Travel deeper: 5 unique experiences to try in Hoi An

From being a fisherman for a day to cycling through the countryside, these immersive experiences will reveal different sides to Hoi An.

Hoi An
  • Delle Chan
  • February 2020

While most visitors to Hoi An flock to famous attractions such as the Japanese Covered Bridge and An Bang Beach, this guide is for people who want to do more than sightsee. Delve deeper into this picturesque town that is an easy 45-minute drive from Da Nang opens in new window with these tour experiences.

1. Explore the countryside on two wheels

Heaven and Earth Tours
Heaven & Earth Tours offers several cycling tours that will take you to off-the-beaten track locations.

Escape the hubbub of town and venture out into the countryside on a cycling expedition with Heaven & Earth Tours opens in new window. There are several itineraries available; we’d recommend the full-day “Real Vietnam Bicycle Tour opens in new window”, which sees participants traversing bamboo bridges, enjoying a traditional lunch with a local family, visiting craft workshops and more. For more adventurous (and moderately fit) people, sign up for “Just for the Ride opens in new window” instead. You’ll spend the morning mountain biking on dirt trails through scenic rice fields.

2. Take to the waters on a kayaking tour

Hoi An Kayak Tours
Hoi An Kayak Tours is committed to eco-friendly and community-based tourism.

If water is more your element, consider exploring Hoi An on a kayak instead. Hoi An Kayak Tours opens in new window conducts waterborne expeditions at various times of the day; early birds can join the “Sunrise Paddle to Local Life opens in new window” tour, during which participants will travel along the Thu Bon River to a traditional fishing market. Alternatively, sign up for the “Sunset Paddle to Lantern Town opens in new window” tour, which will see you paddling along mangrove waterways against the backdrop of the setting sun.

3. Try your hand at fishing

A Vietnamese Fishing Experience by Backstreet Academy
This experience by Backstreet Academy gives you the opportunity to walk in the shoes of a local fisherman.

On the topic of water, how about going fishing on the Thu Bon River? On Backstreet Academy’s “A Vietnamese Fishing Experience” opens in new window, you’ll learn how to cast your net from a traditional wooden boat under the expert guidance of Tran Gai, a 75-year-old local fisherman who takes to the waters almost daily. You’ll even get to savour your bounty at the end of the session: the fish you catch will be whipped up for a well-deserved lunch, along with several other traditional Vietnamese dishes.

4. Visit a local rice farm

Rice cultivation experience by Get Your Guide
Learn about the cultivation of rice — the backbone of the local economy — on this hands-on farm tour with Get Your Guide.

During this five-hour session by Get Your Guide opens in new window, you’ll get to interact with local farmers and learn more about their way of life. Thereafter, you’ll head out into the fields, where you will plow, rake, transplant, harvest and thresh rice. All of it is undoubtedly hard work, but you’ll get to refuel at the end of the tour, making — and eating — traditional crispy pancakes from the humble grain.

5. Learn how to make a traditional lantern

Lantern Lady Workshop
Make and take home a unique souvenir with this workshop by Lantern Lady.

Hoi An is often dubbed the City of Lanterns, and for good reason — it is known for its traditional silk lanterns, which illuminate the streets of its Old Town at night. Learn how to craft your own at a workshop run by Thuy, otherwise known as Hoi An’s Lantern Lady opens in new window. Here, you’ll learn how to make a lantern from scratch, affixing pieces of colourful silk onto a bamboo frame. At the end of the session, you’ll get to take your handiwork home, which will certainly make for a memorable souvenir.