Best Places to See the Sunset in Hoi An
Today’s post is brought to you by Lady Alopecia – freelance copywriter, yoga teacher and sunset junkie, who first came to Hoi An 3 years ago. Hidden set her the challenge of finding the best sunset in Hoi An… and here’s what she discovered. Photos by Andy Barker unless otherwise indicated.
Hoi An is pretty damn beautiful at all times of the day. Even in the midday heat, you can be struck dumb by the green of the rice fields. At 6 am, An Bang is both stunning and great fun – everyone’s doing some form of exercise and there’s a tangible feeling of anticipation in the air.
And of course, there are the lanterns in the Old Town at night. Wandering down Tran Phu, dodging the cyclos to get that perfect pic – well, it’s all part of the Hoi An experience! As is taking in the pretty lights on all those boats floating around the Thu Bon river – whether you find yourself in one or you’re watching from dry land.
But in my opinion, Hoi An is at its most glorious at sunset. That’s when the heat of the day subsides, the light fades and this ancient town comes to life.
And because Hidden shares great Hoi An secrets with its readers, I thought I’d let you in on some of my favourite places too!
Your Guide to the Best Sunset Spots in Hoi An
I’ll cover some of my favourite drink spots, a few hidden scenic gems and the top places to get golden-lit Hoi An photos.
First things first. Sunset in Hoi An changes – obviously – depending on what time of the year you choose to visit.
But whatever time it’s at, you can be guaranteed that this is when the town starts to liven up. So, pretty much the opposite of what we’re used to in the West. Instead of winding down and heading inside, sundown is when locals flock outdoors. Emerging from wherever they’ve napped during the heat, to socialise over strong coffees or several Red Bulls.
Note: Be prepared for the cloud. This is one of the most important Hoi An tips to note… well, when it comes to chasing sunset, at least! Because no matter how gorgeous the sunset is set to be or how scenic your surroundings – you’ll often be duped by what I call the Hoi An Cloud (HAC). Seemingly popping out of nowhere, it arrives more often than you’d like: swallowing up the sun in its greyness before it has a chance to sink gracefully into the horizon. Sigh.
Still, if you manage to get a HAC-free day, there are plenty of amazing spots to catch sunset, in and around the Old Town.
Best Sunset Spots in: Hoi An’s Old Town
1. Cô Hoa, An Hoi
At the very bottom of the night market, just past the Art Toilet, you’ll find a bunch of little red stools and tables where the cruise boats disgorge a steady stream of jolly Korean and Chinese tourists. Wearing party hats and often still singing whatever karaoke number they’ve been belting out.
It’s a fun place to be, especially at sunset – whether you’re on your own, with your partner, or out with friends.
For one, you actually get a fantastic view of the sun as it retires for the day. For another, acting as an unofficial welcoming committee for those tour boats is always a joy. The bottles of Saigon are ice-cold and Cô Hoa, the lady who digs them out of a cool box, is always friendly – especially if you can speak a little Vietnamese to futher charm her.
A nice view, good people-watching, cold beer and friendly service? What more could you need?!
Note: More recently, there’s also a dude who plays bangin’ – if somewhat cheesy – tunes from a nearby cocktail cart. Detracting from the peaceful view but instead creates a party atmosphere.
2. Hotel Royal, Dao Duy Tu
Set on the banks of the river, five minutes from the edge of the Old Town, the Deck at the Hotel Royal is certainly in a different price range to Cô Hoa. But it’s a treat that every visitor to Hoi An should indulge in, at least once.
The Deck is the highest rooftop bar in Hoi An. So by all intents and purposes, it should have a good sunset. And it does. It definitely does.
Feel like you’re in a Bond film as you gaze out over all “the little people” below. Lounge in a deckchair that’s handily placed in the swimming pool for your cooling-off convenience (knowing Hoi An weather, this is a major perk!) And enjoy one of their refreshing, oh-so-pretty cocktail creations.
There’s nothing down about sundowners here! Well, maybe just one: living the high life doesn’t come cheap. Perhaps best reserved for a special date, impressing clients or just treating yourself once in a while.
3. Bach Dang – Anywhere!
If you’re more of a wander-with-your-camera sunset type than a sit-with-a-drink sunset type, then don’t despair. There’s a big ol’ stretch along the river where you can enjoy the magic of a sunset in Hoi An, completely free and without needing to get a drink to avail of its benefits. You probably will be approached at least ten times for a boat ride though. Oh well.
Around sunset, every budding Hoi An photographer (well, a lot of them) can be found walking up and down the riverside, savouring and snapping. Street photographers capture people in their best light, with a backdrop of the town’s trademark yellow walls. And there’s no better time or place for people-watching, as hoards of locals and tourists alike practise their best Insta-worthy pouts in the slowly fading light.
The Old Town at sunset is a bit of a rush – and if you want some company to share in the exhilaration, there’s plenty of tours available including those offered by Hoi An Photo Tours & Workshops for you to try out.
Best Sunset Spots: Further Afield
1. Cua Dai Bridge
Getting a higher, wider perspective allows you to see even more of what this very special place has to offer. Make the trek up to the top of Cua Dai bridge (by scooter is definitely easier than by bicycle!) and your efforts will be rewarded.
Gaze out over the mysterious inlets of Cam Nam. On the opposite side, watch the boats of Duy Hai (a nearby fishing village) glide back home, the peaks of the Cham Islands rising beyond. Allow time to stand still, even as traffic whizzes behind you, nothing but peace in front of you.
The top of the bridge is a favourite for locals to stop their motorbikes, take a break and enjoy a cigarette before heading home for the evening. A big smile and a few words of Vietnamese will go a long way. So you too may have a willing subject for those sunset snaps!
2. Rice Fields Near Tra Que Vegetable Village
Now, there are plenty of places to enjoy sunset around the rice fields in Hoi An. And one of the greatest joys of cycling around at this cooler time of the evening can be to find that hidden place, that special moment.
I can’t pinpoint where exactly you’ll find a photogenic fisherman, or a particularly well-placed water-buffalo (staged ones aside). But I can tell you that one of the prettiest setups I’ve found was near my old house, between the rice fields to the right of Hai Ba Trung and the Tra Que Vegetable Village.
Follow the path from the water’s edge back to the rice fields and you’ll go over what looks like a little bridge (but is actually more of a dam). Park your bike here and climb up the concrete structure to enjoy views of the water, the rice fields and the sunset beyond. You’ll likely have the place to yourself and, if you happen to have a cold beer in your bag, well you’re pretty much winning at life.
Of course, the rice fields offer lots of photo opportunities and sunset is one of the best times to seek them out. So hop on your bicycle and get exploring!
3. Small Cua Dai Bridge
If you’re taking the “scenic route” to Cua Dai beach, ie through the village itself, you’ll pass over a small bridge right before you get to the morning market on your right. I swim at Cua Dai often and teach yin yoga on the beach just before sunset, so I go over this bridge pretty regularly. And if I happen to be crossing at the right moment, I’ll be treated to a postcard-perfect view. Fishing boats swaying gently in the foreground, as a pink sky opens up beyond.
I’ve also experienced the magic of this sunset from Được – the seafood restaurant that’s just over the bridge. Unsurprisingly, the fish here is incredibly fresh (and actually really good value). So it’s a gorgeous place to sit for sunset, enjoying great food and a more local vibe.
Photographing the Sunset in Hoi An
So where should you go to take those dreamy Hoi An photos at sunset? Well, in my opinion, the top ones from this list are: Cua Dai bridge, Cô Hoa’s place and that rice fields dam. Why? Well, they’re incredibly beautiful for starters. They’re a little out of the way for another – although Cô Hoa’s isn’t so peaceful once Mr Cocktail Cart gets going! And they all give you a chance to meet and chat with locals, there to savour the same beauty as you.
My personal favourite is Cô Hoa’s – that’s where I’ll always dash if it looks like a good sunset. Where I arrange to meet friends or where I’ll bring people who’ve just arrived in town. A lot of the time that dastardly cloud will get in the way. But at least I have the refreshing drinks and good company to fall back on!
In terms of my original challenge – finding the best sunset spot in Hoi An – it’s hard to say. Because it’s such a subjective thing. Some people want the entire scene to themselves, others like a bit of hustle and bustle. Some want to savour sunset with a cold one, others prefer to focus on the photography. In many cases, it depends on what mood you’re in!
My advice? Try them all out and see which place you prefer! Apologies to Hidden if I’ve failed my challenge but those are six of my favourite sunset spots. I’ll leave it up to Hidden’s readers to pick their personal best!
Lady Alopecia xxx