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Day Trips from Hoi An

  • March 1, 2024
  • By 50 Shades
Day Trips from Hoi An

On my third visit to Hoi An in Vietnam I discovered a whole new side to this remarkable coastal and riverside town on the central Vietnamese coast. This time around I was travelling solo and decided to partake in some day trips from Hoi An to explore what there was to see and do, apart from hanging out on the beach or in the charming and atmospheric Ancient Town.

For those of you who have never heard of Hoi An, it is a UNESCO heritage-listed town on the central coast of Vietnam, approximately 30 kilometres from Da Nang. It was once a busy trading port dating back to the 15th to 19th century. The well preserved Ancient Town is an absolute must see. Of a nighttime it lights up with colourful paper lanterns adorning the river and the streets.

Day Trips from Hoi An
Quan Kong Temple in Hoi An

How to get to Hoi An

Depending on which major city you fly in to, whether it’s Ho Chi Minh City or Hanoi, there are regular domestic flights to Da Nang. There are five different airlines that have flights internally within Vietnam: Vietnam Airlines, VietJet Air, Bamboo Airways, Pacific Airlines, and Vietravel Airlines. Understanding the visa requirements for such trips can be daunting, and resources like Visa Express offer insights into simplifying these processes for travellers.

I used Viet Jet Air for my flights from Ho Chi Minh City to Da Nang and return. They are a very basic airline with extremely narrow, hard seats with little leg room. The check-in process was a nightmare and I barely made it to the departure gate to get on the flight from Saigon Airport to Da Nang. Then it was a jam-packed bus trip out onto the tarmac where the plane was parked. So, although it was the cheapest air fare, it is probably the most uncomfortable. Oh, the joys of flying!

Day Trips From Hoi An
Cua Dai Beach in Hoi An

From Da Nang, I had pre-arranged a driver to take me to Hoi An, which is only around 30 kilometres away. The cost of this was only around $15, so is definitely the best and fastest way to get to Hoi An. The drive along the coast is scenic, past many large upmarket resort hotels between Da Nang and Hoi An.

Where I Stayed in Hoi An

My Hoi An accommodation of choice was at Cua Dai Beach at the 5 star KOI Resort and Spa. This stunning luxury resort is located on the De Vong River and the majority of the rooms and villas are located alongside a canal that branches off the river. The beach is within a short walking distance opposite the resort.

Day Trips From Hoi An
The bridge into the KOI Resort & Spa

The resort has 186 rooms spread out over the beautifully landscaped surrounds of the resort. The rooms vary in size and location from a superior room with garden views, to the lagoon view rooms, and then up to luxury villas on the riverfront.

Day Trips from Hoi An
View from my waterfront Bungalow

The rooms are very well appointed with outdoor balconies, large showers with rain heads, separate large baths, a mini bar, plenty of wardrobe space, comfortable beds, separate sitting area, cable tv and tea/coffee making facilities.

Day Trips from Hoi An
The KOI Resort Day Spa

My stay was made even more special by scoring a room upgrade to a lagoon view room. In fact my entire stay was outstanding due to the wonderful attentiveness of the staff and their special treatment. I could not fault anything about the resort.

Day Trips From Hoi An
The canal at KOI Resort & Spa

The facilities at the resort are extensive with a decadent day spa, two outdoor pools (one of which is adults only), two restaurants, a pool bar, daily breakfast buffet, kayaks and bicycles available for guest use and a free shuttle into Hoi An Ancient Town.

Day Trips From Hoi An
The adults only pool at KOI Resort

Hoi An Ancient Town

Hoi An Ancient Town was located only a 15 minute drive away by shuttle, that departed the resort at set times during the morning and afternoon. On my second day here I set off for the day to explore the Ancient Town that I felt I knew like the back of my hand after two previous visits. I was not disappointed, the town still possessed the same charm and buzz. I instantly fell under its spell.

Day Trips From Hoi An
Hoi An Ancient Town street

The only disappointment was that the Japanese Covered Bridge, a major tourist attraction, was closed for renovations. But otherwise I discovered many other treasures in the town, including a couple of undiscovered temples.

Day Trips From Hoi An
Hoi An river at a nighttime

The main purpose of my visit into town was to find a travel agent so that I could book some day trips and of course treat myself to a delicious lunch at Morning Glory. This restaurant was highly recommended to me and it did not disappoint.

Day Trips From Hoi An
Shops in Hoi an Ancient Town

After lunch I wandered around the narrow streets looking at the wares in the shops and was almost lured into jumping into a rickshaw or cyclo, to do a tour around the streets. These cyclos are extremely common in Hoi An, but you need to be careful that you don’t step in front of one!

Day Trips From Hoi An
Another Beautiful temple in Hoi An

I returned to Hoi An Ancient Town twice more during my stay, crossing the river to the island and strolling along the riverfront parklands and enjoying a local beer at a restaurant. There are also very good night markets on here of an evening with a large variety of tasty street food on offer, plus the usual souvenirs and cheap clothing.

Day Trips From Hoi An
Paper Lanterns at the Night Markets in Hoi An

But I guess the most popular thing to do in Hoi An of an evening is to stand on the bridge over the river and take a selfie with the backdrop of the paper lantern clad boats that adorn the river. Otherwise, you must purchase a small lantern in paper from one of the many vendors, to float into the water and make a wish for good luck.

Day Trips From Hoi an
The famous Hoi An Bridge

I dined one evening at Cargo, another recommended restaurant, that is located on the riverfront and enjoyed a Vietnamese-style pork belly dish with a tangy salad. Really, anywhere located along the river is a great spot to be to take in the allure of the colourfully lit up river and boats, as well as doing some serious people-spotting.

Day Trips From Hoi An
Riverside Restaurant in Hoi An

Central Market is also worth a visit to see the wide array of locally grown fruit and vegetables, as well as locally caught fish and meat.

Day Trips From Hoi An
Hoi An Central Market

Day Trip to My Son Sanctuary

I embarked on a day trip to My Son Sanctuary on the third day of my stay. The bus picked me up early and we set off stopping at several other hotels to pick up day trippers. We roughly followed the river for around 20 kilometres and then drove through endless villages, interrupted by some farming land growing rice and other crops.

Day Trips From Hoi An
My Son Sanctuary backdrop

After an hour we arrived at the entrance to My Son Sanctuary. This UNESCO Heritage Listed historical site comprises of 70 tower temples that are scattered throughout a forested area, that was once inhabited by the Champa civilization, dates back as far as the 4th to 13th century.

Day Trips From Hoi An
Red brick temples at My Son Sanctuary

On arrival we attended a Cham dance performance that was both colourful and lively. We then strolled around the grounds with our guide, who in very broken English and rather strange sense of humour, attempted to describe the My Son relics and Champa civilization to us. Most of us wandered around by ourselves to see these astonishing red brick towers, some of which you could walk inside where there were displays of artefacts from the era.

Day Trips From Hoi An
The ancient ruins of the Champa civilization

We eventually returned to the entrance of the tourist attraction and had lunch together as a group at a restaurant. Then we were hustled onto the bus again to drive to the Thu Bon river to get aboard a river boat to make our way back to Hoi An.

Day Trips From Hoi An
One of the temples at My Son Sanctuary

I enjoyed the tour immensely and was able to capture some beautiful photos of the ancient ruins amidst the forest. The river cruise back into town was equally as pleasurable. At around $30 for the half-day tour, I thought it was good value. But if your expectations were a little more, then I would recommend using a more expensive tour with a guide that spoke better English.

Day Trips From Hoi An
Riverboat cruise on the Thu Bon River

Day Trip to Ba Na Hills & Golden Bridge

It was another early morning start to get into a comfortable modern van to travel two hours away to Ba Na Hills. From the brochure I received from the travel agent, I was expecting something completely different to what I discovered. I thought I was driving into the Ba Na Hills for a day of sightseeing, but what I got was a day at a huge theme park called Sun World located high on top of the Ba Na Hills.

Day Trips From Hoi An
View from the cable car coming down from Ba Na Hills

The opulence of this place, not to mention the challenge of building such a massive theme park on top of a hill, was mind-blowing. Sun World looked like a Vietnamese Disneyland with a fairy castle, a French Quarter, a Bavarian themed area with a Beer Hall, a carnival with sideshows, games and amusement rides, a delightful sanctuary and temple at the apex of the park, immaculately landscaped and sculpted gardens, a winery, water fountains and much, much more.

To access the theme park visitors board a cable car that takes you high up into the hills with the most jaw-dropping views along the ride. We were 1,500 metres above sea level and in dense cloud at one point. Once we arrived into the theme park our tour guide explained the theme park to us and then took us to the restaurant where we were to meet for lunch, and after this we wandered around independently for a couple of hours. I headed to the top of the mountain to the temples and a quaint little tea house with spectacular views.

Day Trips From Hoi An
Entrance to the temples at the top of Ba Na Hills

Following a delicious buffet lunch we all gathered on the Golden Bridge, another man-made miracle that has you going WOW!!! A stroll out onto this 150 metre long bridge, that is supported by two giant sculpted hands, is an incredible eye-popping experience. The bridge itself is gold, hence the name Golden Bridge, spanning across a deep valley below with the most amazing views.

Day Trips From Hoi An
The Golden Bridge

We got back on the cable car and made our way down the mountain to Le Jardin d´amour. This area comprises of nine different gardens designed in different styles, including a garden maze, a giant chessboard, the Debay Wine Cellar, the giant Buddha statue and Linh Ung Pagoda. 

Day Trips From Hoi An
The gardens at Ba Na Hills
Day Trips From Hoi An
One of the temples at Ba Na Hills

Hoi An Cycling Tour

Possibly my best day out, was a 15 kilometre cycling tour out into the countryside of Hoi An with Sunrise Motorbike Tours. I was picked up by the friendly tour guide called Quy by motorbike early in the morning and taken into Hoi An where the tour began. There were six of us on the tour and we all tested out bicycles to find the right size. We then set off through the streets on the outskirts of Hoi An until we were in the countryside.

Day Trips From Hoi An
My group on the Hoi An cycling tour
Day Trips From Hoi An
Fish farm

There were rice fields aplenty and also a friendly water buffalo, where we stopped to snap a photo. We then rode through the rice fields for several kilometres. We cycled past shrimp and fish farms made up of ponds for breeding of fish for sale at local markets and restaurants. Stopping in the small Tra Que village that had a community vegetable garden where we got to see the villagers at work in the gardens.

Day Trips From Hoi An
Village vegetable garden
Day Trips From Hoi An
Water buffalo in the rice fields

We enjoyed a well earned coffee or tea stop to rest for a while and use the toilets. Setting off again, we cycled along the river, past some fish markets to the Thanh Ha Pottery Village. This village that is made up of a series of pottery studios and shops was incredible. We saw how the the pots were made out of clay, taken from the banks of the river, and shaped on a foot-operated pottery wheel. All of us got to make a small pot each and it wasn’t as easy as it looked.

Day Trips From Hoi An
Potter in action at the Pottery Village
Day Trips From Hoi An
Firing the pots in the kiln

Afterwards we made our way back to Hoi An alongside the river where there were more pottery studios and large displays of pottery sculptures, including the Chinese Horoscope animals. It was an easy bike ride back into Hoi An and then a motorbike ride back into the Ancient Town for a well deserved lunch.

Day Trips From Hoi An
Pottery shop and cafe
Day Trips From Hoi An
Pottery along the river

Other Day Trips from Hoi An

There are plenty of other day trips and tours from Hoi An to fill your time in. Here are my top three:

  1. Previously when I’ve visited Hoi An I’ve taken a sunset river cruise and Bay Mau Nipa Palm Forest by basket boat tour. This is a very relaxing and scenic cruise down the Thu Bon River on a river boat and then transferred into a smaller basket boat for a paddle through the palm trees that line the narrow waterways.
  2. A day trip to the nearby city of Da Nang is also popular with a side trip to the remarkable Marble Mountains.
  3. For history buffs, a trip to the ancient town of Hue is also recommended to check out this imperial city that dates back to 1802.
Day Trips From Hoi An
Basket Boat Tour in Hoi An

Put Hoi An on your Vietnam Bucket List

Hoi An is a fantastic place to stay during your Vietnam holiday. It has an intriguing history; it has natural beauty with its waterways and beaches; it has culture with its strong arts and crafts industry; it has an amazing blend of foods with a French influence; it has interesting architecture with a blend of Chinese, Japanese and French styles; and it has more than enough to do and see to keep you busy for at least a week.

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By 50 Shades, March 1, 2024 Kathy was a 50 something year old when she started up this blog 6 years ago, but has since turned over another decade and is now in her early 60s. She is married with two adult children and lives on the Tweed Coast of New South Wales, Australia. Kathy enjoys living life to the fullest and loves to keep fit and active by maintaining a healthy diet and exercising regularly. Some of her interests include reading, photography, travelling, cooking and blogging! Kathy works part-time as a freelance writer but her real passion is travelling and photographing brilliant destinations both within Australia and overseas and writing about it.

50 Shades

Kathy was a 50 something year old when she started up this blog 6 years ago, but has since turned over another decade and is now in her early 60s. She is married with two adult children and lives on the Tweed Coast of New South Wales, Australia. Kathy enjoys living life to the fullest and loves to keep fit and active by maintaining a healthy diet and exercising regularly. Some of her interests include reading, photography, travelling, cooking and blogging! Kathy works part-time as a freelance writer but her real passion is travelling and photographing brilliant destinations both within Australia and overseas and writing about it.

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