Welcome to Hoi An!
Hoi An is a small port town and one of 8 UNESCO World Heritage sites in Vietnam. Even if the port was officially established in 16th century, traces of human habitation of the area date back more than two thousand years. And, as it is the costal town, many cultures have reached this place and mixed in Hoi An, so the architecture will surprise you. Moreover, bright markets, delicious food and cheap beer comes along! Here is our TOP 5 MUST-SEE IN HOI AN! Enjoy!
1. The Old Town
Hoi An boasts architecture from Chinese, Japanese and European influences. It retains its original street plan and many stunning wooden buildings, temples, bridges and chapels can be seen. The main is that the Old Town is very well preserved, making it a unique heritage site. Once this town was a vital link in the trade routes between Europe and China, India and Japan. So many nations met in exactly Hoi An and several sites show that – visit Phac Hat Pagoda, Cau Chua Pagoda, the Old House of Phung Hung, Kwiatkowsky Square, Tran Family Chapel and many others like, e.g. Japanese bridge, by which once Japanese separated from the rest of the town. All the Old Town is a miracle and the walk on these streets could be endless, especially when those colourful lanterns are hanged all around!
But remember that in most of the sites there is an entrance fee and the ticket can be bought in one of many tickets boots around the town. The interesting part is that you cannot buy a ticket just for one site, you have to choose five and the set of five costs 120.000 VND. Of you wish to see more than those five objects, another five must be chosen and another 120.000 VND paid. The tickets boots provide map with the sites which have entrance fee so that you can chose which would you like to visit.
Even if Hoi An didn’t last as a trading port because the mouth of the Thu Bon River became increasingly silted up and ships were unable to reach the docks, it is now a hub for the tourists. And you see why, just when you enter the Old Town of Hoi An.
2. Night Market
The Night Market is located on the Hoi An islet just over the bridge from the Old Town. It is said that the market begins at 4 pm and finishes at midnight, but the vendors come a bit later than the official opening time. And then the fun starts. There are more than 50 local vendors selling a variety of handicrafts, souvenirs, clothing, shoes, local snacks and so much more! And the market is illuminated by hundreds of colourful lanterns, so you can take amazing pics without buying anything. You can engrave your name on the rice just for 20.000 VND and buy a necklace for double this price. But be careful! Rarely vendors name the actual price at the beginning, so bargain or just start walking away – only then the real prices come to the light. E.g., the small lantern costs 15.000 VND and the big one isn’t more than 50.000 VND if you get the real price. There are many tailors around the town and in the market, but the best and cheapest clothing you will get from those that are not there for tricking the tourists and earning huge money. Remember that everything in Vietnam`s markets is cheap! If it’s not so – then you have been overcharged.
And after the shopping the food and beer is there as well! There are more expensive and touristy bars and restaurants just when crossing the bridge, but those are not the real pearls. At the very end of the street that stretches along the coast you will find a Food Court that is a long lane of many food stalls one besides the other. They have the cheapest and undoubtedly the best food! As some of the sellers are offering cooking classes as well, you will be surprised how professionally and how delicious they prepare their food! Our favourite were the last food stalls named Mr. Ba and Mrs. Hay. One euro and you can get amazing meal and besides that – fresh beer for 4.000 VND. Try local specialities like White rose that is shrimp dumplings or “Very special Hoi An soup” that is actually written this way in the menu. This is the exact place where you will feel the Vietnam apart from Irish pubs and other tourist entertainment places on the islet.
3. Central Market and the riverside
Hoi An Central Market is located just besides the Old Town. Here you can find the cheapest products if you know how to negotiate. There is selling and buying happening in the market building and around all the surrounding streets. You will be able to try traditional dishes from Hoi An, buy spices, herbs and souvenirs, and adore the colours of Vietnamese silk. But again, remember to bargain! The next is the fresh meat section where you can see what you eat, after comes the vegetables and freshly caught sea creatures, still alive in the bowls of water. It’s interesting not just to shop, but also to see this bustle. That restless movement all around the marketplace is so amazing!
And once you have exited the market, you will be at the riverside, where boats are available for a calm ride. Or just cross the bridge and get to the Cam Nam Village, finally a tranquil place with waterfront villas, some restaurants and SPA’s.
4. Chua Long, Martyrs Cemetery and Silk Village tour
Go outside the centre and visit Chua Long Temple that is a marvelous place, free of charge. The temple is very colourful and daily Buddhist rituals are happening there, so do not skip it, you will be amazed by this place!
A few steps away of the temple is Martyrs Cemetery, which is a war cemetery. There are the graves of soldiers of the People’s Army of Vietnam and mainly of members of the Vietcong who were killed in the Vietnam War. This is a very calm and clean area where all the graves are being taken care of, just see how wonderful it is.
On the way back to the centre you can visit the Silk Village which is next to the both previous places. This is a good place to see or buy luxury Vietnamese textiles, handmade lanterns, high-end suits and dresses. Though you cannot enter the Silk Village by your own, you need to take a tour just at the entrance for 100.000 VND.
5. An Bang Beach
Yeah, there is a beach in Hoi An as well! And if you are lucky with the weather, you can go for a relaxing day just a few kilometres from the town’s center. This is a calmer place of the town, here you will be able to find beach resorts, seafood restaurants and bars. There are sunbeds that you can rent starting from 15.000 VND. Enjoy the day sunbathing, swimming or trying windsurfing as the classes are available right away!
Hoi An is a pearl of Vietnam and we are sure that it is worth visiting. Yes, there are many tourists and many motorbikes. But that atmosphere in this town is spectacular! Colours and enjoyment!