You know those places you go, and it takes you days (if not weeks) to really digest your experience there? Visiting Vietnam as a family was just like that for us. It was such a surreal adventure for our whole family that it’s actually been somewhat challenging to look back and be like, wow…we really did that! We went there, and we saw and experienced it! We spent 10 days in Vietnam, and we tried to balance adventure and relaxation. So, one of those adventurous days was in Hoi An. I wanted to share a little about how we spent one day in Hoi An, Vietnam, what we loved, and what we’d do again if we go back someday.
How We Spent One Day in Hoi An, Vietnam
When I planned our trip ahead of time, I read that most tourist areas get packed around 1 or 2 PM, so our goal was to get there early in the morning (much like our trip to SunWorld Ba Na Hills). We hired a Grab – think: Uber, but Vietnamese style – and he took us right to the Hoi An walking town’s tailor quarter where you can have custom-made garments made for a fraction of what you’d pay elsewhere. We actually stepped out of our Grab and were instantly ushered in by a lovely woman who owned Tailor 52…and got plenty of our money in the process!
We’d planned to have a few things made whilst in Vietnam, and we actually had matching button-downs made for the boys, matching dresses for Mieke and myself, and a suit made for Ryan. Then, we also visited a leather-goods shop where Ryan had dress shoes custom made, leather slides, and I had faux Birkenstocks and a pair of gold leather sandals. It was a neat experience, and the kids were absolutely fawned over through the process. The only downside? We also got suckered in by a lady selling tchotchkes who managed to get us to purchase a good bit at her shop, as well. Thankfully, they were souvenirs for friends and family, so it worked out.
What to Do in Hoi An with Kids
After navigating the tailor-made quarter of Hoi An, our mission was simple; mama needed some cà phê trứng or egg coffee. It’s a traditional Vietnamese coffee in which espresso is richly frothed with egg and condensed milk to make this sweet, rich, and deep coffee that’s seriously unparalleled. So, we found Hoi An Coffee Hub and indulged, all whilst getting the kiddos passion fruit smoothies because, yes, we ate and drank our weight in passion fruit while in Vietnam.
In the process of finding the coffee though, we were lured in by the boats on the water, and we decided to do a little boat trip to try the “coconut boats” where we could see and experience Hoi An from the water. It was a little pricier than we’d expected, but the kids absolutely loved the boat ride, and when we got out of the boat and onto the coconut boats to go crabbing, the kids were in heaven! We paddled down little offshoot streams, saw ducks and cows, and Spencer managed to catch a couple of crabs, which we later released because nope. Then, it was time for food!
Where We Ate in Hoi An, Vietnam
There is no shortage of amazing food in Hoi An, but we found a cute little café perfectly between the textile quarter and the water called Café 25, and we actually ended up going back two days later when we returned for the clothes we had made. We dined on bahn mi and literally ordered every flavor including chicken, pork, beef, and egg, and the kids downed their Cokes on the side. Mieke loved the fresh French Fries with her rice, and the sweetest shop owner fresh-pressed her some apple juice, which was the sweetest thing in the world!
Hoi An Roastery Espresso & Coffee House was also a huge hit with everything ranging from coffee to fruity sodas, teas, spring rolls, fresh coconuts, and more. Plus, it felt like paradise surrounded by greenery, the warmth of the sun outside, and the flavors in the air throughout the shop. Honestly, I don’t think you can go wrong with any of the libations in Hoi An!
Was One Day in Hoi An, Vietnam Enough?
Honestly, we did Hoi An wrong. Since we immediately got sucked into the textile market, we were worn out by the time we got to explore other areas of old-town Hoi An, which was so beautiful. We really loved it and, with kids, one day in Hoi An was enough. It was much more touristy than other areas of Da Nang that we visited, and it felt much more ex-pat heavy, if that makes sense. So, we spent one day in Hoi An, and it was enough for us.
That being said, there is so much more to do there, and I’d love to go back with the knowledge we gained through this trip because Hoi An was really lovely, and the people were so friendly!
Tips for Visiting Hoi An as a Foreigner
- Cash is king in Hoi An! While many places accept cards (including many of the clothiers), you will be charged more than if you pay cash. Also, paying card is hit or miss if the signal is strong enough with many of the card readers.
- Old-town Hoi An is best explored on foot! Cars don’t traverse the old streets, but motorbikes do.
- There are hawkers everywhere. For example, there are sweet little ladies yoked with fresh fruit on their shoulders. Stare too long, and you’ll end up getting a photo with them and buying overpriced fruit. Take it from someone who totally did this.
- There are plenty of ATMs all throughout Hoi An. Most will accept US chipped cards and dispense Vietnamese dong (VND), but your ATM fees will be high. USAA reimburses these, thankfully!
- Hoi An is best visited in the morning! One of the funny shop owners laughed and told us we were lucky because all the South Koreans start visiting the old city around 2 PM and, sure enough, they were right! It was funny because it’s really quite the same here in Korea.
Hoi An was honestly so neat though, and I’m really glad we got to go (twice!) because we enjoyed it even more the second time when we went back for our clothes!
Tell me – Have you ever been to Hoi An? Would you like to go someday?