The Hoi An Night Market
Hoi An’s night market can feel like a whole new world. It’s easy to be swept up by all the different smells, people, noises, and unidentifiable food served on rice cakes. A visit to the night market here is a lively experience for families, couples, shoppers, and photographers. Kids love this night market, too, given its many lights, toys, and music.
In this article, Hidden provided a guide to the Hoi An night market, what to expect, and how to navigate through its busy stalls. We want you to have the complete experience, enjoying everything the market has to offer. So grab a friend, your child, your partner, or your camera and follow our detailed guide to take on this colourful market. Before you know it, you’ll be bargaining down prices like a local, trying some tasty new snacks, and snapping pictures of yourself bathed in the flattering glow of the star of the night market—the colourful lantern shops.
Hoi An Night Market Map & location
Hoi An’s official night market is located on An Hoi Islet, across the river from the Ancient Town, on Nguyen Hoang. When you cross the bridge to An Hoi, look right for the big orange sign that reads “Nguyen Hoang Night Market.” The street is illuminated by hundreds of colourful lanterns, buzzing with life and frenetic activity, so you can’t miss it!
The Central Market
The Central Market, occupying Tran Quy Ca and Bach Dang streets, also has night stalls; but don’t mistake this for Hoi An’s official night market. Although the Central Market is usually open until 7 pm, some eager vendors stay open later to serve the night crowd. After dark, they offer more or less the same products as in the official night market. There are not many options available here, but there are considerably fewer people. This makes it an easier alternative to stroll around and shop at than the more crowded official night market. The major downside is that there isn’t the abundance of lanterns here, which Hidden feels really differentiates the Hoi An night market from all others.
Hidden Hint: Expect higher prices at the Central Market night stalls due to less vendor competition. It’s always a good idea to bargain.
What Will You Find?
The 300-metre long street which houses the official Hoi An night market on An Hoi is where you’ll find more than 50 vendors selling a variety of local snacks, handicrafts, souvenirs, trinkets, clothing, shoes, jewellery, and accessories.
Every evening from 5 pm to 10 pm, vendors line up in three rows, forming two main aisles for visitors to walk through. The two outside rows (on both the left and right) are lined with food stalls. The middle row is comprised of stalls selling local souvenirs.
Souvenirs and Trinkets
Similar to every night market across Vietnam, at Hoi An’s night market you will find souvenirs. These include such things as mass-produced trinkets, clothes, hats, bags, wallets, toys, paintings, drawings, and home decor items. There are a variety of options for you to choose from, which can suit both your budget and taste. Prices range from as low as 30,000 VND (1.30 USD) for a personalised “name on a grain of rice” charm. Yes, there is a real skill to being able to write small enough to fit your name on a grain of rice, and it’s intriguing to watch! (Hidden wondered if the vendors breathe a sigh of relief when your name is simply Tom.) Prices can run to a high of 500,000 VND (21.70 USD) for a ready-made Áo dài or a tea set.
Hoi An is known for its coffee and silk products, both sold for competitive prices at the night market (with a little bargaining). The market is also brimming with wonderful souvenirs from talented artists. Look for paintings, sketches, elegant pottery, and handcrafted bamboo products. All are an interesting conversation starter for you back home and the perfect reminder of your time here. For an in-depth guide to Hoi An’s unique souvenirs, check out Hidden’s article here.
Undoubtedly though, the market’s highlight, both aesthetically and for shopping, is its lantern corner. Right at the beginning of the market, next to the big market sign, you’ll find five stalls offering lanterns in all sorts of different shapes, sizes, colours, and patterns. Their beautiful warm glow draws in almost every visitor to the night market.
You’ll see many tourists trying to capture that perfect Hoi An lantern nightscape through their lens. It’s also a popular place for wedding photoshoots (here in Vietnam they happen before the big day). You’ll often see very well dressed young couples posing in front of this beautiful backdrop. As such, expect quite a crowd here, along with a small price for a photo. Vendors usually ask 20,000 VND (0.90 USD) for a photo in front of their stores. If you purchase lanterns from the store, then this cost will likely be waived as you pose contentedly with your new purchase.
Hidden Hint: If you prefer to shop without the crowds, then aim to get to the lantern stores just before sunset, as it’s a quieter and much easier time to shop.
It’s very hard to resist purchasing one of Hoi An’s signature lanterns. They are not only beautiful and unique to Hoi An, but they are so easily transportable as they fold down flat and weigh nothing in your suitcase. Although you can find them almost anywhere in Hoi An, Hidden thinks this corner is the best places to buy lanterns, as it offers great value for money and the widest variety of choices.
Nguyen Quang Workshop of Lanterns
We recommend Nguyen Quang Workshop of Lanterns. This stall offers the biggest selection of all five lantern stores, at reasonable prices starting from 20,000 VND (0.90 USD) and going up to 250,000 VND (10.80 USD), depending on size and design. Tam has been working at this store for the past 12 years. She is very attentive to customer’s needs and speaks excellent English, making the overall experience enjoyable. Since this is the largest stall around, it is also worth visiting here even just for a picture. Check out our in-depth guide to buying lanterns here.
Hoi An Night Market Best Food and Local Snacks
The night market food stalls serve a variety of easily transportable sweet and savoury delights, so you can easily treat yourself as you stroll through the market. If you’ve never been to Asia before, then chances are you won’t find these snacks visually appealing. Although plain in ingredients, most of them are full of taste and worth trying at least once. After all, sampling new things in the market is part of the experience!
Some of the most distinct snacks you will find here include: Vietnamese pizza (rice crackers topped with dried shrimp and pork, quail eggs, sate chile sauce, fermented shrimp paste, and fried shallots), grilled meat on skewers (pork, shrimp, octopus, frog, and chicken), potato and sausage rolls, coconut candy (rice crackers with coconut filling and sugar), coconut cake (rice waffles with coconut flakes, condensed milk, and sugar), grilled banana sticky rice (banana, coconut milk, and sticky rice wrapped in a banana leaf), and che soup (a mildly sweet pudding containing fruit, vegetables, beans, seeds, glutinous rice, and tapioca powder, often topped with coconut milk).
Prices are fairly standard, expect to pay no more than VND 30,000 (USD 1.30) for most of the snacks you’ll find here in the market. The exemptions are a few more “gourmet” savoury snacks, like grilled octopus, dried shrimps, beef, fish and crab, or roasted nuts and seeds. They have prices which usually start at VND 60,000 (USD 2.60).
Behind the food stall lines, you’ll find a couple of vendors offering some of Hoi An’s Specialities, like cao lau, mi quang, and com ga, with prices starting as low as VND 30,000 (1.30 USD). Interestingly enough, these tiny plastic tables are the only place in the market where locals outnumber the tourists. This is always a good indication of food authenticity.
If you’re looking for an entertainment factor, then visit an ice cream rolls stall. Here, you can mix any combination of sweet delights into ice cream but with a Vietnamese twist. Instead of chopping and mixing up normal ice cream, sweetened condensed milk is used. Poured onto an ice-cold metal surface, freezing into an ice cream-like texture within seconds. Once the base is frozen solid, it is spread thinly and scraped to create delicious rolls of ice cream. The rolls are then artistically placed in a cup and topped with whipped cream, chocolate sauce, or fresh fruit. For just VND 30,000 (USD 1.3)0, these yummy rolls look like they’ve come straight out of Instagram heaven. Even if you’re not a big ice cream fan, find someone who is. The process alone is worth a look—kids love it!
At the end of the market, you’ll find a load of food stalls with small tables. You can sit and enjoy your snacks here. Right next to them is a night stall from backpackers’ bar, Hair of the Dog, where you can have cheap drinks and shots by the water. You’ll probably hear it before you see it as they like to play their music loud!
When to Visit: Night Market Opening Hours
For those who prefer to shop without the crowds, the best time to visit is right before sunset. Most vendors get there around 5 pm, but people don’t really start coming before 6 pm. For those who are amped for the hustle and bustle and want to see the market in full swing, the busiest time is from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm. After 9 pm, there are noticeably fewer people, and the food stall owners move their carts closer to the entrance of the market to attract new customers. Most stalls close around 10 pm.
During the Tet holiday period, there is an increasing number of night stalls, especially next to Hoi An’s Central Market. In Hoi An during this period, the good side is that you are exposed to delicious holiday treats, colourful flowers, and unique agricultural products unavailable at other times of the year. On the downside, prices can be inflated since most vendors are keen to make additional money for the holiday period.
Hidden Hint: This is a busy market, so be a smart traveller and keep your personal belongings close during peak hours and holiday periods.
Night Market Shopping
When shopping at the night market, take note that it is very rare that an item is only found at one particular stall. Take your time in finding the best price that you and the vendor are comfortable with. The first stalls at the entrance tend to be more expensive because stall owners pay more to occupy prominent positions. If you find something you like at the entrance, then ask for the best price to have an idea of the cost. Hold off on the purchase since you’ll probably see the same thing later for a better price.
The decision of which places to buy from really comes down to price and personality. Once you spot the cheapest stall, you can start bargaining for an even lower price. Try to aim at least 75% lower. If the vendor refuses, then politely decline and walk away. Before you know it, he/she will politely “Oi” you to come back, and make a lower offer—most will meet your price after a few polite “walk away” attempts. Even if they don’t, they’ll probably meet you halfway. Hidden advises that you remember what you are “bargaining” over. The price of a cup of coffee back home can feed a whole family here.
Hidden Hint: Approach negotiating as a fun game rather than with guilt and embarrassment. It’s highly acceptable and expected in all markets across Vietnam.
Around the Night Market
If walking and nibbling whet your appetite for a proper meal, then try Vy’s Market Restaurant, which is located right across from the lantern stalls. Ms Vy is a renowned successful restaurateur and chef in Hoi An. Tasting her food is an experience you shouldn’t miss. This is one of her more casual projects, set up as a large upmarket indoor food court. Here guests can see their dishes prepared and cooked. Each stall has its own chef, preparing your dish to perfection. For an authentic Vietnamese experience, have a walk around the food court first to see the chefs in action.
The Belleville Restaurant and Madame Kieu are both great spots for people watching and live music surrounding the night market. After 8 pm, you will find both of them filled with tired night market visitors. For a killer Thu Bon River view, head up to Madame Kieu’s balcony; and after a few drinks, if you feel like singing, then head to Belleville’s open mic event.
Hidden Hint: On Thursdays and Saturdays, Hoi An’s hip hop community perform breakdancing feats down by the river, just across from the entrance to the night market.
Hoi An’s night market is all about tasting, shopping, and spending some time exploring with family and friends. The night market provides a colourful and pleasant way to spend an evening. Whether you’re following your super excited kids from food stall to toy stall, taking pictures with company or just looking for cool souvenirs. When you’re done, you’re in the perfect place to extend your evening by trying out some of the best bars and restaurants in Hoi An.