Hoi An was a bustling trading port from the 16th to 18th centuries. While its importance diminished in subsequent centuries as the river silted up, its old town has survived, with plenty of traditional architecture that reflects both local, Chinese, and Japanese influences. Set in a grid of narrow lanes, Hoi An is a UNESCO World Heritage site today.
Eating is a must-do activity in Hoi An. For a more local setting, try out these road-side stalls.
The old town is small and perfectly walkable, although some tourists choose to ride bicycles through the crowds.
Various groups of Chinese have made their mark in Hoi An, and many have their own civic facilities. The Cantonese Assembly Hall was built in 1885 and reflects the sizeable influence from the Cantonese community.
The Old House of Tan Ky consists of 4 small rooms that have been stuffed with antique furnitures today. Each room has its own purpose, from welcoming guests to the bedroom.
See some interesting vendors as you ply the historic old town's streets.
Quan Thang House is some 300 years old and is still a living home today. It was interesting to wander around looking and finding a family still going about their daily routines inside.
Trung Hoa Assembly Hall was established in 1741 to worship the Goddess of the Sea, Thien Hau. It also once served as a school for the Chinese community.
Fukian Assembly Hall was established in 1697 as a civic facility for this southern Chinese community. Being the grandest of the Chinese assembly halls, it contains many animal symbols, from the dragon that symbolizes power and the phoenix that symbolizes nobility to the turtle that symbolizes longevity.
For those who are less adventurous with street food, visit the local market where you can eat the same things in a more sanitary environment. Hoi An is quite famous for great food at bargain basement prices.
The Tran Family Home and Chapel was built in 1802 and was originally used to worship the family's ancestors. The dark drawing room is split between the men's and women's sections, while visitors can toss the yin and yang coins in the altar room for good luck. The shop at the back sells historic coins that were supposedly dug up from the grounds, many of which have inscriptions of Qing Dynasty emperors.
The Japanese Covered Bridge was built in the 17th century and is adorned by statues of a dog and a monkey, sacred animals in Japanese culture. The covered bridge contains a small shrine to the god of weather. They didn't enforce the ticket system at night, so I was able to save one of my 5 visit coupons for something else.
Preparing for Your Visit
Visitors pay 120,000 dong for a day ticket which gives access to any 5 attractions, which include museums, old houses, assembly halls, and even tombs of foreign traders. Having arrived mid-afternoon, I was surprised I could fit in all 5 attractions and cover most of the old town during my short stay.