what to do in hoi an

Top 9 Hoi An Photo Spots

From its beaches and lush rice fields to the lantern lined streets of the Old Town, all of Hoi An is just screaming to have its photo taken… And everyone knows it. To be honest, the selfie sticks and posing tourists are actually my least favorite part about Hoi An… but who can blame em - the town is flippin’ adorable.

Here are some of the top photo spots in Hoi An and a map to help get you there!


 
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COCONUT BEACH

Depending on when you go, you’ll likely find more bamboo boats than tourists on this quiet beach. This not only makes Coconut Beach a great spot for some very insta-worthy sunrise and sunset shots, but also my favorite spot for beach hangs in Hoi An… Easily! More on that here.

Once you get your shot, be sure to stick around! - Put your cameras away and enjoy.

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RICE FIELDS

Aside from lounging on the beach, another thing I loved to do in Hoi An was starting my day with a morning run, or taking the scenic route to town through the city’s lush, green, rice fields. Though it was my second time visiting Hoi An, the beautiful landscape still blew me away.

To the locals, I probably looked ridiculous stopping every few meters and snapping away - but I mean… come on… the rice fields green and beautiful and unlike any of the (many) fields we have in North Carolina.

Though there are plenty of rice fields to choose from around Hoi An, my favorite spot for photos was behind Hub Hoi An - (a co-working space that is also very insta-worthy and worth checking out if you’re looking for a cozy spot with good WiFi to get some work done).

I recommend getting up early and heading there for sunrise. At this time, the roads are (more or less) quiet and the lighting is still soft.

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OLD QUARTER

For the most part, all of Hoi An is photogenic, but, with its bright walls and lively streets, Old Town stands apart from the rest.

I loved capturing the buzz of the area, but if you want one of those quiet “wow I’m the only one here” shots for your insta feed, you’re gonna either have to get creative… or get up at the crack of dawn.

Here are a few of my favorite old town shots. The particularly colorful, (and oddly quiet) spot pictured below is located just around the corner from the Japanese Covered Bridge (by Rosie’s Cafe - one of my favorite spots in the city to grab a bite).

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Pro Tip: Hoi An is hot… if you’re out taking photos, at some point, you’re going to need to stop for a drink. As tempting as it may be to down yet another Vietnamese coffee, cooling down with a delicious herbal tea from Mots Tea House is a tasty alternative.

Mots is a cute little family run restaurant that also serves up local favorites like Cao Lau and Pho. Their signature herbal teas are as refreshing as they are cute… If only they’d get rid of the plastic cups and straws, then these teas would be perfect.

More on Mot’s famous herbal tea and their other affordable menu offerings here!

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TEMPLES

Just like rice fields, there is no shortage of temples to explore around Hoi An.

We really enjoyed Chùa Long Tuyền, a Buddhist temple located just around the corner from one of our Homestays. It’s a bit off the beaten track and away from the Old Town… which we didn’t mind at all - this meant it was totally empty.

It’s a great spot to stop and snag some photos, but make sure you’re dressed appropriately (which I unfortunately was not in some of these pictures).

When visiting temples, you should always make sure that your shoulders are always covered. Vietnam is HOT, and I, having not planned for a stop at the temple, made the rookie mistake of wearing a tank top. Learn from my mistakes and either go in a top with sleeves or bring a scarf with you to cover up!

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HOI AN CENTRAL MARKET

If you go to Hoi An and don’t go to the Central Market, you’re doing yourself a massive disservice. If you do plan to go, prepare for sensory overload. This lively market is a great place for snapping photos, grabbing a bite to eat, or just people watching.

I recommend heading here early for a traditional Phở brekky. Early as in, before the cooking school tours roll through… not that there’s anything wrong with being a part of a cooking school tour! I’ve done a couple in Hoi An and really enjoyed them, however, I just suggest you explore the market on your own, too!

Pro tip: look out for bikes and scooters on the side streets surrounding the market.

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CAM THANH VILLAGE

Taking a bamboo boat ride through the water coconut palms forest is also a must while visiting Hoi An. It’s such a fun experience, not to mention an awesome photo opp.

Kill two birds with one stone and book a cooking class with Hoi An Eco Cooking Class. They begin the class with a tour of the Central market, a bamboo boat ride, and then an awesome cooking experience.

If you’re lucky, you might get to see how the pro bamboo boaters have fun on the water. (Hint - there’s lots of spinning involved).

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“Hoi An Vibes Only” Mural

Sunday in Hoi An is an adorable shop that sells everything from housewares and gifts to clothes and accessories. Their products are made from natural materials by artisans in Vietnam and throughout Southeast Asia.

It isn’t uncommon to come here and see a line of people waiting to take a photo with the mural, but my advice is to actually take a look around. If you’re anything like me, I guarantee you’ll want one of everything. So, in that case, maybe put your blinders on and don’t look around…

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I practiced self control and settled for two things - an adorable two piece jump suit and a wooden phone case. The were both a bit pricey by Vietnam standards, but both worthwhile purchases. I wore the jumpsuit for the rest of the trip, and the phone case saved my phone from getting destroyed when it fell out of my pocket while riding the scooter.

Pro Tip: There are actually two Sunday in Hoi An locations in the old town, but only one where you can get this shot of the mural. Be sure to head to the location on Trần Phú.

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MURAL VILLAGE

If you liked that last mural, you’re gonna love this photo hot spot - an entire mural village.

The Tam Thanh Mural Village was a joint project between the Vietnamese Peoples Committee of Quang Nam Province and the Korean Community Art Exchange Program. Over a dozen Vietnamese and Korean artists painted over 100 murals around the community.

The project aimed to create art for a better community and to bring more tourists to the area. So far, it has been a massive success and has even inspired other similar projects to spring up in the area… more on that soon.

Though it’s not technically in Hoi An, the Mural Village is just a short day trip away and well worth a visit if you’re a fan of street art. It lies alongside a beautiful beach which was totally deserted when we visited… making it a pretty surreal spot for photos as well.

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Pro Tip: Though the entrance to the mural village is just beside the market, the murals actually begin much further down the street.

If you’re coming here by car, I’d recommend getting dropped off a bit closer to save yourself a sweltering walk.


CHAM ISLAND

Cham Island, located about 9 miles off the shore of Hoi An, is another picturesque location for photos. However, not during peak tourist visiting hours… which is basically all day.

The best way to snap a decent shot (and to have a good island experience) is to stay overnight. By around 3 or 4pm, most tour groups leave for the day… and then Cham island is basically deserted.

We camped out on Cham Island and had the best time playing some footy with one of the local kids on the island, getting to know fellow travelers around a campfire, and sleeping in a tent by the sea.

The good thing about booking a tour and camping out overnight is that most tours also include your choice of diving or snorkeling! Read more about our trip to Cham Island here.

Cham Island
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Map

Need a little help finding your way in Hoi An? Click around my custom map to discover the best photo locations in and around the city.

Have you been to Hoi An?

Where did you take your favorite shot? Let me know in the comments below!


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The Most Hands-On Cooking Experience in Hoi An - Hoi An Eco Cooking Class

While visiting Hoi An, or Vietnam in general, it would be silly to miss out on taking a cooking class. With so many to choose from, you may be wondering where to begin.

During my first trip to Hoi An, I spent a day at Green Bamboo Cooking School. This time, I wanted to try something different, so Andrew and I decided to go to the Hoi An Eco Cooking Class. It shared some similarities with Green Bamboo Cooking school, but overall I think it gives guests a more hands-on cooking experience.

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WHAT TO EXPECT

Visiting The Market

Like my previous cooking class experience, the Hoi An Eco Cooking class begins with a trip to the Central Market. Here you’ll see the colorful lively market where many locals buy and sell their produce and other goods. If you’re a first timer at the market, it’s nice to go with a guide who can teach you a bit about the market and products sold there.

(Tip: Once you’ve been given the inside scoop, be sure to head to the Central Market on your own, and do it early! - before the parade of tourists comes through. You’ll see what I mean).

Bamboo Boating

After visiting the market, we drove to the cooking school which was conveniently located right beside the water in Cam Thanh Coconut Village.

Before the cooking begins, you’ll take a ride in a traditional coracle, better known as a bamboo boat, through the beautiful water coconut palm forest.

The local fisherman guiding your boat will teach you how to catch fish and purple crabs. He also attempted, with no success, to teach me how to properly paddle the boat… let’s just say I’ve been skipping arm day at the gym for way too long.

Hands-on Cooking Experience

After exploring the channels, you’ll return to the cooking school for quick refreshments. Then you’ll get down to business. You’ll be given an apron, a number, a chef’s hat, and full responsibility for everything you cook from then on. Everything we were to eat we had to make totally on our own, so if your cooking sucks, your food will suck… the head instructor’s words… not mine. No pressure.

We learned how to make rice milk, which we then used to carefully make rice paper. The whole process was so delicate and precise. We used our rice paper to make fresh spring rolls, which we dipped in a delicious sweet and sour fish sauce.

We cooked some of Vietnam’s famous Pho Bo (beef noodles), Aubergine with soy sauce, and a delicious banana flower salad. Then things got hot as we played with fire to fry up some Banh Xeo (crispy pancakes).

As each dish was finished, we placed it on a tray with our number, and, once everything was complete, sat down to a delicious and rewarding feast.

To end the day, everyone watched an incredible food art demonstration! Sadly, I didn’t manage to turn tomatoes into roses and carrots into flowers on my own. We were given special cooking tools, a mini cook book, and serious food comas to take home with us!


WHAT I LOVED

Unlike the Green Bamboo Cooking School, where each guest chose and prepared a single dish (but got to try a bit of everything), at the Hoi An Eco Cooking Class you prepare everything you eat on your own. Though it was a bit more fast-paced, I really enjoyed getting to learn more about each food and how it is made.

(Note: Since you were only responsible for preparing one dish at the Green Bamboo Cooking School, there was more time to relax and chat with the other travellers. If you’re looking for a more laid back experience, this may be a better choice for you).

I for one felt proud when I successfully prepared all of the dishes on my own… and even more proud when they actually tasted good. I also really enjoyed the Bamboo Boat ride - This was something Andrew and I wanted to do anyway, so it was great to get that experience and a cooking class all in one!

This class is also great for those with dietary restrictions. Even the vegetarians in the group were able to cook veggie-friendly versions of each dish (which is something you definitely won’t get at every cooking school)!

If a fun, hands on experience is what you’re after, then the Hoi An Eco Cooking Class is the perfect choice for you.

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BOOKING

To request a spot at in the class, head to hoianecocookingclass.com.

Note: I was a guest of the Hoi An Eco Cooking Class, however, all thoughts and opinions expressed in this post are my own.


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