Hoi An Street Food Tour – Our Self-Guided Itinerary for Street Food Lovers
A Hoi An street food tour is essential when you visit the UNESCO World Heritage listed town in Central Vietnam. You just need to decide whether you’re going to embark on your own culinary adventure and do our self-guided Hoi An street food tour itinerary or sign up for a guided street food walk.
The Central Vietnam town of Hoi An is one of Asia’s great street food destinations, so you’ve no choice but to do a Hoi An street food tour. For those who aren’t fans of an escorted culinary walk, we’ve created a self-guided itinerary for what we believe is the ultimate Hoi An street food tour.
Taking in roving vendors, stalls on footpaths and lanes, and modest eateries in family homes, this mouthwatering walking tour covers our favourite street food spots. Complete our Hoi An street food tour and you will have sampled most of Hoi An’s most notable street food dishes.
Use this self-guided itinerary in conjunction with our post on Hoi An specialties and the official Hoi An tourism map you’ll receive when you purchase your ticket to the ancient town and you can punctuate our Hoi An street food tour with visits to the many ancient houses, Buddhist pagodas, Chinese temples, and history museums that pepper the town.
Take in the sights in between snacks and you can be walking off one meal while working up an appetite for the next.
Hoi An Street Food Tour – Our Self-Guided Itinerary
7am – Coffee and Juice
Begin our Hoi An street food tour at Cho Hoi An, Hoi An Central Market, which stretches along the riverside. Open all day, it’s best visited as early as possible if you prefer to eat with locals and avoid jostling with tour groups. With its friendly vendors and fixed prices, the huge food hall is a great spot to try Hoi An specialties, such as the legendary cao lau and mi Quang (although we prefer you hold off on those for now), as well as central Vietnamese favourites like bun bo Hue, the spicy soup from the imperial city, and banh xeo, the flaky turmeric tinted pancakes. Stalls also offer syrupy Vietnamese coffee with condensed milk and fantastic fresh juices made from tropical fruits. We suggest you limit yourself to liquids for now as you have a lot of eating to do today.
After, shop for edible souvenirs such Hoi An’s famous chilli sauce and dried cao lau noodles, check out the stalls outside and waterfront fish market, which are frenetic early in the morning, then do a slow amble along Phan Boi Chau and admire the splendid buildings en route to your next destination…
8am – Banh Mi
For us, it’s impossible to say who does Hoi An’s best banh mi although it’s been a hotly debated topic for many years. We equally love the pork, pate and salad filled baguettes of Banh Mi Phuong, who Anthony Bourdain made globally famous, and Nguyen Thi Loc (also known as Madame Khanh; ‘Khanh’ was her husband’s name) for whom expat Neville Dean did the same by nicknaming her ‘The Banh Mi Queen’ and including her on his enormously popular street food tours. For now, try nearby Banh Mi Phuong, the shop of schoolteacher Phuong. As Phuong is mostly in the classroom, her family runs the stall, with her sister-in-law making the homemade sauces, chilli jam and pate which, along with the crispy baguettes from the family’s bakery, makes these special. Sample the Bahn Mi Queen’s baguettes after you visit Hoi An Museum (see below). Order the banh mi op la, which has an omelette tucked inside. (See our recipes for banh mi and banh mi op la to get an idea of the difference.) Banh Mi Phuong, 2B Pham Châu Tring Street, open daily 7am-9pm; Banh Mi Queen, 115 Tran Cao Van Street; open daily 7am-5pm.
Mosey over to the fascinating Hoi An Museum of History and Culture, then make a detour to the Banh Mi Queen before visiting the Quan Cong Temple and Fujian Chinese Assembly Hall, both on Tran Phu street. Slip down Hoang Van Thu in the direction of the riverside for Tan Ky Old House, to admire one of the best preserved of the ancient houses.
10am – Banh Uot Thit Nuong
Make a beeline to the covered well in the square where Nguyen Thai Hoc and Bach Dang Streets meet. Here you should hopefully find Mrs Nguyen Thi Mot, a lovely woman in a big conical hat with an even bigger smile, who makes Hoi An’s best version of banh uot thit nuong. She sets up at around 11am and stays until she runs out. Sit down and she’ll present you with a tray of pork skewers, fragrant fresh herbs and salad, and rice paper, so you can roll their own. Locals will gladly show you how. If she’s gone for the day, look for other vendors roaming the streets with baskets hanging from their shoulders and a small grills. They’ll stop and set up wherever there are customers to barbecue the delicious lemongrass skewers.
Stroll back along the riverside, through the waterfront market, all the way to…
11am – Mi Quang
Brunch on one of Hoi An’s beloved noodle dishes at Hai, our favourite Hoi An noodle shop, located in the family home of Mr Hai, whose refined renditions of cao lau and mi Quang are Hoi An’s finest. The mi Quang boasts sweet plump prawns, succulent slivers of char siu pork, and a quail egg arranged upon silky turmeric-tinted rice noodles in a gently spiced pork broth. Served with prawn crackers, the noodles are sprinkled with toasted peanuts, crispy sprouts, and caramelised shallots. The cao lau exhibits a similar sense of restraint, with the smoky local noodles topped with just a few slices of the Cantonese-style barbecued pork and fragrant herbs. We recommend you sample the mi Quang and save the cao lau for later (see Mr Ty, below). Hai, 6A Truong Minh Luong Street, Hoi An. Open from 11am until they run out.
Work up an appetite by walking back to the Japanese Covered Bridge, then continue down Nguyen Thi Minh Khai to the Phung Hung Old House before returning along Tran Phu where you should call into the Cantonese Chinese Assembly Hall. After, stroll up Le Loi to visit the Tran Family Chapel and Ba Le Well. By now, you should be hungry again…
2pm – Bun Bo
Savour the zesty Central Vietnamese bun bo at the Ba Nghia Bun Bo stall, where three generations of this family have been keeping locals happy with their sublime beef noodle soup. Grandma still helms the home kitchen where the beef and pork bone stock simmers for hours, while her granddaughter ladles out the spicy broth at the busy stall. It’s located on a lane off Phan Chu Trinh Street, a block west of Le Loi Street, and right opposite Mr Ty’s stall, below. Open from 2pm until the soup runs out, generally by 4.30pm.
3pm – Traditional Sweets
You might be lucky to spot the roving vendors of traditional sweets, including tau hu nuoc duong (silky tofu in ginger sauce) and che bap (corn pudding and coconut cream), popular afternoon snacks. If you’re out of luck, you’ll find the busiest and best vendors set up about a block or two from the Japanese Bridge on Nguyen Thai Hoc Street, where it meets Bach Dang Street. Pull up a tiny stool and prepare to go to heaven.
4.30pm – Cao Lau
At Ty Cao Lau, a small stall with low tables and plastic seats in a lane, Mr Ty has been serving Hoi An’s celebrated noodle dish for some 25 years, reliably setting up daily at around 4.30 each day and packing up when he runs out. In our opinion, this and Mr Hai’s cao lau are the finest renditions of this much-loved dish. Here, Mr Ty’s rich broth is poured over his roasted char siu pork, which he sprinkles with deep-fried dough crisps and aromatic herbs, and serves with pickled onion and garlic. You need to add your own spicy chilli jam. Corner of lane off Phan Chu Trinh St, one block west Le Loi Street.
6pm – Com Ga
Wind up our Hoi An street food tour with a final dish at Com Ga An Hien. Here you can tuck into Hoi An’s take on com ga, Asia’s ubiquitous Hainanese chicken and rice that’s beloved by foodies in Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand. Fluffy, yellow turmeric-tinted rice and shredded free-range ‘running’ chicken are topped with slices of onion, fragrant Vietnamese mint and black pepper, and served with a bowl of intense chicken broth with chrysanthemum leaves and a quail’s egg. To complete the dish, you’re expected to add the table condiments – fish sauce, lemon juice, chilli jam, lemon juice, and pickled chillies – and thoroughly combine. An Hien, 3 Ly Thuong Kiet Street, near the corner of Ngo Gia Tu, Hoi An. Open daily from 4.30pm until 9pm but will close sooner if they run out.
By now, you will probably have to roll down the street to the riverside, where you can sit yourself on a plastic seat to sip an icy glass of bia hoi (fresh beer). Oh, and a steamed pork and egg-filled bao if you see the mobile vendor passing by…
Hoi An’s Best Street Food Tours
If you prefer to do a guided Hoi An street food tour and it’s a great idea for your first visit day in Hoi An, we recommend two Hoi An street food tour companies.
The Original Taste of Hoi An Food Tour
The Original Taste of Hoi An Food Tour was indeed Hoi An’s first food tour. Researched and created by long-term expat, Neville Dean, a former teacher, and wife Colleen Dean, who manages the hospitality side, this comprehensive culinary tour is jointly ran by Neville and local foodie, Sen, who also handles logistics. The first part, the culinary walk through the backstreets of Hoi An, is led by the lovely Sen, and includes a visit to a local off-the-beaten-track market. Neville leads a guided tasting indoors, just when you’ll be feeling the need to retreat from the heat. This is probably one of the most in-depth food tours I’ve ever done. On the exhaustive tour, you’ll do 40 tastings of street food and drinks over four hours. Pick-up is 7.30am and you’ll be done around midday.
Hoi An Food Tours
One of a handful of Hoi An street food tours that were inspired by the Original Taste of Hoi An, Hoi An Food Tours is an all-Vietnamese operation ran by ‘Jennifer’ (her preferred Western nickname) in the office and a range of local guides who lead walking tours through Hoi An’s charming streets. We love the morning street food tour, which starts at 8am and finishes at noon, and includes 10 different food and drink tastings of Hoi An’s quintessential dishes, at seven different locations, including a visit to Hoi An’s main market. It cleverly ends with a foot massage.
Do let us know if you try our self-guided Hoi An street food tour or the guided tours we’ve recommended. We’d love to know what you think and we’d also love to hear from you if you have tips for other Hoi An street food spots you enjoyed.
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