Hoi An does not have its own airport but passengers will need to travel to Danang airport. Connecting flights via Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City will be necessary from Australia. Cheap flights to Hanoi leave from Perth, with the cheapest east coast departures from Brisbane. Once in Hanoi travellers have the choice to catch a plane or train to Danang, where it is possible to take a bus or taxi to Hoi An. Visitors can also take a cheap 24-hour bus trip from Hanoi to Hoi An, with an overnight service available for travellers who don’t want to waste too many day-light hours travelling. Australians required a visa to enter Vietnam. If visitors wish to obtain one before leaving, they can apply through the Vietnam embassy in Canberra, or the Consulate Office in Sydney. Allow at least five working days for the visa to be processed. Australians who do not live near the embassy or consulate can apply online for a pre-approval letter from the Vietnam Immigration Department, which gives travellers permission to get a visa on arrival. The visa-on-arrival option is only available for travellers arriving in Vietnam by air.
Hoi An is a small town and most places that tourists go are accessible on foot. However, getting to areas outside Hoi An does require transportation. The bus system throughout Vietnam is much like the bus system in other developing countries. It is far from luxurious, but it is cheap. Expect to spend long, hot hours in close confines, be picked up late, and arrive late. Taxis are available, but are few and far between. The best way to get a taxi is to call one of the companies servicing in the area. Hotels should provide these numbers. Taxis are cheap when compared to many western countries and fares are determined by negotiating. Rental cars are an option, but foreigners must hold a temporary Vietnamese driving license. The better option for personal transportation is to rent a motorbike. Foreigners do not require a license to drive these, and most hotels rent them for around A$5 per day.
Declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, Hoi An was once the major Vietnamese trading centre for silk, porcelain, pepper, cinnamon and medicinal plants, and because of that a visit to Old Town is a must. Many buildings in the Old Town were constructed over a century ago and feature strong Chinese influences stemming from merchants from Guangzhou, Fujian, Chiu Chow and Hainan. All of Old Town’s major attractions are located within walking distance of each other including the Japanese covered bridge, the Chinese assembly halls, Guan Yin Temple, the museum of history and culture and the Tran family home and chapel. The Riverside is the main landmark of Hoi An. It is where both traditional and modern boats drop their anchors. The whole town is reintroducing the use of colourful hand-crafted lanterns and on special nights of the month, hundreds of them hang on verandas and windows as they did over 300 years ago. My Son Hindu Sanctuary is a great example of the ancient Champa. The impressive Hindu-themed ruins feature many beautiful stone sculptures, temples and towers in tropical jungle surroundings.
There is a huge variety of local cheap eats and fine dining in the tiny town. Diners can select from both local and western cuisines at most of the up-market restaurants. Many of them feature big lounge bars on the ground floor and an eating section with a balcony upstairs. The highlights of the meal often include local specialties such as white rose (prawn dumplings) and cao lau (a pork noodle dish). Nightlife in Hoi An’s is not extremely hectic. The Riverfront is where most out-of-town visitors head for a cheap night out. For most people who visit Hoi An, the two main shopping allures are the Central or Riverside Market and the plethora of cheap tailors downtown.