Hoi An

Hoi An is a small town in Central Vietnam, on the coast of South China Sea. Located at the estuary of the Thu Bon river, Hoi An was a busy international commercial port in the 16th and 17th centuries. People from Japan, Holland, India and various Chinese provinces settled down here during the same period. Today Hoi An stands as an example of ancient architecture, and was declared a World Heritage by UNESCO for being one of the best preserved ancient Southeast Asian trading ports.

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About Hoian

Hoi An is a small town in Central Vietnam, on the coast of South China Sea. Located at the estuary of the Thu Bon river, Hoi An was a busy international commercial port in the 16th and 17th centuries. People from Japan, Holland, India and various Chinese provinces settled down here during the same period. Today Hoi An stands as an example of ancient architecture, and was declared a World Heritage by UNESCO for being one of the best preserved anci...

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Hoi An is a small town in Central Vietnam, on the coast of South China Sea. Located at the estuary of the Thu Bon river, Hoi An was a busy international commercial port in the 16th and 17th centuries. People from Japan, Holland, India and various Chinese provinces settled down here during the same period. Today Hoi An stands as an example of ancient architecture, and was declared a World Heritage by UNESCO for being one of the best preserved ancient Southeast Asian trading ports.

Hoi An is one of Vietnam’s most popular tourist attractions. It lures the tourists in Vietnam, with the charming ancient temples, shrines, Chinese style tile-roofed wooden houses and a unique blend of Japanese and Chinese architecture. Its buildings and its street plan reflect the indigenous and foreign influences that have combined to produce this unique heritage site. Hoi An was also known by a variety of monikers, FaiFo and HaiFo (in the 16th century) being the most common ones. The town has long been a cultural crossroad, and it emerged when Japanese and Chinese traders built a commercial district here.

What is so special about Hoi An is that this little port town is in an incredible state of preservation. It offers some of the most densely concentrated sights in Vietnam, with its old streets bordered with ancient houses and assembly halls, with its pagodas, temples, ancient wells and tombs. The architecture of Hoi An is characterized by a harmonious blend of Vietnamese, Chinese and Japanese influences. After many centuries, Hoi An is still respectful of its traditions, folk festivals, beliefs and sophisticated culinary art. Many of these buildings have been preserved in their original forms, making it easier to imagine the trading town’s former prosperity and glory. The houses are small and colourful, with wooden doors and two round “wooden house’s eyes” above, window shutters and ornamental furniture. All the houses are made of rare wood, decorated with lacquered boards and panels engraved with Chinese characters. A walking tour is the best way to see the the Japanese-covered Bridge, the wonderful market and the wooden-fronted houses that once belonged to the town’s prosperous merchants.

What is so special about Hoi An is that this little port town is in an incredible state of preservation. It offers some of the most densely concentrated sights in Vietnam, with its old streets bordered with ancient houses and assembly halls, with its pagodas, temples, ancient wells and tombs. The architecture of Hoi An is characterized by a harmonious blend of Vietnamese, Chinese and Japanese influences. After many centuries, Hoi An is still respectful of its traditions, folk festivals, beliefs and sophisticated culinary art. Many of these buildings have been preserved in their original forms, making it easier to imagine the trading town’s former prosperity and glory. The houses are small and colourful, with wooden doors and two round “wooden house’s eyes” above, window shutters and ornamental furniture. All the houses are made of rare wood, decorated with lacquered boards and panels engraved with Chinese characters. A walking tour is the best way to see the the Japanese-covered Bridge, the wonderful market and the wooden-fronted houses that once belonged to the town’s prosperous merchants.

Set in a quiet environhaancientbeauty4ment, Hoi An is surrounded by peaceful villages, a beautiful river, and the Cua Dai Beach, merely five kilometres from the centre. Locals and visitors alike come here for its sandy beach, warm sea and seafood stalls. Hoi An is known throughout Vietnam for its excellent seafood, and it also boasts with its own unique dishes such as Cao Lau, a delicious combination of noodles, pork, bean sprouts, mint and croutons. Offshore, Cham Islands are very famous for sheltering their prized birds’ nests. Hoi An is also well known as a shopping paradise that attracts you towards its wonderful souvenirs, craft handiworks, antique pieces, silk materials and art paintings that you just cannot miss out on!

Inland and a half-day trip from Hoi An is My Son, where the capital of the once great Champa Kingdom stood between the 2nd and 15th centuries. The Cham Museum, housed in a classical French colonial building in Danang, has the finest collection of Cham sculpture in the world, much of it originating from the My Son site.

Right on Danang’s doorstep is Non Nuoc Beach, with its miles of golden sand beaches and home to a luxurious beach resort complex. Another popular site in the Danang area is that of the Marble Mountains, five sacred marble and limestone hills. Many shrines and temples have been constructed over the centuries both on the hillsides and in the spectacular natural caves concealed within the hills.

History & Culture

Hoi An, which used to be an old seaport in South East Asia, is a unique place in Vietnam in that many of its original streets and building are still preserved intact.briefhistory2 Hoi An was considered the budding port town of the Sa Huynh community, who thrived in the region of Vietnam. It was during the 2nd to the 15th centuries that Hoi An was governed by the Champa Kingdom.

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Hoi An, which used to be an old seaport in South East Asia, is a unique place in Vietnam in that many of its original streets and building are still preserved intact. Hoi An was considered the budding port town of the Sa Huynh community, who thrived in the region of Vietnam. It was during the 2nd to the 15th centuries that Hoi An was governed by the Champa Kingdom. Later on, Hoi An turned into a commercial port town, having trade links with Arabia and China. As far as the history of Hoi An claims, the port town of Lam Ap turned into the so called Hoi An of the present day. The region flourished with Tra Kieu and My Son, the capital that had temples and towers belonging to the Champa Kingdom.
As far as the history of Hoi An goes, the settlement of Cham civilization within Hoi An was known for the presence of Chbriefhistory3am port that had maritime trade links. Due to the strategic location of Hoi An along the merging point of Quang Nam and to other positive conditions, the province showed affirmative signs of development during the 16th to the 19th centuries. This small town, along the “Sea Silk Road” and “Ceramic Road”, was involved in trade links with countries such as China, Thailand, Japan, India, Portugal, Britain, France, Holland, and others.
With time, Hoi An emerged as an international port town for trade links, along with being a major economic hub for Nguyen Lords and Kings within Southern Vietnam. It was during the concluding years of the 19th century that the sailing vessels port town of Hoi An experienced its downfall and lost importance to the industrial port city of Danang.

The province fought for 117 years against overseas invaders (mainly 1858 to 1975),  and thousands of Hoi An people sacrificed their lives for the sake of the country’s independence and unification.

Finally, it was on December 4th, 1999, that the charming ancient town, with its lovely wooden shop-homes and unique bridge, was recognized as a World Cultural Heritage site by UNESCO.

Things to discover in Hoian

A visit to lush and beautiful Vietnam must include a trip to Hoi An. The food of Central Vietnam is on showcase in Hoi An, which boasts a bustling street food scene with lots of roadside stalls near the market and on the beach, as well as higher end cuisine in some of Hoi An’s locallyowned restaurants.

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A visit to lush and beautiful Vietnam must include a trip to Hoi An.

  • FOOD & AUTHENTIC COOKING OF HOI AN

The food of Central Vietnam is on showcase in Hoi An, which boasts a bustling street food scene with lots of roadside stalls near the market and on the beach, as well as higher end cuisine in some of Hoi An’s locallyowned restaurants.
Although you will have a variety of noodle and seafood dishes to choose from, make sure you sample four of Central Vietnam’s most popular dishes: cao lau, a bowl of light noodles, greens, pork, and croutons; white rose shrimp dumplings; quang noodles, which are covered in soup with added shrimp, pork, and vegetables, topped with grilled rice paper and spices; and com ga, chicken and rice.

  • TRA QUE HERB VILLAGE

Located a few kilometers northeast of Hoi An, Tra Que Herb Village is both a place to buy some of the most outstanding and tasty vegetables you’ve ever eaten and indulge in a truly enjoyable experience. Tra Que vegetables and herbs are grown using an algae that is found only in a lagoon in Tra Que, and it is this algae that imparts to the vegetables grown here their amazing flavor. Tra Que vegetables are highly sought after in the region, and farms operate all year in the tropical climate. Tourists are invited to visit the village and try their hand at farming as well as sample dishes made with the renowned vegetables and herbs grown here. Take a tour of the farms, participate in a cooking class, help prepare the ground for planting, and bask in the gentle feeling of this serene agricultural getaway from busy city life.

  • HOI AN ART & ARCHITECTURE 

With over a thousand places of interest to explore in beautiful Hoi An, you will never be at a loss for what to do. Within the city itself you’ll find Chinese, Japanese, and Vietnamese ancient houses, temples, assembly halls, pagodas, wells, and tombs that hail to Hoi An’s ancient roots as an important cosmopolitan port city. The Ancient Town (Old Village) allows only foot traffic and bicycles, so visitors need not worry about dodging traffic or blocking their ears to the noise of car horns and exhausts. Be sure to put Minh An Ward on your schedule, as this section of two square kilometers concentrates nearly all of Hoi An’s most famous relics.
Surrounding villages support craft industries, such as bronze making, ceramic, and carpentry.

  • MY SON SANCTUARY TOUR

A collection of ancient Hindu temples constructed in the 4th through 13th centuries, My Son was once the religious and political capital of the ancient Champa kingdom, which was heavily influenced by Hindu beliefs and practices imported from India. The sanctuary reverences and denotes the greatness and purity of Mount Meru, the fabled home of the ancient Indian gods. This is truly a unique place with its fired brick and stone monuments and temples covered in sandstone bas-reliefs that speak to the engineering brilliance of the Champa kingdom.
Located 50 km from Hoi An, there are a number of tours available to My Son. The tours are generally half-day affairs, including pick-up and drop-off at a hotel, transportation in an air-conditioned vehicle, and a guided walking tour with a knowledgeable guide. Do not miss this significant UNESCO World Heritage Site.

  • MARBLE MOUNTAIN 

Each of these five natural marble and limestone hills have been given the name of one of the elements: earth, water, metal, fire, and wood. Legend has it that a dragon laid an egg on Non Nuoc (China Beach), which lay for 1000 days and nights before hatching a beautiful girl. The shards of the eggshell then lay on the land until they became the Marble Mountains. The mountains themselves contain many caves to explore as well as Buddhist sanctuaries and places of worship. Climb up to the top of one of these mountains for a fantastic view overlooking the beach and surrounding countryside.

  • DISCOVER HOI AN ON A BIKE

The narrow streets and pedestrian-friendly city of Hoi An makes it the perfect place for exploring by bicycle.

Getting around

Hoi An has no airport, and no train station either. The only way to get there is by road. You can hire a taxi from the neighbouring city of Da Nang, which does have an airport with daily flights from Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and other large Vietnamese cities. There’s also a train station in Da Nang, and bus services are plentiful.

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Hoi An has no airport, and no train station either. The only way to get there is by road. You can hire a taxi from the neighbouring city of Da Nang, which does have an airport with daily flights from Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and other large Vietnamese cities. There’s also a train station in Da Nang, and bus services are plentiful.

In a great decision for travellers, Hoi An’s old streets are closed to motorised traffic three times a day. There are never any cars - so at these designated times, there are no crazy motorcyclists either. It makes wandering the old town streets a delight.

If you’re staying around the old town, you may also want to head out to Cua Dai beach which is 5kms away and can be reached on a bike, motorcycle taxi or taxi. A meter taxi will cost around 60,000 VND each way. Travellers staying on the beach will do the same in reverse to visit the old town though many hotels also offer regular shuttles.

Cam Kim Island on the river is accessed by local boat from the centre of Hoi An near the market. Cham Island 18kms offshore is best accessed on a diving, snorkelling or beach and island tour. These are booked in the old town.The cheapest way to visit the Cham ruins at My Son is by taking one of the backpacker tours. If you want some more flexibility, you should be able to rent a car and driver for the trip for between $30USD and $40USD. You may be able negotiate a deal with a taxi driver as well.    

Plan a trip

The ideal time to reach Hoi An is from February to April with the pleasant weather. Each year there are two seasons: rainy season lasts from August to December and the dry season from January to July, there is occasional winter but not last long.

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The ideal time to reach Hoi An is from February to April with the pleasant weather. Each year there are two seasons: rainy season lasts from August to December and the dry season from January to July, there is occasional winter but not last long.

If possible, please visit Hoi An on the 14th full moon of every lunar month to attend the night of the old town. On this occasion you will have the opportunity to hear traditional songs, play traditional games and enjoy delicious cuisine, especially immersed in the red lanterns strung across the street, which is an occasion not to be missed!

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