Hoi An is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Vietnam and rightly so. This small city on the country’s central coast is not only a pretty place to visit, but is infused with culture and history. Spending a few days in Hoi An, you’ll be busy with all the great things to do there, and all the food to try. But sooner or later you’ll start to think about what else this region of Vietnam has to offer.
By allowing just an extra day or two you’ll have the opportunity to further explore the country. Many of the best places to visit from Hoi An show you sides of Vietnam quite different to what you’ll find in the historic city. From ancient ruins, to gorgeous nature reserves, here are the best day trips from Hoi An.
1. Marble Mountains
The Marble Mountains are easily one of the best Hoi An day trips. This collection of five limestone and marble mountains rise out of an incredible stretch of countryside not far from the coast. Begin with Mount Thuy, one of the few you can climb, by following great long staircases. Occasionally your path will be interrupted by shrines and pagodas like the Non Nuoc Pagoda, before you reach the incredibly atmospheric Buddhist shrines inside Huyen Khong Cave. If you continue climbing to one of the summits of Mount Thuy, you’re treated to superb views of the other Marble Mountains, as well as the coast between Hoi An and Da Nang.
Getting there: The Marble Mountains are a short trip from Hoi An. Frequent buses run from Hoi An to Da Nang and stop at the site. However, if you’d like to be shown around and learn more about the site, consider taking a guided tour.
2. Da Nang
Despite how close the cities are, Da Nang and Hoi An are incredibly different places. But it’s that contrast that makes a visit to Da Nang one of the best side trips from Hoi An. Start out with one of the most colorful churches you’ll ever see, the pale pink Da Nang Cathedral. It may look quite modern, but Da Nang retains connections to its past thanks to landmarks like the Phap Lam Pagoda and Museum of Cham Sculpture. Back to the modern world, there’s the 666 meter-long Dragon Bridge which looks like a dragon stretching across the Han River. If you can, visit the bridge during a weekend evening when it’s illuminated. Spend the rest of your day relaxing by the city’s beaches; My Khe Non Nuoc Beaches are seen as Da Nang’s best.
Getting there: Frequent buses make the 1 ½ hour journey to Da Nang, making it one of the few truly easy bus trips from Hoi An. Because of how close the two cities are, hiring a taxi or Grab isn’t out of the question either.
3. My Son Sanctuary
For a look into the distant history of the region, there’s no better place to visit than the My Son Sanctuary. One of the most popular day tours from Hoi An, the ancient ruins of My Son belong to the Champa kingdom which ruled the region of Vietnam from the 4th to the 14th century. Although abandoned for centuries, there are still over 70 Hindu temples and tombs in this valley that have rightly earned My Son a place on the UNESCO world heritage list. My Son was a ceremonial place for the Cham royalty, and while the ruins are overgrown and a little worse for wear, you can still make out some carvings and Hindu figures.
Getting there: Tough to reach by public transport and more meaningful when you have someone explain the site’s history, My Son Sanctuary is best visited with a guided tour.
4. Hai Van Pass
If you’re looking to escape into the countryside for a bit, there’s really no better place to enjoy Vietnam’s scenery than Hai Van Pass. The coastal mountain pass and its winding scenic road is widely agreed to be one of the best places to visit in Vietnam, rising to prominence after the cast of Top Gear rode through on their Vietnam Special. Even though a modern tunnel was built to bypass the mountain pass, many motorcyclists choose to ride over pass anyways for the views of the mountains and the sea. This is not an easy road to ride along as there are plenty of sharp corners and twists.
Getting there: While you could rent a motorbike by yourself (making sure you have an appropriate license and insurance), another option is to take a motorbike tour and have a guide provide a bike and show you the way.
5. Ba Na Hills
One of the newest things to see in Vietnam outside of Hoi An is the hill station resort in the Ba Na Hills. Originally built as a resort by the French in the early 20th century, Ba Na Hills has recently seen a surge in popularity. A visit there begins with a very long cable car ride over the hilly landscape, in fact it is one of the longest such rides in the world. At the top you’re greeted with the image of French Alpine buildings which might make you question whether you’re still in Vietnam. All sorts of entertainment awaits you up there, but the most popular attraction is the resort’s brand new Golden Bridge. This pedestrian bridge quickly shot to fame on Instagram when it opened in 2018, thanks to the two giant hands that hold it up.
Getting there: You’ll spend well over 3 hours just to reach the bottom cable car station of the Ba Na Hills coming from Hoi An by bus. A far easier option is to visit as part of a guided tour, drastically reducing your travel time there and back.
6. Cham Islands
Since Hoi An is a seaside destination, why not look to the sea for your day trip inspiration? The Cham Islands are a cluster of eight small islands off the coast of Hoi An that have everything you’d expect from an island getaway. On land you’ll find small fishing villages and beautiful sand beaches. The real draw of the Cham Islands though is found out in the water, as the islands are celebrated for their snorkelling and diving. With their coral reef and diverse marine life, the islands are part of the Cu Lao Cham Marine Park which is a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve. Since each island has something different to offer, it’s best to do a bit of island hopping.
Getting there: Since you’ll need to organize a boat to get to and from the Cham Islands, it makes sense to take an organized tour form Hoi An which will also allow you to see more than one island.
Like Hoi An, Hue is a major Vietnamese city full of history. So, if you have the chance to visit even if only for one day, it’s worth it. Start your visit with the Imperial City, a citadel from which the Vietnamese Empire was ruled between 1802 and 1945. Inside it’s walls and moats you’ll find several gates, a palace, and plenty of temples. Continuing along the waterfront of the Perfume River you’ll reach the serene Buddhist gardens of the Thien Mu Pagoda, the symbol of the city. Beyond the city center, Hue is surrounded by many imperial tombs of emperors who ruled there. The most popular to visit are the Tomb of Khải Định, the Tomb of Minh Mang, and the Tomb of Tu Duc, each impressive in their own way.
8. Bach Ma National Park
To see yet another fascinating display of Vietnam’s beautiful landscapes, make your way to Bạch Mã National Park. Extending from the coastline near the Hai Van Pass into the Annamite Mountains, this national park and its cool climate is a popular escape in summer. Full of lush jungle, mountains, waterfalls, and incredible biodiversity, Bach Ma is a great place to hike. As you go along the many trails that make their way through Bach Ma, you may even come across the old French colonial hill station and the many villas they left abandoned. One spot you won’t want to miss is the Do Quyen Waterfall and the phenomenal views you get from the top as it falls away.
Getting there: With no public transport available, and few tours operating, the only real way to reach Bach Ma National Park from Hoi An is with your own wheels or a private driver.
9. Tam Thanh Mural Village
Travelers who love street art and the seaside will be in heaven when they see Tam Thanh Mural Village. Located south along the coast from Hoi An, this humble fishing village underwent a magical transformation thanks to a group of artists in 2016. A joint Vietnamese-Korean collaboration, the team of artists painted about 100 murals on the houses of the village. As you wander the village streets you’ll spot countless creative pieces that reflect life in the village, often with local residents painted into the scenes. It’s undeniably an uplifting experience to see so much creative expression. Once you’re done walking around, head down to the lovely beach to relax and rest.
Getting there: There are no reasonable public transport options available, so your best bet to visit the Tam Thanh Mural Village from Hoi An is to drive or ride on your own.
10. Bay Mau Nipa Palm Forest
It may only be a few kilometers from the center of Hoi An, but taking a trip out to the Bay Mau Nipa Palm Forest feels worlds away. Often likened to Hoi An’s very own “Mekong Delta”, Bay Mau features palm trees that line the narrow waterways of this section of Cua Dai Bay. To explore the palm-lined waterways, visitors float along the water in round basket boats. As you pass through these palm plantations, there are ample opportunities to see aspects of daily life and how locals out here live. If you can’t get down to the Mekong Delta on your trip or are looking for an easy day, then the Bay Mau Nipa Palm Forest is a perfect fit.
Getting there: Since the basket boat ride is fundamental to seeing the Bay Mau Nipa Palm Forest, your only real option is to book a day tour.
Those are your best options for interesting and manageable day trips from Hoi An. For more ideas on what to do in Vietnam beyond Hoi An, be sure to consult our detailed two week Vietnam itinerary.