Backpacking Hoi An Travel Guide: Travel Tips • Things to Do • What to Eat • Where to Stay
Looking for the ultimate backpacking guide to Hoi An? You’ve come to the right place – Hoi An is more than just a Unesco heritage site. Sure, you can wander through its ancient alleys, take some cool Instagram shots, try a local dish or two and hit the first bar that looks good. But if you really want to have an awesome time here, follow our lead.
In our complete backpackers guide to Hoi An you’ll find all there is to know about this small and vibrant city. Where to sleep, eat, drink and party! Pay extra attention to our tips, they will elevate your whole experience.
By the end of this read, you’ll not only know a few great places to visit but also where to look for the latest happenings. We’re talking live jam sessions, karaoke nights, beach parties, bonfires, free dancing lessons, social dances… the list goes on!
Hoi An is a great place to chill, meet people and have fun. So, save yourself some time skimming through reviews and try our way through the city.
Three Must-Know Backpacking Travel Tips for Hoi An: What Reviews Won’t Tell You!
Hoi An is small, but like the rest of Vietnam, very fast evolving. This means that new places and activities pop up faster than you can blink. There’s always something happening, especially during the summertime. Leaving the challenging part being that, when you are only in town for a few days, you need to find out what’s going on and where!
To make things easier in this constantly changing town we have three very important Travel Tips for you:
1. Accommodation in Hoi An is everything: Your site attracts your tribe
Is your definition of proper accommodation “cheap bed and free brekky somewhere close to town”? Well, think again! Sure, this will provide you with the basics, but what will truly elevate your backpacking stay in Hoi An is to find a place that attracts your tribe. You’ll then meet all the right people, find all the right places and have the time of your life.
Let’s say you are all about chillness, yoga and meditation. You don’t want to end up in a party hostel with beer pong tournaments and in-house clubbing. When it comes to accommodation choose wisely. It will save you half the trouble of finding out where to go and what to do!
2. Facebook is your new best friend
Everything gets posted on Facebook around here. So let’s say you heard about a cool place and you want to check it out. Check their Facebook page first. Chances are they have uploaded their promos, happy hours, events and lives there. A good idea would be to “Like” most of the places you want to visit on Facebook for the length of your stay. Especially bars clubs and restaurants. This way you’ll get notifications on their events and special offers. Bookings and reservations can be made through Messenger and many places will respond very quickly compared to email.
3. Ask around for tips
We cannot stress this enough! The best way to get the most out of your stay is to ask around for tips and info. Start with your accommodation (see, that is why accommodation is everything). Ask at reception about tours, food, bars, cafes, bikes… even visas! They deal with everything and usually give great tips.
But don’t stop there! Ask fellow backpackers you meet along the way. Chances are they will be more than happy to share what they have learned with you. Maybe even invite you to a party or two. That way you will always be up to date with all the latest happenings and hip places. In a town as small as Hoi An, word of mouth works better than anything else!
Backpacking – Where to Sleep in Hoi An
In this town, a bed in a hostel dorm costs almost the same price as a double room in a homestay. Airbnb is also filled with dreamy villas at approachable prices. Finding the right accommodation might be quite confusing.
Our suggestion is to not get sidetracked by the cheap prices of double rooms in homestays and villas. Stay in one of Hoi An’s hip backpacking hostels. You’ll be surprised by the tons of amenities, great facilities and awesome activities offered. But most importantly you’ll be in the midst of it all. Making new friends, getting great tips. Finding out what others are doing and tagging along. Most hostels organise group activities every single day. It’s real value for money that other accommodation can’t offer.
Hidden Hint: If you really want privacy, look for a double room in a hostel. They are fairly priced and still provide a unique environment to socialise.
Backpacking Hostels in Hoi An
There are so many great backpacking hostels in Hoi An. One of the most interesting is Vietnam Backpacker Hostel. It is unlike any other hostel in Vietnam. For 185,000 VND (8 USD) per night, you get to have a dorm bed, but it’s the extras that blew us away. Including access to their in-house tailor shop, library, gallery, swimming pool, movie room, chill-out areas, bar, cafe and restaurant. If you’re into game nights, happy hours, beer pong, bar crawls and pool parties you’ll never have a dull moment here. Plus you’ll get to spend a few days feeling like a rockstar!
Hidden Hint: Bear in mind that the average price for a single bed in a mixed dorm is 184,000 VND (8 USD) per night. Double rooms start as low as 230,000 VND (11 USD) per night.
Price sensitive or looking for a more chilled hostel option?
If you’re price sensitive check out Serendipity Hostel. This is definitely a party hostel with quite a chill morning vibe. What’s interesting about Serendipity besides its killer price (140,000 VND (6.00 USD) per night) is that it hosts an in-house electro club. It is one of the few places in the Old Town that stay open after 2:00 a.m. Meaning sooner or later everyone ends up here!
Our favourite chilled spot is Under the Coconut Tree. This paradise hostel by the beach is your ultimate tropical accommodation. Complete with thatched roofs and cosy bamboo structures. But what sets it apart from other hostels is its rocking personnel. These guys really put 100% of themselves into their service. They are friendly, funny and cool, and will be your new family during your stay. We stayed with them for 4 days, at 185,000 VND (8 USD) per night, and absolutely loved it! They also introduced us to most of the happenings in Hoi An.
So take our word for it. Backpacking hostels in Hoi An do pay off. You can read more on Hoi An’s best hostels and how to choose the right one for you in our detailed hostel article here.
Where to Eat when you’re Backpacking in Hoi An
Street food, street food, street food! We could go on and on about all the amazing restaurants in Hoi An for your backpacking needs. In fact, we even have a list of our favourite western restaurants. But no visit in Hoi An would be complete without trying its amazing street food. It is cheap, tasty and everywhere!
Best Backpackers Breakfast in Hoi An
For breakfast have one of the legendary vietnamese sandwiches, bahn mi for only 20.000 VNV (0.80 USD) This golden French baguette filled with pork pâté, barbecued pork, American hamburger meat, mayonnaise and a mix of Vietnamese herbs and chili sauces, is worth trying in Hoi An even if you already had one. There’s a banh mi stand on almost every corner here, but the best one is by far Banh Mi Phuong.
Hidden Hint: If there is a long line, grab a seat inside and you will often be served faster than those in the queue.
Best Lunch Options when Backpacking in Hoi An
For lunch head straight to the Central Market’s food court. It is an experience you don’t want to miss. Here you’ll find 24 stalls offering Hoi An’s mouthwatering specialties, costing anywhere from 20,000 VND – 50,000 VND (.80 USD to 2 USD). It doesn’t get any more local than this! Luckily enough there are quite a few vegetarian options too. However, if you’re craving an all veggie budget-friendly restaurant head to Ba Dam. This “buffet-style” eatery has a great variety of veggies and soy-meat options from 20,000 VND to 40,000 VND (.80 USD to 1.7 USD).
Best Dinner Options when Backpacking in Hoi An
For dinner visit Hoi An’s Night Market to try some tasty local snacks like Vietnamese pizza, meat skewers and coconut candies. Expect to pay no more than VND 30,000 (1.30 USD) for most of the snacks you’ll find here. But keep your appetite for Vy’s Market Restaurant, located right across the latent stands. It is one of the most famous restaurants in town with exquisite and fairly priced dishes. Here you can watch chefs’ preparing your food to perfection.
Hidden Hint: Restaurants and food stands start to close around 10pm. Make sure you have dinner before you head out partying. Maybe get a banh mi for later while you’re at it. You’ll thank us for that!
Late Night Munchies Options
Finally, after a big night out, head to Valhalla grill for a burger. Or Boom Pizza for a decent pizza at a great price. Perhaps Lava Bar for a hangover sandwich. All of them stay open until 2:00 a.m. If you get carried away with shots of happy balloons and find yourself a little short on money, right outside Lava Bar there’s also a Banh Mi stand open until 2:00-ish. Where you can get a baguette for 20.000 VND (0.80 USD).
Top 5 Budget Activities while Backpacking in Hoi An
It’s no secret that you landed in a small paradise with great history and natural beauty. Not surprisingly there are tons of backpacking things to do in Hoi An, for all tastes and budgets. We’ve tried most of them and cut it down to our favourite Top 5 Budget Activities we think no backpacker with self respect should leave Hoi An without doing.
Spend an Evening in the Old Town
The Old Town is a stunning place, no wonder it’s protected by Unesco. This exceptionally well-preserved example of a traditional Asian trading port is definitely worth a visit. The best time to wander through its narrow alleys is around sunset. Make sure you get here when there is still light, so you can admire its traditional wooden architecture. As night falls, walk along the riverfront. It’s view and colourful lanterns will take your breath away.
Get Tailor Made Clothes
Guess what, that dream dress you’ve been dying to buy? Well, you can have it tailor-made here and for cheaper! Similarly for that suit, you have been postponing, because it was never the right time or fit. Hoi An is without a doubt the tailoring capital of the world. Some of the world’s best tailor shops are located here. So don’t miss this unique opportunity to have something made just for you at an incredible price.
All you need to do is pick up the fabric and the design. You’ll be amazed by how fast they will have it ready. It doesn’t take more than a day or two. One of the best tailors in town is BeBe. But if you are looking for a more affordable option we recommend visiting the Cloth & Fabric market to flex your bargaining skills.
Hidden Hint: If you run out of space in your backpack, most tailors will conveniently ship your items home for you.
Ride the Hai Van Pass
This is so much fun! We’re basically talking about riding the most impressive scenic stretch of road in Vietnam. BBC’s Top Gear described it as a “deserted ribbon of perfection” and one of the “best coast roads in the world”. So rent a motorbike or book a guided tour and enjoy this once in a lifetime opportunity. The Hai Van Pass is the ultimate must-do backpacking day trip from Hoi An.
Cycle the Rice Fields at Sunset
This is the perfect way to get lost in Hoi An’s beautiful countryside. Grab your friends, a bicycle and a camera and follow one of our self-guided cycling routes. Even if you are still a little bit weary from yesterday’s party, trust us the fresh air will do you the world of good! The view of the sun setting over the rice fields will take even the lamest of headaches away.
Try Vietnamese Coffee and Chocolate
Coffee and chocolate in Hoi An is some seriously powerful stuff.
We don’t care how many great espressos, cappuccinos, macchiatos and swiss chocolates you had in your life, you cannot leave Vietnam without trying both of these.
Start with their regular hot black coffee (Cà Phê) and work your way up to Cà Phê Sữa Đá, classic iced coffee with condensed milk. Then Cà phê dừa, a delicious coffee blend with coconut cream, and finally our absolutely favourite Cà Phê Trứng. Otherwise known as egg coffee. We mean, where else in this world can you find a creamy, frothy layer of whipped egg yolk and sugar on top of your coffee? Yep, it is as good as it sounds! So don’t waste any more time, head to one of Hoi An’s best coffee shops and order away!
Then go for their dreamy, creamy, exquisite chocolate! Vietnamese chocolate is unlike any other. But don’t take our word for it, trust the New York Times and pack a couple of bars of Marou or Alluvia chocolate to take back home!
Where do Backpackers in Hoi An Drink?
The good thing about Hoi An is that there is a happy hour almost every hour. So you can start drinking cheap, as early as 4 p.m., if not sooner. When we say cheap we mean really cheap!
Start at your hostel, most of them give out free drinks or 1 for 1 on shots, mixers and/or beers around 5ish – 7ish. Then you have three options depending on how far you want to go. The Old Town, An Bang Beach and in between.
A Night Out in the Old Town
If you decide to head to the Old Town, you have endless options. You can continue with beer and sit on one of the restaurants offering fresh beer for as low as (8.000 VND (0.35 USD). Or take advantage of the happy hours and switch to a refreshing cocktail.
If you get there before 6 p.m., go to Mango Rooms. This colourful eatery offers some of the tastiest cocktails in Hoi An for half price before 6 p.m. Here you’ll not only get a tasty cocktail at a great price but also a great viewing point for watching the candlelit lanterns float down the Thu Bon River.
Hidden Hint: Check Under the Coconut Tree’s Facebook page for details on their all you can eat & drink barbeque and bonfire event. Not only is it a great way to spend an evening, but all profits go to help build schools in Vietnam.
When things start to pick up, head to Dive Bar. This is one of the chillest and coolest backpacking places to go out in Hoi An and after 9:00 p.m. most of the town ends up here. After midnight, if you feel like dancing your heart out go to Tiger Tiger. They play some good old Shakira, Britney and Justin tunes. Or head to Serendipity Hostel’s club if you are into electro, house and techno beats. Just make sure you check Serendipity’s Facebook page first, they are only open two days per week.
An Bang Nightlife
An Bang Beach is another popular option, especially during summer. The best time to come here is 7:00 p.m. Most of the beach bars have a happy hour around that time along with many activities. For an awesome live music experience right by the sea check Soul Kitchen’s & Soul Beach’s Facebook page. They usually have a live act almost every day. Don’t leave Hoi An without visiting either one of these two beach bars at least once or you’re missing out.
Now you know Hoi An better than most locals! But don’t overdo it. There is no point in stretching your day to fit all you’ve read in our complete backpacking guide to Hoi An. Pick your favourite activities and have fun.
If you are only in town for the day, check out our Cheap Things to do in Hoi An guide too. There are some great tips in there as well. Hoi An is the perfect place to chill, relax and have an awesome time with travellers from all over the world. Things are slow and tropical here, and that’s the way we like it… We wouldn’t want it any other way!