It is time to do some sightseeing in Hoi An! As much as hubs and I are all about the food whenever we travel, it is only right that we visit all the must-see places here to proudly say that we have visited them. Haha! Considering Hoi An Ancient Town is a sightseeing spot, I decided to see if we could join any walking tours. And that was how I came across the free walking tour on FreeTour.com. Come with me as I share the spots we visited in Hoi An Ancient Town and why you should join this walking tour~! (´• ω •`)ノ

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About the Free Walking Tour on FreeTour.com

First things first, this is not an advertisement! We have joined free walking tours in Australia and Taiwan in the past, and they have been fantastic. So, I thought it would be nice to have a free walking tour in Hoi An. And indeed, there was!

There are three sessions for the free walking tour on FreeTour.com: 6.30 AM, 8.30 AM and 3 PM. To maximise our time in Hoi An, we chose to go for the 8.30 AM session. The 6.30 AM is a new timeslot as only two timeslots were available back then. And as it turned out, it was the correct decision! Considering the crazy weather, we would have been cooked under the weather if we had chosen the 3 PM slot. (´・ᴗ・ ` ) Anyway, registration was easy through the online platform, and we just needed to turn up that day at the meeting point to meet our guide. (ᵔ◡ᵔ)

Entrance Fee & Dress Code at the Sightseeing Spots in Hoi An Ancient Town

A free walking tour means we join the tour for free, and it comes with a guide who will take us to the various sightseeing spots. So, for obvious reasons, entrance fees will come at an additional cost. If you are wondering, you can enter and walk around Hoi An Ancient Town for free. You only need the ticket to check out the ticketed sightseeing spots around Hoi An Ancient Town.

The ticket costs 120,000 VND (~6.50 SGD) per pax and has five stubs to allow entrance to five of the 25 sightseeing spots in the Ancient Town. So, if a spot requires a ticket, there would be someone at the entrance to receive them. They will then tear off one stub as part of the “entrance fee”. It is a pretty manual system here. (´• ω •`) As I mentioned, there are 25 sightseeing spots in Hoi An Ancient Town, and one ticket only allows you to visit five spots. And as you can guess, that means that you have to buy five tickets if you want to see every spot in the Ancient Town. (´・ᴗ・ ` )

The entrance ticket to see the ticketed sightseeing spots in Hoi An

As for the dress code, the pamphlet mentioned that specific attire is not welcome inside the sightseeing spots. But based on our experience, I don’t think they enforce it here. It was crazy hot when we visited, and most of us in the tour group were dressed in sleeveless tops and shorts or dresses. If we didn’t have issues entering the sightseeing spots back then, it should be safe to assume that you should be fine if you don’t wear something too revealing.

Exploring the Sightseeing Spots of Hoi An Ancient Town

We met our guide, Tran, at the meeting point. Once everyone was gathered, it was time to start our walking tour around Hoi An Ancient Town! Tran helped us buy the tickets from the service counter, and we all unanimously agreed that she hold on to our tickets for entrance purposes. (ᵔ◡ᵔ)

Tran briefly shared about herself and the history of Hoi An before we started exploring the Ancient Town. Just a quick mention that I will not be sharing the history behind each spot in detail, as I might get things wrong. Whatever I remembered and have noted down is what I am going to share. I highly recommend following a guide if you want a more in-depth understanding of Hoi An Ancient Town. Now, let’s explore the sightseeing spots in Hoi An Ancient Town~! (>ᴗ•)

1st Sightseeing Spot: Japanese Cultural Gallery

We started our walking tour with a visit to the Japanese Culture Gallery. It is also one of the 25 sightseeing spots in Hoi An Ancient Town. Here, we have a glimpse of how the Japanese used to gather around in the olden days. Artefacts and write-ups are displayed to explain the historical significance behind each item.

Of all the things Tran shared with us, there was one interesting takeaway from this spot. Did you know that there were three kinds of lanterns around Hoi An? Since the Chinese, Japanese and Vietnamese used to stay in Hoi An in the past, many things in this area were greatly influenced by these three groups of people. And Tran told us how to spot the differences between each lantern.

The lanterns that you will be able to find all around Hoi An
Photo by Max Do on Unsplash

The Chinese lanterns are round and big, while those by the Japanese are longish in shape. As for the Vietnamese ones, they are the easiest to spot! They are the ones you see at every shop in Hoi An, which is said to resemble the shape of a garlic. (´• ω •`) If you are reading this before your trip to Hoi An, keep an eye out for the different lanterns! (ᵔ◡ᵔ)

2nd Sightseeing Spot: Japanese Covered Bridge

The Japanese Covered Bridge (Chua Cau) is one of Hoi An Ancient Town’s most popular sightseeing spots. And you know what? We were so unlucky as it was closed for renovations! I did a quick check, and apparently, it is still closed as of April 2024! It doesn’t seem like they have a completion date, so I can’t share when it will be opened with you. (´-ω-`)

The bridge was boarded up, so we couldn’t see the exterior. (T_T) Even then, Tran shared an interesting fact about the dog and monkey statues on each side of the bridge. These statues are significant figures in Vietnamese mythology. Vietnamese people believed that their combined powers could help protect people against evil spirits and intruders while bringing good fortune.

The Japanese Covered Bridge, the most popular sightseeing spots in Hoi An
Photo by Markus Winkler

Too bad we didn’t see the statues and the bridge that day. But now that you know what the statues mean, you can have a better appreciation when you visit the Japanese Covered Bridge! Let’s hope that it is open when you visit Hoi An. (´・ᴗ・ ` )

3rd Sightseeing Spot: Quang Trieu Assembly Hall

There are four assembly halls in Hoi An Ancient Town, belonging to four different Chinese dialect groups: Quang Trieu (Cantonese), Phuc Kien (Hokkien), Hai Nam (Hainan), and Trieu Chau (Teochew). These assembly places served as places of worship, business meetings, and social gathering spots in the past.

For this walking tour, we only visited one of the assembly halls, the Quang Trieu Assembly Hall. We saw drawings from the Three Kingdoms around the whole area. After a brief history rundown and letting us take photos around the place, Tran brought us into the main worshipping hall. Here, we saw the three statues of gods that the Cantonese people worshipped: Guan Gong, the God of Fortune, and Thien Hou.

The entrance and a mural art of the Three Kingdoms in the Quang Trieu Assembly Hall, one of the sightseeing spots in Hoi An

Tran also shared the difference between the Chinese and Vietnamese ships for seafaring. To make it more evident, she brought us to where all the boats were parked, along the Thu Bon River. She showed us the long eyes drawn on the front of the ships/boats here, which belonged to the Vietnamese. I don’t know how easy it is to spot Chinese ships now, but if you see round eyes drawn on the front of the ship/boat, it means it belongs to the Chinese. (ᵔ◡ᵔ)

The boats along the riverside of Hoi An and our guide, Tran explaining to us about the historical significance behind the boats

4th Sightseeing Spot: Old House of Tan Ky

After a quick visit to check out the boats, we came to the next sightseeing spot in Hoi An, the Old House of Tan Ky. Tran explained how to differentiate between a Chinese and Vietnamese house by looking at the roof. She told us that Chinese houses usually have two-tiered roofs, while Vietnamese ones only have one tier. Chinese houses also have a pair of round blobs at the main door, which act as eyes to keep out evil spirits supposedly.

After looking at the exterior, we entered the house and saw things typically found in a Chinese home. Each house usually has an altar where the Chinese pray to their ancestors. This is quite similar to what we have in Singapore, at least at my parent’s place. Besides having the statue of Guan Yin, we also had a tablet for our ancestors at the side to pray to. So, seeing this similarity in Vietnam was rather fascinating. ( ´ ω ` )

One of the most interesting things we saw here was the markings on the garden pillar. Apparently, each marking signifies the height of the water during different times of flood in Hoi An. Tran shared that floods are common in Hoi An and happen every year. Sometimes, it can get so bad that the whole first floor gets flooded. (⊙_⊙) After this walking tour, we went on YouTube and found flood footage. Some were terrible, and we didn’t even know that before this! Something to take note of while planning your trip to Hoi An by choosing the right season! ٩(× ×)۶

Alleys in Hoi An

The alleyways are obviously not part of the 25 sightseeing spots, but Tran wanted to share them with us. She told us that alleys are usually quite tight here in Hoi An. People used to walk in them to travel from one place to another. People still use them nowadays, but now, they have bigger pavements, making commuting more comfortable.

That said, hubs and I experienced first-hand how tight and confusing these alleys were when looking for Phin Coffee & Restaurant. It was quite an unforgettable experience on our first day in Hoi An. ٩(× ×)۶ Tran also shared that alleys are where you find the authentic stuff. And I agree with that saying! Some of the best food and coffee we had were found in Hoi An’s alleys, away from the main street. (っ˘ڡ˘ς)

5th Sightseeing Spot: Hoi An Traditional Art Performance House

Out of all the sightseeing spots we have visited in Hoi An Ancient Town, this is the best place to be after all the walking. Do you know why? Because it has air-conditioning, something that is hard to find in Hoi An! Haha! \(★ω★)/

According to the pamphlet, there are two performance timeslots: 10.15 AM and 3.15 PM. Before we headed up to the performance hall, we had to choose a small tablet from a table at the entrance. They will do a lucky draw on stage after the performance, and the drawing shown on the lot will be reflected on the tablet that we have chosen. And the winner gets a prize! I don’t know if it is the same for every show, but it is a Vietnamese lantern. ( ´ ω ` )

On a typical day when we aren’t on a group tour, hubs and I would probably not enter this place for the performance. But trust me, you should! The performances showed us bits and pieces of Hoi An’s past and tradition, accompanied by beautiful music from the drums, guitar, gu zhen, erhu, di zi and la ma. My favourite was the Champa traditional dance. It was beautiful, and the dancers performed it with such grace.

The performers at the Hoi An Traditional Performance House, one of the sightseeing spots in Hoi An

There is just one thing I think you should know about the performance. During one segment, one of the performers was playing the suona instrument. The sound coming from it can sound relatively high pitch. I felt a bit uncomfortable, though it had passed after a while. Some of the audience, especially kids, weren’t receptive to it. I am unsure what you can do about it, but at least you can be mentally prepared for it if you have a sensitive sense of hearing. (ᵔ◡ᵔ)

6th Sightseeing Spot: Museum of Folk Culture

The Museum of Folk Culture is the last sightseeing spot on our Hoi An Ancient Town walking tour. We were shown traditional farming tools used in Vietnam and saw a typical Vietnamese home in the past. Tran shared with us that Vietnamese in the past prepared their food based on Yin and Yang. Yang food mainly consists of proteins, while Yin food consists of things like vegetables. So, on the dining table, there is always one Yin and one Yang food and another soup that has a mix of both.

During the 1st and 15th of the lunar month, Vietnamese would only take Yin food as they believe evil spirits are attracted to Yang energy. And if they eat Yang food, they will exude Yang energy, attracting these unwanted spirits. On the other hand, taking Yin food will help to shield the body from giving off Yang energy and protect it from evil. I have always thought that people have vegetarian food on the 1st and 15th of the lunar month to show respect for Buddha for certain religions. So, it was pretty interesting that having Yin food had such a meaning in Vietnam. (ᵔ◡ᵔ)

Tran also shared that tattoos were for criminals in the past. Criminals would have their crimes tattooed on them, with the word Criminal tattooed on their faces. This is also why, for a long time, people having tattoos are not known to be good people in Vietnam. But as time goes by, it is no longer a taboo. I guess this is the same for most Asian countries, even in Singapore. If you have a tattoo in the past in Singapore, you definitely belong to a gang. But of course, similar to Vietnam, this is a thing of the past.

Overall Experience on the Hoi An Ancient Town Walking Tour

Hubs and I had a great time with Tran as our guide for the free walking tour. She was always eager to share her knowledge about Hoi An during the walking tour. Even though this is a free walking tour, we still made a small donation as a form of appreciation for the hard work that Tran put in by bringing all of us around the Ancient Town.

If you are on a budget and want to tour the Ancient Town with a guide, I recommend checking out FreeTour.com for this free walking tour! Even if you are not looking for a walking tour, I hope you now have a better idea of the sightseeing spots you can consider visiting in Hoi An Ancient Town by yourself~!

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Useful Travel Resources

Pack your wanderlust, and let’s set sail! I have prepared the following travel resources that you might find helpful to fuel your next adventure. This section will be ever-growing, and if you think there is anything that you want me to add to this list, drop me a message to let me know! ⸜( *ˊᵕˋ* )⸝

BEST Cards to Use for Your Overseas Spending
Want to enjoy seamless spending overseas without the pesky fees? Check out my post on the best cards to bring overseas—the Trust Bank and YouTrip cards!

A Guide to Using Your Multicurrency Cards for Overseas Cash Withdrawal
Feeling stressed about using foreign ATMs? Let me help you navigate overseas ATMs with ease as I share my experience using my Trust Bank and YouTrip cards for overseas cash withdrawals—examples included!

Transform Your Travel with Lounge Access + Cards I Use to Get Free Visits!
Ready to ditch airport stress? Visit my post to discover the magic of lounge access and my go-to credit cards for complimentary lounge visits!

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Hoi An-Related Posts

Stressed about finding a hotel for your Hoi An trip? We stayed right in the heart of town at the Lion King Hotel – super cosy! Oh, and speaking of Hoi An vibes, you’ve got to try their unique salt coffee! I also have a whole post dedicated to must-visit coffee spots in Hoi An if you’re looking for that perfect caffeine fix.

While you’re planning, don’t forget to check out my Hoi An posts! They’re packed with info for an epic adventure, from hidden gems to must-see attractions. (๑˃ᴗ˂)ﻭ


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