Travel

5 Tips to Exploring the Central Market of Hội An, Vietnam

This market is the definition of "wanderlust"
Navigating Hội An Market in Vietnam
Photo: Courtesy of Michaela Trimble

Hội An lures travelers to Vietnam’s central coast with its idyllic shores and blue waters. But even with a stunning stretch of oceanfront, Hội An has an appeal that goes beyond its beaches. In fact, it’s the downtown area that keeps travelers returning to the humble alcove, located less than an hour south of bustling Da Nang.

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Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Hội An’s historic Old Town is positioned along the South China Sea. The Thu Bồn River runs through it, providing a channel system that fisherman use to transport their fresh catches to the maze of markets. Each morning, as purveyors haul in fish and produce, Hội An’s Central Market fills with new delights. Here’s how to navigate the market like a pro.

  • Skip Breakfast

    Be the first to visit the Central Market, known for its emphatic pace, first thing in the morning. It’s not uncommon to have savory dishes for breakfast, and dishes like gỏi cuốn (spring rolls) and cao lầu (a hearty mix of noodles, veggies and pork) are crowd favorites.

  • Talk to People

    You’re likely to hit a stall and have no idea what it’s serving. That’s OK. Regardless of how well you know Vietnamese cuisine, the best way to learn it is by befriending locals. Wandering through the market with a seasoned regular is a surefire way to get a good handle where, and how, to eat.

  • Move Toward the Water

    If you’re a seafood fan, make your way to the area of the market fronting Thu Bồn River, where you’ll discover a variety of fresh fish, shrimp and seaweed, all available to purchase. Just be sure to take a tote bag.

  • Nab Fresh Produce

    In the center of the market, you’ll find a gorgeous array of produce proudly displayed in wooden baskets. Nab a made-to-order juice featuring Vietnamese fruits like mangosteen, dragon fruit, pomelo, mango and lychee.

  • Explore Old Town by Night

    After sunset, Hội An’s downtown presents an entirely new way to explore the city. Street vendors appear in formation, serving up hearty, sauce-slathered meats and local delicacies like sweet fish jerky.

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