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A Beautiful Afternoon in Hội An, Vietnam

9 min read
AsiaBoatsFoodHoi AnRaftingShowsTheatreViet Nam
Article author: michael
michael
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In 2019, we spent 3 amazing days in Hoi An, exploring the Old Town, some temples, and relaxing and swimming at our hotel.

This year, while we were staying in Da Nang for a month, we headed back to Hoi An with some friends for a quick but fun afternoon. I personally would have liked to have spent a few days in Hoi An again, but our friends were heading back to Hanoi the next day, so a single afternoon had to suffice!

Hội An Info

  • Official government tourism site: hoiantourism.info
  • Geographical location: Central Vietnam
  • Average temperature: 29°C (84°F)
  • Current weather:
    Current Weather in Hội An
  • Dry season: February to May
  • Best time to visit: May - August
  • Peak travel season: May - August
  • Main economy: Tourism, fishing, agriculture

Getting to Hội An

We were staying in Da Nang, and so we decided to just book a Grab car to get to Hoi An. If you’re not familiar with Grab, it’s a ride-hailing app similar to Uber or Lyft, and is generally a heck of a lot cheaper than a taxi.

If you’re planning to go to Vietnam or are already there, I highly recommend downloading the Grab app if you haven’t already. It’s super easy to use, and you can pay with cash or credit card (note that not all credit cards are accepted, as was the case for my Canadian credit card). You can also book a Grab car in advance, which is what we did for our trip to Hoi An.

If you don’t want to go the Grab-route though, there are also shuttle buses from Da Nang that you can book for super cheap (~$8 - $10 USD per person), and you’ve also got the private car option if you prefer, for not much more.

Basket Boat Ride

Our first activity after arriving in Hoi An was a basket boat ride. I think I had wanted to do a basket boat ride when I was in Vietnam in 2019, but I guess it didn’t fit in to my itinerary at the time. So I was certainly keen to try it out this time, although I will admit it does seem a bit touristy. Meh.

Basket boat ride

Anyway, we booked our tour through GetYourGuide, whom I’ve used in the past and trust. It was really relaxing, and thankfully the weather was absolutely amazing, so we certainly picked a great day for our trip!

The boats are made out of bamboo, and as the name suggests, are shaped like a basket. I’ve never seen one in actual use while in Vietnam, but I did see a lot of old looking basket boats on the shore in Da Nang, so they’re definitely still used for fishing.

As our guide paddled us through the “coconut jungle”, there were certainly a lot of other basket boats around, but it was still a very peaceful and relaxing experience.

Basket boat ride

Basket boat ride

You can have the guides start doing some tricks with the boats, which my wife was only too eager to do. They’ll basically start paddling the boat so that it spins around in circles, and then they’ll start rocking the boat back and forth. I mean it’s fun, but I get motion sickness somewhat easily, so I was happy for it to be over with quickly! 😅

After a bit, we started hearing some loud music playing. I could see some large speakers sitting in a boat on the side, and there were tons of boats all just sitting around, not moving.

Basket boat ride

But as we got closer, we saw two men in boats, spinning their boats around and rocking them, and spinning their paddles, basically putting on a show for everyone. The below clip is a quick ~1 minute video of the show.

Turns out these guys doing these shows aren’t actually paid anything by the companies that do the tours, they survive off of tips only! I don’t recall if we tipped them or not. I think our friends might have, but I can’t remember.

After the show, the guides paddle you to a shallow area, where they get out of the boat and take pics of you and your group. Then after that they paddle you to the “photo” boat, where you can choose a pic or pics you like if you want, and they print them for you on the spot. We actually bought a couple of the pics as they were actually really cheap, and were pretty good quality.

After that, the ride was pretty much over. Our guide paddled us back to the start point, as the sun was starting to set, making for some really incredible views on the way back.

Basket boat ride

Basket boat ride

As we were heading back, my wife was asking the guide how much money he makes doing this. Now we both know that the average Vietnamese working for a company in Vietnam makes very little money… We’re talking maybe $3,000 US per year. But the guide said he makes only about $200 a month, paddling all day, 7 days a week. Damn. And I guarantee you that the company he works for is making a killing off of these boat rides, but just not paying the guides enough.

Basket Boat Ride Verdict

The ride itself was about 45 minutes, and it was a really nice experience. It was both relaxing, and fun at the same time, and I’m glad we did it. So I’d definitely give it a thumbs up and recommend it if you’re in Hoi An.

After the boat ride, which is a bit outside the main central area, we headed to the Old Town next for some lunch.

Hoi An Old Town

The Old Town in Hoi An (or Ancient Town as it’s also known) is really beautiful. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and is a very popular tourist destination. It’s known for its well-preserved buildings, which now mostly serve as shops, that are a mix of Chinese, Japanese, and European influences.

Hoi An Old Town

The Japanese Covered Bridge is probably the most famous landmark in the Old Town, with many people taking pics of it, and on it, likely for their Instagram feeds!

But first, some lunch …

Banh Mi Phuong

Banh My Phuong

My wife absolutely loves Banh Mi Phuong, and I have to admit, it’s pretty damn good. It’s a small little shop, but they’re quite famous for their sandwiches, so always packed with people. They were even featured on Anthony Bourdain’s show “No Reservations”, so you know they’re legit!

Facebook page:

facebook.com/banhmyphuongha

Banh My Phuong

Banh My Phuong

We stopped by Banh Mi Phuong back in 2019 as well, and it was just as good this time around. I think we waited about 20 minutes to get our food, but it was definitely worth it. Sooooo good!

Like last time, I forget which one my wife ordered for us, but I believe it’s the one with a bunch of different meats, and apparently some spicy heat as well, cause it packed a decent punch! 😂

Thu Bon River

After grabbing our sandwiches, we headed into the main area of Hoi An Old Town, along the Thu Bon river, and found a spot to sit, finish eating, people watch, and let the kids play for a bit.

Hoi An Old Town

The Old Town really is beautiful at night. All of the colourful lanterns along the shops and restaurants are lit, there’s the buzz of people walking around, and the Thu Bon river is lit up with all of the boats floating around.

Hoi An Old Town

Hoi An Old Town

I took some really gorgeous pics of the Old Town at night during our trip in back in 2019, so be sure to check out those pics if you want to see more.

Hoi An Memories Show

After relaxing by the river for a bit too long, we were actually running late for our final venue of the evening, the Hoi An Memories show.

I had no idea what the show was about, just that it was supposed to be really good. Actually my wife and I were planning to go see the show in 2019, but didn’t end up having the time.

The area where the show is held is actually quite huge! It’s really nicely done too, looking like the entrance to an ancient Asian walled city. It was apparently modelled after Thanh Chiem Palace.

Official website:

hoianmemoriesland.com

Hoi An Memories Show

Hoi An Memories Show

After you enter through the main gate, there are tons of tourist shops, restaurants, and cafes. There’s also a Japanese village, and a love bridge! Together, they form part of the Hoi An Impression Theme Park. I actually wish we’d had more time to explore the area, but we were running late for the show, so we had to skip it.

Hoi An Memories Show

It was quite a long walk to the actual theatre to be honest, but finally, we arrived …

Hoi An Memories Show

Hoi An Memories Show

The entrance area of the theatre is honestly a bit confusing. There are a bunch of different lines, and it’s not really clear which line you’re supposed to be in. That said, we were able to find the right line, got our tickets scanned, and then we were in!

The theatre is absolutely huge, at 25,000 square metres in size! It’s outdoors, and surrounds a large (I would assume man-made) lake. The seats go from one end of the lake to the other, but only on one side of the lake.

Hoi An Memories Show

As you can see in the pic above, on the other side of the lake are various elements of the show, including the buildings behind that actually change throughout the show!

Hoi An Memories Show

Hoi An Memories Show

Hoi An Memories Show

The show was fantastic, and is really well done. It’s a mix of dancing, music, and acting, and tells the story of Hoi An, from its beginnings as a small fishing village, to its rise and then fall as a major trading port, and then finally its rebirth as a tourist destination in the present day.

Hoi An Memories Show

Hoi An Memories Show

The stage and sets are really colourful and vibrant, and match the feel and vibe of the show perfectly.

Hoi An Memories Show

I made a super quick compilation video of some of the clips I took during the show, which you can check out below. Apologies in advance for my horrible video editing skills! 😟

Hoi An Memories Show Verdict

As I mentioned above, the show was really well done, and I’d definitely recommend checking it out if you’re in Hoi An. It was a great way to end our night in Hoi An, and I’m glad we were able to see it.

I will say though, try to arrange a ride back to your hotel, hostel, or whatever in advance, as it’s really difficult to hire a Grab car after the show. There are taxis waiting around the main street outside the theme park mind you, so if you don’t mind paying a bit more, you can always go that route. Otherwise plan your exit in advance! 😅


Well, that was it for our afternoon in Hoi An. It was a really fun day, and I’m glad we were able to go back to Hoi An, even if it was just for an afternoon.

Hope you enjoyed this post, and if you’re looking for other things to do in Hoi An, be sure to check out my 3 Days in Hoi An post from 2019.

Until next time,
michael 😀

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