We arrived in Hoi An early in the morning. Fortunately we were able to check right into our hotel, where we had a lovely room situated high above the courtyard pool.
After a short rest we set out to explore Hoi An. As we walked the few blocks into the old town we passed a ceremony at a pagoda. There were many monks and nuns plus men who looked like old Boy Scouts with their Stetson hats (Boy Scouts have been banned in Vietnam since 1975, however).
We came to the edge of the old town, where 4 wheeled, motorized vehicles are banned.
The roads were still fairly busy what with foot traffic, bicycles, cyclos and motorbikes. Compared to many Vietnamese cities it was nice and quiet though.
Hoi An was a major trade centre from about 1600 to the end of the 1700s, but then Danang became the main seaport. Hoi An retained its historical centre for centuries and was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1999. The town is very touristic, with many textile stores and tailors (for which it is historically famous). We did see a few quirky items…
and some typically Vietnamese scenes….
But there are a few things that set Hoi An apart; such as the Japanese Bridge, which has a small temple built into its side.
Japanese, Chinese, Dutch, Portuguese, French and Indians have all settled in Hoi An over the years. And all have left their mark on this central Vietnamese town. The Thu Bon River is still important to the town, with many bridges and ferries helping transport people and vehicles across it.
As the day ended we walked along the waterfront and across one of the bridges.
The next day we rented bicycles and rode along the river to the huge beach.
Behind the miles of beach are miles of high-end resorts. Hoi An is a popular holiday destination for Vietnamese tourists as well as foreigners. Lounge chairs, palm thatch umbrellas, food vendors and sea sport equipment line the beach. We did see a couple of traditional coracles too.
After leaving the beach we road along some side roads past rice paddies and other crops.
Later in the day we searched for a pottery village, but to no avail. Then we rode back to Hoi An and over to two of the neighbouring islands. By dusk we were back on the riverfront to watch the sunset.
At night the sculptures on the river light up…
We browsed the selection of lanterns available at several small stores. Many of the lanterns are made right in the shops (note the woman working on one in the photo below).
Hoi An has a large market beside the river with many vendors. The woman below invited me to take her photo and then demanded money (I laughed at her audacity and walked away).
But we usually enjoyed our dealing with local vendors.
On our last morning in Hoi An we did a short tour of some of the historic buildings. We started with the Museum of Trading Ceramics, one of the first restored buildings, where they have a display of traditional building styles.
As we stepped in we saw a model of a Japanese trading ship. Above it is a grate in the ceiling which can be removed in times of flooding to move everything upstairs. Some of the homes along the riverfront flood to a depth of 6 or 7 feet every few years.
The hole in the ceiling and the central courtyard also help provide cooling in the summer heat.
After leaving the museum we visited the Tan Ky House.
The house is still owned and lived in by the descendants of the original owner, a well-to-do Vietnamese merchant, who built it two centuries ago. Inside are a mix of influences: Vietnamese, Chinese, Japanese and European.
Note the interesting ceiling supports…
We bought a photo showing a boat floating in the interior during one of the worst floods. Looking at the bottom of some of the support posts we could see the effects of water. However, the house is in amazing condition and has many beautiful features. While the ground floor is open to visitors the owners live upstairs.
Next we visited the gorgeous Assembly Hall of the Fujian Chinese Congregation.
Chinese settlers in Hoi An built assembly halls centred on their province of origin. This particular one later became a temple for worship of Thien Hau, a Fujian deity.
The layout, architecture and landscaping create a beautiful space.
Inside many incense coils hang from the ceilings.
Finally we visited the Quan Cong Temple, built in 1653 to honour a Chinese general.
And then it was time to head back to the hotel to be picked up by taxi and whisked to Danang to catch the train back to Hanoi.
Hoi An was a wonderful place to end our tour through Cambodia and Vietnam. Not too big, not too small, wonderful architecture, lots of culture, great beach, good food and a bit of shopping… a slice of SE Asia….