Hoi An was by far the highlight of my trip to Vietnam! This classic Vietnamese riverside town came to fame in 1999 when it was listed as a UNESCO world heritage site to preserve its historic architecture. A fusion of Vietnamese, Chinese, Japanese and European influences have created this old port’s picturesque and unique landscape.
Old Town – Is charming, the majority of the buildings are yellow with red tile roofs, beautiful flowers hang from the eves and climb across the verandas, you can really see the influences that different cultures have brought to this town as you stroll through the streets. You’ll notice that even though there are a lot of tourists around, its missing the traffic and craziness of the bigger cities such as Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh and it makes for a really peaceful change! If you plan on visiting some of the historic buildings located in Old town, you will need to purchase an entry ticket which is priced at 120 000 dong per person (about USD6.00), the fee goes towards building maintenance.
- Japanese Bridge Pagoda (Chua Cau) – Was built in the early 1600’s by the Japanese community, 40 years later they returned back to Japan due to the strict Japanese laws at the time. The bridge was renovated in 1986 and today is one of Old Towns most iconic attractions.
- Fujian Assembly Hall (Phuc Kien) – Built in 1960 it was originally an assembly hall but later transformed into a temple for the Chinese deity Thien Hau (goddess of sea) who protects sailors from danger. This hall is the most prominent in Hoi An.
- Chaozhou Assembly Hall (Trieu Chau) – Was built by the Chinese in 1845 and is dedicated to the god of wind & big waves.
If you don’t want to visit the historic buildings and would rather just stroll through the town and check out the shops etc then you don’t need to purchase the ticket – You will be asked to buy one as soon as you enter Old Town, so advise the staff at the counter you’re just walking through.
The atmosphere of Old Town changes at night, it’s bustling and the streets really come alive. There are cyclos everywhere full of tourists taking tours around the town (drivers will most likely approach you too, to see if you’d also like a ride). There are restaurants and eateries dotted right throughout Old Town, it’s the perfect place to come to eat a beautiful, authentic Vietnamese meal.
Hoi An Night Market – Isn’t too big compared to other Vietnamese markets but it’s got a great vibe and is a really fun place to check out. The street is lined with vendors selling souvenirs, scarves, toys, hats, bags, street food and beautiful handmade lanterns…I became slightly obsessed with the lanterns and took so many pictures of them!
Hoi An Canal – The Hoai River and its canals have been ranked among the top 10 most famous in the world. Hoi An was once a fishing village and port, situated on the cost of the South China Sea and is sometimes called the ‘Venice of Vietnam’ due to the narrow canals the cut through part of the town.
Buy yourself some custom made clothes – Hoi An is very well known for its tailors, they can make you anything you want, in any fabric you want, in a ridiculously short amount of time! Although it can be tempting, try not to be lured into fancy the showrooms, getting clothes made at these places is expensive and they are loaded with pushy staff trying to hard sell.
Sanjay and I had several garments made for us by Five Seasons Tailors – The staff were lovely and Cham our tailor was very professional and had no issues with getting our garments made. We had a consultation with Cham at 12pm and she had the items ready for us to try on by 7pm that night! She tailored the fittings for alterations around our schedule and was able to change and alter the garments as we wanted (see what I did there) 🙂 We got coats, suits, jumpsuits, dresses and trousers made to measure, they’re all of a very high quality and were very reasonably priced. If you plan on getting some tailoring done Sanjay and I definitely recommend Five Seasons – Mention Priti & Sanjay from New Zealand to Cham and she’ll look after you!
We also took day trips to My Son and the Mekong Delta from Hoi An but I’ll share more about these with you in a separate post.
If you’re planning to visit Vietnam, Hoi An is not to be missed, even though it’s becoming increasingly commercialised for tourists you won’t find a place as unique as this one anywhere in Vietnam.
Happy Travels, Priti x