end.
There is a wide selection of hotels in Hoi An to suit everyone.
For food, a decent meal could cost you as little as $1 USD.
A bahn mi sandwich, beef pho, and cao lau noodles are great examples of cheap Vietnamese meals.
Depending on where you stay, some hostels will even offer free cocktails during their happy hour, or at least happy hour deals.
Read: The Cost to Travel Vietnam
The Quaint Old Town
Strolling through the Old Town, it really does feel like you’re in another world.
There are bright yellow buildings as far as the eye can see.
The riverfront is picturesque and a great place to go for a stroll. Standing in the middle of the Bridge of Lights gives you the perfect view of the town – buildings on either side and the Thu Bon River filled with charming boats adorned with lanterns.
The Old Town really comes to life at night with the Bridge of Lights and lanterns all shining brightly. The views are really like no other.
The Countryside and Rice Fields
Hoi An is more than just beaches and the Old Town. There are some great places in Hoi An to check out that are more rural.
The rice fields are a great example of this.
They’re scattered around Hoi An, around three or so kilometer from the Old Town.
The best way to explore the rice fields is by bike. Rent a bike for $1 USD to $2 USD and cycle around the rice fields with no other tourists in sight.
Pay a visit to Tra Que Vegetable Village.
This functioning vegetable farm is a great place to go for a cooking class, or just for a walk about the vegetable patches.
Although this is a tourist attraction, few tourists seem to make it out here.
The Idyllic Beaches
Hoi An is located on the central coast of Vietnam, so it is surrounded by many idyllic beaches.
Although many tourists, especially those in Vietnam for their first time, choose to stay in the Old Town, some choose to stay in the resorts right by the beach.
If this sounds like something you’d be interested in, Cua Dai is a great place to stay. There are plenty of resorts to choose from that are right on the beach.
My favorite beach in Hoi An is An Bang Beach.
You can easily spend half a day here swimming in the ocean, reading a good book on the sun loungers, and dining at the beachfront restaurants.
Grab a refreshing fruit smoothie here – mango or mixed fruit really hits the spot!
The Magnificent Architecture
You’ll find French-inspired architecture all over Vietnam.
This is because Vietnam was under French rule in the late 19th Century, for over 50 years.
The color of the buildings in Hoi An Old Town is a characteristic bright yellow.
Pair this with painted lanterns strung from building to building. During the day, the lanterns provide a pop of color, and at night, they light the way.
As well as the French colonial architecture in the buildings and Chinese-inspired lanterns, Hoi An also has Japanese influence.
One of the main attractions within Hoi An Old Town is the Japanese Covered Bridge.
This dates back to the 18th Century to link the Japanese living in Hoi An with the Chinese quarters.
The Laidback Lifestyle
The laidback lifestyle isn’t specific to Hoi An, but more Southeast Asia. Although, it definitely becomes more apparent in Hoi An.
While you see the locals working hard at their stalls setting up knick-knacks for sale, cooking at their restaurant, or bartering with tourists, you never see them rushing.
They have a laidback approach to life which is admirable in this day and age with society’s constant need for advancement.
It has really taught me to live in the moment and really question my lifestyle choices – yes, I am one of those people who left the nine to five to travel and enjoy every second of my life!
The Nighttime Events
Watch the town transform at night.
You can light candles in paper lanterns to float down the Thu Bon River as you ride in a paddleboat lit up by colorful lanterns.
Despite being a small town, there are quite a few great spots for nightlife.
The vast majority of people in Hoi An are tourists on holiday and are interested in a night out. Across the Bridge of Lights is a selection of bars such as the Irish Pub and Tiger Bar.
There’s even a Mr. Bean Bar – not the classiest but definitely a great story to tell your family and friends back home!
The Cooking Classes
You can take cooking classes all over Vietnam, but after reading ecstatic reviews about cooking classes in Hoi An, I decided to take part in one there.
I signed up for a class at Vy’s Market Restaurant & Cooking School, located within the Old Town. I would highly recommend it! We got to craft four dishes in around three hours.
The first course we made was goi cuon.
This is a fresh Vietnamese spring roll consisting of (usually) pork and prawn) with lettuce and fresh herbs, wrapped in rice paper.
This fresh version of the spring roll is a healthy alternative to the deep-fried spring roll.
Next, we made banh xeo.
This crispy savory pancake is seasoned with turmeric. The next dish was super refreshing.
Papaya salad is a common dish eaten in Southeast Asia, including Laos.
Last, but certainly not least, we got to make cao lau noodles, Hoi An’s specialty. This is near the top of my favorite dishes in Vietnam.
About the Author: While Delilah calls New Zealand home, she loves to travel to new places. Her travel blog aims to help people travel the world better.