You’ll never be short of things to do in Hoi An. It’s a foodie’s mecca, a coffee lover’s dream, a shopper’s paradise (or credit card maxer). It’s up there with the most photogenic places in the world and is romantic enough to make the most hardened of hearts swoon.
“Who the hell cares?!”
So say your kids when you try to explain the joys of Hoi An to them for the umpteenth time.
Because honestly, once they’ve enjoyed the initial buzz of a town ablaze with lanterns, they’ll tire easily. That’s why I’ve pulled together a list of Top 10 family “must-dos” in Hoi An. You’re welcome. 😉
1) Explore the rice fields
A fairly obvious one but it needs saying, just in case you fail to venture out of town. There are some great family bike tours that you can avail of and you can even ride through them on a water buffalo! Now that’s travelling in style.
2) Taboo Bamboo
Tan, the owner of this bamboo wonderland, offers great workshops that allow your kids to get crafty with their creativity. They can make all sorts of toys and trinkets, photo frames, phone covers and presents for friends at home…or simply just admire the creations that Tan himself has made. The electric car never fails to impress!
3) Thanh Ha Terracotta Park and Pottery Village
A visit to Thanh Ha makes for a great family day out, especially if you’re on the way to (or back from) My Son. The Lilliputian park is filled with clay replicas of iconic sites, from the Taj Mahal to the Statue of Liberty. Once you’ve toured the world for an hour or so, you can have a go at painting a traditional Vietnamese theatre mask before nipping over to the pottery village and whipping up a clay creation of your own.
Psst…if you haven’t exhausted your creative energies after all of that, the Timing Masks Workshop in the Old Town is another wonderful opportunity to get messy with paint and glitter!
4) Cook up a storm
For something a bit different, something that’ll be educational, fun (and delicious!), why not bring your kids to a cooking class? Just like helping you in the kitchen at home, they’ll love experiencing Vietnamese food in a whole new way.
Both Tra Que Waterwheel and Red Bridge offer family-friendly classes and between them include a market tour, a cycle through the rice fields and even the chance to dress up as farmers before “harvesting” crops for dinner! They’ll learn plenty of new skills – how to ride a water buffalo, how to create flower shapes from a carrot, how to make rice paper – and will no doubt be excited to practice them at home. (Although the water buffalo one might be slightly trickier to re-inact.)
5) Water Puppet Show
A performance that’ll appeal to adults and kids alike; make sure you don’t leave Hoi An without catching one! The outdoor theatre is the perfect venue for watching these intricate, hand-carved puppets tell all sorts of fairytales and fables related to Vietnamese culture. Soak up the drama underneath the stars and enjoy what’ll be a memorable evening for the entire family.
6) Get pampered
Maybe it’s something you like to do with your little ones at home, maybe not – but a morning of getting pampered in Hoi An will be a very special experience for you both. You can get mani-pedis at many of the salons around the Ancient Town, browse through the designer childrenswear at the fabulous Copenhagen Delights and treat yourselves further to a cyclo ride over the river to An Hoi – where over 50 flavours of ice-cream await at Enjoy Ice-cream Bar & Restaurant.
7) Visit Cham Island
A real chance to explore the underworld waters around Hoi An while soaking up the local culture. There’s plenty of operators that offer snorkelling trips – for instance, Blue Coral’s full-day excursion is 950,000 VND including a BBQ lunch on the beach. Or if you’d like to spend more time enjoying quiet island life, why not book a homestay visit? There’s a few to choose from, allowing you to see a new side of the island and even to play fishermen for a day! Fun for all involved.
8) Tour the Nipa Palms
Get back to nature and step back in time as you take a tour through Hoi An’s famous coconut (nipa) palms. Whether you want a more boisterous basket boat tour (complete with Vietnamese pop music blaring from the speakers) or to kayak through the watery wonderland instead, it’s an activity that’ll stay with you long after you’re back on solid ground.
9) Join the club
It can’t always be go, go, go, right?! So when you’re in dire need of a break, Hoi An has some great kids clubs to keep them happy while you relax. The playground at Dingo Deli is a popular choice – not least because of the delicious baked goods and coffees you can indulge in while you wait. But for a really blissful afternoon, head to Sunrise Resort on Cua Dai Beach. There’s a brilliant kids club there, with different activities every day. The very competent staff will mind them in the playroom while you relax by the luxurious pool and maybe even treat yourself to a cheeky cocktail… Go on. You deserve it. 😉
10) Go further afield
Once you’ve exhausted all the activities in Hoi An, fear not – there’s still heaps to do within a short drive. The truly magical Ba Na Hills is a Disney-like adventure that the whole family will love; it doesn’t come cheap but it’s worth it!
In Danang there’s the Vincom Center, home to an ice rink and education-focused play centre (VinKE), plus the more outdoorsy Helio Centre. Not to mention tourist hotspots like Marble Mountain and My Son…in short, there’s plenty to keep you busy once you look a little further.
Th-that’s all, folks!
Hopefully you’ve found some inspiration in these tips and you’re ready to see another side of Hoi An.
Trust me – your kids are gonna love it!
Hi, I’m Emma – freelance copywriter and full-time traveller. I stumbled into Hoi An a while ago and couldn’t bring myself to leave – so I’m currently working with Hoi An Now to help people see just how magical this place is. It isn’t hard. 😉