Hoi An is one of our favourite places in Vietnam, it is just so full of character. We travelled there with our three children who were 9, 7 and 4 and found it to be such a friendly, happy place. We have put together our top things to do in Hoi An with kids from cultural sites to activities that are simply fun. You can be sure you’ll have a fantastic time in Hoi An.
Things to do in Hoi An, Vietnam with kids: Explore Old Town
One of our favourite things to do was to literally get lost in the old town of Hoi An. We loved heading out as the sun was setting as this is when the town really comes alive with people selling little toys and people floating candles down the river. Our kids picked up whirring, dancing spidermen, amazing helicopter type toys which you fling in the air with an elastic band and also some wind up birds which fly through the sky, all for just pennies. There is a hustle and bustle about the old town, a vibe that is infectious and we loved wandering the little streets, soaking it all in. The children were mesmerised by it all.
Things to do in Hoi An, Vietnam with kids: Get clothes made
Hoi An is known as the city of tailors. It is filled with row after row and street after street of little tailor shops. This is one of the best places in Vietnam to have clothes made. It’s possible to pick out the fabric you like and a pattern and have it stitched together for you while you’re in town. This is fantastic for kids (and grown ups) who have an opportunity to design their own clothes.
Things to do in Hoi An, Vietnam with kids: Take a tour
There are a number of operators running tours of Hoi An but our favourite are those by the students who offer free tours in return for the opportunity to practice their English. There are a number of tours run by the Hoi An Free Tour group including bicycle rides and walking tours and that cover everything from street food to trips out to visit some of the local communities. It’s a wonderful opportunity to connect with people who really know Hoi An and can offer a really unique insight into the life of the city. Our children got so much from our trip out with two lovely Vietnamese teenagers, it was a chance for them to ask lots of questions and hear about life in Vietnam.
Things to do in Hoi An, Vietnam with kids: Eat Banh Mi
Banh mi are available all over Vietnam but some of the best are here in Hoi An. There are some fantastic street food sellers all over the town but our favourite was at Banh Mi Phuong. This little cafe on the edge of the old town is legendary and it didn’t fail to impress. We are vegetarian so had the tofu banh mi which was absolutely delicious. It’s a great experience for kids to try out this imaginative food and I have to agree that the Banh Mi we tried in Hoi An was some of the best across the country.
Things to do in Hoi An, Vietnam with kids: Enjoy the beach resorts
Hoi An has that perfect mix of busy city and beautiful countryside. Best of all really close to the centre are a number of really beautiful beaches which are perfect for some downtime with kids. An Bang is one of the easiest to get to and there are lots of family friendly facilities and also umbrellas and loungers for a small charge. There are also loos and shops selling beach toys and buckets and spades – everything you need for some fun at the beach.
Things to do in Hoi An, Vietnam with kids: Wander the nighttime lantern display and buy your own too
As I said earlier, the best time to visit Hoi An is when the sun is starting to go down. It’s during this time that there’s a real bustle about the city and this is in no small part thanks to all the lanterns being lit. Hoi An is famous for its lanterns and they are absolutely beautiful. The Vietnamese believe that hanging lanterns in the home will bring good luck and happiness and that you should take your time to choose the lantern that’s right for you. We loved our final trip to the night market when we allowed our children to each pick out a lantern that they loved to take home. This is a perfect souvenir from Vietnam for all ages.
Things to do in Hoi An, Vietnam with kids: Take a cookery class
This is something we would have loved to have done in Hoi An as it is a city so well-known for its food. We had taken a cookery class in Saigon not long before we got to Hoi An but I have heard that it’s an amazing place to learn some Vietnamese cookery skills. Our nine-year old son took part in the cookery class in Saigon and absolutely loved it so it’s a wonderful activity to do with kids. You can take classes on your own, as part of a group or why not look to book a family class, most cookery schools will accommodate this with some advance warning.
Things to do in Hoi An, Vietnam with kids: Boat trip up the Thu Bon river
One of the best ways to understand Hoi An is to see it by water. The city is cut in two by the Thu Bon river and as you walk along its banks you will be approached numerous times by people offering boat trips up the river. These can vary from an hours trip up and back to a whole afternoon seeing some of the communities a little further out of Hoi An, depending on what suits your family and how long you have.
Things to do in Hoi An, Vietnam with kids: Enjoy a water puppet show
Vietnam is famous for its water puppet shows which are really unique forms of entertainment which kids (and grown ups) can’t help but love. Often accompanied by live musicians and singing they are a real event in themselves. Hoi An’s water puppet show takes place every Tuesday, Friday and Saturday and lasts around 45 minutes at the Hoi An Theatre. Buy tickets in advance if you can.
Things to do in Hoi An, Vietnam with kids: Make your own lantern
Since Hoi An is the place to pick up some beautiful Vietnamese lanterns why not have a go at making your own? The Lifestart Foundation offer classes where you can get to make your own lantern which is fantastic for kids. The best bit of all is that the Lifestart Foundation are actively involved in giving back to the local community and provide education for children and build homes for those without. It’s a wonderful project to support…and you get to take a beautiful Vietnamese lantern home at the end!
Have you been to Hoi An? Is there anywhere we’re missing on our list of things to do? Let us know below!