How to spend 1 day in Hoi An

Hoi An Old Town

The ancient city of Hoi An has a rich history, picturesque alleys, rice fields, beaches, and so much good food! Consequently, it is a destination for all kinds of travelers, such as backpackers, honeymooners, retirees and families. If you only have 1 day to explore, do not worry, as you can see and experience plenty in that time. It is a small city, so getting around is easy, and you can visit all the main sites. I hope you’re ready for an adventure packed day!

4 fun things to do in 1 day in Hoi An

1. Cycle through the rice fields

While in Vietnam, you will no doubt chow down on some delicious rice, which is Vietnam’s staple dish. There’s no better way to educate yourself about this food than by exploring the lush green rice fields of Hoi An on a bicycle. Whether you witness fields covered in water or empty fields that have recently been harvested, it is an amazing experience.

The countryside of Hoi An offers a vast area to explore, where you can spot farmers digging, water buffalos taking a dip, storks, and experience regular country life. It was my favourite thing to do in Hoi An.

Should I do a tour or do it myself?

This completely depends on your personal preferences. Some people just like to explore on their own, and if that’s the case for you, getting to the rice fields is easy and safe. There are farmers, motorbikes (not many), cyclists, and houses in the area, so you won’t be alone.

We went with a local tour guide and learned some interesting facts about the area. He also had great knowledge of the area and took us on shortcuts through the local villages instead of a busy road. The downside was that we would have preferred to spend another 2 or 3 hours cycling around, and it felt a but awkward asking to stop to take photos. If you would like a tour guide I recommend:

Hoi An City and Countryside Tour
Coconut Forest Tour by Bicycle and Basket Boat in Hoi An

2. Bay Mau Coconut Forest

I am sure most people reading this have seen the Instagrams & TiToks of the coconut boat guys masterfully spinning while maintaining balance, and well, this is the place!

There is definitely a party vibe here, with a large number of coconut boats on the river. You will be seated in the boat with a guide who will maneuver the boat around the coconut forest. Without even asking, the guides often make frequent stops so that their passengers can jump out for a photo, ensuring you get your Instagram pictures.

The boat trip lasts about 20 minutes, and it is highly entertaining to see the boat guys spinning around. For an additional experience, you can even jump in the boat with them for the ride of your life.

3. Explore the old town

Meandering through the enchanting streets of this UNESCO World Heritage site, you will find beauty in every corner. Here are some places you must check out :

– Cau Temple
– Old House of Tan Ky
– Ba Mu Temple Gates (Tam Quan)
– Van Duc Pagoda

In addition, there are numerous tailors who can create custom dresses or suits for you. Although I didn’t do it myself due to budget limitations, I think it’s a lovely idea and a perfect souvenir to take home for yourself.

4. Release a lantern into the river

Lanterns in Hoi An at night

Lanterns symbolize love and good fortune, and the locals believe that lighting and releasing lanterns will bring about health and happiness. That’s why it’s a very popular activity for tourists to engage in. At night, the river becomes aglow with hundreds of twinkling lights. Alongside the bridge, you’ll find many street vendors selling lanterns. They will light them for you, and then you can release them into the river.

Another way to experience the lanterns is by taking a nighttime boat trip on the Hoai River. The journey lasts about 15 minutes, and despite the river being busy, it offers a peaceful and spiritual ambiance. If you would like to experience this you can book the boat trip here.

You can also learn the craft of making lanterns yourself at a lantern making class.


Hoi An is a foodie’s heaven with its street food, cooking classes, and amazing restaurants! Therefore, I highly recommend trying as much new food as possible while you’re here. You can also learn how to make some of these dishes yourself by taking a cooking class from the locals.

Cau Lau

This dish is local to Hoi An and can be difficult to find in other parts of Vietnam. It consists of pork slices, vegetables, rice noodles, and pork crackling. The reason why it is challenging to find cau lau in other parts of Vietnam is because the rice noodles have been soaked in calcium water from the local well (supposedly Ba Le well) and mixed with ashes from trees on Cham Island. This unique process gives the rice noodles a firmer texture and a yellow hue.

Bánh Bao Bánh V?c (white rose dumplings)

These little bites are filled with minced pork and shrimp sprinkled with crispy onions. They are a dish unique to Hoi An, similar to cau lau the dumpling is thought to be made from the water at Ba Le well.

Com Ga (Chicken & Rice)

This might not be the most exciting food you come across in Hoi An but it is everywhere. The meal comes with vegetables, chilli and lime, basic but tasty and filling.

Banh Mi

This is a crispy baguette filled with a variety of meats and vegetables, usually you can choose one meat or a combination. I recommend going to a street vendor because the restaurants just do not do it the same (that is a rule for everywhere in Vietnam).

Mì Qu?ng

A staple central Vietnamese dish that draws on inspiration for Chinese and Japanese cuisine. The dish uses thick rice noodles, meat (chicken, fish, pork or a combination), vegetables, peanuts, flavourful chicken broth and rice crackers. You may also find some are served with a quail egg.

Banh Xeo

I just love these crispy pancakes so much, they were my go to lunch when out and about. They are made from rice flour, water and turmeric and filled mostly with shrimp, pork and beansprouts. They usually come with a side of leafy greens, rice paper and dip. You fill them with the green, wrap in rice paper and dip. Above all, delicious!

Bahn Tráng Nuong (Vietnamese pizza)

These are very similar to banh xeo and are a street food staple (I have yet to find them in restaurants). The pizza is made from grilled rice paper, egg and a variety of ingredients such as pork, onions and chilli sauce.

Banh mi stall in Hoi An

Where to eat

If you are gluten free check out some great gluten free restaurants in Hoi An here.

Is Hoi An worth visiting?

Yes, I would call it a must see destination in Vietnam. It is so unique, rich in history, culture with plenty to see and do, a thriving nightlife & if that is not enough there are beaches!

Is one day enough in Hoi An?

You may miss out on some things, but with good planning, you can see, taste, and experience a lot. Ideally, you would want to spend three days there, but if your schedule does not allow it, you can still enjoy Hoi An in one day. I personally spent one day and one night there, and I left feeling like I saw the best parts. I don’t feel the need to go back or that I missed out on major experiences.

Where to stay in Hoi An?

Hoi An is surprisingly very affordable when it comes to accommodation options. Usually, tourist hotspots have hotels that overcharge, but not here! We stayed in the Lion King Hotel, and it was one of the best hotels I have every stayed in.

When we arrived, the owners, Flower & Robert ,gave us excellent advice on where to eat, drink, and the the must see places. They informed us of the local dishes and what to be cautious of. The hotel room was clean and spacious, with high powered air con. From the moment we checked in, we felt as if we were visiting relatives due to the warmth and hospitality from Flower and Robert. When we were leaving, they handed us a bag of food they had purchased that morning from the local market, including 2 banh mis and a selection of cakes. It was such an unexpected but incredibly kind gesture. Additionally, the hotel also has a pool in the back.

If the Lion King Hotel is booked out or just not your cup of tea, I recommend the following hotels:

Is Hoi An expensive?

As mentioned above accommodation is affordable but food and drink are priced higher than other areas of Vietnam. If you stick to street food you will save some money but restaurants charge an average of 362,000 VND per meal.

Please note that some of the links in this blog post may be affiliate links, which means I may earn a small commission if you make a purchase through those links.

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