Things To Do
When it comes to the best things to do, we are absolutely spoilt for choice in Hoi An and An Bang – art, history, shopping, beach time, temples, golf and touring or just wandering the Old Town marveling at the ancient architecture. That’s even before we mention the food.
Foodies have traditionally flocked to Hoi An for their fill, though, An Bang is quickly starting to rival Hoi An in the culinary stakes. It’s not all about food, though it’s pretty tasty!
Before we give you some ideas about what to see and do in An Bang and Hoi An we strongly recommend you find Coast Vietnam on Facebook and “like” them. They are the experts on all things happening in our area and provide real time updates on everything Hoi An and An Bang: where the best cocktail hours are happening, the local festivals and events you don’t want to miss. They print a detailed map each month with everything you need to know.
Even if you are only thinking about coming to Vietnam, jump on board and get a taste. There is some seriously interesting stuff on their page. We are not affiliated with Coast Vietnam in any way, though they take what they do very seriously and the information is extremely interesting and useful and of great benefit to holiday makers.
An Bang: things to do
An Bang is a small village with one village road running parallel to the beach. Off that road you’ll find a myriad of laneways and bucket loads of local experiences. Our villas are located on the beach end in laneways off the main village road.
The best places to eat
Historically An Bang was a beach for the local Vietnamese. The tourists would visit neighbouring Cua Dai beach. At the end of each day during the summer local people would come for a meal at “restaurant row” as we call it. It’s a row of Vietnamese seafood restaurants on the beachfront serving the delicious fresh seafood caught by the local fishermen. They are all worth a try though we are particularly fond of Lien Ka and Nam Gia and Hong Hang. During the winter months (October to March) some of the restaurants close, though this is changing as An Bang becomes more popular with holiday makers. The dining experience is quite local and authentic, so if you are looking for a higher end dining experience, Hoi An is still the place to go.
Not a lot used to happen on the main village road as far as food goes. These days, there are plenty of restaurants vying for your culinary attention. Na Huy, Purple Lantern and Tamarind Tree are always jammed with people and offer great food as well. For something Vietnamese with a twist, you cannot go past Sea Shell by Nu. It’s Vietnamese cuisine with a twist. PS: Be sure to check out its sister Nu Eatery, Morning Glory when you visit Hoi An.
Sometimes we all need a little bit of comfort food when we travel. On restaurant row, you can find Deckhouse. Think comfy day beds, incredible views and sea breezes. Then add martinis, craft beer, tapas, steak, burgers, battered fish and chips to name just a few and you will be transport home in minutes. For those still looking for delicious Vietnamese food the menu has a large selection of traditional Vietnamese dishes.
Soul Kitchen is also on restaurant row and it is known for its relaxed ambience and daily live music. It also has a menu with western food. For the serious pasta and pizza lovers, Luna is fantastic. La Plage is located at the southern end of restaurant row and offers a mellow vibe, and a menu with French influences as well as traditional Vietnamese food.
If that food porn isn’t enough to get you salivating, ask us about Dolphin restaurant, Soul Beach, Wood Fire Pizza, 7 Sons Bakery, Felina Cantina for Mexican and last though definitely not least, the amazing Salt Pub! Seriously, we could write a book!
The beach is on the eastern side of the village road. From our villas it is literally footsteps. You will find beach umbrellas, which are typically free as long as you buy a beer or some water. Some vendors may charge a nominal fee if you don’t want to buy anything. You won’t be short for a place to sit and if the mood takes you, it easy to sit and eat and drink the day away simply by motioning for more!
It goes without saying that you should be a competent swimmer before you jump in any ocean and children supervised at all times. The beach is lovely, and typically undulates gently and in the summertime very few waves (sorry to the surfers). There are rips to look out for and avoid. In the winter we get some waves and the shoreline changes and the water is not as blue (because of the fresh water from the rain). So you need to be a little more careful in the winter months. We sometimes have jelly fish that are a little irritating, though not dangerous and it would be rare to see anything dangerous in the water. In fact, it would likely make the news!
As always, safety first and if in doubt don’t get in. Though for the best part of the year, the water is so inviting you might find it hard to get out!
What to see
An Bang is still a fishing village. The people who live here are friendly and authentic and that is what so many people find so appealing. Although it is becoming more popular with tourists, it still retains its local feel so your experience is “real”. Smiles are warm and hospitality genuine. The local market is a fantastic place to explore if you are an early riser. In full swing at 5am it’s typically done and dusted by 8am. If you are up for it, it’s a definite highlight.
In the summertime, head to the beach around 4pm in the afternoon and watch the local vendors set up an astonishing array of food stalls on the beach. Using the traditional bamboo carriers, both men and women carry impossible loads of beer, food and mobile barbeques to the beach and set up, ready for an afternoon of eating and drinking. It’s quite the spectacle and we are happy to help you have a look and buy some food if you are little nervous to do it yourself.
The sunrise: wow! From 4.30am (around 5am in winter) in the summertime, the sun rises over the Cham islands. Incredible! All you need to do is get up and walk to the beach, sit there and soak it all up. It’s indescribably beautiful and well worth doing at least once during your stay. In the afternoon, you can also watch the sun set over the mountains behind the beach. Best viewed from the beach or the Deckhouse the sun set is as stunning as its rise. Of course you can stick around for dinner and watch the moon rise. The moon cycle is a big deal in Vietnam. We have more about that later.
Of course, it’s the village, the people and the beach that make An Bang special. We can help you arrange bicycles and you can simply pedal around and take it all in. Cua Dai beach is a short ride (say 3kms from An Bang if you want to see the next beach down.)
Grab a bicycle and you’re on your way
Yep. Easy. You can ride to Hoi An as well in around 45 minutes, though it’s a sweaty ride and cumbersome with bags if you manage to grab yourself some unexpected bargains. We recommend bicycles in the village and a taxi to Hoi An.
An Bang Day Spas
We get asked this question daily. It’s a really personal issue and about personal preference. Hoi An is home to the typical “western type” spas. Though in An Bang, Ocean Spa is our choice for a clean, modern and quality spa.
An Bang tailors
An Bang is not home to many tailors though we are sure that will change. Our recommendation for tailors in An Bang is to have a look and see if you feel confident. If so, proceed. If not, perhaps check out some of the travel forums for the best tailors. Lu Lu on the beach is great for swimwear and shorts.
Heavens to Betsie, our sleepy village is now home to jet skis and parasailing in the summertime. Head to the northern end of the beach and get your kicks.
Soul Kitchen and Soul Beach have a weekly line up of live music. Other bars and venues do as well, though we are a small village and things tend to quiet down fairly early in the evenings. For us though, the very best entertainment is heading to the beach around 4pm in the summer and watching the Vietnamese people set up their food stalls and enjoy the fun the follows. It is the best free entertainment and a complete cultural experience all rolled into one. Wander down and try some. For a dollar or two, you can get some fantastic food and make plenty of new friends.
Montgomerie Links Golf Course is one of the most beautiful golf courses in Asia. Montgomerie Links and the Danang Golf Course are only 15 minutes by car from An Bang. We hear there more golf courses being developed south of Hoi An. So if you’re a keen golfer, bring your clubs, or hire some and go for a round or two. We can take care of the arrangements.
Please see our “Things to do in Hoi An” page for astonishing array of day tours on offer in the area. We can help you arrange them all from An Bang.
Things to do in Hoi An
Hoi An offers something for everyone: incredible art, architecture, temples, historic houses, more shops than you can possibly hope to visit and more food than you could ever hope to eat. It’s easily covered on foot, or if you like you can find a cyclo driver who will take you on tour of the Old Town for around 200,000 – 250,000 VND per hour. Photographers flock to Hoi An in droves. Come on over and click away.
The shopping ranges from chintzy souvenirs to higher end local fashion design and jewelers. The food: well in all honesty, there’s too much. One year wouldn’t cover off all the options available. Like most places we think the best parts of Hoi An are found in the tiny laneways off the beaten track. Take a detour down a laneway and you don’t know what you might find – probably some amazing street food, or little treasure shop filled with bargains or that picture perfect photo opportunity.
Best places to eat in Hoi An
Well the guide books have pretty much got the icons covered. For higher end Vietnamese food, Mango Mango, Mango Rooms, Mai Fish, Morning Glory, Vy’s Market and their off shoots are certainly worth a visit. The food scene changes regularly in Hoi An, though we really enjoy a great meal at The Little Menu, Nu Eatery, Green Mango and Nem Restaurant. Banh Mi Phuong has been made famous by Anthony Bourdain, though the Banh Mi Queen is also a tidy contender. For a more local Banh Mi Phuong experience, you should visit her Banh Mi stand near the central markets. Much less about the tourist palette and more traditional Vietnamese Banh Mi.
Street food is everywhere. It’s cheap and tasty. The best tip about which one to visit, is to the look for the ones with scraps and serviettes on the floors. Historically Vietnam has its roots in agriculture and the Vietnamese have a well-earned reputation for making good use of everything. It is not unusual to find street food places with bones and scraps on the floor, because the houses had animals that needed to be fed. This is still so in the rural areas of Vietnam. More scraps mean more people, and better food. Of course more fancy pants venues will frown on such a practice though truly local places will simply sweep up after each service and start fresh next time. Trust us, it’s true.
Service in Vietnam can be a bit hit and miss. At most Vietnamese restaurants (apart from the flash places you see in the guide books) you may find it hard to get a cold beer. Refrigeration is a relatively new concept and beer is generally served on ice. Oh, and on the whole ice thing, drink it, it’s made with filtered water at ice factories. So if you beer’s a bit warm, don’t get all first world about it, ask for a glass with ice. Try it, you just might like it.
If you think you are ordering an appetizer, entrée and main, think again. Food often arrives out of order or all at once. If it is a concern, order each item when you are ready for it. Again, in Vietnam family meals are eaten communally, with everyone seated and all courses served like a smorgasbord. Everyone laughs, eats and catches up. So what you may think is poor service is just the gap in the cultural differences yet to be bridged. Go with it. Is it that big a deal?
There’s plenty of home food about as well. If you are craving a hit from home, don’t order it from a Vietnamese restaurant. Find a western one. For the sport heads out there, 3 Dragons offers a great menu of burgers, steaks, pizzas and other serious comfort food. The beer is also cold and has a weekly menu of sport from all over the world on their big screen TV’s. The Kebab Shack is a cheap and cheer full place offering traditional British food. If you can finish a big breakfast we will be impressed. Mix Greek Restaurant offers delish Greek food and Namaste and Ganesh, fabulous Indian. The list is endless and we can help you with recommendations when you arrive. If steak is on your mind, The Steak House could be right up your alley. The only restaurant in Hoi An currently dedicated to steak.
Hoi An Full Moon Festival
As we said earlier, the Vietnamese take the moon cycle very seriously and schedule significant events like weddings, funerals and other significant milestones around it. Each month the old town hosts the Lantern Festival on the eve of the full moon. Worth scheduling your trip to see, fluorescent lighting is banned and no motorized vehicles are permitted. The iconic lanterns are everywhere and it’s almost surreal to wander the streets, enjoy a cocktail or meal, eat some street food or just watch the locals do their thing. We can help you with the appropriate date for your month.
Hoi An entrance ticket
We highly recommend everyone over 16 purchases an entry ticket the Old Town. For 120,000VND it provides free entrance to six of the “ticket only” historical sites, including the Japanese Bridge or the Folk Lore museum giving traditional performances daily at 5pm. It is valid for the duration of your stay. Proceeds are used to continue the maintenance of the historical architecture.
Best tailor in Hoi An
The loaded question; and a very difficult one to answer! It depends on your budget and the quality of the tailoring you expect. With hundreds of tailors on offer, it’s a mine field. Typically expect the higher end tailors, who import their fabric and have their own teams of seamstresses and tailors on staff to reflect that in their pricing. Many tailors outsource the physical cutting and stitching to external parties and it gives them more flexibility with their pricing and bargaining position. So do your research and we always say “if you are happy with the price you are paying, then you got a good price”. Our vote goes to BeBe for quality, consistency of service and their full in house team. They have a number of shops dotted around town. As we say, do your research and be sure you are happy. It’s all about what you want and what you are prepared to pay.
We do not recommend engaging with the people who ride around Hoi An offering to take you their tailor shops.
Another difficult one! As with the tailors and restaurants the guide books have the cooking classes covered as well. We receive particularly favourable feedback about Herbs and Spices cooking class for a more personal and less cookie cutter experience.
Day trips and tours
There are literally hundreds of day trips on offer. We can help you arrange them all. If you are really interested in the history of the area, we can arrange a local guide to take you on a walking tour of the Old Town. You’ll learn more in a couple of hours than you ever could by yourself. There are food tours, vintage Vespa motorbike tours, bicycle tours, photography tours as well as scuba and snorkeling tours to the Cham Islands. Of course there are the ruins at My Son, steeped in Cham history and the Cham museum in Danang. Make it interesting by touring in an open top military style Jeep. The Marble Mountains are worth a visit if you are a temple geek. The views at the top are incredible.
Further afield and near Danang the Hai Van Pass and Son Tra Peninsula are simply astonishing on a sunny day. By Jeep, passenger on a motorbike or with a car and driver, they are not to be missed. The Dragon Bridge and a number of restaurants in Danang are certainly worth a visit. On the weekend, the Dragon breathes fire at 9pm and well worth choosing a restaurant with a great vantage point, or grab a plastic chair and a coconut drink along the foreshore of the river and watch all the action. Also in the Danang region, we can arrange trips to the Bach Ma National Park and Ba Na Hills. Bach Ma was heavily bombed during the war, though well worth the hike to see the waterfalls and nature. Ba Na Hills was once a retreat from the heat for the French while they had their time in Danang. Much cooler than the lowlands, it is now a resort and theme park, though the appeal lies in the architecture. Fancy taking a day out in a French village? Ba Na looks just like it.
Depending on your adventure level and your interests, we can recommend just about anything and arrange it for you. We only recommend licensed and legally operating travel and tour companies to our guests.
The “good to knows”
It might not sound like a big deal, though An Bang now has an ATM. For years we recommended people arrive with dong at hand. We still recommend you have plenty of dong when you arrive. Although there is an ATM, there are no guarantees it will be stocked. If the ATM isn’t stocked the nearest ATM is in Hoi An or the Agribank resort. Both a bit of a nuisance to get to if you just want to relax and unwind.
There are restaurants who will change USD, though there is no guarantee of the exchange rate, so save yourself the hassle and grab some Vietnamese dong from an ATM or foreign exchange merchant before coming to An Bang. There’s nothing worse than arriving and seeing all the amazing food and drink on offer to learn you don’t have the right currency.
Taxis are very easy to find in An Bang (though if it’s raining you may need to be a little more patient). There is a cross road in the middle of the village. There is a taxi rank up near the beach. Or you can flag one as the drive down the village road.
Handy tip: sometimes they tend to drive a little faster than they should, so be mindful when you are walking around the village. The yellow and green ones are metered and should take you direct to your destination.
How much is it to Hoi An?
A taxi to Hoi An should be around 80 – 100,000 dong, depending on where you are going. It is approximately 7 kilometres to Hoi An.
Taxis cannot take you into the UNESCO listed area, so if the taxi stops and motions for you to hop out, it is because they can go no further, not because they are being rude. So show them your destination point and they will get you as close as they can. It won’t be a long walk to where you wanted to go originally.
Are there bugs?
An Bang and Hoi An has geckos. For those unfamiliar, they are little creatures who are afraid of you and live their lives in search of mosquitos. They are part of the natural ecosystem and help minimise the mosquitos.
Some days we have mosquitos, some days we don’t. It really depends on the weather and if we have had any rain.
The geckos will leave you alone.
Bring some insect repellant and you should be fine for the mosquitos.
If you prefer more sterile surrounds, Vietnam may not be for you. So, if you can tolerate a few geckos and are ok with the occasional mosquito, this is for you.
An Bang is a small village and bargaining doesn’t play a huge role in life here. Things are cheap. Restaurants and bars have menus. The mini marts usually have prices marked. If you fancy a bargain in the local tailors, knock yourself out. Pay what you are happy to pay, or walk away.
In Hoi An, it’s a completely different story. The higher end retail establishments have prices marked and are trying hard to move away from the bargaining culture and typically will not move on price. Where prices aren’t marked, well the world is your oyster. Bargain away. If you don’t like the price, simply walk away. If you are happy with what you pay, then you should be happy. We all need to make a living. The people here are no different. So don’t take it too seriously and have some fun.
As an aside, you may see children selling cards or other souvenirs in Hoi An. They are cute and adorable. Though they should be at school and we don’t recommend you buying from them, or engaging with the people who may approach you by bicycle or scooter asking you to visit their tailor shop. Politely decline and move on.
When is the best time to visit?
From a broad weather perspective, March through to September is the best time to visit. There is little chance of rain. A “good to know” is in the lead up to the start of the rainy season, the days tend to get hotter and more humid. October heralds the start of the rainy season and is usually when the rain starts. Though we have had years where the weather is perfect in October, leaving us wishing for more. Though officially October to the end of February is winter and don’t be surprised to find rain, sometimes a lot of it. We aren’t into sugar coating.
Once you are here, we think the best times to visit Hoi An is in the morning or late afternoon and early evening. The Old Town area is closed to motorized traffic from 9 – 11am and from 3pm till 10pm daily. You can meander about free of being mowed down by a motorbike! It’s quiet and Hoi An turns on its charm. She’s quite a laid back place, with most places not warming up till around 9.30am each day and staying open later in the night. That’s why we think Hideaway is ideal. Relax at the beach during the day and enjoy Hoi An in the late afternoon and evening.
The most quiet time to visit Hoi An during the day is between 11am and 3pm. It’s less crowded because it is the hottest time of the day. Though if it is raining, visiting Hoi An in the rain is super romantic. Most people stay in and avoid the rain. You can recreate your own Hollywood era “Singing in the Rain” and congratulate yourselves on having the place largely to yourselves.
Most Vietnamese rise early and go to bed early and have sleepy time from 11am till 2ish. So don’t be surprised if you wander into a shop and find people asleep on the floor. Don’t worry though, they will snap to attention when they see you.