Hoi An, you have probably seen the famous lanterns on the river but Hoi An has so much more to offer. This mesmerizing coastal town in central Vietnam, is a destination brimming with activities for families. Our month-long adventure in Hoi An left us pleasantly surprised and keen to explore more of Vietnam.
Join us as we share the best things to do, practical travel tips, delectable food options, and more!
Hoi An with Kids
A journey to Hoi An with kids promises an extraordinary experience that combines relaxation, amazingly tasty and cheap cuisine, rich history, vibrant culture, exciting activities, and breathtaking family-friendly surroundings. While it is the picture postcard Old Town, renowned tailors’ shops, and monthly full moon lantern festival that capture the attention of most visitors, Hoi An also boasts long sandy beaches, creating the perfect setting for unforgettable family vacations.
We chose to spend our 30 day Vietnam Visa primarily in Hoi An. Why?
Good question, read through our highlights below to find the must-visit attractions, child-friendly activities, practical travel tips, culinary delights in Hoi An. Whether you’re planning a short visit or an extended stay, we’ve got the latest information for your family’s Hoi An adventure.
The Hoi An Old Town Ticket, Ancient Buildings, Temples and Museums
Hoi An is a fantastic place to walk around. The Old Town is like stepping into a time capsule, where there is huge amounts to see. The Vietnam Tourism board clearly had a postcard shot in mind when designing this place. Everything is an instagrammers dream and you will see lots of that. Beautiful lanterns, floral adorned doorways and shops galore are a great way to spend a few hours in town.
As you head into the old town, you may see ticket booths. If you’re just wandering the town, eating and browsing shops, nobody should ask for a ticket. Hoi An has ticketed entry but we found you don’t actually need to buy one unless you plan to visit the various ancient buildings, temples, and museums scattered throughout the town. This ticket allows you to get behind the exterior of Hoi An and immerse yourself in the rich history of Hoi An, offering access to sites such as the Japanese Covered Bridge, Quan Cong Temple, and the Museum of Folk Culture.
We didn’t visit any of them. With temperature approaching 100 million degrees we had a limited window for walking around and a family votes would always opt for the ice cream or sugar cane juice over a museum!
Take a Hoi An Cyclo Tour
You’ll see lots of bicycle rickshaws around Hoi An Old Town. Their drivers will be very keen to take you and your family for a spin around the picturesque streets and along the riverside. The lack of ‘traffic’ in the Old Town makes this seem like a good idea, but the throngs of people in the way could become irritating, we enjoyed listening to the variety of beeping noises the drivers would make as they tried to find a way through.
Tours by bicycle and motorbike or scooter are also popular, you can find those on this site too. If you plan to cycle in Hoi An with kids I’d recommend bringing a good helmet with you from home.
Food in Hoi An for Kids
Indi eats everything, except at the moment, no meat. Beau is more of a connoisseur (readers, I mean fussy!), HOWEVER, she loved Cau Lao, a noodle dish famous in Hoi An. Banh Xeo or Vietnamese pancakes were also a hit. There is a huge amount of choice here, from western, to Greek (Souvlaki restaurant was a great cheap eat). Want to know about other Vietnamese food? Check out our post on the food tour in Ho Chi Minh.
You won’t find a big supermarket in Hoi An but there are lots of minimarts or head to the local markets to get all your fresh fruit and veg.
Hoi An’s Beaches for Kids
An Bang beach is the place to go and the further down the beach you go, the quieter it gets. An Bang Beach is not within easy walking distance of Hoi An Old Town, it’s roughly 5 km north, but you can go there by bicycle or take a taxi or Uber. We stayed between the beach and old town so would jump in a grab to hit the beach for the day. We ate at Phuong’s on the beach (free sun lounger when you buy a drink) and also Cosy Corner which was really tasty!
The back of the beach is lined with restaurants. It’s busy and popular. At 4-5pm you will see a mass of people begin to gather at various points of the beach, usually roped off areas of the sea. The locals have arrived and their level of organization will shame you. They come equipped with everything for an evening on the beach. It’s really lovely to see.
PRO tip- If you’re visiting Hoi An during summer (May to August) be sure to book a hotel with a pool, it gets HOT.
Hoi An Night Market and Riverside Games
There are several markets in Hoi An and most tourists will visit the Central Market and Night Market. The Central Market is a great place to pick up fruits and veg and other things if you are feeling slightly more adventurous. If you are of a sensitive disposition you may need blinkers on as you walk through. Head into the food market for a cheap lunch or amazing fruit juices.
There is a small night market from 5pm onwards. It sells all sorts of small bits of rubbish you definitely don’t want but your kids will fall in love with.
The Old Town attracts huge crowds near the Japanese Bridge around sunset, it is hideous! An illuminated hell! Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Cooking and Banana Boat (Coracle) Rides
We combined our coracle ride with crab fishing in the submerged coconut forest and a cooking class, but these boat rides can be arranged in isolation. There is a mix of tours available. Boats which take out young ravers and seem to try and provide a club 18-30’s holiday (I’m not sure what the international equivalent to this is but if you are over the age of 30, with kids, I guarantee, this is not for you), and civilized, relaxing tours.
We took a tour with Mercy Hoi An Homestay, collected fish from the huge nets, fished for crabs and had a sunset bbq on a boat. It was a fantastic experience and would highly recommend.
The Ship Builders’ Island (Kim Bong Carpentry Village)
You can watch woodcarvers and shipbuilders at work on one of the islands. It’s connected by bridges, so you can take your bike. There is some beautiful unspoiled countryside over here too. Take your bikes across to Cam Island on the boats and have a mooch around this sleepy little village.
The Bamboo Circus-Lune Theatre Productions in Hoi An for Kids
A bit more on the pricey side of activities to do in Hoi An but it was so worth it. Think Cirque du Soliel but with traditional music and designed and built around the culture of Vietnam. The show is stunningly beautiful and ridiculously impressive. I still do not know how bodies can bend in such a way.
Find more information on Lune performances here. Or pre-book your tickets from home before arrival here. There are three different Lune shows, which you see will depend on when you visit, they rotate around Vietnam.
Highly recommended – Combine your bamboo circus experience with a food tour for a top night out! This was an awesome evening and we were all super impressed.
Lantern Making Classes in Hoi An for Kids
There are approximately 8 million lantern-making classes in Hoi An, they are probably all the same but the further out of town you go, generally, the cheaper you will be. I’m not going to lie, it’s a fiddly job for little hands plus it’s another thing to fold up and pop in the backpack and carry around!
Hoi An’s Pottery Village
The Hoi An pottery village makes a fun thing to do for half a day in Hoi An for kids and families. My children loved the little pottery village and its museum and we came home with pottery animal whistles. Who doesn’t love kids with whistles. This is a must-do in Hoi An with kids, particularly if your kids have never tried their hand at pottery. We rode out on our bikes alongside the river.
Riding Motorbikes and Bicycles with Kids in Hoi An
A big recommendation is to bring your own helmets from home for the kids. Whilst helmets are readily available, they rarely will meet safety standards. You can buy Protec helmets from Danang.
Cycling around Hoi An was our kids highlight. At first, the traffic in Hoi An may look terrifying and chaotic, but it actually isn’t. When you have had enough of the roads, head to the Rice fields and cycle around there. Bicycle hire comes in at around a dollar a day, scooter rental around $5. Some hotels, hostels and guest houses will loan you a bike for free.
Hoi An is an amazing place to visit as a family with lots of activities to keep you busy. Need some more things to do? Check out our blog post on activites to do around Hoi An here. And read about why Vietnam makes such a good budget travel destination.
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