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Hoi An | Historic Old Quarter | Best Beaches | Top Day Excursions

Elegant and historic, Hoi An is Vietnam’s most atmospheric town. The laid back vibe in Hoi An and proximity to great beaches and other cultural sights are making it a popular place for travelers who prefer to spend longer in one area instead of continually being on the move. Check out our complete guide on the ancient city of Hoi An and its surrounding highlights. 



Old Quarter

In the old quarter, you will find plenty of art galleries, tailors, clothing shops, and stylish restaurants and cafes. The ancient architecture with Chinese, Japanese and Portuguese touches is what makes this town such a feast for the senses. 

 

The old quarter  is small enough to get by on foot, and many of the streets are even completely closed off for cars and motorbikes.

Hoi An’s major attractions or landmarks are located within walking distance of each other, including the Japanese covered bridge, the Chinese assembly halls, Guan Yin Temple, the museum of history and culture, and the Tran family home and chapel.

 

A day spent casually strolling around this beautiful city is for many one of the highlights of their trip to Vietnam.  

 

Where to go Around Hoi An

 

Cham Islands

For all those that detest sharing their tropical paradise with the general public, head to the Cham Islands right away. The Cham Islands are marine protected islands just off the coast of Hoi An. Due to its fragile ecosystem, hardly any development has taken place. On free days and weekdays, day-trippers will make there way here. However, if you manage to get out on a weekday, you may find yourself alone with a handful of other people.

The Cham Islands are popular destinations for divers and snorkelers and recently sea walkers. You can book day trips for these excursions that depart from Hoi An every day. The ferry to the Cham Islands takes roughly 90 minutes.

 

2.Marble Mountain and Monkey Mountain

The Marble Mountains right outside of Da Nang seemingly pop up out of the ground Beneath the surface lies a complex system of caves and tunnels. Pagodas, shrines, and statues are also scattered around the area.

Only a 20-minute bus ride from Hoi An, Marble Mountain, has a unique appearance of leaping out of the surrounding flat plain. The mountain is composed of five limestone peaks, Ngu Hanh Son, which translates to 5 elements mountain, each peak representing one of the five elements.

Nearby lies Monkey Mountain. The approaches to the peak are some of the steepest inclines in South East Asia. The incredibly winding and steep roads make it almost impossible for a standard bike to reach up. At the base of the mountain lies the famous Lady Buddha statue, seen as a spiritual protector from natural disasters like typhoons. The figure stands at an impressive 67 meters. Right around from the Lady Buddha is the Linh Ung – Bai But Pagoda, an active monastery and pilgrimage site for domestic tourists. On a clear day, you can see Hue from the peak.

 

3.My Son

The ruins of My Son are Vietnam’s equivalent of Angkor Wat. Dating back to the early centuries AD when the Hindu Champa civilization reigned over much of central Vietnam.

The Myson ruins suffered heavy bombing in 1969 during the American-Vietnam War. Tragically, much of the site was left in ruins.

You will notice craters as big as houses as you walk around this site that remain from the attack. Still a large part of the sanctuary can not be visited as it has not been cleared of all explosives from the war.

MySon is a remarkable achievement in architecture that developed over ten centuries. It presents a clear picture of spiritual and political life in a significant moment in the history of South East Asia.

MySon can be reached by motorbike from Hoi An or you can book one of the many day tours that go there.

 

4.Nipa Palms

A labyrinth wonderland of mangroves Nipa Palms or “Coconut Palms” have been a major tourist destination in Hoi An for several years. This is where you go to ride on the famous Vietnamese basket boat

There are areas of the palms that are a bit over-crowded with tourist on the basket boats but do not worry, you can get away from the crowd and be more secluded. The scenery here is a tad reminiscent of Jurassic Park.

5.Da Nang

 

Da Nang is the largest city in central Vietnam and, in recent years, has seen exceptional development. For those looking to do some shopping, Da Nang offers a terrific selection of stores to look into.

The main reason why most travelers will wander here is the proximity to My Khe Beach and Lang Co Beach. Lang Co Beach is a stunning stretch of white sand lined with pine trees along crystal clear blue water. My Khe Beach or “China Beach” was a popular place of American G.I’s during the seeking R&R. Water sports here are in abundance, and it does get crowded here over the weekend.

 

Best Beahes around Hoi An

1. Cham Island Beach

Known locally as “Cuo Lao Cham,” they are located just 18 km offshore of Hoi An. Constituting eight islands, they are home to an incredible amount of biodiversity, recognized by UNESCO as a World Biosphere Reserve. Due to the fragility of the environment here, the islands are only open seven months of the year.

Scuba diving here is incredibly popular with crystal clear waters and 135 different types of coral reefs. Tourists also come here to partake in an “eco-tour” hiking across the islands, visiting local fish villages, and camping in the middle of the forest. The beaches here are in terrific condition due to the relatively small amount of tourist traffic these islands.

Cua Dai Beach

Cua Dai Beach is four km away from the center of Hoi An in the Cam An Ward. It is consistently ranked as one of the premier beaches in Vietnam. The pristine soft white sand and crystal clear water make it easy to see why. Thankfully it is still far from being over-run by mass tourism and is usually quite relaxed.

It is good to know that enjoying Cua Dai Beach does not come free; you will be expected to purchase a drink or some fresh fruit from one of the local hawkers, especially if you are not renting a sunbathing chair. There are plenty of restaurants in the area to choose from as well, seafood, of course, is the specialty.

3. An Bang Beach

Located seven kilometers north of Hoi An Ancient Town, you can easily get to An Bang Beach via bicycle or motorcycle. Parking at the entrance to the beach is priced no more than VND 10,000 for the entire day. Alternatively, you can opt for a five-minute taxi ride, which costs about VND 80,000.

An Bang Beach is one of the few stretches of beach in Hoi An that’s relatively unspoiled by development, making it a popular option for soaking up the sun and enjoying a wide range of seaside activities. It also houses an array of beachfront resorts, seafood restaurants, and hippy bars with stunning views of the neighboring Marble Mountains, Da Nang Bay, and Da Nang and Cham Island. Most of the restaurants offer sunbed rentals between VND 15,000 and VND 40,000, but they’re free of charge if you dine there.