A comprehensive guide to Hoi An's family friendly activities
The Perfect Day:
Now you've got the perfect family hotel booked, it's time to make plans to fill your days.
To make it easier, we've put together a comprehensive list of family fusing activities to keep cries of 'I'm bored!' at bay.
Set your budding junior chef on the path of culinary exploration in a world of tasty delights.
Travelling with your family is always an adventure and delving into local cuisine and culture is the ultimate shared experience no matter how old your kids are. If they are into food, there is no better way to pique their interest than heading off on a culinary street food adventure and adding some new skills via a cooking class or two. The perfect way to bring the experience home with you to recreate and the culinary memories at your own dinner table.
Who needs room-service meals when you can get your kids doing it…
Cooking classes are great for budding chefs - and if you pick the right one they can be fun for all the family. Chef Van’s Green Bamboo cooking class is held in her home on the outskirts of the city and is always well subscribed. Van's able to teach even the most incompetent how to cook Vietnamese classics and has a natural affinity with kids. In her class she will take you to the market to pick up all the ingredients for the menu you’ll be working on that day, then you’ll head to the kitchen to craft a three-course traditional menu (and eat the fruits of your labour along the way).
The focus is on natural ingredients, while recipes for the dishes are often ones she learned from her grandmother.
If Van’s all booked up Phap (aka, Jackie Chan) at Herbs and Spices Cooking School is - as his nick-name suggests, a natural born entertainer (as well as an ace chef). He has the rare talent of making the most arduous kitchen prepping fun and converting the academic dreams of future train drivers, astronauts and vets - Mummy, I want to be just like Jackie Chan.
Where: Green Bamboo, 21 Truong Minh Hung St, Hoi An
Where: Herbs & Spices, 2/6 Le Loi, Hoi An
A culinary exploration of the offerings from the seemingly endless street stalls is almost mandatory on a visit to Hoi An. It’s a great way to try little bits of local cuisine without a huge commitment – either on the palate or on the wallet.
While there are numerous street food tours on offer (and most are very good), the prospect of a solid four hours of walking and eating may be unappealing for even the most adventurous little gourmet. An easier introduction is to pack some hand sanitiser and napkins and head to the heart of it - Hoi An’s central market food hall. You’ll find a vendor for each and every Hoi An speciality serving small (or large) plate dishes at fixed prices. The best dishes to try are cao lau, banh xeo - sizzling savoury pancakes and bun thit nuong - a five spice pork noodle dish with a satay style sauce. Just choose your vendor, pull up a seat and order.
Where: Hoi An Central Market, main entrance Tran Phu St, Hoi An
When: 06:00 till 19:00
Arts & Crafts
Children are fabulously creative with wild imaginations and it’s hugely important to catch it while you can! Xu Dang Trong have a gorgeous workshop in the old town with big windows filtering sunlight onto a creative haven filled with crafts. They’ve got your child’s needs catered to and they haven’t forgotten weary parents either, with a neat little tea room within the downstairs courtyard. It’s not just painting, little Picasso’s can also learn embroidery, henna art, eco beauty and how to paint a traditional mask.
Where: Xu Dang Trong, 8, Nguyen Thai Hoc, Hoi An
Info & Enroll: Call +84 235 3910 216 or message them here
Craft for a Cause
For kids over 10 and the chance for your whole family to get involved with some inspiring and worthwhile charities - the not-for-profit Lifestart Foundation hold painting, lantern making and language classes in their workshop in the old town. The classes are run by local people from disadvantaged situations, many with complex disabilities who’d struggle to find employment in normal situations. All profits go straight to those who need it most. The classes are fun, educational and offer students a different viewpoint of life in Hoi An. Best of all - the classes allow you the chance to give something back.
Where: Lifestart Foundation: 14, Nguyen Thai Hoc, Hoi An
Info & Enroll: Call +84 167 355 9447 or message them here
Located amid the river palms in a jungly corner of Cam Thanh - is Taboo Bamboo Workshop (you may have seen their bamboo bikes cruising around the old town). It’s run by Mr Tan, an ace-inventor/eco-warrior and bamboo magician (he’s even built a battery powered bamboo car). Tan offers a tour of his workshop, a little bit of history on the craft and then encourages students to build structures and exercise their creativity (bamboo stilts anyone). The great bit is that all the sawing and moulding is done for you, making it a bit like lego (and safer for little fingers) with basics like hammering and drilling supervised (or done on your behalf). It's a great opportunity for budding woodworkers to learn how to handle more practical tools and skills - that in future may work towards keeping them off your iPhone.
Where: Cam Thanh, Hoi An
Info & Enroll: Message them here
Is your tot so stylish they are putting your jeans and t-shirt ensemble to shame? Are you often trying to persuade your nine-year-old not to cut up their clothes into new concoctions? Future Prom, fancy dress party or just for fun, why not help them channel that overflowing creativity into practical experiences, and really develop that passion with the help of a Hoi An tailor!
The beauty of this is that you can get your tots and teens started at home, sketching and creating mood boards which in turn helps to build holiday excitement. Then upon arrival choose your tailor based not on the quality of the garments on display, but on how they interact with the budding designer (Vietnamese love children, so you won't need to look far). The kids will then learn about fabric selection and trawl through buckets of buttons, sequins and accessories before returning the next day to make final amendments to their designs. The result? They get to take home a unique item of clothing that they have both designed and created!
Where: Any tailor will do, but we love Diem Diem, 55, Tran Hung Dao St - Diem's a mum of twin tots and is lovely with kids of all ages (even the indecisive ones).
Golf? We’re in! The Montgomerie Links Junior Programme is designed specifically for kids under 15. The lessons are held weekly (Saturday’s from 10-11am) and are run by a PGA golf coach who caters to each individual’s level. Private lessons are a wee bit more pricey, but can be booked at anytime. For mamas and papas waiting for their kiddies to improve their swing, there’s a driving range and clubhouse serving coffee and snacks.
Where: Montgomerie Links, Dien Ngoc Ward, Da Nang
Info & Enroll: +84 235 394 1940 or message here
Prevent the munchkins popping and locking by signing them up for a kid’s class. It’s an amazing way to help kids build confidence, get great exercise and put that rubberlike mobility to good use! The expert team at Nomad Yoga guarantees the very best tuition and offer dedicated kids classes that include animal poses, breathing and laughter yoga for kids aged three and up.
Where: Nomad Yoga & Cafe, 6, Le Hong Phong, Hoi An
Info & Enroll: +84 907 489 129 or message here
A comprehensive list of water sports to keep even the most energetic of kids thoroughly entertained at the beach! All you need to pack for your little one is a swimsuit, a rash guard, and some sunscreen for a fun-filled day out in the water!
Teaching beach safety to the under 14's at An Bang beach every Sunday morning at 08:00, is little Nippers - a fun beach awareness class run by both expats and Vietnamese locals involving a variety of individual and team events including: beach sprints, swimming, board races and relays - Everything your little grommets need to qualify from ducklings to dolphins. The main purpose is to educate kids living locally on sea conditions like rip currents, sand bars and strong waves common to the area (and the sea life they frequently swim beside). It's a great way for kids to make friends, have fun and learn.
The best bit? Parents are warmly encouraged to get involved in the fun too.
Where: An Bang and Da Nang beaches
Info & Contact: Here
Stand-up paddle boarding is as fun as it sounds and there’s no better place to try it out than An Bang – Hoi An’s hotspot for beautiful beaches. Book a session with SUP Monkey - a family run water tour company with a fun loving attitude and safety in mind.
In the calmer summer months from April to September the Aloha Sunrise SUP, a fun mid-budget, two and a half hour coastal paddle, suitable for all ages and abilities can't be outshone. Although in the winter season the Thu Bon Bonanza, a three-hour gentle paddle through Hoi An's winding riverways is quite special too.
Info and Enroll: +84 121 674 3086 or message them here
One of the nicest ways to navigate the city is by boat. In the old town, Bach Dang street is probably the best place to find (and haggle with) a boatman. Here you’ll find rows of sampan boats to take you across the Thu Bon river and beyond.
For a far more leisurely cruise, it’s easy to organise a private riverboat tour with stops at Cam Kim Island wood carving village and Thanh Ha pottery village, or for an off map experience - a visit to Triem Tay eco island which will take you through smaller riverways fringed by river coconut palms and packed with bird life.
For kids who want to be the captain of their own ship, Hoi An Kayak Tours offer family and group kayaking tours throughout the year to lesser-known and hidden locales. Learn some basic strokes early in your trip and then paddle yourselves away to remote islands for an afternoon of fun. For paddle pros, they also offer by the hour kayak, boat and SUP hire where they’ll teach you all the skills it takes to be a safe sailor before you embark on magical paddles down the river.
Where: Hoi An Kayak Tours, Thuan Tinh Pier, Cam Thanh, Hoi An
Info & Enroll: +84 979 437 338 or message here
While Hoi An isn’t the most exciting surf spot for adults, this makes it an excellent practising ground for kids! With small waves and warmer water than some of Asia’s more exciting locations, An Bang beach is an ideal place for the younger ones to learn how to bodyboard in a safe environment. Bodyboards can be borrowed from the beach bar, La Plage at the far right of the beach.
If you’re looking for Nemo and Dori with your little guppy and plan your visit wisely -Yes, you really can scuba dive in Hoi An! But, only from April to September (the best months for visibility are from June to August).
For an unforgettable underwater theatre teeming with marine species and coral scenery, head to the promising coral reefs and faraway beaches of the Cham Islands with the team from Blue Coral or Cham Island Divers - both offer memorable dive and snorkel trips along with Crusoe style island camping adventures on great boats for reasonable prices.
Where: Hoi An Diving Centre: Blue Coral Divers
Info & Enroll: +84 935 857 578 or message here
Just outside our urban jungle there are coral reefs to snorkel, rock pools to explore and cliffs to clamber. During the summer months from April to September, the Cham Islands offer glorious greenery and beautiful beaches, perfect for a family adventure. Pitch a tent, zip up your sleeping bag and don’t forget the ghost stories.
Where: Cham Island Divers, 88, Nguyen Thai Hoc, Hoi An
Info & Book: +84 235 3910 782 or message here