Drink in the enchanting atmosphere of this waterfront district, which is famous for its centuries-old landmarks, markets and lantern festival.
Riverside Hoi An is one of the most appealing areas of the UNESCO-protected Hoi An Ancient Town. It’s where tourists come to experience the time-honored traditions of Vietnam and locals shop at age-old stores and markets. Set along the banks of the Thu Bồn River, Riverside Hoi An was a busy trading port from the 15th to 19th centuries. Admire the legacy of wooden architecture, browse quaint stores, dine at lantern-lit restaurants and take a scenic boat ride.
Many of the timber-built houses you see today appear exactly as they did hundreds of years ago. They display a fusion of Chinese, colonial European, Japanese and Vietnamese architectural styles. One of the most notable monuments is the Japanese Bridge, which features a pagoda guarded by statues of dogs and monkeys.
The riverside’s shops are perfect for souvenir hunting. Purchase carved Buddha heads, custom-made fashion items, leather goods and one-of-a-kind art pieces. Don’t miss a visit to the Hoi An Central Market, where vendors hawk everything from fish, herbs and spices, to silk and textiles. Bargaining is an acceptable practice inside the market.
Take a break at the waterfront bars, coffeehouses and seafood restaurants. Grab a seat outside, enjoy views across the river and watch as locals wearing conical hats cycle passed. For an alternative view, arrange a river cruise with one of the many boat owners.
Another fun activity to do is to visit the early-morning Thanh Hà Fish Market. Wake up at dawn, rent a bike and cycle along the waterfront for about 1.6 miles (2.5 kilometer) to the market. Then watch as fishermen arrive, load baskets of fresh fish onto the riverbanks and await the influx of marketgoers.
Plan to visit Riverside Hoi An on a night of a full moon, when the area comes alive with the spectacular Hoi An Lantern Festival. The electricity in Hoi An Ancient Town is turned off to allow for the bars, boats and streets to be illuminated by thousands of pretty candlelit lanterns. Concerts, dance performances and street food are also part of the festival.