Last updated on February 21st, 2019 at 10:40 pm
I had my first trip to this beautiful town in 2002. Back then it was easy to pick the best place to stay in Hoi An. The selection was so minimal that you could literally check all of them in one morning.
Now, if you ask me where to stay in Hoi An I would have to ask you a few questions to see what kind of holiday you are planning. Is it with the family, in a couple, single and young, first time.
Beside the old town, you can also decide to stay at the beach. But it will be a completely different experience and we shall see why.
The great news is that I have updated this guide with my recent trip in 2019, so you will not find outdated stuff.
I recently received an email from a reader planning to visit Vietnam. He asked me about a possible 2 weeks itinerary.
I was surprised by one of his questions: “Is Hoi An worth visiting?”
This is, in my opinion, a must visit place in Vietnam, in my top 3 together with Hanoi and Sapa.
Of course, there are lots of tourists around. It’s nothing like 20 years ago but this does not make it a place to avoid, on the contrary, it’s a must-visit site that should be in anyone’s itinerary.
Following is a map with my best 5 areas to stay in Hoi An. I really suggest booking your accommodation based on the type of stay you are looking for. For example, your trip will be different if you stay in the old town or at the beach in Hoi An.
Does Hoi An have a beach?
Technically speaking Hoi An doesn’t have a beach. The town is located along the Thu Bon estuary, around 5 km from the coast.
Usually, the Hoi An beach is considered to be the coastline north of the estuary that runs up to the Da Nang Airport.
Should I stay in the old town or at the beach?
The old town is a maze of small streets, even if you step outside the ancient part of it. Most of the accommodations are small and they very rarely have a pool.
Staying in the old town, or around it, means you will enjoy the real character of Hoi An with historic details all around you. At night you will have some of the best street food in Vietnam besides a cheap drink along the Thu Bon river.
However, if you are looking more for a relaxing break, in a nice resort with a pool, maybe a gym and sea view than the beach is the best place to stay in Hoi An.
The beach is a great option if you have small kids. You can have some fun at the pool or playing with the sand during the afternoon, the hottest part of the day.
You can always book your accommodation in town and explore the beach, and vice-versa. Just keep in mind the distance, from 5km to 10km. You can rent a bike (sometimes for free at the resorts), take a taxi or book a Grab.
The Old Town is absolutely the jewel of Hoi An. A well-preserved port town that will make you think you are suddenly in the 16th century.
It’s literally an open-air museum, you will be open-mouth at every corner
Surprisingly enough, the old town of Hoi An does not offer a wide choice of accommodations. In fact, just a bunch of small hotels, mostly family run.
The old town is more of a place to visit than a place to stay. Keep in mind that if you stay on the island of An Hoi or in Cam Pho, you will easily walk here usually in less than 15 minutes, sometimes even 5 minutes.
To enter the old town you need a ticket (valid for 10 days) at the cost of 120,000VND (approx $7). You will be given a map with a list of attractions. Five of them, as well as an art show, are included in the ticket.
Please, note that you can possibly trick the system and explore the old town without paying the ticket however this is all money that goes to the Cultural Center that use it to restore and improve the area.
The Cau Chua Pagoda, the Japanese Bridge, is the place to start your tour. This is the over 500 years old bridge that used to connect the Japanese to the Chinese district of the city. Keep walking to the Buddhist Temple of Pháp Bao and just wander around with the map included in the ticket.
For dinner, I suggest visiting the Streets Restaurant, a social enterprise that trains and run with disadvantaged people an amazing restaurant. It’s more of a cultural project, however, do not think that the quality is not there. On the contrary, it’s actually one of the best eateries in Hoi An.
The beach is the perfect spot to stay in Hoi An if you are after a mixed experience of culture, sun and sea.
It actually works great if you are travelling with kids as you can spend the morning in the Ancient Town and the afternoon (the hottest part of the day) at the resort, with the pool and the beach.
As I previously said, the beach is not walking distance from the old town and you really need to pay attention to where you book your accommodation.
A couple of reasons:
I may just add that the beach here, as in most of Vietnam, is not that idyllic. It’s nothing to call home about, which is fine because the old town of Hoi An is the real gem, that’s the main reason to travel here.
I would personally suggest a couple of beach areas:
Both areas are around 5-7km from the Hoi An centre.
The island of An Hoi is the best place to stay in Hoi An for first-timers. This is where you will have everything a step away from your accommodation. Lovely restaurants, cute cafes and a great choice of shopping, especially for clothes.
Walk through the small bridge and you are in the old town
And at dark, you could launch your personal lantern in the water.
Yes, true, you do not need to wait for the Lantern Festival (every month at full moon). Most of the nights is on.
And if you wonder if it’s only for tourists, probably you may guess already the answer, yes.
We always talk about not polluting the water and probably this festival, although being truly beautiful, is not the best idea, especially considering the sea is just 4km away. Guess where the lantern will go.
Most of the nightlife is on this island too. Not like there is an incredible nightlife, however, you will be very likely to find a place to have a drink till late.
On the south side of the island, you can also find a few resorts with a pool, which come very handy in the hottest part of the day, just after lunch.
Located north of the Old Town, Cam Pho is a quiet area of Hoi An meters away from the old town.
If you are on a budget then Cam Pho is the best area where you should look for your accommodation.
It does not have the character, neither the facilities of the previous districts however, on average, the hotel prices are lower.
On peak season, where everywhere else seems booked out, Cam Pho is where you will be more likely to find a bed.
New cozy restaurants and cafes are starting opening so you don’t really need to walk far for dinner.
For more action at night, you just need a 10-15 minutes walk to the Ha Noi island.
Cam Chau is a great place to stay on your second or third visit. It’s located between the old town and the beach. Right in the middle
It’s also a fantastic place to stay in Hoi An if you are after a more relaxing experience, in the countryside.
Do not expect any hills, just flat green land with plenty of rice fields.
Even if you do not decide to stay here, I personally suggest to rent a bike and have a ride around. It’s a great experience, besides a good place for photos.
You can organise a full day where you have a ride through Cam Chau to arrive at the beach.
On my next trip, I am planning a ride through Cam Chau to arrive at the Cua Dai pier. From there a boat to the other side of the estuary and back through the Cau Cua Dai bridge and along the river. I will keep you updated on it 😉
Cam Chau is in this respect the green option, the relaxing option, in the land between.
The easiest way to arrive in Hoi An is by flying to the Da Nang Airport, about 30 km away. There are plenty of services to take you to the old town, all waiting for you at the arrival level.
If you catch a taxi just remind the driver to start the meter, in case they don’t do it. Expect to pay $15-$20 for the trip.
There are buses from Da Nang town to Hoi An (~$10) however I do not find it a convenient option, especially if you travel with someone else.
If you arrive by train then you will end up at the Da Nang Station (there is no train stop in Hoi An) and from there by taxi to the old town.
And lastly, from anywhere in Vietnam you can catch a bus directly to the Old Town. Hoi An is actually one of the most popular stops on the North-South route. The advantage here is that you will be left directly in the Hoi An.
The easiest way to move around Hoi An is on foot. It’s all quite close to each other.
Once you want to explore the outskirts of the town than you can rent either a bike or a scooter. Sometimes the hotel provides bikes for free, otherwise expect $2/day.
You can also take a cyclo (tuk-tuk), book a driver or take a taxi.
Keep also in mind that there are a few tours organised in town. From city tours with a guide to Vietnamese Food preparation.
Stef Ferro is the founder and editor of MEL365, a travel & photography website made to enhance the travelling experience and improve the photography work.
Stef is a professional travel photographer with past experience in the cycling and film industry.
Stef runs travel photography workshops in Melbourne and around the world.