Between land and sea, this charming little town-museum, listed as a UNESCO heritage site, has something to seduce travelers. Peaceful atmosphere, exceptional architectural, cultural and gastronomic heritage, indolent beaches and remarkable craftsmanship, Hoi An is definitely a must-see destination in Vietnam.
Before it became the pleasant town we know today, Hoi An was, at its peak in the 15th century, an international trading port frequented by Japanese, Chinese, Arab and European ships. Situated on the South-East Asian silk trade routes, Hoi An experienced a flourishing commercial activity. Merchants liked to stop here to buy ceramics, pottery, silk and embroidery. Many Chinese and Japanese merchants settled in Hoi An to take advantage of its commercial attractiveness. The many old wooden houses, temples and pagodas of the Chinese communities bear witness to this. The progressive silting up of the port of Hoi An in the middle of the 19th century sounded the death knell of this prosperous period. Hoi An regained its splendour with the rise of tourism which really began at the beginning of the years 2000.
An exceptional heritage of Asian culture
The historic centre of Hoi An, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a beautifully preserved example of a city that was a trading port in Southeast Asia from the 15th to the 19th century. A true museum city, you only need to walk through the streets and alleys of the old town to appreciate its exceptional architectural and cultural heritage.
- The Japanese covered bridge, emblem of the city, which was built in 1593 by the Japanese community of Hoi An in order to create a link with the Chinatowns on the other side of the river. The oldest bridge in the city, it also houses a temple dedicated to the geniuses of the sea.
- The century-old mansions are true architectural gems. The historic centre boasts no less than 1000 old buildings built more than a century ago and showing strong Chinese influences from the Chinese merchants who settled in Hoi An when it was an important trading post in South-East Asia in the 16th and 17th centuries.
- The many communal houses of Chinese congregations, temples and pagodas are brightly coloured and saturated with incense smoke.
A city where you’ll never be bored
Hoi An is not only a city focused exclusively on cultural discoveries, it offers a number of interesting activities that will certainly make you want to extend your stay:
- Discover the beautiful countryside by bike, Jeep or Vespa. Go on the small roads and small paths to discover the surroundings of Hoi An. Fishing villages, green rice fields and market gardening areas draw attractive landscapes.
- Travel along the Thu Bon river by kayak or with the typical round woven bamboo baskets.
- Explore the archaeological site of My Son. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is a remarkable testimony to the artistic excellence of the Cham civilization.
- Discover the rich craftsmanship that has made the reputation of Hoi An for centuries. Many craft villages specialize in silk weaving, traditional lantern making, wood carving, embroidery and ceramics.
- Visit Hoi An's vibrant market, the heart of the town, where the pulse of the market is beating.
- Go shopping. Hoi An is known for its many stalls where for a reasonable price you can customize your wardrobe.
Hoi An's fabulous gastronomy
Hoi An is one of the most gourmet destinations in Vietnam. A creative, fine and light cuisine that subtly blends the flavours of the sea and the land. Cooking classes and food tours are proposed to you to discover in depth the extent of the gastronomic heritage of Hoi An.
Hoi An, a first class seaside destination
In the summer months, from February to September, Hoi An becomes a first-class seaside destination. Only a few kilometers from the historical center of Hoi An, two superb beaches, Cua Dai and An Bang, await you to bubble between ocean and coconut palms. Some restaurants welcome you for sunny lunches and seafood with your feet in the water and for romantic dinners with your head in the stars. A few miles from Hoi An, the islands of the Cua Lo Cham archipelago can be discovered during a day trip or with an overnight stay in a campsite or at the inhabitant's home.
Hoi An, on a full moon evening
Remember to check the lunar calendar and try to go to Hoi An on a full moon night. All the lights in the old town are then turned off so that only the lanterns illuminate Hoi An. Traditional folk songs, dances and games enliven the streets of the old city center and Vietnamese people honor their ancestors by burning fake bills and paper and placing on the river small candle-lit lanterns to make a wish. Simply magic!
Best season: From February to early September