Boat trips in Hoi An

Reading Time: 14 minutes

Last Updated on 3 years by Tam Le Van

Advantages of boat trip are lots of fresh air with outdoor meals, rich in time to shoot appealing natural sceneries, comfortably stretching the legs, danger-free walking around, etc that a tour van may miss. That’s why it becomes a popular choice to many tourists.    

Hoi An ancient town, major markets, reputable handicraft villages and much interesting attractions all locate by the river. So, they are conveniently connected if cruise. Boat trips here is abundant in type like culture exploring, sunset watching, nature adventuring, nighttime experience and board day-to-day. However, some appear unexpectedly, boat ride during flood time for instance. It’s unique similarly to the gondola ride in Venice.

In this article, Hoi An Life outlines the complete guide for boat trips in Hoi An making you easier to have a smooth traveling plan.

Boat trips on Thu Bon River

Song Thu Bon is the largest river in Quang Nam province. Its final parts border the Southern edge of Hoi An therefore also called as Hoi An river. Historically, it has ever been very bustling waterway when the city functioned as an international trading port. Nowadays, its life is hectic again resulting from dozens of tourist activities.      

Boat trip to Kim Bong and Thanh Ha craft villages

There are two well-known craft villages in Hoi An: Kim Bong and Thanh Ha. While villagers of Thanh Ha are specialized in pottery production, Kim Bong residents mainly build fishing boats accompanying the civil carpentry.

The river journey to these attractions is one of the most selected boat trips in Hoi An. It takes a half of day and flexibly departures at almost anytime from the old town. If come to Thanh Ha in the early morning, you may see true daily life of locals in Cho ca Thanh Ha-the largest fishing market of the city (see our article Hoi An’s markets for more information). On the other hand, the afternoon provides oppurtunity to appreciate brilliant sunset that nobody wants to miss out.

Most boat trips stop at Lang moc Kim Bong (Kim Bong carpentry village) first because of short distance. In this place, people regularly shop around souvenir stores behind the main entrance. Their hand-made products are quite varied in models, good value and fair price. Outside of the shopping zone, there are several outdoor workshops where local carpenters maintain, repair and build the fishing boats. It’s free of charge to visit the village.

Second stopping point is Lang gom Thanh Ha (Thanh Ha village). To sightsee, you have to pay 30.000 VND (1.3 USD) for entrance ticket. It includes one pottery making class taught by well-experienced artisans from preparing the clay, creating form by the wheel to decorating. Furthermore, you will receive the lovely pottery animal as a gift. Currently, lots of souvenir shop exist along peaceful alleyways that you may find the best reminder about Hoi An.

Sunset boat trip

Cruising on Thu Bon river to watch sunset is one of the best boat trips in Hoi An. You absolutely may immerse yourself in wonderful natural sceneries and life moments when fisherman cast their nets, flocks of bird return to the nests or childrens raise cows on the riverside.

Hoi An weather and climate have two distinct seasons making sunset time different likewise. The best time to see sunset corresponds to the dry season stretching from February to August. It starts around 5 p.m daily. Read our article about the best spots to watch sunset for more ideas if you are a sundown lover, not just on the river. 

Price of the sunset boat trip in Hoi An

If need a basic experience, come to the old town. There are various selections of locally-owned tourist boats docking along banks of Hoi An river like Bach Dang street or near Japanese covered bridge. They offer the first price in between of 300.000-500.000 VND (13-22 USD) for an hour journey. Moreover, it will down significantly depending on your bargaining skills as well as polite approach. Taking note that size of the boat is large possibly containing 10 people at the same time. So, that’s would be great when travel with a group. For couples, it’s perfect with a sense of romance during sundown.

Besides, many tour operators also arrange this kind of open-air activity. Basically they provide professional services that give you some extras such as longer boat route, more destinations, local snacks, having a barbecue or cold drinks. Above all, the guaranteed safety throughout the trip is their another key value. The boat used is well-equipped with good-conditioned lifejackets, medical kits or fire extinguishers. Complimentarily, the trained staffs are usually attentive on boat passengers.

In several circumstances, the sunset trips mix and match with basket boat tour, Vietnamese cooking class, kayaking or cycling. General duration ranges from half-day to full-day. Scan them to design your ‘countryside day’.

Thu Bon river cruise&My Son Sanctuary

As an adventurer, you should note this expidition what combines the windy river boat trip (a must-do) and visiting glorious temples in My Son (a must-see) into one package. Detailedly, it often departures in the morning by bus to the sanctuary to admire about 70 Hinduism tower-temples constructed in the middle of 4th  and 13th centuries. Owners of these masterpieces are native Cham people. During Vietnam war, the site was damaged partly by bombings but in very excellent conditions now under tirelessly efforts of conservationists. By the outstanding values, it has been a World Heritage Site since 1999. For more details, read our complete guide for My Son sanctuary via http://hoianlife.net/everything-you-need-to-know-about-my-son-sanctuary/.

After spend nearly two hours in My Son to enjoy traditional performances and learn about ancient cultures with an informative guide, you will return to the city center by cruising on Thu Bon river (the longest boat trip in Hoi An in fact). The experience brings all travellers closer to authentic rural lands coupled with transquil settlements along the waterway. Before end, commonly stops at famous traditional craft villages such as Thanh Ha pottery making village or Kim Bong carpentry village, depending on the itenerary of each company. Further, almost tour operators serve you delicious outdoor lunch included in the price. To know the best ones offering this kind of My Son tour from Hoi An, browse our article.  

Cam Thanh basket boat experience

What is basket boat?

The basket boat is an unique creation of fisherman in coastal areas of the Central Vietnam. It is a small, round-shaped bamboo boat with capacity of one or two people. Thuyen Thung and Thung Chai are two popular names Vietnamese calls it.

Many people say that it originates from French colonial period when they lavied taxes on boats. At that time, local fisherman completely did not live in a state of wealthy. Hence, they wanted to find a solution that maintains fishing activities every day as well as no payment for govermental boat taxes. From here, one new type of boat was born. Its shape looks like a basket, woved by bamboo panels and highly convenient when travel on the sea. This assumption is the most accepted one in Vietnam at the moment.

While, someone believes that it was built to replace the large boats for a daily catching thanks to its strength, easy moving above the waves and rarely overturning. Additionally, transporting people, foods and fishing facilities is also another function of the basket boat when the seawater becomes shallow.

In order to build the basket boat, skillfull artisans will seek the best quality bamboo that have to be straight, solid core, less joints and free from pests. It has about 25 bamboo needed to make one complete boat. They are split into proper pieces, sun-dried and then wove by hands altogether. The stage requires meticulousness plus special techniques during hours. Interestingly, after basket frame done, local builders use cow dung to fully waterproof the boat. For the next step, it is covered evenly by tree sap to increase durability once left out in the sun to dry in 4 days. Because of hard work, there is only a few of artisans still  preserving this traditional handicraft in Hoi An, many live in Cam Thanh’s villages.

Water coconut forests of Cam Thanh

To the East side of city center, Cam Thanh commune specially situates at the end of three large rivers. They create immense mud flats truly perfect for water forests growing. The basket boat tour into this green mass is on list of the best boat trips in Hoi An.

Only with 3 km long distance, you may conveniently approach it via taxi, motorbike, bicycle or even walking. If get on a taxi or drive motorbike by yourself, it takes only 15 minutes. In case of cycling, no worry about the terrain, fully flat and unchallenging. En route, picteresque rice fields, rural settlements as well as friendly people awate you.

Nipa palm (water coconut)

Nipa palm (mangrove palm) is only member of the family living in swamps. It survives occasionally short-term drying. Unusually, its leaves and flowers grow above the ground while the rest baths in mud. At the moment, there is no document showing us when the first nipa palm trees were planted. Somebody think that South Vietnam traders brought them to Cam Thanh 200 years ago. They adapted very well to local brackish and salty water environment over time. Moreover, developed rapidly into vast groves covering fully maze-like waterways.

In the past, Hoianese exploited mature trunks twice a year as daily firewoods or raw material to make thatched house roof. Same to numerous practices, it gradually yield to new building materials. Its fruits are much tinier and less water in comparison to normal coconut we see. So, their white flesh are used to craft sugar-soaked coconut and added into fresh coconut water. You have the chance to taste if visit here in period of August to October. In countries, people use it to prepare appetizing dessert as well.    

History relations

Named by the historians as Bay Mau Revolutionary Base Area, the water coconut forests of Cam Thanh closely connect to Hoi An’s recent history.

Bay Mau means ‘seven hectares’ telling us its extent, nevertheless, the area acerage broadly reduced over past decades. Notably, at when it was hiding place of Vietcong (Vietnam communists) all along Vietnam war. To deal with, American forces carried out numerous strong measures to take control of hiders. On the other side, communists make full use of natural food sauce from the groves to survive and bravely struggle for their philosophy. They used fisherman basket boats in nearby villages to transport on waterways in order to avoid strict trackings of the enemy. American presence ended at April 1975.

Up to the present, not much remnants of war periods left allow us to visualize what happened before. Water coconut forests become the last historical witnesses and live under the care of govermance now. If keen to know more, come to Hoi An museum for detailed documents. Note that the Hoi An ancient town’s ticket cover the museum entry.    

Cu Lao Cham-Hoi An world biosphere reserve

Not only history relations, Cam Thanh water coconut forests are also exceptionally rich in natural values. They’re amongst the most important parts of Cu Lao Cham-Hoi An biophere reserve by UNESCO. This model promotes a sustainable relationship between human activities and biodiversity protection.

As a result, previously damaged areas have restored. Local inhabitants more actively participate in tourism such as organizing cooking classes, founding eateries or engaging in unique basket boat tour. All things actually help to improve the income of villagers much more in the past years. Besides, Cu Lao Cham islands expidition arranged offshore in the summer. Meaningfully, either islanders or tourists have not used plastic bags for over 10 years in order to safeguard the natural pearl. 

Regulations in Cam Thanh water coconut forest

Parkings you

Your taxi or private car drivers will stop at public parkings near ticket booths in Cam Thanh water coconut forest (one in Van Lang village and the another in Thanh Tam village)

Cam Thanh basket boat tour

How to book

If like to be involved in Cam Thanh basket boat tour, you should go to Van Lang and Thanh Tam villages near Cua Dai bridge. There are two places with most tour operators offering the trip but Thanh Tam has a larger concentration. These suppliers officially open from 9 a.m until  5 p.m. On the other hand, Van Lang village keeps you less busier with invitations from local sellers. Additionally, both areas have parking, public restroom plus a few locally-owned restaurants if you want to have lunch there.

The admission fee is 30.000 VND (1.3 USD) only including entry into villages and visiting Taboo bamboo workshop with superbly creative bamboo structures. Meaning that you need to  pay extra to experience the boating. It often charges 100.000 VND-200.000 VND (4.3 USD-8.6 USD) per person or per boat at some operators. Shop around and check carefully to pick the best.

What to expect

Your Cam Thanh basket boat experience is heated up right at the beginning. Because of basket boat lightness, so fairly unstable to make the balance when you put the first leg on. But actually it doesn’t take long. Afterwards, the boatman brings you into a world of the green of placid waterways fringled by water coconuts. He/she will show how to throw the fishing net, catch small crabs by bamboo rod and make artistic accessories by coconut leaves. Most special, you also get the opportunity to enjoy the performance of ‘basket boat dance’ (shaking and spinning the boat) and full-of-fun race on the way back. After dock, it’s time to feast on fresh fruits and light snacks. The entire trip commonly lasts 45-60 minutes.

Note: As a core of the World biophere reserve, any damage to natural creatures like crabbing, fishing or picking up coconut leaves is not encouraged within Cam Thanh’s coconut forests. Just watch the demonstation of locals. It’s okay to throw fishing net into the river.      

The best basket boat tours in Cam Thanh

Jack Tran Tours

Tin Basket Boat Tour

Long Coconut Boat&Restaurant

Hang Coconut Basket Boat Tour

Hoi An night boat ride

Right after the sundown, we have the chance to experience another fabulous boat trip in Hoi An. That is the boat ride on Hoai river (in the Old town) that praised as a must-do night activities. To get it, you need to approach Bach Dang pier. Over there, you will see two different types of boat. One type has colorful decorations and another is very simple without any lanterns. Basically it costs the same but the itinerary is unlike each other on account of the city policies.

Best times to get Hoi An night boat ride

Best hours of day fall into the period from 6 p.m to 9 p.m. It may be little earlier or later in the high seasons and Le hoi den long (monthly lantern festival). Cost of the ride is usually higher than common around 20.000 VND (0.86 USD) per person. Your bargaining needs more time to reach the nicest agreement because of too much travellers.     

The boat ride is really simply to act daily but fact that almost every boatmans prefer their presence at peak tourist times. They are Christmas to Vietnamese new year on February, April, May and September. You certainly can expect for unforgettable memories about plentiful floating lanterns on the river, chaotic streets and full of life street art performances. In addition to, the selections of boat is a few within rainy dates as well as after the rains. Hoi An Life suggests roaming around Hoi An night market then.

Secondly, the best dates belong to 14th day each month in Vietnamese lunar calendar when Hoi An lantern festival organized. During the night, everyone will be at a party of lights, diverse street foods and folk games that shouldn’t miss out. Check online the matching day on international calendar to fit properly your time and travel itinerary.

How much for a night boat ride in Hoi An?

For each of boat ride, you will pay 50.000 VND (2.2 USD) per person including 15 minutes round trip and one paper lantern. It perhaps lowers depending on your bargaining skills. In actuality, the finest price received if ask for a group of 4 because it’s well-matched for boat size. For safety, boat passengers all have to wear lifejacket. 

No-lanterns-decorated boat is allowed to move around the most beautiful area of the old town. If take this, totally appreciate a gorgeous night scene coming from hundreds of multi-colored and varied in shape lanterns. They are fronted on ancient façade of buildings as well as gently float on the river. Furthermore, melodious live music of near-river bars is well-integrated into every moments. That’s perfect for marvelous instagram photos or creating the best memorial videos about Hoi An.

Whilst lanterns-decorated boat works on the river areas surrounding the central market. The ride accommodates lots of splendid views from shimmering river plus twinkling lights of other boat friends. It’s much easier to catch tight close-up pictures backed by lanterns. Noteworthy, you able to light the candle lantern and drop it down to the river later. Many Hoianese like praying for good health to famimy members, deep love, marriage or future career progression. Origin of the practice is still unclear but someone guess it starts in Buddhist festivals. 

The river boat bar

A new finding of Hoi An Life that delivers you an experience with interests. Uncle Dai’s River Boat Bar is established at the corner of ‘Pub street’ Nguyen Phuc Chu and faces to charming Old town. Both daytime or nighttime, this hidden gem suits for pleasantness seekers who want to escape from the crowd. Although it’s small, however the menu pretty widely covers a collection of Vietnamese style coffee, cold drinks, snacks until home-cook-like dishes. In the evening, it transforms into one of the most ideal positions to watch floating lantern boats.  

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Tam Le Van

Tam is a tour leader and passionate traveler who has beautiful memories over 50 provinces of Vietnam. During the time Corona virus spreads out globally, he decides to become a blogger to share his experiences.
Contacts for work: Levantam0906@gmail.com or (+84) 968009827

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