Originally called Faifo, Hoi An played an important role from the 16th to the 19th century as one of the biggest ports in South-East Asia. Sailors from all over the world called on the port, and the installment of foreign shipping agents eventually lead to Japanese and Chinese settlements in Hoi An. The traces of their cultural heritage live on to this day as Hoi An is home to a sizeable ethnic Chinese population.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Old Town of Hoi An is one of the most charming places in Vietnam. The entire Old Town is pedestrian-only, and strict regulations have prohibited the construction of modern high rise buildings, thereby beautifully preserving the historic atmosphere. The narrow streets are lined with old Chinese shop houses with sloping tiled roofs, historic Chinese congregation assembly halls, ornately decorated temples and pagodas, and last but not least, myriads of shops selling a tempting array of handcrafted products.
Hoi An's relaxed atmosphere, picturesque architecture and magnificent historic sites combined with excellent shopping opportunities make it worth an extended stay. If you are only going to visit one place in Vietnam, Hoi An is it!
Places to See
The Old Town is dotted with historic buildings, many of which are accessible to the public. Tickets for entry to five historic sites are available at a number of locations throughout town as well as at some of the sites themselves. One ticket allows you to pick from the following list: the Japanese Bridge or Quan Cong Temple, a musical performance or a handicraft workshop, one assembly hall, one museum, and one historic house.
Part community hall, part temple devoted to the Fujian deity Thien Hau, the Fujian Assembly Hall features several murals, a central altar, and various figures and depictions central to traditional beliefs in Chinese culture. The Assembly Hall serves the ancestors of the Fujian families who fled here from China more than 300 years ago.
Other Places of Interest Not To Be Missed:
Hoi An's shopping scene is not for the faint of heart. The streets of Old Town are lined with countless shops selling gorgeous handcrafted products. Top picks include:
For recommended hotels in Hoi An, click here: Hoi An Hotels.
Tropical climate with two distinctive seasons. The rainy (monsoon) season last from September to January. Temperatures throughout the year are warm to hot, with June and July being the hottest months(temperatures well into the 90's), whereas December and January are the coldest months (upper 70's).
Notes From the Field
“Hoi An is fantastic! The atmosphere is simply great...the streets are lined with beautiful old Chinese shop houses, there's unbeatable shopping, delicious food, and enough sights and activities to easily fill up a week or more.
We loved strolling through the old city center and to explore the streets and shops. In fact, we spent more time shopping than sightseeing! The entire old town is pedestrian only, which makes Hoi An ideal for exploring on foot.
On our second day in Hoi An, we were approached by a very persistent lady, who was advertising her shop's tailor made Ao Dais. We couldn't believe how cheap hand made clothes were and ended up buying several beautiful silk Ao Dai as gifts for relatives.
Note: Hoi An is the best place in Vietnam to purchase tailor made dresses, shirts, pants, etc. Even if you are tempted to buy elsewhere, it pays off to wait until you reach Hoi An! ”
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