Home to lantern-lit streets, ancient shophouses, Buddhist temples and exceptional shops, Hoi An is arguably one of the most relaxing and pedestrian-friendly towns in Vietnam. The town’s annual monsoon is between September and January, bringing plenty of rain to the area with showers pretty much every day. Nevertheless, travellers can still enjoy plenty of activities on a gloomy, rainy day in the UNESCO-listed town.
From exploring the local art scene or improving your culinary skills, we’ve compiled a few recommendations of things to do in Hoi An when it rains so that you can make the most out of your holiday, despite unfavourable weather conditions.
1. Spend a Few Hours at a Café or Bar
When downpours hinder your sightseeing plans, make your way to a café or bar in Hoi An Old Town to spend a few hours of relaxation. There are plenty of quaint all-day coffee shops fitted with colonial-era décor and terraces overlooking the town, where you can enjoy local and western foods, French pastries, homemade ice cream and, of course, Vietnamese coffees. In the evenings, bars and pubs along the Riverside offer attractive happy hour promotions, live entertainment and strong booze until 03:00.
2. Go for a Spa Session
Instead of confining yourself in the comfort of your hotel room, why not indulge in a pampering facial or massage during a rainy day in Hoi An? The majority of hotels and resorts offer a wide range of spa treatments, but you might discover better pampering at a significantly lower price at one of the local day spas. There are a few to choose from, most of which are within walking distance of Hoi An Riverside, and it’s also worth checking out what discounts are available as most of them offer at least 10% off during their quieter hours.
3. Join A Cooking Class
Hoi An is a great place to learn how to cook real Vietnamese cuisine in half-day, full-day or evening courses. Popular restaurants in Old Town such as Morning Glory, Red Bridge and Secret Garden offer their own cooking classes, where you get the chance to learn directly from the professionals. Many of the classes also include a visit to the local fresh produce market, if weather permits. With so many places to try your hand at conjuring up some delicious flavours, you’ll be pleased to discover that most classes are offered at very reasonable rates.
4. Get a Tailor-made Suit or Dress
Aside from its historical sites, many travellers visit Hoi An for its diverse shopping opportunities, and particularly its famously affordable tailoring services. Best of all, these local tailors can speak both French and English, so you can easily choose from a wide range of catalogues and have a suit or dress fitted according to your own style and size. Most custom-made apparel can be tailored within 24 hours, but these shops also offer delivery to your hotel, if you’re pressed for time.
5. Try a Vietnamese Painting or Lantern-Making Class
The majority of shops in Hoi An tend to be non-profit organisations selling souvenirs made by disadvantaged and often disabled locals, where you can also join a traditional Vietnamese painting or lantern-making class at reasonable rates. The Lifestart Foundation Workshop in Hoi An Old Town offers a half-day class for VND 720,000, comprising two workshops, complimentary Vietnamese tea, as well as the opportunity to learn about the Lifestart Foundation’s initiative for helping people from disadvantaged backgrounds.
6. Visit an Art Gallery or Museum
Art galleries are plentiful in Hoi An Old Town, featuring beautiful paintings and photographs by notable artists throughout Vietnam. Displayed for sale, most revolve around traditional Vietnamese life, including nature, people and costumes, as well as traditional villages and landmarks. If you’re more of a history buff, then museums such as the Museum of Trade Ceramics and Hoi An Museum of History & Culture are must-visits during a rainy day in the UNESCO-listed town.
7. Hop on a Bus & Explore Da Nang (45 mn)
As Vietnam’s fourth largest city, Da Nang offers a good mix of cultural and sightseeing opportunities, including centuries-old pagodas, French colonial buildings, tranquil beaches with clear blue waters and verdant national parks. Set within the city centre, Cao Dai Temple and Da Nang Cathedral are religious-themed attractions worthy of a visit while the nearby Marble Mountains fascinates visitors with their many limestone caves, used as both hideouts and places of worship. From Hoi An Old Town, it takes about 45 minutes to reach Da Nang by bus and you get to enjoy coastal views along the journey.