A treasure trove of budget-friendly experiences awaits in Hoi An
Hoi An‚ Vietnam is a spectacular travel destination for many reasons. Not only is Hoi An gorgeous and versatile, but it’s also a fantastic town for budget-conscious travelers. Where else can you stroll along streets of a UNESCO World Heritage listed town, ride a bicycle through rice paddies to gorgeous palm-tree fringed beaches, and get a glass of fresh Vietnamese beer for $0.15? Not to mention food, glorious, knocks-your-socks-off-delicious food, at ridiculously low prices?
We stayed in Hoi An for almost a month and were able to do so many fun things and enjoy some of the best food anywhere in the world at amazingly low prices. It was very easy to make this month one of the cheapest since we’ve been on the road. On some days we managed to spend less than $20 between the two of us, INCLUDING accommodation in a one-bedroom house. If that’s not budget-friendly travel then I don’t know what is!
What to do in Hoi An
- Cycle around rice paddies – $1/day. Enjoy amazing scenery riding around the intensely green and serenely beautiful rice paddies. Bike rental is about $1/day anywhere in town. Don’t expect a fancy bicycle, however Hoi An is flat so you can pretty much ride on any old thing. Get a map or utilize Google maps, or just get lost riding around the rice paddies for a day.
- Try amazing local food – $0.80. Dishes start from $0.80 or even less. Hoi An has several speciality dishes such as the Cao Lau noodles, the White Rose and Wonton dumplings. Pull up a tiny plastic chair at a local eatery and get your fix of delicious noodles for $0.80.
- Try the MOST delicious coffee you’ll ever taste – $0.70. Enjoy the most amazing coffee in the world. I’m not joking, it is amazing! Have a Vietnamese iced coffee with condesed milk for $0.70. Enjoy your coffee, people-watch and soak in the atmosphere.
- Enjoy Karaoke ‘shows’ around town – free. Ok I might be stretching it a bit calling these ‘shows’. But it’s a great way to absorb the local culture and Vietnamese people’s love of karaoke. Walk just outside the Ancient Town in the residential areas on any evening, and you will come across someone having a Karaoke party. Boy do Vietnamese love to sing! And they aren’t shy to share their passion (regardless of their ability to actually carry a tune, in some cases). Or, if you feel like belting out a tune yourself, check if your hotel has a karaoke room that you can use for free or pop into a karaoke bar.
- Release a lantern down the river – $0.50. You can buy and release a lantern with a candle down Thu Bon river any night of the week. Lantern sellers start appearing before dusk and are everywhere along the riverside in the Ancient Town. The colourful candle lanterns only cost about $0.50 and the seller also provides a ‘lowering down stick’ so you can lower your lantern into the river. The Hoi An Lantern festival (during full moon each month) sees an influx of tourists with many more lanterns floating down the river than your average night. A bit touristy? You bet. But still charming and beautiful. Don’t forget to make a wish as you release your lantern!
- Try a Vietnamese dessert – $0.50. Don’t be afraid to try a Vietnamese dessert treat from a street vendor. We loved the DE-LISH glutinous rice balls filled with a mixture of chopped nuts, coconut, sugar and spices (we think) sold on street corners in the Ancient Town. Your tastebuds will sing your praise and your wallet too at $0.50 a pop.
- Enjoy fresh Vietnamese beer – $0.15. I’m not much of a beer drinker myself but c’mon, a glass of beer for $0.15? My husband who knows his beer said the ‘Bia Hoi‘ is quite ok. It is a lager type beer and low on alcohol at only around 3%. It’s brewed freshly every day.
- Float down the river on a boat at sunset – about $2/person. Hop on a boat and be rowed around the Thu Bon river at sunset. Particularly magical during the Lantern festival with hundreds of lanterns floating down the river. (Note: Strictly speaking this only fits the ‘$2 or less’ list if you share the ride with at least one other person. Great value regardless.)
- Eat amazing tropical fruit – $0.50. Buy a fresh, neatly cut up pineapple for less than a $0.50 from a local market. Or any of the other amazing tropical fruit on offer. I also have to mention avocados. A kilo (2.2 lbs) of avocado costs about $2. A kilo! Whilst you’re at it, just watch and enjoy the atmosphere at the busy markets, especially early in the morning.
- Enjoy fresh coconut on the beach – $2. Get a giant fresh coconut on An Bang beach, delivered to your sun lounge (sun lounge complimentary). Work your way through a tasty menu, fresh fruit drinks and yummy cocktails at ridiculously low prices, all the whilst lounging on a gorgeous beach.
- Experience a Vietnamese cultural and folk music show – $1.20. Visit the UNESCO World Heritage listed Hoi An Ancient Town, and attend a cultural/folk music show at Hoi An Handicraft Workshop, 9 Bach Dang Street. Hoi An Ancient Town tickets cost about $6/person for five attractions (which comes to about $1.20/attraction). Tickets are valid for the duration of your stay so you can choose to visit five attractions in one day, or spread your visits over your holiday. The cultural show only lasts about 20 minutes but provides a great introduction to traditional Vietnamese music and culture.
If you’re interested in more things to do in and around Hoi An, check out Steve’s post on our day-trip with Hoi An Motorbike Adventures. Doesn’t obviously fit the ‘$2 list’ but it was an amazing tour and good value.
If you know Hoi An please let us know if we missed any budget-friendly experiences around town!
Some helpful Hoi An resources:
Hoi An Ancient Town website – info on tickets etc.