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Hoi An

Day 1

Morning: Breakfast at Hoi An Central Market

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After arriving and checking in, your first day in Hoi An is best spent exploring Hoi An Central Market for a glimpse of authentic Vietnamese life. Set along the banks of the Thu Bon River, it stays busy throughout the day, with locals and tourists bargaining for fresh fruits, vegetables, spices and handicrafts. We highly recommend visiting in the morning as it can get rather hot from midday onwards. Surrounding the market are hordes of food stalls selling delicious street foods and hearty delicacies, such as banh mi, pho and other regional specialities.

Afternoon: Ride a Boat to Cham Islands

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The Cham Islands are a cluster of eight islets just off the coast of Hoi An, one of which is a protected marine park where you can enjoy a day of snorkelling or scuba diving. A two-hour boat ride from Hoi An Ancient Town, these islands can only be visited during the dry season (March to September) as waters can get rather rough during the monsoonal months. Homestays and guesthouses are available on Hon Lao (Cham Islands’ sole inhabited islet) for those looking to stay on the island, though we highly recommend renting a tent right on the expansive beach.

Evening: Sightseeing and Shopping in Hoi An Old Town

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Evenings are best spent exploring Hoi An Old Town on foot (or cyclo, if you’re not keen on walking after an afternoon on Cham Islands). Special gems found among the heritage architecture along its narrow streets include Japanese Covered Bridge, Fujian Assembly Hall, Chuc Thanh Pagoda and Hoi An Museum of History & Culture. Hoi An’s shopping scene is legendary for its plethora of affordable yet quality tailoring services, where you can easily get your hands on custom-made dresses, suits, shirts and shoes at a fraction of the price you’d pay for them back home. Great for those who are press for time, most dressmakers can run up a full suit within 24 hours.

Night: Enjoy a drink with views of Thu Bon River

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Nightlife in Hoi An Old Town is not extremely hectic and things usually get quiet after 22:00. Still, travellers can easily find a place or two to hang out and enjoy a few drinks, snacks or a game of pool and darts. Many riverfront cafés and bars offer happy hours and some even start as early as 16:00. The views across the Thu Bon River, with local boats cruising past, are just like in the old days and the elegant lamps illuminated at night never fail to charm people.

Day 2

Morning: Trip to My Son Sanctuary

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My Son Hindu Sanctuary, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a great sample of the ancient Champa civilisation located in the southern part of Vietnam. It was an independent state from around the 2nd to the 17th century, at which time it was occupied by Vietnam. The impressive Hindu-themed ruins feature many beautiful stone sculptures, temples and towers in tropical jungle surroundings. The best time to visit is early in the morning as it offers cooler temperatures and smaller crowds. You can either opt for a day tour to My Son Hindu Sanctuary or rent a motorcycle if you prefer exploring at your own pace.

Afternoon: Sunbathe at An Bang Beach or Cua Dai Beach

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After returning to Hoi An from My Son Hindu Sanctuary, make your way to An Bang Beach, one of the few stretches of beach in Hoi An that’s relatively unspoiled by development. A popular option for soaking up the sun and enjoying an array of seaside activities, it’s also home to a choice of beachfront resorts, seafood restaurants and hippy bars with stunning views of the neighbouring Marble Mountains, Da Nang Bay, and Da Nang and Cham Islands. 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.

Cua Dai Beach is another great reason to visit Hoi An as you can soak up all the celebrated cultural and historical sites, then head up to the beach and experience what is often claimed to be Vietnam's most stunning coastal shore. Both beaches are located just 7 km north of Hoi An Old Town, so a taxi should take no more than 10 minutes to get you there.

Evening: Enjoy Hoi An’s Diverse Dining Scene

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Hoi An is teeming with international restaurants and bars, with many of them featuring spacious lounge bars on the ground floor and an eating section with a balcony upstairs. Some are fitted with large screens showing the latest sports events, as well as stages hosting live bands, DJ sets and traditional performances. Roadside food stalls and rough-and-ready restaurants are also popular dining options in Hoi An, serving authentic Vietnamese dishes at incredibly low prices.

Night: Light a Lantern at Hoi An Riverside

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Your final night in Hoi An is best spent at the bustling Riverside, which comes to life with hundreds of colourful handmade lanterns, local vendors and street performances along the narrow streets. If you happen to visit Hoi An on a full moon, you’ll find every shop, restaurant and bar in the Ancient Town switches off all electricity and relies on hundreds of candles and lanterns. Expect lots of local musicians playing traditional instruments, Chinese chess, poetry readings, and lantern-making classes until late during this festivity.
 
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