Located on the banks of the River Thun Bon, which in the 16th century made it an important commercial centre, Hoi An is one of the most charming cities in Vietnam. Its beauty lies in the interior of its old town, closed to traffic and composed of small colonial style houses. Due to the importance of its port, it was settled by Chinese, Japanese, French and Vietnamese, who all left their mark on the city’s heritage.
In order to enjoy the contrasts of different cultures, there is nothing better than to take a pleasant walk along the banks of the river to the Japanese Bridge, named after its Japanese style and because, in ancient times, it served to separate the commercial districts of the Chinese and Japanese. Reddish and with wooden structures, this monument is one of the most visited in the city. In addition to its views and the beauty of its architecture, inside is a small Vietnamese temple.
One of Hoi An’s advantages over neighbouring cities like Hue, the former imperial capital, is that it suffered little damage during the Vietnam War. This has favoured the preservation of practically all its constructions, whose historical value has led to the city being declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco in 1999.
Do not miss the entrance to one of its old mansions, whose interiors intermingle Chinese, Japanese and Vietnamese styles and eras. Although the upper part of many of them remain closed to the public, since they are still inhabited, the ground floor is dedicated to explaining to visitors its architecture, decoration and who were its former tenants.
Another characteristic of Hoi An is the variety of temples that cater to the different religions of the inhabitants who occupied the city throughout its history. Some of the most visited are Hoi Quan Quang Trieu, which stands out for the impressive figures of dragons; Quan Cong, of Chinese origin; and the Hall of Assemblies of the Chinese Congregation of Fujian, among others.
Not to be missed are the popular temples of My Son located on the outskirts of the city of Hoi An. These ruins, which fell into oblivion for years, were part of the ancient religious capital of the Champa Empire. Originally, the religion that was professed was the Hindu, although with the passage of time ended up becoming Buddhism. The vestiges of its monuments and the beauty of its pagodas mimic Khmer temples, albeit on a smaller scale.
In addition to its culture and history, the city of Hoi An has many more attractions that manage to captivate all types of travellers. A few kilometres from the centre are some of the best beaches on the central coast of the country, so you can also enjoy a refreshing swim. At nightfall, moreover, the riverbank is covered with food and clothes stalls. It is the popular Night Market, which stands out for being illuminated with hundreds of coloured lanterns.
Its small streets are filled with tiny craft shops and dressmakers. Tailored dresses and costumes are one of the main characteristics of the city. The delivery time is usually quite fast, ranging from a couple of hours to 3 days, depending on the difficulty of the piece.
The gastronomic and leisure offers are also very varied. The local restaurants dominate, although, due to the French colonization, it is also possible to find bakeries with croissants, chocolate Neapolitans and other sweets. As for nightlife, Hoi An is a quiet city, although do not forget that we are in Vietnam, so there are numerous karaoke bars and pubs of different styles perfect for those who wish to lengthen the night.