Hoi An

Hoi An is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most beautiful towns in Vietnam. A true must-visit on your travels through Indochina!

Women Preparing Lotus Lanterns for the Full Moon NightWomen Preparing Lotus Lanterns for the Full Moon Night | photo: Frank Fox (cc-by-sa)

Once upon a time, Hoi An was a major port town of the ancient Champa kingdom. The alluring mix of Vietnamese, Cham, Japanese and Chinese architecture attracts travellers from all over the world as UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Alley in Hoi AnAlley in Hoi An | photo: (cc-by-sa) Frank Fox

The Japanese used to settle in their own part of the town and built the Japanese bridge. The bridge (Chùa cầu) is a unique covered structure, the only known covered bridge with a Buddhist temple attached to one side.

Japanese Bridge Hoi AnJapanese Bridge Hoi An | photo: (cc-by-sa) Frank Fox

Hoi An offers a great tourist experience with it's exotic old town, many street food options, shops and cafés and sandy beaches nearby. I guess it is one of the best tourist destinations and a must-visit for travellers in Vietnam.

Boat in Hoi AnBoat in Hoi An | photo: (cc-by-sa) Frank Fox

That said, I also need to be fair and point out that like in all touristy places in the country, people overcharge tourists and try to rip you off. Inform yourself beforehand about the prices of certain items, ask at your hotel or at a trusted tour desk for the estimated taxi fare and if you take a xe om (motorbike taxi) or a cyclo, reach a consensus about the price and service with them before you hop on to avoid ugly situations.

Breakfast in Hoi AnBreakfast in Hoi An | photo: (cc-by-sa) Frank Fox

The most picturesque time is right after nightfall when all the colourful lanterns come to life and turn the ancient town into an enchanted fairyland.

Bus from Da Nang to Hoi AnBus from Da Nang to Hoi An | photo: (cc-by-sa) Frank Fox

The most popular adventures in and around Hoi An are trips to the Cham Islands where plastic bags are banned and food gets wrapped up in bamboo or served on banana leaves. Riding a bicycle from Hoi An to Da Nang and back is a great opportunity to see local life and visit the alluring Marble Mountains.

Central Market of Hoi AnCentral Market of Hoi An | photo: (cc-by-sa) Frank Fox

In the past, Hoi An was one of Vietnam's prime trading posts. People from China, Japan, India and all over Southeast Asia met and left pieces and bits of their unique cultures to be absorbed by the merchant town.

Crossroads and CyclosCrossroads and Cyclos | photo: (cc-by-sa) Frank Fox

Nowadays, the place is a unique sightseeing spot where visitors from all over the world enjoy a cultural vacation and beach bumming alike. There is much to see and to experience in the UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Hoi An is also called the Lantern TownHoi An is also called the Lantern Town | photo: (cc-by-sa) Frank Fox

The beaches stretch all the way up to Da Nang and near the town they are lined with restaurants and resorts. All with the beautiful Cham Islands in the background.

Hoi An Old TownHoi An Old Town | photo: (cc-by-sa) Frank Fox

The recent inflow of tourists has created a new market for interesting artwork and traditional handicrafts. Especially the colourful lanterns are not only the most memorable impression of the old town, but also a great souvenir. Many are made of bamboo, light-weight and can be folded up to safe space in your luggage.

Street Vendors in the Old Town of Hoi AnStreet Vendors in the Old Town of Hoi An | photo: (cc-by-sa) Frank Fox

Among the travellers, many people claim that Hoi An offers some of the best foods of Vietnam. What ever exotic speciality you want to try, it may probably be available in the many restaurants, cafes and from street food vendors. The restaurants at the waterfront feature a picturesque view as well.

Hoi An Old TownHoi An Old Town | photo: (cc-by-sa) Frank Fox

One of the main business branches are the custom tailors all around the town. You can pick your favourite fabric at one of the specialised textile shops and have the tailors create the perfect outfit for you. Whether it is a western suit at a competitive price or an Áo Dài, Vietnam's traditional long dress (which I see as the most elegant traditional dresses in Asia).

Hoi An Old TownHoi An Old Town | photo: (cc-by-sa) Frank Fox

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