“TRAVEL IS FATAL TO PREJUDICE, BIGOTRY, AND NARROW-MINDEDNESS” – MARK TWAIN
Known for its well preserved Ancient town and canals, Hoi An is the little hidden wonder of Vietnam. Blending Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese and European influences, this former port town is an unusual mix of architectural styles.
I’ve compiled a list of places worth adding to your itinerary whilst you’re in Hoi An.
HOI AN ANCIENT TOWN
I definitely recommend hiring a bike to explore Hoi An. It’s a reasonably flat city and riding bikes is very common among the locals, and no where near as busy as Ho Chi Minh or Hanoi.
If you’re interested in learning about the history of this 19th century South-East Asian trading port, a bike tour is the way to go. They’re generally offered of a morning or afternoon and last a couple of hours. Nothing strenuous as there is a lot of stopping, dismounting and exploring on foot as well.
PHUNG HUNG OLD HOUSE
This ancient home is one of the most famous architectural buildings in Hoi An. It represents a combination of Vietnamese, Japanese and Chinese styles decorated with exquisite lanterns, wall hangings and embroidery.
JAPANESE COVERED BRIDGE
If opted for a bike tour, you will most likely make a visit to this famous 18th century wooden bridge. Featuring elaborate carvings and a pedestrian passageway, this bridge is both a beautiful piece of Japanese architecture and one of the most iconic attractions in Hoi An.
For museum lovers, there’s a great variety in Hoi An. The Museum of Sa Huỳnh Culture showcases terracotta work that has been found in the surrounding area and displays a unique collection of artifacts from Sa Huynh culture.
The Museum of Trade Ceramics showcases the origins and history of the town and its relationships with foreign nations and historic trade. The museum is housed in a beautifully restored traditional wooden house which is a sight on it’s own.
The Museum of Folk Culture displays the local life of the past in a 150-year-old Chinese trading house. The exhibition is quite unique as it is the first of its kind to have a collection of original objects on display.
At night, the entire city of Hoi An turns into a sea of lanterns. It is absolutely breathtaking. The markets stay open late so be sure to swing by and pick up some great souvenirs and gifts for friends and family back home. I found their starting prices to be incredibly reasonable. It was refreshing not having to negotiate every transaction for a change.
For a tiny price, we made a wish and sent lanterns down the river – because why not? It was a cute little gesture and a great way to finish off a perfect day in Hoi An.
AN BANG BEACH
One of the few beaches in the area that is unspoiled by development making it quite the popular destination for catching some sunshine and enjoying water sports and activities.
It is also home to a great variety of resorts and restaurants to make for a perfect day out. Sunbeds are also available for hire along the beach-side. Only 7KM out of Hoi An Ancient Town, you can easily get here by bike.
Mỹ Sơn is a collection of abandoned and partially ruined Hindu Temples of the Champa Empire. Constructed somewhere between the 4th and 14th century, this remarkable UNESCO World Heritage site was great to have explored. I definitely recommend hiring a local guide to take you through the site to fully appreciate the experience; though the temples themselves are enthralling.
PHUOC KIEN ASSEMBLY HALL
Founded in 1690, the Phuoc Kien Assembly Hall served the largest Chinese ethnic group in Hoi An. The pagoda is also a place of gathering for the natives of Phuoc Kien. The Assembly Hall is considered a heritage of historical significance and an excellent work of architecture.
Hoi An is famous for it’s low cost but high quality dress making. I had business suits made in YalyCouture and it was an awesome experience! The whole process including choosing styles, being measured, fittings, and delivery to my hotel took less than 24 hours – perfect for those who are only visiting for a couple of days.
If you’re questioning whether or not they can make what you’re after, chances are they can. Take a photo of what you want with you to show them, and their tailors can make almost exact copies. Everything from clothes, shoes, handbags and jewellery – your options are endless and the prices are unbeatable!
VIETNAMESE COOKING CLASS
There’s a great variety of Vietnamese cooking classes available and I would definitely recommend taking part in one. I was shown how to make a few different Vietnamese dishes and everyone received a cook book to take home with all the recipes we’d just made and more. The best part is getting to eat and enjoy everything you made for yourself!