Are you looking at booking the basket boat tour in Hoi An, Vietnam? Then make sure you read this before you do to save some money!
First of all, this isn’t a scare piece. I’m not about to say don’t do the basket boat tour in Hoi An. In fact, the complete opposite – do it, it’s awesome. It’s like a Disney ride on water. I’ll go into why I loved this activity later on.
The reason why I wanted to write this article though, is to say you can save a little bit of hard-earned money by doing one thing – not booking through a tour company.
All the major players like GetYourGuide, Klook, Viator, they all offer the coconut boat tour in Hoi An. However, you DO NOT need to book through one of these companies to do a tour here. Sure, you can if it gives you peace of mind, but why do that when it’s so easy to organise yourself?
Don’t worry, I’ll walk you through everything you need to do. I guess the big reason as to why you’d want to do this is for a more authentic experience in Vietnam. That’s what I’m always looking for when travelling, and it can be done here too.
The main question is – are you the intrepid type who likes to do things yourself? If so, then keep on reading!
What is the basket boat tour Hoi An?
Just a short 10 to 15-minute taxi ride from Hoi An is Cẩm Thanh, otherwise known as the Coconut Village. This is a sleepy backwater on the Thu Bon river with a series of tributaries running through the coconut palm forests. It’s here you can ride in a Vietnamese basket boat, also known as a coracle.
These are crafted from bamboo and palm leaves creating a circular boat that float on the water like petals. It’s such a unique type of boat, and one that’s become synonymous with Hoi An and Vietnam.
Our boat tour started with us lazily drifting on the water watching our Vietnamese guide paddle. It was cool seeing so many brightly coloured boats drift by, everyone wearing Vietnamese conical hats (don’t worry, these are included in the tour). One thing that took me by surprise was how busy it was though – it was absolutely packed here! If you’re looking for a quiet thing to do in Hoi An, then this isn’t it.
In total, the tour takes 45-55 minutes depending on how many photo spots you have. Once you’ve paid for the tour though, everything is included. It’s only the boat spinning that’s extra.
Boat spinning and explore the mangrove forest
Just as we were getting used to being in the coconut boat, our guide paddled us over to one of the highlights of the tour – boat spinning. Here you get to see the boats spin around and around in the water, and it’s crazy how fast they go. It’s like a spinning top on water. A Vietnamese Whirling Dervish.
If you want, you can pay a little extra to sit inside one of the boats as they spin you around. Make sure you haven’t just eaten though because this really is like being on a rollercoaster ride!
As if that wasn’t enough fun for one tour, we then drifted over to watch a local fisherman throw his net into the water. This makes for such a good photo opportunity, so make sure you have your cameras ready.
Then, it was onto a weird karaoke section where we watched locals belt out songs we had no words to. I think this was my favourite section of the basket boat tour because it was so random. Karaoke in a tiny circular boat on the water in Vietnam? Sign me up!
After the adrenaline rush, things became much more sedate as we explored the mangroves of Bay Mau coconut forest. For me, this section really showed the beauty of Vietnam. I would’ve been very happy just drifting around here for a couple of hours. Our guide got very snap happy at this point and took dozens of photos of us which was really sweet. There are definitely lots of photo opportunities on this tour!
And as if that wasn’t enough, at the end of our tour we went crab fishing just at the edge of the mangrove forest. We didn’t catch anything, though that’s the beauty of fishing, right?
As you can tell, there is a lot going on for one activity! It’s crazy, it’s silly, and it’s a whole lot of fun. As you can tell, I really really enjoyed this one!
Getting to the Coconut Village
Obviously one of the things you’re paying for when booking with a tour company is the fact they pick you up and drop you off at the end of your tour. But depending on where you’re staying, you could either be lucky and picked up last, or unlucky and picked up first, wasting time driving from hotel to hotel in Hoi An.
Instead, we just booked a Grab taxi. These are everywhere in Hoi An and are very quick and reliable. That meant we could go when we wanted and not hang around. Win win.
Once we got to the Coconut Village, there are dozens of local tour companies all lined along the river. These are all pretty identical and offer exactly the same services.
After walking around a bit, we went with one called Green Coconut Tour as it had very good reviews on Google. Honestly, you could go with any though.
For the tour itself, we walked through a building to where all the boats parked, haggled about the cost of the tour a bit with a guy, and then paid our guide in the boat directly. It really was as easy as that.
How much does the Hoi An coconut boat tour cost?
If you book through a company, the tour costs between £7.80 to £10 per person (that’s about $10 to $13 per person). For two people, that’s between £15.60 and £20 ($20 and $26). That includes all hotel transfers and the boat tour ticket.
How much did I pay?
- Grab taxi from Hoi An to the Coconut village – 93,000 dong (£3/$3.80)
- Entrance fee for two people – 200,000 dong (£6.40/$8.15)
- Grab taxi back to Hoi An – 63,000 dong (£2/$2.50)
- Overall cost – 356,000 dong (£11.40/$14.45)
- Money saved – Approximately £4.40 to £9.60 ($5.50 to $12)
I know that’s not a huge saving, but it all adds up when you’re travelling. That’s the different between drinking water for dinner or a couple of cocktails. That’s the way I like to look at it. Also, some of the tour companies charge even more than this, so it can be costly.
To be honest with you, you could probably barter the price of the tour down to 150,000 dong. I had heard people pay that, but I thought 200,000 dong was a fair price. I even tipped our guide an extra 50,000 dong in the end as she took so many photos of us!
As I previously mentioned, all the activities you do on this coconut boat tour in Hoi An – watching the boat spinning, the karaoke, wearing the Vietnamese hats and having photos taken of you – all of this is included in the price you agreed at the beginning. It’s only being spun around that costs extra.
Why do a tour on your own?
For me, it felt so much more authentic doing it all ourselves. We left our hotel in Hoi An when we wanted to, we got to haggle over the price which I always enjoy, and it was just us in the boat.
Obviously there are dozens of other boats around you, but we weren’t part of a tour. I liked that.
Hey, I know people like these easy life, and that’s what tour companies are all about. But if you like doing things your own way, then hopefully this one is for you.
If you’re looking for something else to do in Hoi An, then I really can’t recommend this cooking class enough. We had so much fun doing this one! Also, if you’re looking for a packing list for Vietnam, I’ve got you covered!
As ever, if you have any questions about the Hoi An basket boat tour, then let me know if the comments below. I’ll make sure I get back to you.
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