A girls' guide to a weekend in Hoi An
Hoi An is a perfect background for picturesque retreats, nestled between waving rice paddies, breezy beaches, and frond-fringed canals. From a time when merchants from all over the world would drop anchor in the Old Town to sell commodities and news from across the seas, the name 'Hoi An' means 'calm meeting place.' In the same evocative backdrop, Hoi An still draws travelers with the promise of rest, regeneration, and reconnection.
Hoi An’s photogenic resorts, boutiques and cafes are sprinkled around the Ancient Town, along the shores of An Bang Beach, and on the edge of lush rice fields. Craft villages nearby ensure stores are filled with high-quality textiles, ceramics and jewellery. And because this is Hoi An, fresh, healthy food is always on the menu. Planning a visit? Here’s our guide to a girls’ weekend in one of Vietnam’s most soothing holiday spots.
Afternoon: Check in and bliss out
You’ve made it. Ditch your things, and head straight to the water for some well-deserved beach time. Once a quiet fishing hamlet, An Bang has recently welcomed a handful of beachfront resorts and restaurants, ranging from tranquil cafes serving coconut coffee to contemporary clubs with cabanas and pools. Claim a daybed in view of the water, and munch on fresh spring rolls, crispy calamari between dips in the waves.
TIP: Soul Kitchen’s grassy lawns and thatched gazebos make it a favourite gathering spot on An Bang. Next door, Shore Club offers a more upmarket rendition of a beach bar. Away from the main drag, Sound of Silence and Salt Pub offer sun-seekers a quiet stretch of sand and great service.
Evening: A walk under the lanterns
Rinse the sea out of your hair after the sun sets and prepare for a lovely evening in the Ancient Town. Take a stroll through Hoi An's lantern-lit streets to Mai Fish Restaurant, where you can sip artisan beers and eat beautiful white rose dumplings and flawlessly grilled fish in a flower-strewn courtyard with views of the Thu Bon River. Stretch your legs after supper with a stroll through the Ancient Town in the cool evening air. Order a new garment from Bebe or Mr Xe, two of Hoi An's best tailors, or peruse the brilliant silver rings and precious stone pendants at Lotus Jewellery on Tran Phu St.
TIP: Loved for its elegant colonial-inspired design, inviting infinitiy pool, and tempting buffets, Victoria Resort is a timeless choice for ladies looking to relax away from the crowds in the Ancient Town.
Morning: Cultural discoveries
You’re in Hoi An and a day full of fun and exploring stretches in front to you. Use the morning hours to go deeper into Hoi An culture. You may like to book a cooking class, cycling tour or handicraft workshop, depending on how you like to spend your free time.
You can go on a self-directed bike trip around Hoi An or join up for a guided ride in the countryside with Heaven and Earth or Grasshopper Adventures. Cooking classes in Hoi An (try Red Bridge Cooking School, Tra Que Water Wheel, or My Grandma's Home Cooking) sometimes involve a visit to the Central Market or Tra Que Vegetable Village, as well as a canal boat trip. Try a lantern-making session with Hoi An Handicraft Tours or a pottery lesson at Thanh Ha pottery village if you want to acquire a new skill.
TIP: Any tour you take will likely include lunch, but if not, slide into a booth at Morning Glory to taste the kitchen’s simple, flavourful dishes.
Afternoon: Take it slow
It's time to relax and treat yourself after the morning's findings. Citrus Spa, a locally managed day spa with a reputation for skilled treatments and natural ingredients, is a great place to relieve stress and pamper your body. Spend two and a half hours on the Amazing Citrus package, which includes an organic body scrub, a 60-minute Vietnamese aroma massage, and a customizable facial. Citrus Spa also offers excellent manicures and pedicures if your nails are in need of some TLC.
Try a one-on-one session at Luminary Life, where skilled and thoughtful practitioners address difficulties using a variety of therapeutic methods like reiki sessions, sound baths, and osteopathy. After that, relax with a cup of tea and some traditional foods at Reaching Out Teahouse, which serves attractive tea sets and traditional delicacies in an atmospheric old shophouse.
Evening: Sunset on the river
End the day on the Thu Bon River in Hoi An, taking up the beautiful sunlight. Your hotel can assist you in booking a cruise in advance, or you can simply go down to the water near the Central Market and use your negotiating talents to acquire a boat to take you for a ride on the water (200,000 to 300,000 VND for a 30-minute sunset cruise is reasonable). Enjoy the fresh breezes and views of Hoi An's lantern-lit banks from the water as the sun sets. Back on land, choose between modern Vietnamese at Seashell Restaurant, or grilled delicacies at 37 Woodfired Grill. You can’t go wrong at either venue. If you’re in a party mood after, head to Mango Mango where a live band starts strumming at 7pm, and the Asian Invasion is quite possibly the best cocktail in town. Cheers!
Morning: Morning in the Ancient Town
Before you go, take advantage of the opportunity to visit Hoi An's Ancient Town at its most beautiful: deserted and bright in the early morning light. It's best to go before 9 a.m., when you'll have these fascinating streets almost entirely to yourself. Bike down the water's edge, get a banh mi or bowl of cao lau on the sidewalk, or duck into one of the city's most beautiful temples while it's still vacant. If the mood strikes you, do some last-minute shopping in Hoi An on Sunday, or pick up any tailoring you ordered on your first evening in town.
If you're too tired to go back to the Ancient Town, you may attend one of the An Bang Beach yoga sessions (see the schedule at Nomad Yoga) or simply have a long and lazy breakfast at the water's side. There's still time for one last swim and a last mi Quang lunch before bidding farewell to Hoi An, its colors, streets, and skies – until next time.
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