Ancient architecture. Quiet side streets. The strong smell of Vietnamese coffee. Flowers blowing in the breeze. Hoi An Old Town. I can feel it now, like I was there just yesterday.
My time in Hoi An was nothing short of magical. I stayed in the most adorable guest house, tried some of my favorite vegan dishes of all time, and strolled in the same steps as millions of others before me spanning hundreds of years.
As a solo female traveler, Hoi An was the ideal place to relax after weeks of traveling in the region. Could it be the right place for you? There’s only one way to find out!
Below, I’m sharing tidbits of my journey in Hoi An, and what I recommend for your very own.
Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. If you purchase any of the products or services from the links below, I receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. I only recommend products and services I love!
Visiting Hoi An as a Solo Female Traveler
It goes without saying that not every destination is ideal for visiting alone. Safety is the top priority for most travelers in general, and solo female travelers in particular.
That being said, Hoi An is probably my favorite place I’ve been solo! The entire town is so relaxing, making it an ideal place to explore solo. This is even more true if you prefer to walk in a new destination so you can see more of what it has to offer.
Not only did I feel very safe walking alone in Hoi An, I also noticed many other travelers visiting the town solo. If you’re looking to meet new friends along the way, Hoi An is also great for this!
There’s a lively traveler scene, particularly among more nomadic, long-term travelers. I met a really nice group of solo travelers and ate dinner with them at Quan Chay Dam one night!
In a nutshell: the opportunities for solo female travelers to enjoy Hoi An are absolutely endless.
Where to Stay in Hoi An
There are so many affordable hotels, hostels, and Airbnbs in Hoi An that you’ll go cross-eyed searching for the right one.
I’ll make it easy for you.
Stay at Nem’s House.
Nem’s House is an adorable, cozy guest house owned by a couple that’s a five-minute walk from Hoi An Old Town. Not only is it convenient, but the beds are so comfortable. If you’ve ever traveled in Asia, you know that’s not necessarily a given.
Part of the reason I extended my stay in Hoi An is because of how much I truly loved my stay at Nem’s House. I won’t even search for somewhere else to stay when I go back to Hoi An — I’m just booking directly with Nem’s House. I loved it that much!
Also, the hotel is called Nem’s House after the owners’ baby. How adorable is that?
Hoi An Old Town History
Hoi An Old Town, also known as Hoi An Ancient Town, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. When you visit, you’ll see more vividly for yourself why that is.
The buildings in the Old Town have been preserved and maintained from their origin hundreds of years ago. As someone who appreciates fixing instead of replacing, I absolutely loved this about Hoi An Old Town!
But, in order to be a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a place must have “outstanding universal value.” Hoi An Old Town meets this criteria because these restored buildings are from its days as a trading port from the 15th-19th centuries.
Despite its small size, Hoi An’s influence has spread through the centuries, well into today.
What to Do in Hoi An Old Town + Beyond
Before we get any farther into this section, please pay close attention to this: there is no fee to enter Hoi An Old Town. Or at least there wasn’t during my visit in March 2020.
Unfortunately, there are scammers that sometimes try to charge tourists to enter the Old Town. Ignore them and keep walking, or find another entry point. I was not asked for money, but I have heard of this happening to other travelers.
There are kiosks where you can make an optional donation, but that is all.
Start with a stroll and take some photos.
First things first, the top benefit of Hoi An is how relaxing it is. Take advantage of that by going for a lovely stroll and soak in the architecture. It’s humbling to think about how many people have walked that same path before you — quite literally spanning centuries and continents!
Some of my favorite travel photos I’ve ever taken are from walking around Hoi An. There’s just something about those dangling lanterns and flowers blowing in the light breeze…
Check out a local English bookstore.
One of my favorite days in Hoi An was spent walking past the Old Town, across the bridge to a neighborhood on the other side of the river. On that side of the town, there’s a bookstore called Randy’s Book Exchange with two floors of already-loved books.
You have to take your shoes off before you go inside, and it’s cash only — two things that only add to the shop’s quaint charm.
Take a food tour with a local.
I came thisclose to booking a vegan food tour of the night market, but didn’t have the time after visiting all the vegan restaurants I wanted to try in Hoi An. Despite its small size, Hoi An is packed with an overwhelming amount of things to see and do!
Needless to say, booking a food tour with a local is at the top of my Hoi An to-do list on a return visit! I recommend checking out Airbnb Experiences for a great small group tour with a truly local, unique feel.
Get a late-night bite at Hoi An Old Town Night Market.
Every day, you’ll find a stretch of market stalls right near the river. There’s also a night market across a bridge from Hoi An Old Town.
Within each of these markets, you’ll find food to buy (both already prepared and raw), jewelry, magnets, clothes, and more unique souvenirs. Bartering is welcome!
Be careful, though — people tend to ride motorbikes through this crowded area without slowing down very much!
Explore the surrounding area with a tour — or DIY it!
As if Hoi An’s charm and many offerings weren’t enough on their own, the surrounding area is chock-full of amazing experiences. If you’re looking to have a day trip, there are many to be found through local tour agencies.
One benefit of being in a place as closely-knit as Hoi An is how easy it is to find tour companies in-person if you want to book a day trip. If you prefer to book online, GetYourGuide and Klook are my two search platforms of choice!
If your preference is to DIY a day trip, you can rent a motorbike locally. But, riding a motorbike can be dangerous. If you choose to do so, make sure you practice driving it or already have experience. Also, you’ll want an international driver’s license!
Pro tip: you can find more tips for planning travel logistics in my post about 8 steps everyone should take before traveling internationally!
More Fun Things to See and Do in Hoi An
How to Get to Da Nang Airport from Hoi An
As I mentioned in in my vegan guide to Hoi An and earlier in this post, Hoi An was my last stop on my Southeast Asia trip.
In those unforgettable six weeks, I traveled to Bangkok, went island-hopping in Thailand, saw Angkor Wat, spent a few days in Phnom Penh and Saigon, crossed an international border by foot, then took an overnight train to Hoi An by way of Da Nang.
It. Was. Epic.
But, I had to cut my plans short, foregoing a visit to North Vietnam and Laos, due to the global pandemic. After a stringing together a contingency plan to get back to the U.S. in case foreigners were asked to leave Vietnam, I went on one last adventure to Ba Na Hills.
The next day, I took a transit through GetYourGuide to Da Nang airport, which was the start of a 36+ hour journey back to Music City.
If you need to fly out of Da Nang airport at the end of your stay in Hoi An, I highly recommend to book a shared shuttle airport transfer. I booked this one on GetYourGuide for just $5.40!
You could take the local bus to Da Nang and then get a Grab or taxi, but the shared shuttle was fast and stress-free for a travel day. At the typical price for a shared shuttle, it’s 100% worth paying a little more for the comfort.
• • •
From the pedestrian-only walking areas, to the amazing cafés and centuries of history, Hoi An has so much to offer a solo female traveler. Not only is it one of the safest places I’ve ever been, but it attracts other solo travelers, too!
This is a place where I never felt awkward dining alone, or found myself needing other people to enjoy the place with. Hoi An welcomed me with open arms, and showed me such an amazing experience that I didn’t want to leave.
Maybe there’s something there for you, too. 💖