A brief history of Hoi An
The city in the 17th and 18th centuries was one of the most important ports in Southeast Asia, and that’s why various merchants from different countries (Chinese, Japanese, Dutch) passed by and some of them decided to build their houses here. That is why this city is known for its diverse architecture, because of the many influences of the people who have passed here, especially the Chinese and the Japanese.
Chinese and Japanese accents in architecture mixed with Vietnamese have created Hoi An that you can see today. And when in the 19th century the river began to dry and it was no longer possible for the ships to come to the city, then it turned into what it is today. An interesting small touristic town that tells old stories. And really, the first moment you go into the city, it looks like you’re in some Chinese neighborhood, and the next moment like you’re somewhere in Japan.
Hoi An is home to many temples, pagodas and old houses that make it truly unique and that is why it was recognized in 1999 as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
How to get there?
The nearest airport and railway are located 40 km from Hoi An, in the city of Da Nang. Our train from Ninh Binh left us in Da Nang. We decided to stay there because the next morning we had a flight to Ho Chi Minh. In Da Nang also you can see the famous bridge of the dragon, which in the evening has the light that changes the colors. Da Nang was the first super modern city we saw for the first time in Vietnam. Huge skyscrapers, modern hotels and bars, and at night all the lights are turn on, just like a world metropolis. If you are at least two people the best way to go from Da Nang to Hoi An is to take private taxi from Da Nang and arrange the price in advance.
Where to stay?
As I have already wrote, we decided to sleep in Da Nang and if you want to see the hotel and the prices visit the following link. It was a nice hotel, offering also a panoramic view of the famous bridge.
Few words about my experience in Hoi An
The reason why everyone is visiting Hoi An is definitely the old part of the city. That area is closed for traffic and you can only walk or go by bike. There was some symbolic entrance fee. Hoi An is really a fairy tale of magic lanterns. Small colorful city, full with shops, restaurants and street markets. During the day the city was busy, and in the evening even more. But when the night is down, then you will experience the real magic of the city. You will suddenly find yourself surrounded by thousands lanterns in various colors. If you will be in Hoi An during the full moon festival you will have plus another magical experience. And then you will understand why Hoi An is known as the most romantic city in Vietnam.
During the full moon festival, the whole river is filled with candles. You can buy a candle from the street vendors, make a wish and put the candle in the river. Indeed, the place is magical: with all the street lights turn off, and only the light from the candles sailing along the river and the full moon that smiles from the sky.
What to buy?
Hoi An is the place known for the best tailors. Here you can choose your model of dress or suit that will be ready for only 24 hours. The same thing for shoes. Also you can buy some lanterns, the symbol of the city.
What to eat?
Rice pancake, or if you are more for street food you should try mango cake (this has nothing to do with mango, it’s a dessert made of sticky rice, peanuts and sugar. It got the name mango because it looks like the mango seeds)