See anything from wooden pagodas to busy tailors in this beautifully preserved part of Hoi An, where different cultures and eras mix.
Hoi An ceased to be a major port at the end of the 18th century and hasn’t been modernized in the same way as nearby areas such as Da Nang. It also managed to avoid too much major damage during the country’s many wars and so offers a unique snapshot of the past. The port itself still functions on a traditional level and fishing, along with tourism, is a major source of income for the area. In 1999 Hoi An’s Ancient Town was declared a World Heritage Site.
There are a number of striking aspects of Ancient Town. One is that a large portion is constructed from wood. Landmarks like the Japanese Bridge, with its wooden pagoda, are as much art as they are architecture.
As with many port towns, Hoi An has long had a culturally diverse community and its buildings reflect this. Wander through the Ancient Town and see colonial villas right beside Chinese temples.
Head to the banks of the Thu Bon River early in the morning to watch traders in conical hats haggling over fish. The adjacent Hoi An Central Market is another great place to explore. Hoi An is also known for its tailors and silk stalls; you can get measured for a suit and pick up the finished garment before you leave. Traders at the market can be forceful though, so be prepared to bargain.
The ceramics industry has also played a vital role in Hoi An’s past and several museums in the Ancient Town celebrate this. Visit the Museum of Trade Ceramics to learn why it was so important. The Museum of Sa Huynh Culture showcases more than 400 ceramic objects.
Try to visit Ancient Town when the Hoi An Legendary Night takes place. During this full-moon festival, motor vehicles are banned from the streets and there is traditional music, dancing, food stalls and lanterns.