HOI AN, VIETNAM 🇻🇳 5 must things to do with low budget – backpacker’s guide 

26th Jul 2020
Photo of HOI AN, VIETNAM 🇻🇳 5 must things to do with low budget – backpacker’s guide by Lifetime Travelmates
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Do you remember your first theme park experience? I still remember how excited I felt when pushing the turnstile at the entrance after long waiting in line. Every time I visited a theme park, it was always crowded with people. But it did not matter much. I was just happy to enjoy the fantasy world with hopes and dreams.

My first impression of Hoi An was quite similar to how I felt during my first theme park visit. It can be overwhelming to see so many people taking selfies here and there, EVERYWHERE in Hoi An Ancient Town. However, the streets with hundreds of colorful lanterns are so charming that it compensates enough the crowdedness somehow. If you do not visit Hoi An during your Vietnam trip, you are missing a huge part.

What makes Hoi An so special?

Hoi An is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Vietnam. It is well known for its well-preserved Ancient Town. Once as a port city, the architecture of the city reflects both East and West influence. French colonial buildings, Vietnamese tube houses, Chinese temples, and the popular Japanese Covered Bridge are some of the examples.

We spent 3 nights in Hoi An and we really wished we had stayed longer. Like in other touristy places, we felt things were slightly more expensive in Hoi An.

Here are 5 must things to do in Hoi An without spending lots of money!

Table of Contents

1. Enjoy Sunbathing at An Bang Beach

2. Get on a bike and roam around Hoi An Ancient Town

3. Chill out at a coffee shop and try Vietnamese coffee

4. Go for a stroll to the lantern streets

5. Relax by the Thu Bon River while drinking local beer.

Enjoy Sunbathing at An Bang Beach

Whaaaaaaat? Is there a beach in Hoi An? Yes, there is. It probably is not the best beach along the east coast line but An Bang beach is only 4 kms away from the Ancient Town and if you like sunbathing and chilling out on the beach like us, you can’t miss the chance to take a visit there.

How to get to An Bang beach? Walking might be hard under the strong sunlight. You can always take Tuktuk but haggling down the price is exhausting. We rented bicycles from our homestay free of charge and we loved it so much! Not only we used them to go to the An Bang beach but also to roam around the Ancient town later on that day.

So we highly recommend renting a bicycle.

Beautiful green lush fields along the road and the cool breeze made our bicycle riding so much enjoyable. Parking the bicycles might be a bit confusing. You will see some people yelling at you to park your bike on their property. We ignored many of them and just went straight to the entrance and found a spot to park our bicycles. A guy came out from his shop and asked us to pay 20000VND initially but we negotiated the price and paid half, 10000VND for two bicycles parking.

We thought that made more sense. We are not experts on haggling down the price but while traveling Vietnam for a while we knew the prices and that gave us some confidence to hold our ground. So remember not to pay more than 5000 VND for bicycle parking. If it’s a scooter maybe 10000 VND should be fine.

We entered the beach and saw many restaurants offering beach umbrellas and sun beds. We kept walking down along the beach and found less crowded place with small wooden made umbrellas and sun beds. We asked the price and the lady there said if we order drinks its free to use. So we ordered two mango juice and just chilled out for a while. The waves were a bit rough on that day but anyway we could not resist entering into the water to freshen up ourselves.

Rent a bicycle and roam around Hoi An Ancient Town.

Hoi An is truly beautiful at night. However that does not mean it’s not worthy visiting places around during the daytime. At night, the streets in Hoi An Ancient Town gets jam-packed with people taking photos so it is actually perfect to roam around every corner of the area when there are less people so you do not need to worry about hitting someone else on your way with your bicycle! We really enjoyed seeing all the colorful houses, authentic clothing shops and cafes. Most of all, the reflection of all the buildings on the Thu Bon river was so picturesque. If you are into photography, this is the place you would like to continuously click your shots. We parked our bikes right along the river and just set down for a while until the sunset. If you have time, please do that and enjoy the relaxing afternoon along the river.

Chill out in a coffee shop and try Vietnamese coffee

I was not a big coffee fan. If I have to choose between coffee and tea, I always choose tea until I tried Vietnamese coffee. Especially we loved the Vietnamese coffee with condensed milk. What an odd combination but it is not. Actually it is a perfect and addictive combination. While going around Hoi An Ancient Town, we found a small cute coffee shop named What else. It is kind of hidden in a back alley off the main street. We just ordered two iced Vietnames coffee with condensed milk and relaxed on the patio. Later we got back to our homestay and found out this restaurant serves quite good dishes as well. But on that day, we did not order any food in that place. The coffeeshop is located in a quiet area and it is a very lovely place with small tables and a patio outside. It is a perfect spot for reading a book or just relaxing.

Go for a stroll to the lantern streets

Yes, now it is time to hop on the fantasy bus ride to the romantic Hoi An Ancient Town. Actually, there is no such bus. However you might feel as if you were floating around in your dream. The town turns into another world as the countless lanterns in different shapes and colors start lighting one street to another street. We parked our bicycles at the entrance and decided to just walk about. And that was a good decision because there were so many people on the streets. We did not have any specific places to visit or any fixed route so we just roamed around as our feet led us to. The streets were so beautiful. Especially we loved the reflection of the Japanese Covered Bridge over the lake and the lantern shops which are totally photogenic spots. You will see some shops have signs like “No photography please”. It is so hard not to take photos when passing by one of those colorful lantern shops. And also don’t forget to check the Hoi An Night Market. It is located across the river. There you can find some souvenirs or cheap street food and snacks.

Relax by the Thu Bon River while drinking local beer

We are beer lovers. Especially we love to try micro brewery beer made with some special local ingredients. However, in Vietnam, we did not need to try any fancy craft beer place to enjoy beers. We really love Bia hơi which is a typical draft beer that you can get any bars in Vietnam. Or even the can beers like Saigon or Hanoi which you can easily get from any supermarket taste good. While walking along the river, we found a small supermarket with a small table and chairs. We got two can beers and just sat down for a while enjoying watching the floating lanterns on the river.

Where to stay?

We stayed in Hoi An Sun Lake Homestay. As soon as we booked the accommodation, we got a message from the homestay offering pick-up service from the guesthouse we were staying in Da Nang. It was not free but there is no train from Da Nang to Hoi An. The common way to get to Hoi An from Da Nang is to use a taxi and the taxi fee was almost the same as the pick-up service charge so we decided to use the service.

Rose, the owner was very kind and lovely. The accommodation was very clean and quite modern. We really loved the balcony attached to the room. Besides that, the location was not in the Ancient Town but just 2 kms away. So we took 10 min to get there by bicycle. Bicycle renting was free so that was a huge advantage to go around the area. There are plenty of guesthouses and hotels in Hoi An so you can easily book it depending on your budget and preference.

Check our trip to Hoi An in the video as well!