Hoi An is home to an incredible range of activities, tours, and attractions but it’s also interesting to see how much you can discover in just wandering around. Walk or cycle down the right street and you’ll be invited in to have a go at making rice paper…or you may stumble across a café that’s a sanctuary for 70+ cats.
There are cars made from bamboo, primeval Nipa (Coconut) Palm Forests and much more.
To guide you in your quest to find the best secret activities in Hoi An, I’ve created a Top Five list. Enjoy.
Image Credit Flickr Creative Commons – Paul Mannix
1. Rice Paper Making
Hang a left at the very end of the Cam Kim bridge (onto Thon Thanh Nhi) and keep going until you see sheets of rice paper drying in the sun, leaning against a bright mint wall. Here, with any luck, a kindly man will come out and usher you inside, but even if there’s no one around don’t be bashful – step right inside and prepare to lose track of time as you observe and then try your hand at grinding rice flour with a heavy old mill stone, firing a skillet and cooking rice cakes. Afterwards, enjoy the fruits of your labor and some extra treats over a cup of tea with a couple that still cook up delicious rice cake dishes the old-fashioned way. Psst…If you haven’t tried bahn beo before, you’re in for a special treat!
2. Eat A Korean Feast For A Dollar
Korean restaurant, Banh Trang Tron, is one of the best value-for-money options anywhere. You don’t come for the ambiance, but with most dishes around $1, no one’s complaining. Favorites include sushi; claypot with rice, carrot, cucumber, cabbage, pork mince and a fried egg on top drizzled with sesame seeds; and deep fried pork strips coated with sticky rice (served with chili and mayonnaise). The mango salad laced with chili is a standout.
The owners wanted to create a restaurant that was affordable for poor students but happily, they now welcome all-comers. Good news for hungry tummies.
3. Jack’s Cat Cafe
Must like cats…and truly great vegetarian food…and places off-the-beaten path…and, well, lots of cats – seventy-two, to be precise. Jack’s Cat Cafe offers quality veggie food in a shaded, spacious oasis of trees, ponds, and pagodas, where the cats roam free and you can kick back, relax and enjoy a cold bevvy or a bite. The only way this amazing cat rescue center-cum-cafe can operate is through generous donations from compassionate people and volunteers who help to run it. So 100,000 VND, including a free drink, is a very reasonable entry fee.
4. The Taboo Bamboo Workshop
Taboo Bamboo has a dense, jungle-like atmosphere reminiscent of a tropical oasis. It’s remarkable bamboo constructions include a two story house, an electric car, and a rotary telephone. Owner Tan runs workshops every day, sharing his motivation and skill with those who wish to make a creation of their own in this inspiring setting – from photo frames to iPhone speakers to a bamboo bike, you’ll leave with a wonderful souvenir and a new appreciation for this versatile plant.
5. Kayak through the Nipa Palms
Although the Nipa Palms (Coconut Palms) have been a Hoi An tourist attraction for several years, few experiences can deliver, as they can, the illusion of ‘being the first person ever there’ – an illusion that transports one back millennia. Spend a morning on the Thu Bon River with Hoi An Kayak Tours and you’ll enter relatively unexplored channels through dense foliage in a watery wonderland. The only sound you’ll hear will be the gentle, rhythmic swish of paddles dipping into the still waters, the only sight the glorious Nipa Palm Forest itself, pierced here and there by uplifting shafts of light. If you don’t fancy an organized tour, you can rent a kayak and do the DIY version.
So there you have it – five things to do in Hoi An that you (hopefully) didn’t know about before! Get crafty, get active and get hungry for some Korean food…and don’t forget to visit the cats. 🙂
About the Author
Oh, hello. I’m Mike. When I’m not backpacking about I’m telling everyone I can about www.hoiannow.com. I’ve been living here for a few months now, and I love it. I may never leave! Follow us on Instagram and Facebook.