Just four kilometres from Hoi An’s UNESCO World Heritage centre and 30 kilometres from Da Nang International Airport, An Bang Beach is the perfect complement to the sightseeing and tourist bustle of town. With the once popular Cua Dai Beach suffering from severe erosion, An Bang now holds the crown as Hoi An’s go-to beach. Whether you want to hide under an sun umbrella (there are many available), hang out at one the casual bars or plop yourself on white sand, reserve at least a day on your Hoi An itinerary for some An Bang R&R.
The best time to be at An Bang is dry season, which falls between March and September. During this time you can expect blistering sun, soaring temperatures and calm waters. For the price of drink, you can use a restaurant’s sun lounger for the day. During the Vietnamese summer holiday months of June to August, the local Vietnamese crowd flood in for sunrise swims and sunset family beach barbecues.
Cold, wet season lasts from around October to February. The weather definitely puts a dampener on things – the ocean is rough and temperatures can be downright bone chilling, though there are surprises with the odd sunny day. Eateries remain open and the beach can still be an incredible place to sit and watch the storms come in over the mountains at the edge of Da Nang. Those six-foot waves also mean that surfers can have some fun.
To get to An Bang from Hoi An town centre, head north on Hai Ba Trung Street. It’s four kilometres to the coast. Upon arrival you’ll come to an area with various parking lots; expect to pay up to 10,000 dong per motorbike. This area also has plenty of meter taxis waiting – use a green Mailinh Taxi. Plan to use one if you want a late night, as it’s not ideal to ride your bicycle back to town after dark.
To your left (moving up the coast) are a string of seafood and Western restaurants. These casual bohemian beach joints offer showers, toilets and comfortable spots to hang out – tables, huts, loungers, hammocks, sun beds – all available for the price of a meal. Soul Kitchen is a top spot with its comfortable chairs and cabanas overlooking the ocean, and a laidback vibe plus great live music in the evenings. They serve typical beach fare: salads, snacks and meat and seafood from the grill (120,000 to 150,000 dong). Portions are generous and usually served with thick-cut fries and salad. There’s lots of staff though this restaurant is often busy and orders do take some time to arrive. To find it, when you arrive to An Bang, head down the lane to your left.
In the same row of restaurants is Luna D’Autunno, where you can indulge in a darn delicious pizza on the beach. The generously sized pizzas range from 130,000 to 170,000 dong, and there are also pastas, salads and gelato. Our only gripe is that despite recent renovations, the loungers are uncomfortable. The cushions need a fabric cover or towel else you end up having to peel yourself from the plastic.
If Soul Kitchen is too busy or you’re not in the mood for Italian, check out The Hmong Sisters, the ultra relaxed Banyan Beach Bar or one of the local seafood restaurants. Hoi An locals told us they would absolutely choose An Bang over Cua Dai for seafood because An Bang’s eateries are more reasonably priced and fresher.
If you use a joint’s beach beds and umbrellas, you will have to pay for it unless you purchase something.
This area of An Bang too crowded for you? Simply move up or down the coast. Take the road behind the row of restaurants. Running off this road there are lanes that lead to some of the fabulous An Bang accommodation we’ve reviewed. All those lanes will spit you out onto the beach. To really get away from the crowds, take the lane that leads to An Bang Seaside Village, or head in the opposite direction, down the coast towards Cua Dai Beach. In between An Bang and Cua Dai is a fair stretch of empty, undeveloped real estate.
Whether you choose to eke out on Cua Dai or decide to spend all your time on An Bang, do remember that topless bathing and nudity are insulting to the locals; if you are caught flaunting too much flesh you can face a fine. Bikinis and shorts are perfectly acceptable beachwear. Travellers often get confused by etiquette upon seeing locals swimming fully clothed; this is because of a desire to stay pale skinned rather than a modesty issue. Just keep the swimwear to the beach though, and cover up when you leave.
Cindy Fan is a Canadian writer/photographer and author of So Many Miles, a website that chronicles the love of adventure, food and culture. After falling in love with sticky rice and Mekong sunsets, in 2011 she uprooted her life in Toronto to live la vida Laos. She’s travelled to over 40 countries and harbours a deep affection for Africa and Southeast Asia. In between jaunts around the world, she calls Laos and Vietnam home where you'll find her traipsing through rice paddies, standing beside broken-down buses and in villages laughing with the locals.
These tours are provided by Travelfish partner GetYourGuide.
Our top 10 other sights and activities in and around Hoi An