A Short Guide to Hoi An, Vietnam
Vietnam has become one of the world’s most popular travel destinations — and for good reason. Hoi An is a beautiful city in Vietnam and is located to the south of Da Nang. Hoi An has a rich history and, by its previous name of Faifo, was a significant international port in the 1700s and 1800s. The foreign influences that have shaped Hoi An can still be noticed today.
The heart of the city…
Without question, the heart and soul of the city is the Old Town, a UNESCO listed World Heritage Site that is characterised by a series of winding lanes and shops that have a distinctly Chinese flavour. Although the Old Town has adapted to suit the needs and expectations of the many tourists that visit, the area is free of tall concrete buildings and has enjoyed limited renovation, construction and ‘development’. Instead, the Old Town has retained many of its unique and special qualities and continues to have a wonderful atmosphere that is particularly enchanting at sunset and into the night.
Part of Hoi An’s major appeal is that the centre of the city is small and pedestrianised — it is therefore possible to walk to many places.
To travel to the beach and/or some of the Vietnam hotels in Hoi An that are located outside of the city centre, bicycles provide the easiest and cheapest transport option. If needed, taxis are also accessible and some hotels offer a shuttle service.
What to see…
- Because the rivers of Hoi An take in hundreds of kilometres of distance, taking a boat presents you with an interesting and adventurous opportunity to see a lot more of Hoi An and surrounding areas.
- The Old Town Swan Boats that can be found on the main river are passenger boats that are literally shaped like swans. Taking a ride on these boats is a novelty as the eyes of the swans light up at night and quirky music is played as you cruise along enjoying the sights of the river.
- A coupon system in Hoi An is excellent value and gives you a ticket that can be used to enter five of the city’s main attractions, including one museum, one old house, one assembly hall, the handicraft workshop and its traditional music show or the traditional theatre and the Quan Cong Temple or Japanese Covered Bridge.
Visitors to Hoi An have the opportunity to experience different elements of Vietnamese culture. In particular, some of the lunar festivals that take place are wonderful occasions to witness and in which to participate.
Examples of these festivals are:
- Full Moon Festival (also known as Old Town’s Night)
- Fisherman’s Festival
- Mid-Autumn Festival
Another wonderful cultural experience is to take a homestay experience in a place such as the Orchid Garden Homestay between the beach and the Old Town or in a fishing village such as Bai Huong.
Where to stay…
The great news for travellers in that, just like Jimbaran hotels, the accommodation options in Hoi An are generally of a very high standard and represent excellent value for money. There is plenty of choice and because an incredible amount of competition exists between hotels, good quality accommodation at reasonable prices can most often be secured.
Many hotels in Hoi An are found just north (but within easy walking distance) of the Old Town in Hai Ba Trung Street and along Cua Dai Road.
Generally speaking, the higher end hotels of Hoi An are situated along the beach that runs from Da Nang to Hoi An.
What to eat…
Chances are that, when you visit Vietnam, you will want to sample fresh, delicious and authentic Vietnamese food. In Hoi An, the standard of the food on offer is high and the fare is generally inexpensive and delectable. It is even possible to take some fabulous cooking classes.
Hoi An is particularly well known for:
- Cao lau — this special dish of rice noodles is made from water sourced from a special well in the city. Roast pork, dough fritters, vegetables and fresh herbs are served with the noodles.
- White rose — these shrimp dumplings are created from white dough that is translucent and crafted to resemble a rose.
- Wonton dumplings — very similar to Chinese style wonton dumplings, these are served deep fried or as part of a soup.
In order to experience Vietnamese culture, hospitality, natural beauty and value for your travelling dollar, Hoi An is a wonderful place to visit.