Hoi An – a UNESCO World Heritage Site
Located in Quang Nam Province in central Vietnam, Hoi An has become one of the most popular tourist attractions with its tranquillity and ancient flair, attracting travellers of all tastes and from all continents. Hoi An is a living museum reflecting one of Southeast Asia’s most active port cities from the 15th to 19th centuries. Although the port was officially founded in 1595, there are signs of human settlement dating back as far as 2,200 years.
The city’s original street plan and magnificent architecture have been preserved despite urbanisation, and there are more than 800 surviving old buildings to admire. Its buildings and street plan reflect the local and foreign influences that created this unique cultural heritage. Hoi An is a UNESCO-recognised ancient town that travellers must visit when in central Vietnam, where a mixture of cultures has created a unique atmosphere that cannot be forgotten.
Why should you visit Hoi An?
Hoi An is an ideal destination for tourists who want to explore the central part of the S-shaped country, as it has many unique things to offer.
Long-standing history and architecture
There is a collection of pagodas, temples and old houses in Hoi An that give the city its distinctive character and set it apart from anywhere else in Vietnam. From ancient Buddhist influence to Confucianism, Taoism and French influence, the local culture is not only interesting, but also give a little knowledge that will greatly enrich your time in the country.
Take a walk around the city and you’ll discover countless landmarks and historic houses to stimulate your senses and give you a glimpse into the city’s colourful past. There are several museums where you can learn more about Vietnam’s fascinating history and culture, including the Museum of Handicraft Ceramics, the Museum of Folk Culture and the Museum of Sa Huynh Culture, to name a few.
Those interested in art and culture will not be disappointed in Hoi An. In recent years, the city’s contemporary art scene has blossomed, making it a mecca for artists and creatives from many fields. Not only is it a great place to get inspired and come up with innovative ideas, but there are also some wonderful galleries and studios constantly exhibiting and selling a range of original and exciting artwork.
As the main port of the Silk Road, Hoi An is known throughout Vietnam for its textile industry, and one of the reasons many people come here is to have clothes tailored. When you travel to this city, you will have the opportunity to visit more than 400 fabric and tailor shops.
When visiting Hoi An, local cuisine is at the top of every traveller’s to-do list, as this rather traditional area of Vietnam offers an authentic variety of food. If you’re looking for an unforgettable culinary experience and are happy to spend a little more money, you’ll be spoilt for choice with numerous traditional dishes from the best restaurants. This town also has such a wide choice of cheap and fine food for you to enjoy.
Hoi An’s Travel
When should you visit Hoi An?
Some say the best time to visit Hoi An is between February and April, when there is little rain and temperatures are pleasant. Visiting the offshore islands of Cu Lao Cham is generally allowed from the end of May to the end of August, when temperatures are higher. But you can also come here in December, there is a cool breeze, perfect for a stroll around town. It can be extremely hot from May to July, but with cool breezes from the sea and little development, Hoi An is just as beautiful to visit. If you’re a beach lover, plan your trip a little later, in early June, as long, hot sunny days are guaranteed. If you’re looking for the warmest time to visit, the hottest months are June, July and August.
Where to stay in Hoi An?
As the central city of Hoi An is quite small, visitors can easily find accommodation of various types such as homestays, hotels, flats, villas and luxury resorts near the ancient city. When it comes to finding accommodation for the night, it’s important to choose carefully and selectively, which is why the guide to accommodation is a must. It covers all locations and accommodation types to help you find the best night’s rest in Hoi An, so you don’t have to go through a nightmarish hotel experience.
The Little Riverside offers traditional Hoian architecture, a luxurious spa and a beautiful rooftop infinity pool overlooking the Thu Bon River. The Hoi An Ancient House Village Resort & Spa is located in a quiet, peaceful village outside the crowded old town. Behind the sandbags, you can swim and play in the gentle waves, enjoy the shade of the palm trees and lie in the white sand while drinking coconut water and sampling a good selection of culinary specialities. Although you have to walk 10 minutes to get to the old town, once you are at the hotel you have everything under one roof.
With a distance of only three kilometres, you are right between Cua Dai Beach and the centre of Hoi An. Set amidst the lush greenery of Hoi An’s Coconut Village (a destination for eco-tourists), Green Boutique Villa is a quiet, peaceful hotel surrounded by nature.
The river is just a short walk away and there is plenty to see in this district as well as numerous restaurants, bars and hotels to visit. The small village of Tra Que on the Ho River is about one and a half kilometres from An Bang beach and four kilometres from the old town. The rooms are great value for money, especially considering that the hotel has a beautiful, spotless pool and bar and is within walking distance of Hoi An Old Town. The hotel has comfortable beds and modern rooms equipped with everything you need for a pleasant stay.
The Allegro Hoi An, a recent addition to the accommodation scene, has five different suites, all with bathtubs and balconies, and is also within walking distance of Hoi An’s central attractions. It is one of the best hotels in town, both in terms of location, service and facilities. Of particular note is the swimming pool, which is right on the riverbank. Both destinations are easily reached by the free hotel shuttle or the free bicycles provided by the hotel. But of course there is also a free shuttle that takes you to both the city and the beach, depending on your daily plans.
What is there to do in Hoi An?
Taking a Hoi An’s cycling tour
Many of the best sights in Hoi An are accessible by bike, and a bike ride through the picturesque towns and surrounding countryside is always a great way to spend an afternoon. Da Nang Cathedral, Cao Dai Temple and the Cham Sculpture Museum are other interesting sights that are among the best day trips.
One thing that is always on the list of things to see in Hoi An is the landmark Japanese Covered Bridge, one of the most photographed bridges in all of Asia.The bridge is also a popular spot for Vietnamese couples in love who come here to take photos, as it is considered one of the most romantic spots of the city.
Trying Hoi An’s Handicrafts
If you are more interested in silk production, take a guided tour at Thang Loi and watch the silkworms eat mulberry leaves and form cocoons from which almost 1,000 metres of yarn are woven on a clattering loom. There are hundreds of tailors in the area to help you add to your wardrobe, and you can usually get a quality bespoke suit or dress within 24-48 hours. And if you do some handicraft in Hoi An, you will not only have a unique souvenir to take home, but you will also learn more about the history, culture and tradition of this city.
Visiting Hoi An’s Central Market
Sharpen your bargaining skills and head southeast to Hoi An’s Central Market, one of the best markets in Vietnam. Located in the Old Quarter, it is a typical Southeast Asian market selling various types of meat, seafood, noodles, spices and fresh produce. Exploring the market to get a taste of authentic Vietnamese life. It’s a hive of activity throughout the day.
Enjoying Hoi An’s Lantern Festival
Hoi An is also known of its Lantern Festival, which is why it is called the “City of Lights”. If you want to see the lanterns of Hoi An in all their glory, you should schedule your visit on the 14th of the lunar month. The lantern festival has become so popular that even if your visit doesn’t fall on the full moon date, you can still take part in Hoi An’s traditional full moon festival almost every night.
The fabrics used to cover the Hoi An’s lanterns are usually made of satin or colourful silk, which are sturdy enough to stretch without tearing. To soak in the atmosphere, witness the most impressive activities and see the lanterns being released into the Hoai River, in the evening, when it gets dark, walk around between the Japanese Covered Bridge and the Cau An Hoi Bridge and see all the beautiful silk lanterns light up, making for a charming, hectic old town..
What to eat in Hoi An?
You should have a bowl of cao lau at one of the stalls inside before shopping in the various sections of the market, where vendors offer fish, meat, fruit, vegetables and more. Morning Glory is perfect for your first meal in Hoi An, to try out some classic dishes and see where your taste buds will take you.
Mi Quang may be a signature dish in nearby Da Nang, but when it comes to the central Vietnamese noodle dish, don’t rule out Hoi An. The Hoi An version is a little smaller than the Saigon one, but still tastes just as good.
Hoi An’s fried wontons, are crispy wontons with prawns and a salsa-like tomato roulade with pineapple. Located in a renovated colonial building on Nguyen Thai Hoc Street, this restaurant has an open kitchen on the ground floor and an airy terrace overlooking Hoi An’s old town. Rumour has it that these wontons were introduced by Chinese traders, making the fried wontons one of the most international dishes in town. Supposedly, the noodles contain a tiny portion of ash that comes from a certain tree, as well as water from a certain well.