Hoi An is without doubt one of our favourite places not just in Asia but in the World. It offers the best of both worlds - an utterly charming UNESCO world heritage old town to meander around with world class palm fringed beaches within easy reach. Food options are plentiful, affordable and delicious and it's a shopping heaven. Summed up - it’s easy on the wallet, there are outdoor activities galore, beautiful beaches and plenty of family-focused accommodation options. A great cultural getaway it's the perfect spot to settle for a few days or weeks in Vietnam. Here's our highlights of things to do with the little ones: 1. Wander the old town: The old town is a UNESCO World Heritage site and is utterly charming. Graceful and atmospheric with crumbling, colonial architecture, hidden cobbled laneways and lanterns galore. Meandering around the cobbled, narrow laneways you'll find Chinese temples, a Japanese bridge, grand French colonial houses and traditional Vietnamese homes. At the centre of town you'll find the buzzing riverside and central markets, noisy and teeming with locals, you can buy anything and everything here. Head down the meandering laneways and you'll quickly escape the hustle and bustle and soak up it's old world charms - you'll also stumble across hidden cafes and delightful shops to poke around. Evenings are a very special time in Hoi An. Take a stroll at sunset and see the town come to life - it truly is magical place to be. Head to the riverbanks for stunning views and warmly lit streets with handmade lanterns dangling from every doorway. You can even buy your own floating lantern and send it down the river for luck! 2. Explore the markets: At the centre of Hoi An you'll find the buzzing riverside and central markets where you can buy just about anything and everything. You'll find fresh produce, knick-knacks, trinkets, arts and crafts, fabrics and clothes. If the stall you visit doesn't have what you're after they'll no doubt know someone that does! Teeming with locals it's noisy and hectic with an abundance of colour, smells, sights and sounds. A great place to having a nose around and enjoy the unique insight into local culture and community. Make sure you know your prices and hone your haggling skills as prices in Hoi An start high! Our highlight was our $1 Mummy & Me Pedicure - don't expect anything flash you're in amongst the mopeds and your feet are soaked in buckets but great fun and memorable experience. 3. Made to measure: Hoi An is a hot spot for tailoring and prices are rock bottom. There are over 250 tailors here who can whip up anything from suits to shoes. Bring clothes or pictures with you for them to copy or flick through the piles, and piles, of designer books for inspiration. In no time at all they'll create you incredible imitations for a fraction of the price. The hardest decision is searching for the right tailor - the choice is just overwhelming and we didn't want to drag cranky, tired little ones from store to store and take all the fun out of it. A quick poke around on trusty Tripadvisor led us to the lovely sisters at Da Phu'o'ng Cloth Shop No 50 in Central market - with many happy customers and great reviews we plumped for them and we're so glad we did. The service was friendly, approachable and not at all pushy - no hard sell here. We spent an hour chatting about designs, choosing fabrics and measuring up. The following day we collected 6 perfect shirts and a beautiful dress - all well priced with quality fabrics, precise tailoring and excellent attention to detail. The girls enjoyed picking out their favourite fabrics and seeing their clothes being made from start to finish. 4. Cycling For fresh air and lush views jump on your bike and head for the countryside surrounding Hoi An. You won't need to go far before you're amongst stunning scenery - rice paddies, farmers and water buffalo. The best bit about riding in Hoi An is it's all flat, easy and relatively quiet so even enjoyable for a novice cyclist! We also took the Hoi An Free Bike Tour - a local University students organisation they organise free tours to the countryside on the outskirts of Hoi An. It's a great way to get a glimpse into Vietnamese culture and way of life whilst helping the students who volunteer to improve their English skills. Our guides were fun and informative and on our trip around Kim Bong village we learnt how fishing boats are built, how to make rice noodles, weave sleeping mats and visited temples. Or just get off the beaten path and enjoy the beautiful back drops of the lush countryside away from the crowds. 5. Bucket & Spade days at An Bang beach An Bang beach is a mere 4km from Hoi An. A mostly undeveloped stretch of coastline you'll find a smattering of castaway restaurants and rustic beach bars. The best beach weather is March - September but we still enjoyed the odd sunny day in February. At this time of year the sea is rough; 6 foot waves rolling in and strong currents - only suitable for surfers or super strong swimmers! Still we had many happy days kicking back on the day beds whilst the girls played under big shady umbrellas. Our favourite spot is La Plage beach bar. With welcoming owners, a relaxed atmosphere and a delicious menu it's a little gem in a great setting. The star of the show is the shrimp and snapper baguette - just delicious. Less busy than the better known Cua Dai beach it's a real sanctuary away from the hustle and bustle of the old town. Other places worth a look along the An Bang shoreline are Banyan Bar, White Sails and Soul Kitchen. 6. Playground Paradise A hop and skip away from us in Can Thanh village we found the most spectacular playground on the way to Cua Dai beach. We were delighted to stumble across it, one of the best playgrounds we've found in Asia and even better it's virtually on our doorstep. A great place for the girls to let off steam they love exploring the slides, swings, climbing frames and roundabouts all set within a great, big enormous sandpit. The equipment is all shiny and new, the area is clean and pretty safe - just keep your eyes peeled for the odd concrete block lurking just below the sand.... 7. Adventure playground at Dingo Deli Dingo Deli is a haven for families in Hoi An. A lovely cafe & deli offering great coffee, home-baked goodies and tasty big portions of Western favourites. Out the back there is shady seating and a great, big adventure playground. Featuring forts, towers, suspended bridge, swings and an in-ground trampoline it's even little up at night. We love stocking up on all the traditional home baked pies, breads and pastries and the free baby-cino's is a really nice touch. With great wifi and a big shady courtyard it's a great spot to relax whilst the kids run riot in the playground. 8. Foodie Paradise Hoi An is a real foodie haven you're spoilt for choice with delicious eating options - everything from local vendors on the side of the street to upmarket ancient tea houses. Pull up a bench and eat picnic style on the side of the Thu Bon river. Order a mouthwatering, delicious selection of street food and get your hands dirty making your own Pork Satay rice paper rolls. For more traditional kids treats there are plenty of cafes and ice cream parlours. The Cargo Club has an impressive selection of sundaes, cakes and sweet treats and Enjoy Ice Cream Bar boasts the largest choice in Vietnam with over 55 flavours and 20 different toppings. 9. Cruise on Thu Bon River Cheesy as it sounds a sunset river cruise is one of the best ways to enjoy the sights of Hoi An. You can do it the posh way and jump aboard an upmarket tourist boat or go local and grab a sampan. Either way you'll enjoy a slice of rural life on the waterways as well as stunning views of colonial Hoi An along the charming riverbanks. Photographers will be in seventh heaven - just keep a tight hold on wriggling toddlers and enthusiastic little ones! Sunset or early morning are the best times to enjoy the river and capture the best of Hoi An's waterways. 10. Marble Mountain Located 15km along the coastal road from Hoi An to Da Nang you'll find the Marble Mountains.A cluster of 5 marble and stone hills - think the mountain in the sky in Avatar. Here you'll find peaks, pagodas, caves, tunnels and temples just waiting to be explored. Good news is they've now installed a lift so you can still enjoy the panoramic views from the top with little ones in tow. Definitely go behind the first temple to see the most amazing natural cathedral and don't miss the Marble Mountains four little sisters nearby including the show-stopper huge Buddha statue. Top tips - bring a torch to make gloomy caves come alive for little ones and ignore the touts trying to sell you tonnes of marble to take home. We've been utterly charmed by this beautiful heritage town and have loved the blend of culture and relaxation it offers. Did we miss anything off the list? We've got a week left in Hoi An so please shout with your best bits so we can catch them before we go. Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYour email address will not be published.CommentName* Email* Website Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Notify me of new posts by email.