Few visitors fail to be charmed by the tiny, teeming streets and crooked houses of Hoi An, 30 kilometres south of Danang. Indeed, almost everyone rates the town among their favourite stops in Vietnam. Originally a harbour for the Cham city at My Son, the town became a trading port for Chinese, Japanese and European traders, reaching its peak during the 17th century. The different influences on this riverside town over the centuries have resulted in an eclectic mix of architectural styles, ranging from Chinese assembly halls to grand merchants' houses to French colonial villas. Though many of the houses have been restored, they maintain their original beauty. Most are characterized by polished wooden floors, intricately carved doors and shutters and antique furniture.
In recent years, Hoi An's traders have dedicated themselves to the arts, and the town is home to dozens of art galleries, textile houses and museums. Transportation around Hoi An is by cyclo, on foot or by hired bicycle. A half-hour pedal at a leisurely pace brings visitors to Hoi An's popular Cua Dai beach. Alternatively, one can rent a local sampan and enjoy a peaceful boat ride down the river to the beach.
Where to go in Hoi An?
Hoi An’s tailors are renowned for their high workmanship, so be sure to shop for tailor-made clothes. Do also shop for interesting souvenirs such as silk lanterns and custom made jewelry. Head to the Old Town where historical sights await. There, you can cross the Japanese covered bridge, stroll through the cultural halls, enjoy a traditional music performance, and explore the layout of an ancient house.
Just a few kilometers out of town, Cua Dai Beach’s golden sands provide a nice place to unwind over fresh seafood. Explore the small villages on a bicycle and discover artisans crafting pottery in the narrow streets. For day trips out of Hue, opt for the historical Cham statues at My Son or to the Marble Mountain where caves, temples and magnificent views await at the summit.
Where to stay in Hoi An?
The stunning all villa resort is located on pristine Hoi An Beach. The Nam Hai has become a destination in itself, synonymous with luxury, style and design. Villas are exceedingly contemporary and some include private plunge pools. Facilities include a superb infinity pool, a lovely spa and some tempting restaurants. The four star Victoria Hoi An Beach Resort & Spa is close to the ancient town of Hoi An, set along a unique beach of white sand. The resort replicates a traditional fishing village with small streets, water ponds and village houses with clay-tiled roofs, providing a warm and restful environment. Life Heritage Resorts believes that man has ten senses and all ten senses need to be stimulated and delighted in order for man to experience a full life. At Life Resorts, guests are taken on a journey of the senses. Life Heritage Resort Hoi An is a living testament to Hoi An’s rich history. Hoi An Beach Resort “An Oasis of Peace Where The River Meets The Ocean." Boutique Hoi An Resort offers a variety of unique facilities and services. A large swimming pool surrounded by a tropical garden forms the centerpiece of the resort.
Hoi An – Attractions
Japanese Covered Bridge
The Japanese covered bridge was built over a small canal in 1593 to link the Japanese quarter to the Chinese quarter. Designed and built by the Japanese community, the wooden structure has remained intact. On one side of the bridge are carvings of two dogs and on the other two statues of monkeys. There are two possible reasons for this: firstly construction began during a year of the dog and ended during a year of the monkey and secondly both the dog and monkey were revered by the Japanese as many of their Emperors were born in either a dog or monkey year. On the northern side of the bridge there is a Japanese pagoda dedicated to protecting sailors.
Fukien Chinese Assembly Hall
This assembly hall dates back to 697 and is the largest, oldest and most colorful in the town. The pagoda inside contains intricate statues and artwork, in part dedicated to Thien Hau Thanh Mau, the Goddess of the Sea and protector of fishermen. Just inside the building a mural depicts the goddess preparing to rescue a ship in trouble at sea.
Tan Ky House
This well preserved 18th century house blends Vietnamese, Chinese and Japanese architectural styles. Chinese poems written in mother-of-pearl are inscribed on the columns, the roof is shaped in a distinctive Japanese, crab-shell shape and the outer structure is Vietnamese in design.
Tra Que Village
Situated just outside Hoi An and surrounded by fields of vegetables and crops Tra Que village is dedicated to the growing of traditional vegetables and supplies Hoi An and its neighbors with most of the fresh produce which goes in to making distinctive central Vietnamese dishes such as Cao Lau and Quang noodle. The origin of the village date back more than a hundred years to when a band of fishermen decided to settle on the land and farm.
Cua Dai Beach
This large stretch of beach is only 5km from Hoi An and can be reached either by car or a 20 minute bicycle ride along a picturesque country road. The beach is very popular with the Vietnamese, particularly on summer mornings and evenings.
According to archaeologists, Cu Lao was first settled by the Cham 3,000 years ago and they established business contacts with overseas countries some 1,000 years ago. Up to now, Cu Lao Cham has preserved many architectural constructions which date back to the 18th and 19th centuries. They include the shrine dedicated to Than Yen Sao, built in 1843 at Bai Huong and Hai Tang Pagoda, built in 1753 on the western hillside of Hon Lao. Still, Cu Lao Cham has more to offer. After a 3-hour canoe trip, one may hop over to the famed Well of the Cham people.
My Son is a remarkable archaeological site dating back over a thousand years. Located in a remote forested valley some 70 km west of Da Nang, this former capital and religious center of the Cham Kingdom once contained in excess of 70 style temples and stupas. Although badly damaged by bombing raids in the 1960s the site still has over 20 structures and was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999. Visitors are advised to arrive to beat the rush of tourists and also avoid the heat as there is little shade.