We think the best way to see a destination at little cost is free tours. We have written about free walking tours before, but this one definitely deserves its own article.
We loved Vietnam, but Hoi An is in a league of its own. Hoi An is such a gorgeous, low-key, and interesting place that is one of our favourites in all of Southeast Asia. When we were staying at our lovely homestay in Hoi An, our host recommended we check out the free biking tour. We're glad we did.
The streets of Hoi An by night
The first thing you should know is that this is a rare free tour that actually isn't...free. You are charged $1 USD for a ferry fee, and $1.50 for a "community fee". That being said, $2.50 for a half-day tour of an incredible place is a great deal.
The tour starts at 591 Hai Ba Trung St in Hoi An - the office of a local tour agency close to the centre of Hoi An. The tour starts at 8:30am and runs on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays. Be sure to book ahead - we showed up the day of not knowing that you had to book a spot in advanced and almost weren't allowed on the tour - luckily someone failed to show up and we took their spot!
It was a rainy day on our tour, but still fun!
From the travel agency, you bike to the pier and head on a very short ferry across the river to the Kim Bong Carpentry Village. The tour is great because you get to see a village you otherwise wouldn't have seen.
The whole tour felt very authentic. There were four stops along the tour: a shipbuilding yard, a temple dedicated to the ancestors of a family, a mat-weaving house, and a rice paper-making house.
Watching the building of one huge ship
Learning how to make rice paper
The front gate to a family compound we visited
The tour last half a day and we had a super friendly tour guide who was super determined to inform us on everything there is to know and to improve her English.
The scenery along the Kim Bong Carpentry Village
So if you're in Hoi An...check out the free biking tour!