Take a cooking class
Hội An is known for its diverse and excellent food: a legacy of the many nationalities, including Japanese, Chinese and Portuguese, that lived or traded here. It can seem that every other restaurant is offering cooking classes, but the Thuan Tinh cooking day offers more than some. After a visit to the fascinating market to collect ingredients, you board a river boat and putter eastwards along the river to this low-lying island near the river mouth, completing the final stretch by rowing boat. Then it’s on with cooking (and eating) a selection of dishes – fresh spring rolls, crispy pancakes, beef noodle salad and classic pho, say – while enjoying the village atmosphere and watching tiny basket boats navigate the water-coconut-lined waterways.
Explore on a cycle tour
Cars and even motorbikes are banned from the centre of Hội An, so the pushbike is king. Most homestays offer bikes to guests, and joining the many cyclists on the roads provides an instant immersion into local life. To explore further afield, Heaven and Earth cycle tours, run from a quiet street in beguiling An Hội island, across the river from the old town, offers a selection of trips into the countryside and islands close to the city. Choose from an easy few hours with just 9km of cycling along quiet lanes, lunch included, or a more demanding 50km adventure. All take in traditional villages, handicrafts, fragrant rice paddies and rickety floating bridges.
Enjoy Local Food
Cao Lau: This Hội An noodle speciality has been eaten in the city since the 17th century. The rice noodles get their brown colour and unusual flavour from being mixed with lye water. Ash for the lye is supposed to come from the wood of the Cham islands 12km off the coast, and the water for the noodles from a particular secret well outside town. How true that all is doesn’t really matter when something is so delicious. The hand-cut noodles are tossed with sliced pork, crunchy rice crackers, spices, big handfuls of fresh herbs and a small amount of super-tasty broth.
Discover street barbecue: For a really cheap dinner on the hoof, wander the north bank of the Thu Bồn river after dark, where dozens of little charcoal braziers are set up with skewers of thịt nướng: grilled pork, chicken or prawns that come with some herbs and greens, and a few rice paper wrappers to roll it up in. The whole thing is then dipped in a spicy peanut tomato sauce, with a few toasted sesame seeds. The skewers cost 30p-40p each, and while some vendors sit in regular spots on the waterfront, they’re just as good bought from a lady who walks around – with a barbecue and the food hanging off her bamboo pole.
Visit Hoi An night market
On the other side of the Hoai river is An Hoi island. This area focuses on restaurants, bars and roadside shops. You can come there to enjoy Hoi An cuisine, drink beers or get some handmade souvenirs for your friends and relatives at the night market on Nguyen Hoang street: jewelry, bags, bracelets, necklaces, lanterns,…There are also lots of pictures about Hoi An and the other nearby areas sold on this island.
Put Lanterns down on the river
After 6 o’clock in the evening, as the old town lightened, it’s the time for paper lanterns with small candles inside twinkle. Strolling along the bank of the Hoai river at night in the area between the Japanese covered bridge and the An Hoi bridge, you can easily see the little lovely girls in ao dai – Vietnamese traditional dress wearing conical hat and holding flat winnowing basket full of paper lanterns. Buy some and put them down on the river then make a wish. This is considered to bring you good luck and happiness.