Three days in Hoi An gives you ample time to appreciate the Ancient Town, explore local villages in the countryside, and spend time on the coast. You can also travel farther afield and experience another city in central Vietnam—Hue, Da Nang, and the Hai Van Pass are all within day-tripping distance. See below for the ideal 3-day itinerary.
Day 1: Inside and Outside Hoi An
Kick-start your stay by getting oriented in Hoi An Ancient Town. The pedestrianized zone lends itself well to walking and bike tours, which typically cover top sights such as the Japanese Bridge (Chua Cau) and Quan Cong Temple. If you want to indulge your love of Vietnamese cuisine, opt for a food-focused tour that reveals hidden spots specializing in crusty baguettes and white-rose dumplings. In the afternoon, charter a bicycle and explore the Hoi An countryside, which provides a welcome break from the often crowded Old Town. Cycle past rice paddies and observe locals going about daily life at an entirely different pace.
Evening activities in Hoi An are varied and typically center around the Ancient Town, which looks even more enchanting at night due to the many lanterns lining its streets and the Thu Bon River. End your first evening in Hoi An on the illuminated river with a sunset cruise.
Day 2: Discover Da Nang or Historical Hue
Your second day is for exploring farther afield. Day-trip options are plentiful, and private tours give you the freedom to customize your itinerary according to your interests. For history buffs, the imperial city of Hue is the obvious choice: Spend the day exploring the Citadel (Da Noi), a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and cruising down the Perfume River, and stop to admire the scenery of the Hai Van Pass along the way. Nearby Da Nang also offers a wealth of wonders. Only a 45-minute drive from Hoi An, it’s the shortest day trip on offer. Highlights include the ancient temple caves of the Marble Mountains; the Hindu-temple complex My Son Sanctuary, hailed as Vietnam’s answer to Angkor Wat; and Son Tra Mountain (Monkey Mountain), home to several Buddhist shrines.
Day 3: Culture, Cuisine, and Countryside
Spend your final day immersing yourself in the culture of Hoi An. Rise early to check out one of the town’s morning markets before getting acquainted with Vietnamese cuisine during a cooking class, many of which include a visit to Tra Que Village, an organic vegetable farm in the countryside. Then, dedicate the afternoon to exploring several local villages on a tour that lets you take part in daily activities such as fishing and farming. Alternatively, get off the beaten path during a jeep tour, which allows you to tackle off-road terrain and see a side of the town that most first-time visitors miss.
Devote your last evening to soaking up the magical atmosphere of Hoi An by night. Enjoy local delicacies such as avocado ice cream and noodle soup at the night market, and snap your last few photos of the lanterns.