Hoi An – the heart of Vietnam

Hoi An is a beautiful and atmospheric town. The shops and restaurants are adorned with lanterns throughout the year, the buildings are painted a refreshing yellow, and there is an abundance of quirky restaurants and cafes selling delicious food and coffee. It’s a fantastic place to take a few days out on your backpacking trip, here’s a few things you simply must do when visiting Hoi An:

  • Book an inexpensive (but plush) hotel
  • Eat some fantastic street food and Hoi An specialities – including Cau Lau and Banh Bao Vac (White Rose)
  • While away the hours soaking up the culture whilst sipping an iced coffee and indulging in a delicious cake at our favourite place – Cargo Club
  • Wander along the harbour front after dark when the lit up coloured lanterns are dancing reflections in the water
  • Order a made-to-measure suit and do all of the above whilst waiting for it’s completion

Here’s the first of many photos in this post (Hoi An is too picture perfect!), it shows some of the buildings along the river front – all painted yellow of course.

Hoi An harbour

Hoi An is recognised as a World Heritage site by UNESCO. You simply have to walk down the streets and immediately you slip back in time. Most of the buildings are a few hundred years old, the river running through is dotted with boats, and still no cars drive down the small streets in the centre of the Old Town. It still looks as it may have done when the town was a thriving trading port in the 16th century, minus the tacky souvenir shops and hoards of tourists of course.

Bicycle against the yellow walls

Every month for the full moon the lights in the centre of the old town are turned off, the streets are closed to all scooters and bicycles, and the water is dotted with paper lanterns that are slowly floating down the river. While this does sound beautiful – and don’t get me wrong, it really is – it also does become extremely busy with locals competing with each other to sell lanterns to the international visitors. Here’s a couple of photos of the event:

Young children selling lanterns

Maddy's lantern

Whilst in Hoi An there is also some fantastic street food to be had. I sat down and tried a delicious BBQ chicken wrap, and also some dumpling style things, stuffed with seafood – I then watched and attempted to converse with the ladies, and was allowed to take a few photos of them preparing the food.

Ladies cooking

Vietnamese woman preparing dumplings

A heritage ticket purchased to help further fund the preservation of the ancient town allows you entry to five of the many old buildings, museums or tours around the town. We went in a few old temples, family houses and chapels – but to be honest, I don’t believe the 120,000VND is worth the money. The below photo was taken in a temple, and depicts a man re-painting the colourful columns. The architecture in these old buildings is definitely worth a look, as it’s often an amalgamation of Vietnamese, Chinese, Japanese and also maybe European.

DSC_0439

Hoi An is a wonderfully preserved ancient town, and is a completely different experience to that found elsewhere in Vietnam. It’s relaxing, beautiful and utterly unique. My final photo in this post nicely sums up Hoi An – the colourful lanterns that are on display every night in the old town.

Hoi An lanterns at night

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