The UNESCO World Heritage town of Hoi An is an ancient trading port on the Vietnamese cost of the South China Sea. Today this 2,000-year-old city is a popular destination for tourists who come to see its well-preserved streets, explore the surrounding villages or to relax on the nearby Cham Islands.
Day 1: Sightseeing in Hoi An
Vietnam's rich history and deep Asian roots can be best appreciated in the architecture of its religious and political buildings. Take a motor taxi to the gold and red Quan Cong Temple. Its elaborate statues and artwork pay homage to an old Chinese general.
From there, travel to Tan Ky Old house, for a well-preserved example of how the common 18th century mercantile lived. Vietnamese, Japanese and Chinese influences can be seen in the home's furniture, gardens and decorative carvings. Stop for a strong and sweet cup of Vietnamese coffee from a shop on Nguyen Thai Hoc Street, then wander across the Japanese Bridge, which is known for providing visitors with a feeling of Zen, after a long day on city streets.
Day 2: Modern Arts and Ancient Culture
The Japanese Bridge may have been Monet's muse, but visitors to Hoi An will find as much inspiration indoors as the French impressionist found outdoors. Spend today getting your fill of arts, culture and history. Start at the Museum of Trade Ceramics in Hoi An's old quarter and explore the dynamic trade industry across Asia. Next, examine incredible and bizarre terra cotta works, including ceramic jars once used as coffins, at the Sa Huynh Culture Museum.
Round out the day with a stop to the Hoi An Handicraft Workshop, where you can watch local artisans create pottery, silk lanterns and carvings. As evening approaches, take in one of the museum's incredible cultural shows.
Day 3: All-Day Outdoor Adventures
The Cham Islands make for a scenic day trip from the bustle of Hoi An. Travel by speedboat and enjoy the natural beauty of this group of small islands, set in the clear blue waters off the central coast of Vietnam. Stroll along quiet beaches and relax in the sand while enjoying a seafood lunch caught fresh from the crystal waters. Book a dive trip and explore the colorful coral and tropical marine life, or get up close with tropical fish on an afternoon snorkel excursion. Hike through the forested hills to Suoi Tinh (the love stream) or explore Hang Ba (the lady's cave).
If you're more land and less sea, spend the day in Tra Que vegetable village. Rent a bike and ride through the scenic flats of the Cam Ha Commune. Afterwards, enjoy a relaxing herbal foot massage with plants picked fresh from the farm. Tour gardens and learn about traditional farming methods and then sample regional dishes like Banh Xeo or Tam Huu, before hopping a taxi to An Bang Beach. This tiny respite of white sand sits just beyond the village. Its clear waters and gentle waves make An Bang Beach the perfect afternoon destination for sunbathing, swimming or unwinding before sunset.