The Beautiful city of Hoi An still retains the spirit of an ancient port town, with buildings dating from the 15th to 19th century. Its Old Town is a witness of Chinese, Japanese and Vietnamese influences. Hundreds of old houses and temples have been restored and opened to tourists. Apart from that, Hoi An has an exquisite location on the Thu Bon River, 5 km from the sea, giving it additional charm. Unlike other major cities in Vietnam, it has a relaxed atmosphere, interrupted only by the waves of tourists.
Hoi An is a city firmly related to water. While its historical core lies north of Thu Bon river, modern neighborhoods spread over two islands, south of the river and towards the sea, on the east. Apart from that, many small rivers and canals surround the city. The Old town has a longitudinal shape with the main streets Tram Phu and Nguyen Thai Hoc running parallel to the river. The main traffic artery Tran Hung Dao goes just north of the center and links Asian Highway 1 with the beach. The rest of the streets go perpendicular to the river and are of lesser importance. Most of the city center is closed to traffic, and tourists can only enter upon buying a 5 heritage ticket.
All important sites are located inside the Ancient Town, in an area of around 400mx800m. The main landmark is a beautiful Japanese Covered Bridge located at the end of the Tram Phu street. Built in the early 16th century it was meant to connect the Japanese community with the Chinese quarter. Among several temples, the two most interesting ones are the Quang Cong Temple and the Assembly hall of the Fujian Chinese Congregation. Many historical houses have been converted into restaurants, shops or tailor shops with a few left as museum showcases. Tan Ky house from the 19th century is especially interesting. It bears Japanese and Chinese influences. Also worth visiting is the Tran Family Chapel, one of the oldest buildings in Hoi An. It is still a gathering place for family.
Check out this post for the best things to do in Hoi An.
As mentioned above, the Old town has a relatively small area, so one can be flexible when choosing a place to stay in Hoi An. There are a few options inside the Old Town, and normally a bit more costly. Budget hotels and hostels are located northwest from the center around Hai Ba Trung street. A few hidden discos are also in the neighborhood. A good location could be by the Tran Hung Dao road between the center and the beach. Hotels there are cheaper and conveniently located. The other good location is the An Hoi island (used to be a peninsula), near the cool bar area and the Night Market.
Given the slow pace of the city, moving around on a motorbike is not recommendable. It could be a great option though, if you want to visit some out of town places. Walking is definitely the best way to explore the treasures hidden inside the city. Apart from the main alleys, several narrow backstreets cross the Old town, some of them hiding truly authentic secrets. Biking is a great idea if you like to wander around the lush green rice fields or prefer to explore the city’s long beaches.
Hoi An is one of the most beautiful cities in South East Asia. It is also one of richest historically. Its superb Old Town is still inhabited by locals; fact that makes the city more real. Fantastic surroundings include massive rice fields and numerous channels ending in a long sandy beach. Exquisite Vietnamese cuisine is nowhere better represented than here, with many five star restaurants with internationally renowned chefs. There are plenty of cool open air bars next to the water and good quality clothes can be tailored and ordered for a modest price. Even the Vietnamese who tend to be colder than their neighbors are pretty friendly here. Probably the only thing that may spoil this idyllic picture is the number of tourists growing every year. Nevertheless it’s a fantastic place, and a must see if you are heading to Vietnam.
Hoi An Travel Guide
- Stay close to the Old Town around Tran Hung Dao road. Happy Frog recommends Hai Au Boutique Hotel
- Japanese Covered bridge;
- Quang Cong Temple and Fujian Meeting Hall;
- Few old houses including Tan Ky house;
- Tran Family Chapel.
- Have dinner in the Secret Garden restaurant.
- On foot, by bike or motorbike.
- Go on an excursion to the ancient My Son site.
DO NOT MISS:
- Bike around the vast rice fields on the way to the beach;
- Shop at the Central Market;
- Spend an afternoon at the beach and meet the locals;
- Buy a tailor-made suit in one of many tailor shops;
- Have a drink in a bar near the river on An Hoi island.