Thanks for visiting our Family Guide on Everything you Need to Know About Travelling to Hoi An.
Welcome to our ultimate family guide on everything you know about travelling to Hoi An. I'll keep adding things to this list as I think of them (I'm sure this first edition will improve as I go through all we did during our two and a half months living there).
If you're travelling to Vietnam, you might also enjoy reading our general Need to Know about Vietnam blog - see the link below
Getting Around Hoi An
Bicycles are usually provided free of charge with most accommodations. Check out our family stays posts in the links at the bottom of this page for our recommendations.
Bicycles are probably the best way to see this wonderful town. We enjoyed many days cycling through the rice fields throughout the Covid-19 restrictions.
This was my comfort level on the trip, I hadn't ridden a bike in twenty years. I was hilarious getting my balance back, I stacked the bike parking more than once. My kids were so embarrassed ? Even after riding for a few weeks, I still got wobbly if I had to slow right down (for instance going around roadworks that left a narrow road side). If you're like me, you might want to ease into it by riding around the rice fields a bit before heading into the old town.
Beware of riding with your toddlers on the back
Something that we were warned about, but didn't worry about, was that bikes can be dangerous when you have a toddler riding on the back without a proper child seat.
Elijah had a close encounter with the dangers of riding on the back when he put his foot in the back wheel. This could have been much more serious. Be aware, constantly remind your child, or have someone spotting from behind. Maybe even gently or firmly show them what it could feel like on day one so they understand. After Elijah's accident, it was really hard to get him back on for the next few days (we did get him back on though). Once he had regained his confidence, he was fine, and he is very careful not to put his feet anywhere near those back wheels - he also refused to sit in the bikes with child seats after the accident (he just wanted to be a cool guy) ?
If the accommodation you choose doesn't offer a proper child seat on the bike, you can cheaply and easily pick one up to attach (I'll give you a contact for this asap - if you're reading this and I haven't yet updated it, and you want to find out, message me and I'll get the details for you).
Electric bicycles are awesome. We hired ours from Ruth at The Cosy Corner Cafe in An Bang Beach. My older kids absolutely loved riding these around, up to the shops, to the bakery, over to our friends houses in the town and even over to Tra Que Village to see the community gardens. They loved the independence and while we were there it was very safe for them to ride around.
I didn't use it often because of my confidence level on a regular bike. I'll have to do a post about Mothers Day 2020 when I managed to drive the e-bike into parked motorbikes in front of the barber shop. Let's just say the barber and his customers were thoroughly entertained (laughing), and they laughed every time I walked past for a good week - it just had to happen at the top of our alley!! ?
Seeing that I struggled to park a regular bike and had driven into parked motorbikes with the E-bike, I wasn't confident enough to hire a motorbike. Our friends did, and they had a great time. If it were only me, I'd have been more enthusiastic about giving it a go, but we have three kids and I didn't like the idea of me carrying any of them as a passenger!
If you decide a motor bike is for you, get something you can legally drive at The Help - Expat Services. This place comes highly recommended by all the local expats. We met Cyril during our time there. He was very understanding when we thought we were going to hire a motorbike but decided to go for the E-bike instead.
The Vietnam Alternative to Uber
It's not Uber here, it's most often Grab. You can get a Grab bike (where someone will take you on the back of their bike) or a Grab car (most of these are regular five seat cars). We used the Grab locally and squished four of us in the back when we were going for lunch or into town.
However, if your family can't fit in a regular car, get the FastGo app (I'd recommend getting this one if your family plus luggage needs more than a regular car). This lets you select a seven seater vehicle.
- I'm not sure if it's a regular thing, or a Covid related thing, but we didn't have a lot of success obtaining FastGo seven seaters on the spot. If you know you need to go somewhere, I'd recommend booking in advance (which you can do via the app).
- If you decide to load your bank card into the app, don't forget. I didn't use the Grab app often, I'd put my card details in and forgotten. Then when I started using it in Hanoi, I was paying the drivers cash for a couple of days opps, they were getting double.
The only taxis we recommend are Mai Linh or VinaSun taxis. We had an incident with DaNang taxis where they gave us a set price and on arrival pulled a language card that had us paying a lot more than we expected (but it was still cheap, so we let it go).
Mai Linh is common around Vietnam and safe to use
VinaSun is more common in the bigger towns (we didn't see these in the smaller areas)
From airports it is usually best to get your accommodation to organise a private vehicle. There were massive hold ups getting through immigration. when we arrived into Saigon and our driver waited over an hour for us. If you're travelling to/from Hoi An, you Can try Same, Same but Better Transport (see the blog below).
Private Cars in Hoi An
We used GrabcarDanang between Da Nang and Hoi An. We got our price to 200,000 vnd one way / 400000 return - usually expect to pay 230-250,000 vnd each way.
In Hoi An we used a private car (regular sized vehicle) to get to Marble Mountain (350,000 vnd return) and My Son (600,000vnd return). You can probably expect to pay a little more when tourism recovers. But he had the best local prices that we could find. This driver had fantastic English and gave us a little bit of information on the way to and from these sites click here to contact our driver Jimmiduc.
We also did a group trip in a bigger van. For this I recommend Same, Same but Better transport. This service also comes highly recommended to do airport pick up and drop off, or any tours. Click here to contact Same Same but Better.
By now you're probably getting hungry. After compiling everything here, I realised it's too big for right here. So I've moved it to its own blog, so click here to see our favourite family food recommendations for Hoi An and An Bang.
Where is a good pharmacy/chemist in Hoi An?
There are a couple of good pharmacies that are recommended by a Kiwi nurse living in Hoi An. There is a pharmacy on Cua Dai opposite Dingo Deli. The other is Huy Hoang Pharmacy on Ly Thuong Kiet St.
- I recommend doing a Google search for what you're looking for and get an image on your screen to show the pharmacist.
- If you want to feel sure you're not being ripped off, ask for a receipt. This was a top tip shared by someone in the Expats group.
Get a Baby Sitter in Hoi An
Get a babysitter and go see some of the town minus the kids. We only did this twice, but it was well worth it. Rather than asking an expat, ask your homestay if they can recommend anyone. We were told 80,000 vnd per hour was too much. Our helpful Vietnamese friend told us 150,000 for the evening was a good price (3.30pm to 9pm). The first sitter was our usual gardener who was a familiar face, and the second sitter was the house-keeper.
Things to see and do
The Ancient Town of Hoi An
We came to Hoi An to see the Old Town. We loved the photos we saw with the colour and the character. I wanted to see the bridge, the night market, the river and the lanterns. It was an amazing place while we were there during Covid-19. The streets were much quieter than usual and we got to enjoy the place with very few people out and about. Video content will follow, as I took videos walking through the town on a few different occasions. It might take a while, so check back soon!
Kayaking Hoi An
Check out Hoi An Kayak Tours if you're looking for a great experience. My husband and older kids attended one of their Hoi An Clean Up Events which are held each weekend. They meet up early, take kayaks and rubbish bags out, and clean up the river. Afterwards they have a coffee with everyone before saying goodbye. It takes a full morning and my family loved kayaking, they met some great people and it's still one of their best memories of this place.
To find out when the next clean up is on, and to book a spot, join their Facebook group, HOI AN CLEAN UP and let them know what date you want to go along.
Hoi An Markets
We stayed a long time in the Cam Chau area. Ba Le Market was our local market and we were the only tourists. I didn't feel like the prices were as high as the proper tourist markets and I preferred this market to the ones by the river in the Old Town of Hoi An.
Hoi An Night Markets were good fun. Everyone is trying to sell you something and they have tourist prices which you must barter down. My daughter got her bag down from 280000 to 150000. I think she got the hang of it. The food stalls line the streets and we were fortunate to stay long enough for it to get a little busier. Still not pre-Covid busy, but definitely busy enough for me. It's a gorgeous place to walk along, I'll upload a video soon with all the pretty dream catchers, jewellery, bags and ornaments. There is plenty here to buy. I preferred window shopping, looking at the things but not buying much.
An Bang Morning Markets were our local markets in Hoi An. The night market here wasn't running during our stay. The morning market is only open from 5am to 9am. If you get there at 8.30am, chances are you will miss the lady with the Cau Lau stand, and lot of stands might have already vanished! I'll make a list of prices here soon, so you know what to work towards when you barter with them. The more often you go, the more likely you'll get good prices. And if you keep going to the same people, they will look after you!
Cycling in the rice fields
This is a must do activity in Hoi An. Best of all, it's free. We did this most days during the Covid restrictions. It's very pretty and quite likely you'll see water buffalo.
There are endless paths and alleys to keep you amused. We managed to learn our area during the time we were there.
I recommend getting a kite too and enjoying an afternoon flying with the locals. Our older kids enjoyed it just as much as the little one!
Basket Boat Ride
Go for a ride in a basket boat. You can organise this with Basket Boat Cafe or check out some tours below!
While we were here we did a Cham Islands Dive tour with our friends KoolKidz Travel. Rimaha got his Open Water Dive Licence while I snorkelled and did mum duty. It was a wonderful day out for us as a family (Rimaha did one day in a pool and two days on the boat).
We went with Cham Island Diving, you can check them out on Instagram in this picture below (including Lilly from KoolKidz Travel).
Our kids really enjoyed Marble Mountain. It's not everyone's 'thing', however we were hot. Really hot. Inside the caves is cooler. So we had a great time exploring inside the caves. I think us and Kiwi Family Adventures were the only people up there during Covid. I heard it can get quite busy in this place and so I'm not sure I would have enjoyed it so much if it was really crowded. At the time we visited, tours weren't running, but usually you can take tours from Da Nang or Hoi An. Have a look and see what's available with Get Your Guide.
- There is a big cave. And I knew that it often got missed. I assumed it was one at the top of the stairs. The cave you don't want to miss is actually at the very bottom. Like entrance bottom. There are two main stair entrances up the mountain. The cave that we missed is between the stair entrances. Go up one side, come down the other, and walk back to where you started to make sure you don't miss that last cave (because I heard it's the best one - now I'll have to return to find it before we leave Vietnam).
- Marble Mountain is actually closer to Da Nang. If you stay in Da Nang before or after your time in Hoi An, you your private car cost will be less than what we paid (350,000 vnd return with Jimmiduc - click here to contact him via WhatsApp)
My Son Temples
We travelled using a private car to My Son because at that time there weren't any tours running. There weren't even any people out there. We had the entire ruin to ourselves.
We noticed that some tours call themselves 'sunrise' tours. Don't get caught out, most of these will miss the sunrise!
You only need a couple of hours out at the temples because it's not too big. Before you get on the electric car, visit the museum at the base. This will give you a bit of background. Maybe your kids will enjoy hunting for the real life ruins after seeing some of the museum pictures. We did that part backwards but it was too hot to return to the top to go searching again.
The electric car takes you most of the way up, and then you explore each section of the ruins. My recommendation would be to do a tour for this. We didn't and I feel like we missed a lot. We didn't know much of the history and I truly believe we all would have got a lot more out of this trip if we had someone pointing things out and explaining things to us. If it's cooled down a bit when we return, we may consider taking a proper tour.
VinPearlLand Hoi An
We had the best time at VinPearlLand Hoi An. It's not something I would've thought to do here if we were only coming a few days (as was the original plan). But since we ended up staying in the area such a long time, we wanted to do everything we possibly could.
One of the kids from Kiwi Family Adventures wanted to have a birthday outing with us and KoolKidz Travel. We hired a private van to take us down for the day and had the best time. The thirteen of us increased to eighteen when we met up with our neighbours for a bit. There were only a handful of others scattered throughout the park which made us feel a bit like VIPs for the day. We didn't have to line up for any ride and if we enjoyed it we could stay on for a second (even third) ride.
Our biggest surprise was the river safari. I thought the place was a water park, so I wasn't expecting a full on river boat trip to meet and feed animals. I'm not really sure how I feel about this one but our kids absolutely loved it.
The water park itself was good, not the greatest. I'll have to do a post on our favourite water parks as we have been to a few now. Elijah was 'too short' to go on most of the big ones, which was a bit disappointing for him because at Jamberoo (our favourite NSW Australia water park) he can go on all but two rides.
I think the kids enjoyed the indoor arcades and the theme park the most. They loved running around and going on the rides (and the bumper cars). Overall, it was a wonderful day out and if you're a family who enjoys theme parks, you'll probably enjoy this one too.
Ba Na Hills
I'd recommend a day for this trip. I had no idea there was so much to do up the hill! We visited to ride the Gondola for a photo on the Golden Bridge and left just before lunch time. The place was empty (it's usually packed). A lot of things weren't running as normal, but my kids still had fun. They particularly enjoyed the arcade games, so did Rimaha.
We could've spent half the day in the arcades, so plan for this mums and dads! I'd leave earlier in the day, maybe really early if you want to skip the queues (I hear it is normally very long wait times to get in). If you do get stuck in the queue, you won't be too disappointed. We didn't have to queue, so we enjoyed many great photo opportunities on the way to the entrance.
You don't need a tour for this one. If you're travelling from DaNang, you might like to try our DaNang Grab guy out. And if you're travelling from Hoi An, use Jimmiduc or Same, Same but Better Transport (click here to go back to the Private Cars section).
When to Go
January (but watch out for Tet holiday) to mid April are great months to visit. If you are visiting in the later part of April or May, the rice fields are being harvested. They burn the fields and it's not as pretty. At this time, you might prefer to stay over in An Bang.
We experienced a hotter than usual late April and May. I was looking forward to getting out of there. It's not usually as hot though. If you do travel April to August, I'd recommend getting a place with a pool.
September is probably also a good time to visit. Rain and cyclone season starts in October and remains to December, but my local friends say it's not too bad. I guess if you don't like rain, don't plan a trip in October.
If you want all the details of average rainfall, sunshine and temperature, click here.
Where to Stay
Other Useful Resources
A really great resource we discovered early on was Hoi An Now which is run by local expats and often updated. It was very useful during the Covid pandemic as they updated which restaurants and bars were open for delivery and take-away services!
Since temporarily residing in Hoi An and An Bang, one of the locals set up a group with some really fabulous recommendations. The group is called The Hoi An/Danang Oracle and you'll get plenty of up to date recommendations in this one.
Hoi An Expats - NO PROPERTY is very large (over 18k people) group. You will find people selling everything: juice, vegetables, meat, tours, transport and meals. It has a lot of useful information in here and great for finding some great deals. We were well fed with recommendations in this group.
Hoi An Parents is another fabulous group where you can ask questions and chat with other local parents.
HOI AN CLEAN UP is a group dedicated to cleaning up the rivers of Hoi An. My husband and older kids attended a clean up day while we were there. They had a great time and met some fantastic people.
I hope you found everything you need to know about travelling to Hoi An in here! I will keep adding things, I'm sure I've left bits out!
If you think there is something I need to add, please let me know!