Thu Bon River – All you need to know before going

Located in the historic city of Hoi An, the Thu Bon River is a prominent waterway that has played a significant role in the region’s cultural and economic development for centuries. As a highlight of any visit to Central Vietnam, this captivating river offers a myriad of experiences that allow travelers to immerse themselves in the rich tapestry of Hoi An’s heritage.

What do you know about Thu Bon River?

The Thu Bon River, often referred to as the “Mother River,” has been the lifeblood of the Hoi An region for generations. Originating from the towering Ngoc Linh Mountain in Kon Tum, with a basin area exceeding 10.3 square kilometers, this river has bestowed abundant alluvial soil and a wealth of fish, sustaining the local fishing community. The Thu Bon has served as a crucial trade route, facilitating the exchange of essential resources and contributing to the thriving economy of the area.

Tranquil Thu Bon River
Tranquil Thu Bon River

Here are the highlights of the Thu Bon River:

  • One branch of the river flows into the sea at Cua Dai Beach in Hoi An, while the other branch joins with the Vinh Dien River to flow into the Han River.
  • The river’s flow has been increased by the contribution of the Tien River and Tranh River.
  • The Thu Bon River winds through the jagged mountains of western Quang Nam and flows through fertile fields.
  • Notable features along the river include the Ca Waterfall in the Tien Phuoc area and the ancient carved characters on the pillars at the foot of Hon Kem Mountain.
  • The river joins with a branch of the Vu Gia River before flowing through Cho Cui and Cau Lau and finally reaching Cua Dai.
  • The Thu Bon River is a hub of cultural activity, with bustling markets and the presence of traditional villages like Nong Son Incense Making, Thanh Ha Pottery, and Tam Tang Cloth Weaving.

Flowing through the heart of the ancient town, this picturesque river has witnessed the rise and fall of various dynasties, each leaving an indelible mark on the landscape and the lives of the people who call this region home.

What is the best thing to do?

Signature Rowing Basket Boat to visit Bay Mau Forest

One of the most iconic experiences along the Thu Bon River is a tranquil journey through the Bay Mau Forest in a traditional Vietnamese rowing basket boat. These unique vessels, skillfully navigated by local boatmen, offer a serene and intimate perspective of the lush mangrove ecosystem, where you can observe a diverse array of flora and fauna in their natural habitat.

When enjoy a basket boat tour on Thu Bon River, you not only immerse in the tranquil landscapes surrounding but also interact with locals here to hear about their stories and fishermen’s daily life. Moreover, the Coconut Boat Performance by locals here will absolutely surprise you in both eyes and experience.

Basket Boat in the middle Bay Mau Coconut Forest
Basket Boat in the middle Bay Mau Coconut Forest

Explore Traditional Craft Villages

The Thu Bon River region is also home to a rich tapestry of traditional craft villages, each offering a glimpse into the skilled artisanry that has thrived in this area for centuries. Come to these villages, you not only learn how to make traditional handicrafts such as pottery, grow fruit trees, and weave fabrics but also can make them on your own with the dedicated guidance of the people here.

Some of the must-visit traditional craft villages include:

Thanh Ha Pottery Village: Renowned for its exquisite ceramic wares, Thanh Ha Pottery Village invites visitors to witness the intricate process of pottery-making and even try their hand at the potter’s wheel.

Tra Que Vegetable Village: Explore the verdant fields of Tra Que Vegetable Village, where local farmers cultivate a diverse array of produce using traditional, sustainable methods. Participate in hands-on activities and savor the freshest, most flavorful ingredients.

Phuoc Kieu Bronze Casting Village: Discover the ancient art of bronze casting at Phuoc Kieu Village, where skilled artisans create intricate religious statues and decorative pieces using time-honored techniques.

Ma Chau Silk Village: Learn about the painstaking process of silk production at Ma Chau Silk Village, where you can observe the transformation of silkworms into luxurious fabrics that have long been treasured in this region.

Kim Bong Carpentry Village: Marvel at the exceptional woodworking skills of the artisans in Kim Bong Carpentry Village, who craft a diverse range of traditional Vietnamese furniture and architectural elements.

Explore daily life of locals in Tra Que Village
Explore daily life of locals in Tra Que Village

Explore Historical Stories of Thu Bon River

As you immerse yourself in the Thu Bon River’s surroundings, you’ll uncover a trove of historical narratives that have shaped the region’s cultural identity. From the ancient port city of Hoi An to the remnants of former imperial capitals, the river’s banks are dotted with landmarks that provide a window into the past.

What’s on a Boat Tour on Thu Bon River?

Exploring the Thu Bon River by boat offers a unique and unforgettable perspective on Hoi An’s heritage. During a typical boat tour, you can expect to witness picturesque landscapes, visit traditional craft villages, and gain a deeper understanding of the river’s historical significance. 

What can you expect in a Thu Bon Boat Tour full day?

  • Cruise from Hoi An Ancient Town, admiring historic architecture and riverside activities
  • Visit Bay Mau Forest, navigate mangrove waterways in traditional boats
  • Explore Thanh Ha Pottery Village, try pottery-making
  • Or discover Tra Que Vegetable Village, engage in hands-on activities
  • Learn bronze casting at Phuoc Kieu Village
  • Observe silk production at Ma Chau Silk Village
  • Marvel at woodworking in Kim Bong Carpentry Village
  • Explore historical landmarks along the Thu Bon River
Basket Boat in Thu Bon River
Basket Boat in Thu Bon River

Here is the itinerary for your reference:


  • Board a traditional Vietnamese rowing basket boat and explore the serene waterways of the coconut forest, observing the lush mangrove ecosystem and local fishing activities.
  • Then stop in a local restaurant to enjoy lunch with Hoi An traditional dishes

Helpful note: When rowing a basket boat, the boatman will ask if you want to experience the special Coconut Boat Performance, if you don’t have vestibular problems or want to try strong feelings, don’t be shy and agree!


  • After lunch, arrive at Tra Que Village, and participate in hands-on activities such as planting, tending, and harvesting the fresh local produce. Learn about the organic farming practices of this traditional village.
  • Then depart Tra Que and head to Thanh Ha Pottery Village, and learn about traditional Pottery here. Try your hand at making pottery products like clay pigs, zodiac animals, and boats under the guidance of skilled artisans.

Best time to visit

The best time to visit the Thu Bon River in Hoi An is during the dry season, from February to August. During this period, the weather is generally sunny and pleasant, making it an ideal time to explore the river and its surrounding attractions. Specifically, the best time of the day to visit Thu Bon River is at sunset time with the charming view.

However, it’s important to note that the summer months can be quite hot, so travelers may prefer to visit during the shoulder seasons of March-May or September-November when the weather is more comfortable. At this summertime, a high recommendation is you should enjoy a Thu Bon Boat trip in the morning to avoid the hard sunshine.

How to get there?

Located in the heart of Hoi An, the Thu Bon River is easily accessible from the town’s Ancient Quarter. Visitors can reach the river by walking, cycling, or taking a short taxi or motorbike ride from the center of Hoi An. Many boat tour operators and river cruise companies offer convenient pick-up and drop-off services from various points along the riverbank.

To reach the river directly, you need to travel to Hanh Coconut, which located on Tran Nhan Tong st., Cam Thanh commune, Hoi An, Quang Nam Province. Then buy a ticket for boat trip and voi’la! Let’s begin your journey!

(The Price for a basket boat for 2 person is around VND 150.000, around ~US 6$)

Helpful Travel Tips

  • Wear comfortable, lightweight clothing and sturdy shoes
  • Bring sun protection (hat, sunglasses, sunscreen)
  • Carry a reusable water bottle
  • Be respectful of local customs and traditions
  • Consider booking boat tours/river cruises in advance
  • Familiarize with local currency and bargain at craft villages
  • Explore at a leisurely pace to immerse in cultural heritage

Indochina Voyages hope after this travel guide blog about Thu Bon River, you will have the best insight for preparing to explore this charming river in Hoi An. Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a seasoned traveler, a journey along the Thu Bon River is sure to leave a lasting impression and inspire you to further explore the wonders of Vietnam.

Thuy Dang – From Indochina Voyages Team

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