A Wheelchair User’s Guide to Hoi An, Vietnam

Hoi An is a town oozing with history and charm. You’ll get to see architecture ranging from Vietnamese to Japanese, Chinese, and French.

Despite Hoi An being so old, it’s relatively easy for wheelchair users to navigate the old town’s streets, though it’s better suited for manual chairs.

Read on to learn more about wheelchair accessibility in Hoi An.

Note: The information here is based on my observation as a non-wheelchair user. If you have firsthand experience as a wheelchair user in Hoi An, I’d love to hear about your time there in the comments section. I appreciate it, and I’m sure our future readers will too.

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An Overview of Accessibility in Hoi An

I visited Hoi An after Ho Chi Minh City, so my expectations were low (see my guide on accessibility in Ho Chi Minh for details).

But to my surprise, it’s easier to navigate Hoi An’s old town than nearly any public outdoor place in Ho Chi Minh. The reason is that only pedestrians and bicycles are allowed to enter Hoi An’s old town.

A pedestrian-only sign in Hoi An.
A sign in Hoi An reading “Walking and Cycling Town.”

The occasional scooter also makes its way in. But as a wheelchair user, you’ll have full access to the paved road.

The streets in Hoi An are flat. Because many vendors and food stands set up shop on the sidewalk, you’ll likely find it easier to stick with exploring the old town from the road.

Furthermore, only some of the sidewalks have drop-down curbs, and not all of them are in great shape.

Visiting Shops and Restaurants in Hoi An

Unfortunately, Hoi An’s relatively decent accessibility ends with the ease of exploring its streets in the old town. Nearly all shops and restaurants in the old town have at least one step to enter.

Lanterns and dresses for sale at a Hoi An shop.
A common scene at shops in Hoi An.

Some businesses have ramps they can set up for you, while others will harness the helpful way of the Vietnamese to lift your chair.

Many shops set up souvenirs on the sidewalk, making them more accessible for viewing than entering the store. Some restaurants also offer tables outside of their shops.

Wheelchair Transportation in Hoi An

Wheelchair Traveling offers accessible vans in Hoi An and several other cities in Vietnam.

If you’re able to transfer out of your chair, you’ll have a greater range of more economical transportation options, as the rideshare app Grab offers the option to book a 7-seater taxi van on the spot.

You can also book private transfers with GetYourGuide, which offers several wheelchair accessible activities in Hoi An.

Accessible Restrooms in Hoi An

A sign pointing to accessible restrooms.
A sign pointing to accessible restrooms.

You’ll likely need to rely on your hotel for a wheelchair accessible bathroom in Hoi An. I only encountered one accessible restroom in Hoi An’s old town, located by the information center.

If you find other accessible public restrooms during your visit, please leave a comment so future wheelchair travelers can benefit.

Where to Stay

I stayed at Hoi An Life Villa, a homestay located less than a 10-minute drive from the old town. The homestay offers a flat entry, access to the lounge area around the pool, and an outdoor restaurant (free breakfast is included each morning).

Though it wasn’t perfectly up to ADA standards in the U.S., my room offered decent accessibility. It had a roll-in shower and a spacious room and bathroom.

A roll-in shower.
My bathroom at Hoi An Life Villa.

If you choose to stay at Hoi An Life Villa, let them know you’re a wheelchair user, as not all of their rooms are accessible.

And if you’re looking for a more mainstream hotel choice, Ann Retreat Resort & Spa is an option.

Accessible Things to Do in Hoi An

Below are some wheelchair accessible activities you can do during your time in beautiful Hoi An.

1. Explore the Old Town

Lanterns hanging above the streets in Hoi An.
Lanterns fill the streets of the old town.

Wandering around Hoi An’s old town is the most popular thing to do there. It also happens to be among the best accessible activities.

Since the streets in old town Hoi An remain closed to vehicles day and night, you’ll have free reign of flat, paved roads for exploring.

You can even pass over the Japanese Bridge. Although a tall wooden ledge makes this bridge appear inaccessible at first glance, there are locals on either side of the bridge that manage the entrance and can lift a portion of the ledge, creating a barrier-free entrance.

2. Experience the Floating Lantern Festival

Boats on the Hoi An river at night.
Hoi An at night.

Hoi An is famous for its evening Floating Lantern Festival. Even though this festival technically takes place on the night of a full moon, Hoi An has become so touristy that the locals host a version of it each night.

A wide, paved sidewalk runs along the river where the festival takes place.

Vendors abound, selling lanterns to place in the water and local sweets and savory foods. Street markets with souvenirs and food stalls also abound on either side of the river, so I encourage you to visit both sides, which are accessible.

3. Take a Tour

GetYourGuide offers several wheelchair accessible tours in Hoi An. Some of the tours include:

  • Old town tour
  • Vietnamese cooking class
  • Lantern making workshop
  • Day trip to Hue

They can also arrange a private transfer and custom tour for you, keeping in mind that you’ll need to be able to transfer out of your chair to access GetYourGuide’s vehicles.

A Note on My Son

The My Son Sanctuary is a UNESCO World Heritage Center located about one hour from Hoi An.

Unfortunately, My Son doesn’t offer good accessibility for wheelchair users. Nevertheless, I saw a wheelchair user there during my visit, and my guide confirmed that the sanctuary assists travelers requiring accessible facilities.

A view of the My Son ruins.
The paths at My Son are difficult to access.

While certain parts of My Son will be inaccessible unless someone can carry you, you’ll be able to enjoy a view of the most iconic temples.

Nevertheless, you may feel that the trip to My Son is too far for the limited accessibility it offers.

Ready to Visit Hoi An?

Hoi An has a stunning old town with a vibrant and accessible night scene. This central Vietnamese city is by far the most accessible destination I visited in Vietnam, though it’s nowhere near ADA-compliant.

Do you have questions about traveling to Hoi An? Leave a comment, and I’ll do my best to help.

I’d also love to hear from you in the comments after your trip. Your experience and advice will undoubtedly help future readers.

Laura has been wandering the globe for over a decade. She's an early bird and backpacker at heart and can often be spotted with a dog or ten that she's befriended along the way. Much of the content Laura writes on A Piece of Travel includes details on solo female travel and wheelchair accessibility, with the support of her brother-in-law and sister.

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