2 Days in Hoi An, What to Do?

This is the average duration that tourists who take advantage of the 45-day visa-free stay, and that’s why I’ve prepared a detailed article for you.

Between the old town and its many UNESCO-listed buildings, Hoi An has a charm that increasingly seduces tourists. It is indeed the favorite Vietnamese city of tourists and mine, of course.

It is often awarded by major travel sites like Trip Advisor, Le Routard, or Lonely Planet, among others. It is also the SHOPPING capital in Vietnam where you can have clothes, shoes, or even custom-made bags.

Another key asset is its cuisine, its proximity to the My Son sanctuary, and its beaches like An Bang beach or Cua Dai beach. Having traveled around Vietnam, I can say that Hoi An is quite unique and combines several activities as well as several monuments to see in one place.

So, what to do if you stay 48 hours in Hoi An? Here is a question to which I will try to respond.

Here is a program prepared by me:

First Day in Hoi An

6 am – 8 am: Visit the old town

hoi an le matin 2

At this time, the city is still asleep and the shops closed, the atmosphere that emanates is unique.

You can admire the ancient architecture of Hoi An as well as the various yellow facades of the houses undisturbed and in absolute calm except for a few Vietnamese doing sports in the different streets.

It’s a real journey as the city hasn’t changed for centuries. Most of the houses (over 800) are UNESCO-listed. Have fun taking one of the many small alleys in the old town, you’re guaranteed a surprise.

Take the opportunity to also visit the Hoi An market and the city’s most famous monument, the Japanese Bridge (under renovation since 2023). Without a single tourist, it’s perfect.

Feel free to buy the pass for 120,000 VND which gives you the right to visit 5 monuments out of the 22 available. I have a preference for the ancient Tanky house (the oldest house in Hoi An), the old Duc An house, the Phuc Kien meeting hall, and the Museum of Vietnamese Folk Culture.

9 am: Shopping

tailleur hoi an

Fancy a copy of a Louboutin? you are in the right place

Joking aside, with 200 tailors and 100 shoe stores, Hoi An is undoubtedly the custom shopping capital of Vietnam. You can get a suit, a dress, shoes, or trousers made for a ridiculous price and with satisfactory quality.

You can absolutely do everything, either by browsing through the different magazines on-site or by bringing a photo of your favorite garment among others.

Do your shopping on the first day because to make a garment, bag, or shoes, it takes 24 hours in high season and 12 hours in low season.

Most stores accept to deliver to your hotel whether it is in Hoi An or Da Nang. Classy.

My Tips

In the tailors, I have a preference for Mr. Xe Tailor located in the old town. The quality is really top-notch, the price remains correct and the clothes I had made here have not budged.

For shoes, one of the best shoe stores in Hoi An remains Friendly Shoes Shop. Their slogan is Satisfaction or Refund. They sew the sole instead of just gluing it unlike many stores.

10:30 am: Visit the Precious Heritage Museum

Le musée Precious Heritage à Hoi An

What would a visit to Hoi An be without a stop at the Precious Heritage museum by the famous French photographer Réhahn? It’s a must-visit in Hoi An and the best museum in Hoi An without a doubt.

The museum is dedicated to the 54 Ethnicities of Vietnam and you can discover the real traditional costumes of the ethnic minorities as well as various objects like earrings, head covers, and many other objects. It’s very informative.

The first part of the museum is the photographer’s photo gallery where you can discover his most emblematic photos, some of which have been published in National Geographic, Time, Conde Nast Travelers.

The museum is entirely free and in English and French.

Essential Information

  • Address: 26 Phan Boi Chau Street – Hoi An
  • Hours: 8 am – 8 pm
  • Free and in English and French
  • Visit time: 1h30

12 pm: Try Cao Lau

cao lau hoi an

The culinary specialty of Hoi An city is Cao Lau, a dish made of noodles, pork, herbs, spices, and notably, it is traditionally sold only in Hoi An. One of the best places to try Cao Lau is the central market, costing about 25,000 VND to 30,000 VND. Importantly, the recipe is followed to the letter.

You can also try the Com Ga Hoi An (Hoi An chicken rice), White Roses (shrimp dumplings), Banh Xeo (a Vietnamese crepe made with shrimp, pork, and soy), or Mi Quang, another specialty of the region.

Restaurants are generally cheaper in Hoi An than in the rest of Vietnam, especially outside the old town. A great opportunity to try several without breaking the budget…

One of my favorite eateries in Hoi An is the street restaurant Hi, run by the lovely couple Hi and Thao.

1 pm – 4 pm: Visit the villages of Cam Thanh and Tra Que

basket boat hoi an

Similar to Tam Coc – Ninh Binh, the city of Hoi An is one of the Vietnamese cities where cycling is a real pleasure.

I highly recommend renting a bicycle or scooter and exploring the surroundings of Hoi An to discover the unvarnished daily life of Vietnam.

Two villages are easily accessible by bike from Hoi An city:

  • First, the village of Cam Thanh where you can become a Vietnamese fisherman for a morning by taking a ride in a basket boat, these typical round boats of Vietnam in a coconut forest. Additionally, I also recommend taking the small roads to truly appreciate the region.
    Even though the village is somewhat touristy, it remains a pleasure to visit.
  • Tra Que is an ecological village where you can discover traditional Vietnamese agriculture without pesticides. You will discover another facet of Hoi An that tourists love.

4 pm – 8 pm: Return to town and lantern festival

In the evening, Hoi An becomes even more magical with lanterns as far as the eye can see and a magical atmosphere. The lights of the lanterns reflecting on the yellow facades of the old houses give Hoi An a unique aspect.

You can sit on the terrace of Tam Tam Café or Cargo Club, which has a view of the river, and enjoy the evening in Hoi An.

lanternes a hoi an

Take a tour of the Hoi An night market and take the opportunity to snap a photo in front of the shops that sell lanterns of all colors. You can enhance your Instagram feed with a must-have photo.

Moreover, if you are lucky enough to visit during the Full Moon or Lantern Festival (a monthly festival where Hoi An becomes the city of lanterns and turns off all public lights), it is magical.

2nd Day in Hoi An

my son hoi an a visiter 1

6 am – 1 pm: Visit the Cham Sanctuary of My Son, Marble Mountains, and Lady Buddha

Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the My Son Sanctuary is a complex of Cham temple ruins. The site suffered during the Vietnam War, where the number of temples decreased from 71 to 17. If you are a history enthusiast, this is a must-visit place, although it is much smaller than the Angkor temple in Cambodia.

Expect to pay 150,000 VND for entry. I recommend hiring a guide (or at least an audio guide in English) if you really want to understand the full history of My Son; otherwise, you might miss the essence of the sanctuary.

To avoid the tourist crowds, I advise you to visit early in the morning as My Son opens at 6 am, or in the mid-afternoon.

Additionally, you can visit the Cham Museum in Da Nang where several sculptures from the My Son Sanctuary are displayed. You can rent an audio guide in English.

montagnes de marbre danang 5

During the same morning, you can visit the Marble Mountains in Da Nang.

The Marble Mountains are actually five small hills, one of which, Thuy Son, is open to visitors. You can explore the various caves and pagodas on the mountain.

One of them, Huyen Khong Cave, was used as a hospital during the Vietnam War. It is also the most beautiful of the Marble Mountains. You can climb to the top for a breathtaking panoramic view of the area.

Undoubtedly, it is one of the most famous landmarks in Da Nang.

The last stop of the morning is the Linh Ung Pagoda, where the enormous statue of Lady Buddha is located. It is simply the largest pagoda in Da Nang. From this location, the view of Da Nang is unique.

I have a particular affection for this place, but you can easily skip it if you are not a big fan of pagodas.

lady bouddha danang vue du ciel

Lady Buddha statue in Da Nang

Essential Information for My Son

  • Entry price: 150,000 VND
  • Opening hours: 6 am – 5 pm
  • Audio guide: 50,000 VND
  • Visit time: 2h30 to 3h

Essential Information for the Marble Mountains

  • Entry price: 40,000 VND
  • Opening hours: 7 am – 5 pm
  • Visit time: 1h30 to 2h

12 pm: Try Banh Mi Phuong

banh mi phuong hoi an

Banh Mi Phuong is the most iconic banh mi shop in Hoi An. Chef Anthony Bourdain visited Madame Phuong for his show “No Reservations.” He claimed that this banh mi was the best sandwich he had ever eaten.

Therefore, your visit to Hoi An would be incomplete if you missed this famous restaurant. Prices start at 20,000 VND for an egg banh mi to 30,000 VND for the classic mixed meat version.

Essential Information

  • Address: 2b Phan Chu Trinh
  • Opening hours: From 6:30 am to 9:30 pm daily

1 pm – 4 pm: Visit Cam Kim Island

hoi an cam kim atelier nattes
@ Rehahn Photography

Cam Kim Island is one of my favorite places in Hoi An. It is authentic, rural, and very non-touristy.

You will also find a multitude of activities and artisans to see such as mat weavers, builders of Vietnamese round boats, or small wooden boat shipyards.
You can make a stop at the Kim Bong wood carving village, although it must be admitted that it has suffered from tourism and the pandemic.

Do not miss the magnificent and very long wooden floating bridge. Although it no longer serves the locals (there is a concrete road right next to it), it is the most impressive in the region and always a fun moment to cross it.

You can go with Pascal from Heaven & Earth who will show you the island in English and much more.

4 pm: Relax at An Bang Beach

Plage de An Bang à Hoi An

After all these visits, a little rest does no harm, and what better than going to one of Hoi An’s beaches, especially An Bang Beach, which has several quality restaurants like Soul Kitchen or Deckhouse.

Sun loungers are free if you consume something. Relax on a sun lounger or have a snack on the beach to beautifully end this trip to Hoi An. Admit it, there are worse ways to spend your time.

My Opinion

You will have only scratched the surface during your 48 hours in Hoi An. There is so much more to do and discover in this lively city.

But by following my 48-hour itinerary, you will have seen the most essential attractions. Then, as your evening ends with a refined cocktail by the river, you may find that you have fallen in love with this little town. As they say in Vietnam, ‘hẹn gặp lại’ – see you soon!

In 2011, I fell in love with Vietnam after traveling extensively across the country for a month. In 2012, I decided to settle in Hoi An. In 2014, I launched "Good Morning Hoi An," a tourist site that reflects my passion for this magical place. I dedicate myself to guiding visitors through authentic experiences, helping them discover the unique charm of Hoi An as well as Da Nang, from its exquisite cuisine to its age-old traditions. This is my story, that of a Frenchman who found his second home. My email: goodmorninghoian@gmail.com

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