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Sassy Mama’s Guide To Hoi An, Vietnam

hoi an vietnam da nang travel kids lanterns night market
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There’s a reason Hoi An and nearby Da Nang are destinations that Hong Kongers keep flocking back to. Just a two-hour direct flight and you’ve got pristine beaches, cultural immersion and hotels and resorts to suit all tastes and budgets. Here are our picks for families visiting Da Nang and Hoi An, Vietnam.

What’s not to love? Closer than Bali, Phuket or even the Philippines, Da Nang is just a quick direct flight from Hong Kong. The city, which is a tourist destination in its own right, has beach resorts lining the turquoise coast all the way along to the old town of Hoi An just 40 minutes down the road. This Sassy Mama has been visiting Hoi An regularly since 2011 and let’s just say that whole a lot has changed over the years, it’s a destination that I just keep coming back to!

Jump To:
What To See And Do In Hoi An
Hoi An Restaurant Recommendations
Hotels And Resorts Near Hoi An
Weather And When To Visit Hoi An
Travelling From Hong Kong To Hoi An
Visas For Vietnam

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What To See And Do In Hoi An

hoi an old town da nang vietnam

Hoi An Old Town

Hoi An is one of those places where you can happily while away the hours just wandering around. A fluke of history has meant that this once bustling trade city was abandoned in favour of Da Nang, just in time to protect it from modernisation. It was placed on the UNESCO World Heritage list and has been a firm favourite with tourists ever since.

Walking through the streets (much of the old town is closed to traffic) you will see a mix of Vietnamese, Chinese, Japanese and European architecture. At night, colourful lanterns light up the streets and as the temperature drops, it’s the perfect time to take in the markets and restaurants. It can be very busy, but the old town is flat, stroller-friendly and fun for kids.

Read More: Where To Find Kids’ Luggage And Travel Accessories

travel hoi an Vietnam street food

Food Tours And Cooking Classes

Surely we aren’t the only ones who go to Hoi An purely to eat our way around town? While there are countless restaurants, sometimes you want to eat as the locals do, but don’t know where to start. A food tour is a great way to try the popular favourites (banh mi anyone!) as well as local, regional delicacies (a steaming bowl of cao lau noodles) and some dishes for the more adventurous eaters (try the balut – not quite an egg, not quite a duck).

Hoi An Food Tour offers a range of private and small group food tours where you can walk, cycle or be whisked around town on the back of a motorbike as you sample the best street food in the area. The friendly, young guides will keep you entertained throughout the tour, whether zipping through the back streets or meandering past the rice paddies.

Most of the good restaurants in town offer cooking classes so you can try your hand at local favourites. We can’t go past fresh rice paper rolls or Hoi An crispy pancakes. What a treat to learn how to make them! Vy’s Market Restaurant (see our restaurant recommendations below) is a great place to start for lessons but you can also check out Green Bamboo or Tra Que Water Wheel.

Read More: Thai, Indonesian And Filipino Groceries In Hong Kong

hoi an vietnam da nang travel kids lune centre bamboo circus

Lune Center — Theatre Shows

Older kids and teens will love a night out at the Lune Center. It’s hard to miss the 13-metre high bamboo dome scenically perched by the riverfront. We caught a spellbinding production of Teh Dar, an hour-long production of acrobatics, tribal music and contemporary dance with the creative use of bamboo for circus stunts.

Read More: Hong Kong Gymnastics — Baby Gym, Recreational And Competitive Gymnastics Classes For Kids

hoi an vietnam da nang travel kids yaly tailor made clothing

Tailor-Made Clothing In Vietnam

All around Hoi An you will find custom clothing and footwear, even bag and jewellery shops. We challenge you to leave town without at least one made-to-measure piece! The tailors range in quality and price, largely dependent on the type of materials selected and the craftsmanship involved.

Yaly Couture is tried and tested. This Sassy Mama has had everything from a wedding dress to winter coats made here over the years. It isn’t the cheapest in town, but it has a range of quality fabrics and skilled seamstresses across its three branches.

BeBe is another firm favourite amongst the team for quality tailoring. With 15 years of experience, three branches across Hoi An and a promise of unlimited fittings, you’re sure to be pleased with the results.

Sassy Mama Tip: Know what you like, what you want and what suits you before you visit a tailor. The possibilities are endless and if you are short on time it is easy to get overwhelmed. If you choose something that doesn’t suit your body type, no amount of tailoring is going to make it work.

Read More: Where To Shop Mama And Me Matching Clothes And Accessories

hoi an vietnam da nang travel kids golden bridge ba na hills sun world

Ba Na Hills And Golden Bridge

Chances are you’ve seen images of the Golden Bridge — two strong, almost ethereal hands holding up a walkway on the side of a mountain. Perhaps you thought it was part of a temple complex? Think again. The now iconic bridge is located within the Ba Na Hills Sun World theme park.

hoi an vietnam da nang travel kids ba na hills sun world

Your day starts with a cable car ride high up into the mountains (where it is thankfully noticeably cooler). Once at the summit, you’d be forgiven if you were thinking you’d landed in another country, Europe perhaps? The park consists of different zones with rides, street shows and restaurants.

hoi an vietnam da nang travel kids golden bridge ba na hills sun world

While I’m glad we went, the park was packed with tour groups and our kids (five and two) were a bit young to really enjoy the experience. It looks like there is a lot of construction going on, so expect to see more attractions opening in the years to come. The expectation and reality on this one definitely didn’t match!

Sassy Mama Tip: The official website for Ba Na Hills is terrible to navigate and constantly crashes so it’s worth booking through your accommodation or an agent.

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my son temples hoi an da nang vietnam

My Son Temples

If you have time for a side trip, the UNESCO World Heritage-listed My Son Temples is an easy one-hour drive from Hoi An. Set out early (before the heat sets in) and you’ll be treated to exploring this historic Champa temple complex (a similar design to Angkor Wat) without the crowds.

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hoi an da nang vietnam the nam hai four seasons bike tour

Bike Tours

The area around Hoi An Old Town and the surrounding countryside is mostly flat, and once away from the main roads, surprisingly quiet. Perfect for a family cycling trip! Your hotel will most likely have bicycles available to rent (by the hour or by the day), but if you worry about your navigational abilities, following a local guide will be your best option. Many companies combine a cycling tour with other activities, like cooking classes and boat tours, so you can customise your perfect day trip.

French expat, Pascal, and his wife run Heaven & Earth Bicycle Tours. The company offers small group and private cycling tours for all capabilities and families will love that they have kids’ bikes and baby seats (that comply with EU and international safety standards).

Read More: Cycling With Kids — Where To Ride Your Bike In Hong Kong

Island Tours, Scuba Diving and Snorkelling

Just off the coast of Hoi An in the South China Sea are the Cham Islands, home to the Cu Lao Cham Marine Park. While we wouldn’t call scuba diving here world-class, the islands do offer up some of the best coral reefs along the coastline of Vietnam. There are a number of operators offering speed boats to the islands as well as full-day snorkelling and scuba diving trips.

Read More: Explore Sharp Island With The Family

hoi an vietnam da nang travel kids beaches

Beach Time

Cua Dai and An Bang Beach are just a few kilometres from Hoi An Old Town and should definitely be on your list if visiting in the dry season. Who would say no to lazing about under a palm tree with a coconut in hand? Small bars and restaurants line the sand so go for a stroll, find a perfectly located sun lounger and park yourself for the day.

Read More: Best Beaches In Hong Kong To Visit With The Family

hoi an old town da nang vietnam markets

Shopping In Hoi An

There are countless shops and markets around the Old Town of Hoi An. Don’t forget to bargain, hard! Whether you are after custom clothes, leather goods, jewellery, artwork or general souvenirs, you won’t have to search far. There are however a few standout shops well worth the visit for nicer souvenirs to take home.

Homewares shop Sunday is a favourite with more than one of the Sassy Mama team. Pick up some nice personal accessories, or maybe a statement piece for your apartment. You’ll be feeling those holiday vibes long after you return home! The store invites you in with handmade crafts and homewares that have been sourced from villages throughout Vietnam and Southeast Asia.

Lovers of quality fabrics and French design should head straight to Metiseko for clothing and accessories. The creative team has drawn its inspiration from Vietnamese traditions and landscapes (think jungle and bamboo-inspired prints) to create silks and organic cotton that is sustainably sourced from local artisans.

Sassy Mama Tip: Metiseko also has an online store and ships overseas!

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Hoi An Restaurant Recommendations

You should never, ever go hungry in Hoi An! This city serves up some of the best cuisines in the country. While you can of course opt for the Vietnamese classics like banh mi, pho or rice paper rolls, my advice is to seek out the more local Hoi An favourites. Look for dishes like cao lau noodles, white rose dumplings (banh bao vac), Vietnamese turmeric noodles (mi quang) and crispy pancakes (banh xeo).

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hoi an da nang vietnam travel food restaurant recommendations

Ms Vy’s Restaurants

For a sure bet for quality local cuisine head straight to any of Ms Vy’s restaurants (and there are a lot of them!). Ms Vy is somewhat of a legend in Hoi An with over 30 years of experience in the restaurant business. She grew up in Hoi An, but her parents are from the north and the south respectively so she has been able to bring this influence into her cooking. Morning Glory and Vy’s Market Restaurant both serve up delicious Vietnamese recipes passed down through the generations.

Sassy Mama Tip: To try out Ms Vy’s recipes at home, pick up a copy of the Taste Vietnam: The Morning Glory Cookbook.

Read More: The Ultimate List Of Things To Do With Kids In Hong Kong

Mango Mango

Occupying a prime position overlooking the Thu Bon River, grab a table on the upstairs terrace at Mango Mango. From here you’ll have a great view not only of the river (especially beautiful if visiting during the full moon) but also of the Japanese Covered Bridge and the Hoi An Night Market. There’s live music every night, a great cocktail list and a menu perfect for sharing. This is our pick for unwinding after a day of sightseeing!

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Noodle House by STREETS

We’re a sucker for a social enterprise, so Noodle House by STREETS is always going to make our list of recommendations. STREETS is a hospitality training restaurant where young adults from disadvantaged backgrounds can get an education and a start in the industry. It has also branched out to offer market tours and cooking classes. Go on, put your tourist dollar towards a good cause!

Read More: Afternoon Tea In Hong Kong — Hotels And Restaurants With High Tea

Central Market Food Hall

For a truly local foodie experience, take a stroll through the Central Market Food Hall (if you take a food tour this will almost certainly be included). Not for the faint-hearted this is where the locals source their fresh produce and also pick up cheap and cheerful lunches and snacks. It’s overwhelming for your senses in the best possible way. As with all street food, look for a stall packed with locals and a high turnover so that you are eating the freshest fare!

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hoi an vietnam da nang travel kids cargo club

Cargo Club

The French have had a major influence on cuisine all over Vietnam, but this is particularly evident in Hoi An. Cargo Club Café is the go-to spot for French pastries and desserts (who can go past a pain au chocolate!).

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Hotels And Resorts In Hoi An And Da Nang

There are so many options when it comes to sleeping in Hoi An. Most accommodation is either found on the outskirts of the Old Town or by the beach a few kilometres away. Many families choose to stay further afield in Da Nang (30 to 45 minutes drive away) and come to Hoi An for a day trip. Sassy team members have tried and tested the following options and they are listed according to price.

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hoi an vietnam da nang travel kids hyatt regency resort and spa

Hyatt Regency Da Nang Resort And Spa

A popular option for Hong Kong families (we met two other families during our stay and know many more who return regularly), the Hyatt Regency ticks all the boxes. Choose from hotel rooms, one, two or three-bedroom apartments or go all out in a spacious, beachfront villa with a private pool. There is a kid’s club with daily activities (4+ can attend unaccompanied), an outdoor playground and five pools scattered throughout the property, including one with a waterslide and another with inflatables for kids to play on.

Sassy Mama Tip: Some of the apartments and villas at the Hyatt Regency Da Nang are privately owned and available to rent on Airbnb. You still get full access to the resort’s amazing facilities (including the kids club for a minimal cost) and can pick up some great deals!

Hyatt Regency Da Nang Resort And Spa,

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Victoria Hoi An Beach Resort

Occupying prime position on Cua Dai Beach is the Victoria Hoi An Beach Resort. A highlight is having direct access to both a private white sand beach as well as a pool overlooking the sea. It has beautifully furnished garden and river view rooms, and spacious suites overlooking the ocean. Families will love having the option of interconnecting rooms and amenities for younger children (baby cots, baths and toiletries) can all be provided.

Victoria Hoi An Beach Resort,

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hoi an danang vietnam the nam hai four seasons

Four Seasons, The Nam Hai Hoi An Resort

Everyone who stays at The Nam Hai absolutely raves about it! The exclusive, all-villa property is the epitome of luxury and offers families an indulgent and relaxing stay. In between pool and beach sessions, children will love the range of activities on offer at the kids’ club.

Four Seasons The Nam Hai,

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Anantara Hoi An Resort

For a luxe option, you can’t go past the Anantara Hoi An Resort. The riverfront location (less than a kilometre from the Old Town) can’t be beaten and indulging in the fabulous breakfast spread with water views is a daily treat. The spacious rooms either overlook the landscaped gardens or capture the breeze from the river. Families will love having a separate living area, huge bathrooms and an outdoor area to unwind at the end of the day. Make time to visit the spa either for a romantic couples treatment or some solo relaxation.

Anantara Hoi An

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La Siesta Resort And Spa

The La Siesta Resort and Spa is located an easy 10-minute walk from the Old Town. It is a boutique hotel that goes the extra mile when it comes to warm and friendly service. It has lovely spacious rooms and a central pool to cool off in. The highlight at La Siesta is definitely the spa. Book yourself in for an indulgent massage, body scrub or wrap (whether you stay at the hotel or not).

La Siesta Resort And Spa,

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Hoi An da nang vietnam flood wet season

Weather And When To Visit Danang And Hoi An

The central Vietnamese coast has two main seasons, the wet and the dry. The wet season lasts from September to January, but most of the rain falls in October and November. Expect cooler temperatures around this time (a max of around 25°C) and there is also the potential for flooding.

The summer heat really kicks in from June to August (expect temperatures well above 30°C). On the flip side, this is also the time when you get the most spectacular full moon. Each month at this time all the street lights are turned off in the Old Town and you are guided by the colourful lanterns and moonlight. A highlight if you time your visit right and can handle the heat! If you are an avid beachgoer, this is the time for you. The water is calm and the wind light so you can make the most of island hopping and scuba diving.

Most families will find the shoulder months (March to May) the most comfortable. The humidity is relatively low and temperatures are comfortable. Perfect for meandering the Old Town at leisure as well as lazing by the pool!

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hoi an vietnam da nang travel kids hoi an

Getting To Get To Hoi An And Da Nang From Hong Kong

There are daily flights from Hong Kong to Da Nang. The flight time is around two hours (so not too long to keep the kids entertained!). From Da Nang it is just over a 30-minute drive to Hoi An. Your accommodation will usually be able to organise transfers for you.

Sassy Mama Tip: Ride-sharing app Grab is widely available. Similarly, Grab Eats is also popular for ordering in if the kids have had an early night.

Read More: Navigating Hong Kong Airport With Kids

Visas For Vietnam

Many nationalities require a visa to enter Vietnam. Make sure you check the most up-to-date information as can differ between arrival cities. Some will be eligible for entry visa-free, for example, citizens of the UK (but not BNO passport holders) and many Europeans can enter visa-free for up to 15 to 21 days. There are also visa-on-arrival options as well as e-visas.

Sassy Mama Tip: Check ALL details are correct on your e-visa application and when the documents are sent to you (the issuing agency made two typos with our family that slowed down our arrival process). This is the official government website for e-visas (it doesn’t look official, but I can verify it is the website referred to by the Australian Consulate in Hanoi, and I’ve personally used it many times over the years).

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  Image 1 courtesy of Pexels, image 2 courtesy of Getty, image 5 courtesy of Klook, image 8 courtesy of UNESCO, images 9 & 14 courtesy of Four Seasons, image 11 courtesy of Pexels, image 12 courtesy of Taste Vietnam via Facebook, image 16 courtesy of Toomas Tartes on Unsplash. All other images courtesy of Jess Mizzi

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