Cheap Things to do in Hoi An: Budget Challenge

For the money-conscious traveller, sticking to a budget is a repetitive game to be played, day in and day out. We at Hidden have taken up the challenge of bringing you the best cheap things to do in Hoi An. Our goal: To create the best Hoi An budget itinerary possible, for 552,000 VND (24 USD). The best part is that this budget is not just for one person—it’s for two people! After all, having a companion by your side while exploring a new city is always more exciting.

Our assumptions for the challenge are that your accommodation has already been paid for. Also that your hotel provides free bicycles for guests. All listed activities are ones you can turn up on the day for, apart from the free biking tour which requires a booking be made one day in advance.

Now, to the challenge: 24 hours, two people, 24 USD. Come join the Hidden Hoi An team and let’s go on a day trip!

Visit the Old Town market – Free

Firstly fill up your water bottle and get ready because we’re starting your day trip off amongst the hustle and bustle of the Central Market in the heart of Hoi An’s Old Town. While it is open all day, it’s most active early in the morning. So people take advantage of the cooler temperature and get the freshest products by doing their shopping early in the day. We know you’re on holiday, but power through this one with us. So set your alarm early, and try to get to the market by 6:30 a.m. Once you’re out of bed it’s easy from there. We promise you can rest later in the day like the Hoi An locals do.

Hoi An Central Market: Hoi An Day Trip
Hoi An’s central market is at its busiest and most dynamic in the hours after dawn. Photo Antonia Lira

Hoi An’s Central Market showcases a large number of local fruit and vegetables. But its most impressive part is the area dedicated to seafood. Because of the location of the market on the Thu Bon river, fresh seafood can quickly be dropped off by fishing boats. This results in a fantastic variety on offer. When you feel content with your trip to the Hoi An market, it’s time to head off for the first purchase of the day.

Hidden Hint: It’s not uncommon for someone to try and hook you into parking at a designated spot close their food stall. Or insist on a parking fee. But you don’t need to pay for parking here. There are plenty of places to leave your pushbike, free of charge.

Banh Mi for breakfast – 20,000 VND (0.87c USD)

Not far away from the Central Market is a humble banh mi stand turned legendary Hoi An sandwich slinger—Banh Mi Phuong. Made famous many years ago by celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain, people now flock here for their amazing banh mi.

But the best part is that the queue here is mostly non-existent early in the morning. So you won’t have to wait long. With a good range of options to choose from, Hidden highly recommends the #9 Pork with Pate for 20,000 (0.87c USD). However, if you don’t want meat, they do have vegetarian options available. Our team are huge banh mi fans, so if you are, too, then check out our dedicated article on the Best Banh Mi in Hoi An.

Address: 2b Phan Chu Trinh – Hours: 6:30 a.m 9:30 p.m. Monday – Sunday

40,000 VND (1.74 USD) Spent – 512,000 VND (22.26 USD) Remains

Banh Mi Phuong: Hoi An Day Trip
Hoi An’s famous banh mi from Banh Mi Phuong perfect for a budget Hoi An day trip. Photo Kristen Wells

‘Free’ bike tour – 50,000 VND (2.17 USD)

The Hoi An “free” bike tour offers a great opportunity to get out of the city centre, see the countryside, and grab a slice of local life. The day trip is led by young, enthusiastic Hoi An university students. They use the opportunity to practice their English skills while showing you around. But despite the name “free tour” you do need to pay 50,000 VND (2.17 USD) so its still one of the best cheap things to do in Hoi An. This money goes towards the cost of a local boat used twice: 10,000 VND (0.43c USD) each way, and 30,000 VND (1.30 USD) to support the local community that you’ll see. In conclusion, it’s an amazing initiative where everyone involved benefits.

The Tour

The day trip begins at 8:00 a.m in Hoi An. First of all, you’ll meet your guides and the rest of the group at their head office, with your bike. After that, you’re taken on a short boat ride to Kim Bong carpentry village. Here you’ll see local boats being manufactured, repaired or touched up. You’ll then go to a local household where you can watch and partake in the production of sleeping mats. The guides do a good job of explaining the processes you’re seeing, as well as telling you about local customs and significance while biking around the villages. After the mats, you’ll be shown a local family shrine before biking over to a house that makes rice paper.

The tour is around four hours long and provides a fun-filled day where you can gain a good understanding of local life, still very present, just beyond the touristy areas of town.

Hoi An Free Tour

Web – Address: 567 Hai Ba Trung

100,000 VND (4.35 USD) Spent – 412,000 VND (17.91 USD) Remains

Get a refreshing Mot iced tea – 10,000 VND (0.43c USD)

After completing the cycling trip for the day, stroll past Mot in Hoi An’s Old Town. Easily located because of the many people taking selfies in front of their photogenic floral shop window. Walk up and order a couple of their takeaway Mot Iced Teas, garnished with flower petals. They’re super refreshing and sweet—and they taste even better after biking around all morning!

Address: 150 Tran Phu

20,000 VND (0.87c USD) Spent – 392,000 VND (17.04 USD) Remains

Mot iced tea: Hoi An Day Trip
Sweet tea from Mot—a great place to refresh and one of Hoi An’s most photographed shopfronts. Photo: Hidden Hoi An

Cao Lau lunch – 30,000 VND (1.30 USD)

By this time, hunger is no doubt setting in, and it’s time to refuel. So since you’re in the Old Town, make your way over to Cao Lau Khong Gian Xanh. Tucked in a small alley and easy to miss, this restaurant offers many great food choices. Hidden recommends you opt for their cao lau for 30,000 VND (1.30 USD) because it’s a dish that is iconic in Hoi An and not found elsewhere in Vietnam.

You’ll be served a bowl of thick chewy alkaline noodles—made with well water from the town—along with herbs, slices of pork, fried noodle squares, and a small amount of seasoned (and slightly sweet) pork broth at the bottom. Cao lau is a unique dish to Hoi An and one we think you can’t pass up on while on your day trip. For a dedicated article on cao lau, read Hoi An’s Best Cao Lau Restaurants.

Address: 687 Hai Ba Trung – Hours: 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. Monday Sunday

60,000 VND (2.61 USD) Spent – 332,000 VND (14.43 USD) Remains

Old Town ticket OR blind massage – 120,000 VND (5.22 USD)

The UNESCO Old Town of Hoi An is a uniquely preserved collection of over 1,000 colourfully decorated buildings. Lanterns adorn the pedestrian-only streets, making it a haven for those visiting the sites of the Old Town. You’ll find countless souvenir shops, clothing stores and cafes, along with some ancient gems of buildings scattered throughout the town, that are well worth your time.

The Hoi An Old Town ticket gives you access to five historic sites of your choice for your day trip. While it’s entirely up to you which ones you see, Hidden highly recommends including The Old House of Duc An. The condition of this building is incredible, not to mention the craftsmanship of some of the furniture with mother of pearl inlays—it’s a real step back in time. To learn more about the ticket procedure and the sites themselves, be sure to read Hoi An Old Town Ticket, Entrance Fees & Sites. This is the largest single purchase in our guide to cheap things to do in Hoi An so we have left the choice of activity to you.

Hidden Hint: When you walk in The Old House of Duc An, you’ll see a big jar of local tonic on the right-hand side of the counter. Ask for a sample—if you’re lucky, they’ll let you have a small glass to taste.

Old Town's yellow walls: Hoi An Day Trip
A woman cycles through the yellow-hued streets on a Hoi An day trip. Photo: Kristen Wells

Blind massage (full body) – 120,000 VND (5.22 USD)

Had enough of touring around and feel like pampering yourself? A full body massage is bound to do the trick. With good price points, a blind massage is a fantastic option for budget-conscious travellers. Not only do you get a massage but they’re a great way to contribute an income to people within a community that may find it hard to maintain employment elsewhere. Some swear by blind masseuses due to the idea that with the loss of their sight, the skill and connection to touch is that much stronger—you’ll have to be the judge.

Be aware that these massage experiences are not your typical zen-type-massage. They tend to be a little rougher and sometimes focus on pressure points that you didn’t know existed. That said, some of the masseuses speak a little English, and if not, they all understand words like harder/softer and yes/no. Set your expectation accordingly for the experience and you’ll reap the benefits.

Hidden suggests that you head over to Hoi An Blind Massage at 412 Cua Dai Road as they’re professional and have a steady flow of foreigners through their doors.

240,000 VND (10.43 USD) Spent – 92,000 VND (4 USD) Remains

Relax at your accommodation

Now it’s been a long day so far in your Hoi An day trip. Jam-packed with activities, so after all that you deserve a break! It’s time to head back to your accommodation, and let the heat of the day pass you by. Now fill up your water bottle, and put your feet up.

The Hill Station: Hoi An Day Trip
A woman in ‘day pyjamas’ walks past one of Hoi An’s beautiful old buildings.

Experience the Old Town Waterfront at night – 10,000 VND (0.43c USD)

So when you feel revived and ready for the evening part of your day trip, head back into Hoi An’s Old Town. While you saw the Central Market in action and wandered some of the streets earlier in the day, it’s time now to take in the waterfront. As the sun sets and the lights dim, lanterns illuminate the town—a complete contrast to the morning, the ancient town now really comes to life. The finest people watching can be found along the riverfront and is an activity which is the definition of a cheap thing to do in Hoi An

Then as the evening progresses, you’ll notice colourful floating lanterns begin to populate the waterway as people cast them off. Get a couple of lanterns from one of the many sellers next to the river for 5,000 VND (0.22c USD). Light the candle and make a wish before setting it off down the Thu Bon River.

Hidden Hint: We advise you hand the correct change to the seller as some may ask for large sums from the unsuspecting.

Couple on a boat: Hoi An day trip
A couple launches colourful wish lanterns from a rowboat in Hoi An. Photo: Hidden Hoi An

10,000 VND (0.43c USD) Spent –  82,000 VND (3.56 USD) Remains

Com Ga TY – 30,000 VND (1.30 USD)

Following casting your wish down the river, head up to Com Ga TY for dinner. It is a seemingly just another generic-looking chicken rice stand but it serves a fantastic plate. Their cart is set roadside with the bulk of the seating just past it down the alley.

You’ll be given a plate with a bed of aromatic rice, topped with onions, a variety of herbs, and a moist mix of white and dark chicken meat. On a smaller plate is the slightly pickled green papaya and carrot slaw, along with a small bowl of soup. It’s a great local place to try another dish specific to the area. To learn more about this dish, read our Com Ga article.

Address: 27 Phan Chu Trinh

60,000 VND (3 USD) Spent – 22,000 VND (0.95c USD) Remains

Wind down with an evening beer – 5,000 VND (0.22c USD)

Now the end is drawing near, not only for the day trip in Hoi An but also for our budget. However, a long and busy day isn’t quite complete without a cold beer to cap it off. Just a short distance from Com Ga TY is Quan An 19, where bia hoi is only 5,000 VND (0.25c USD) a glass. Spend the last of your money on the good stuff and enjoy! The reason it’s so cheap is because bia hoi is a fresh-style beer that can easily be made daily. With its fair alcohol percentage usually hitting around 3.5%, it makes a great beer for the end of the day. Easy drinking, smooth, and all for an affordable price.

Address: 19 Hoang Van Thu

20,000 VND (0.87 USD) Spent – 2,000 VND (0.09c USD) Remains

Hidden’s thoughts on the best cheap things to do in Hoi An

So there you have it—one complete day itinerary in Hoi An for 552,000 VND (24 USD). For two people, and with 2,000 VND (0.09c USD) to spare! Hoi An is one of the most popular tourist destinations, for good reason—it has unique natural and cultural appeal. So after a long, budget-friendly day trip packed with new travel memories, you’re likely to feel there’s still a lot more to discover in Hoi An… that’s because there is a lot more. Set an intention to return as Hoi An in 24 hours is but the tip of the iceberg of travel bliss that awaits your next visit.

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