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Looking to catch New Year’s Eve in Hoi-An, Vietnam? Lit up by lanterns and fireworks, Hoi An has to be one of our favourite spots to see in the New Year.
We debated long and hard as to where we’d like to see the New Year’s Eve celebrations on December 31st. We had previously seen London’s fireworks, plus Auckland and Sydney, so we wanted to try somewhere in Asia.
Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur made our New Year’s celebrations shortlist but we opted for Hoi An in Vietnam, as we had visited before and thought the full lantern and old quarter experience would be magical over New Year.
You might like – Things to do in Hoi An, Vietnam >
Table of Contents
Planning for New Year’s Eve in Hoi An
We booked our week-long stay in Hoi An about seven months in advance and that allowed us to stay in a hotel a few minutes walk to the main stage where the NYE countdown takes place (and also a prime position for the fireworks).
We stayed at Green Heaven Hoi An Resort & Spa, which was affordable and in a fantastic location, however it was a pretty poor hotel experience and we wouldn’t stay there again.
One thing to remember is that Hoi An (and the whole of central Vietnam) is usually in the midst of the rainy season during New Year’s.
You might like – Things to do in Hoi An on a rainy day >
New Year’s Eve in Hoi An Schedules (or Lack Of)!
It is hard to prepare for New Year’s Eve in Hoi An as there is often such a lack of information on the internet. Indeed, even on the day of New Year’s Eve itself, we were not sure what was going to happen that night.
All of our information about the Hoi An fireworks was gleaned from just one sign we found downtown next to the main entertainment stage (they run from midnight until 12.10am and are set off from an island in the middle of the river).
Our Experience of Hoi An at New Years
Due to the heavy rain that day, we didn’t head out until around 10:30pm. All of the bars along the river on Thoại Ngọc Hầu street usually extend their drinking areas out onto the streets and hastily propped up ad-hoc tarpaulins to act as temporary rain shelters.
There are many street food carts to enjoy too – check out our Hoi An street food guide >
To be far, the rain created a gorgeous reflection effect of all the lanterns on the wet pavements so the whole of the Old Quarter radiated like an immense neon sign.
We explored the old lanes (whilst dodging poncho wearing mopeds) and also watched as people purchased small cardboard lanterns from local vendors to light and release on the Thu Bon river.
New Year’s Activities
As you might expect, the local people of Hoi An were keen to make some extra income from the New Year’s festivities.
There are little old ladies selling beers out of polystyrene beer coolers, touts plying their boats for hire (a very popular but expensive way to see the fireworks from the river itself), plus what seemed like hundreds of light-up head dress sellers.
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The Big Countdown and Fireworks
The New Year’s Eve countdown itself usually takes place on a big stage although we opted to dance and drink beforehand at ‘The King Bar’ (seemingly the most popular street party on the night, along with the Funky Monkey Bar and ‘Tiger Tiger) before making the short walk to the bridge as soon as the fireworks started over Hoi An to usher in the New Year.
The fireworks themselves were incredible (better than Auckland’s – sorry New Zealand) and lasted for about 15 minutes.
The effect was enhanced if you could view them over the river as you’re treated to the mirror reflections in the water, plus all the lantern filled boats bobbing in silhouette on the river.
The whole experience was really good natured and various travellers from around the world wished us a Happy New Year and ‘high fived’ us (we didn’t see anyone fall in the water).
Book this – Hoi An Full Lantern Making Class >
Is Hoi An Safe for New Year’s Eve?
Although we’d been warned about possible pickpocketing and bag slashing (something which happened to us the week before in nearby Marble Mountains – read our blog about it here), we didn’t see anything like this happen.
That said, we didn’t get too drunk and didn’t dabble in anything else so trust your own common sense when drinking and partying in Vietnam, especially on New Year’s Eve.
To be fair, the biggest ‘danger’ was getting run down by the moped drivers on the bridge – it is a shame they don’t usually close the Hoi An old quarter / river area to traffic on New Year’s Eve, like they do in other major cities.
Other things to do in Hoi An on New Year’s Eve
After the fireworks, we resumed our festivities along the pub street and bought beers from the various street vendors (prices for cans of beer seemed to vary from 20k VND to 40K VND).
There was also a roaring trade for laughing gas balloons – several stores with lines of backpackers wanting to try it. We spent another 3 hours dancing, drinking and watching the Hoi An hoi polloi revel in the fantastic festivities.
You might like – Things to do in Hanoi, Vietnam >
Hoi An Old Town Tourist Pass
Is it free to see the New Year’s Eve fireworks in Hoi An? Well – yes and no. Whilst it is ‘free’ to attend the fireworks, you do need a tourist pass / ticket to visit Hoi An itself.
As of 2022, a foreign tourist pass for Hoi An costs 150,000 VND per person (around £5 / $6 USD) and is required to enter Hoi An Old Town.
Each ticket is valid for 10 days and covers admission to the town, five historical sites of your choice and street entertainment (supposedly).
Hoi An New Year’s Eve – was it worth it?
We were so glad we chose to see New Year’s Eve in Hoi An and it was a lot easier to get a clear, unobstructed view of the fireworks (if you plan in advance and base yourself along the pub street).
The river looks magical with all the floating lanterns and even the rain couldn’t dampen our spirits!
A caveat – we celebrated New Year’s 2018 / 2019 in Hoi-An. Since COVID, things may have changed a little but it is still very much a worthwhile place to enjoy New Year festivities.
Fun activites in Hoi An in December
Take a short ride on a rowing boat to access this cooking class located in the Bay Mau forest. Learn about herbs and vegetables and prepare four local dishes. Click here to book a cooking class >
Night Food Tasting Small Group Tour
Experience the street food of Hoi An on a 2.5-hour tour. Join the locals at the central market, discover hidden food stalls and local cafés and enjoy a coffee or beer at a riverside bar near the Japanese Covered Bridge. Click here to book a food tour >
Morning Food and Coffee Tasting Tour
This food tour will take you off the beaten path where you will taste many delicious types of street food and learn about Vietnamese coffee culture. Click here to book a tour >
Sunset Dinner Cruise
Enjoy cocktails and dinner as you cruise along Hoi An’s Thu Bon River at sunset. Click here to book a cruise.
3-hour sunrise or sunset photography tour in the villages outside of Hoi An, suitable for both amateur and professional photographers. Click here to book a photography tour >
Ba Na Hills
Mountaintop resort complex in Da Nang, only accessible by cable car. Stroll through the French Village, ride the roller coasters and visit the famous Golden Bridge. Click here to book a Ba Na Hills tour.
Take a day trip 2 and half hours drive north of Hoi An and visit the UNESCO-listed Imperial City of Hue. Tour the Forbidden City, Emperor’s Private Residence and take a boat ride on the Perfume River. Click here to book a Hue tour >
Top things to do in Hoi An!
Search for the cheapest transportation options in Vietnam
Where to stay in Hoi An
Most first time visitors to the city stay in or near the old town, as it is home to most of the attractions. Alternatively there are some luxury beachside resorts just a short drive away out of the city.
Here are some accommodation recommendations if you are planning a trip to Hoi An.
On a budget?
These backpacker hostels are highly rated online and in super locations:
Leo Leo hostel / 3 minutes walk to old town with dorms/private rooms and free breakfast. Check out prices and availability for Leo Leo hostel.
Tribee Kinh hostel / Hostel with a party atmosphere and 5 minutes walk to the ancient town. Check out prices and availability for Tribee Kinh hostel.
Little Hoi An Boutique Hotel & Spa/ Riverside hotel just minutes from the Japanese bridge and an outdoor swimming pool and hair and beauty salon. Check out prices and availability for Little Hoi An Boutique Hotel & Spa.
La Siesta Hoi An Resort & Spa / All air-conditioned rooms feature a private balcony that opens up to views of the huge swimming pool. Check out prices and availability for La Siesta Hoi An Resort & Spa.
Here are some super nice places if you really want to treat yourself on your Hoi An trip!
Bel Marina Hoi An Resort / Air-conditioned villas just a 7-minute walk from Hoi An Ancient Town with a beautiful outdoor pool. Check out prices and availability for Hoi An Silk Marina Resort & Spa.
Hotel Royal Hoi An – MGallery by Sofitel / Luxury riverside hotel with rooftop swimming pool and bar. Check out prices and availability for Hotel Royal Hoi An – MGallery by Sofitel.
Anantara Hoi An Resort / Elegant resort featuring French colonial architecture and outdoor swimming pool. Each room has a seating area and private porch with beautiful views of the garden or river. Check out prices and availability for Anantara Hoi An Resort.
By the beach
Victoria Hoi An Beach Resort & Spa / Located along the shores of Cua Dai beach with Vietnamese, French and Japanese decor, and 2 swimming pools overlooking the ocean. Check out prices and availability for Victoria Hoi An Beach Resort & Spa.
Other Vietnam blog posts
- Top things to do in Hoi An on a rainy day
- Highlights of Hanoi, Vietnam (plus a few lowlights)
- Visiting Vietnam’s Lady Buddha in Da Nang
- Be aware in Marble Mountains – how I was robbed in Da Nang, Vietnam
Heading to Thailand or Cambodia?
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