Hoi An

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.

Thanh Van Hotel, Hoi An, Vietnam
Hotel 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).

ceremony at pagoda, Hoi An, Vietnam
At the Gates

We came to the edge of the old town, where 4 wheeled, motorized vehicles are banned.

no vehicles sign, Hoi An, Vietnam
Sign at Entrance of Historical Hoi An

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.

street scene, Hoi An, Vietnam
Mellow Street

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…

leather-covered motorbike, Hoi An, Vietnam
Leather Wrapped Bike

and some typically Vietnamese scenes….

family on a scooter, Hoi An, Vietnam
Family Transport
goods on a bike, Hoi An, Vietnam
Goods Transport

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 Bridge, Hoi An, Vietnam
Japanese Bridge

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.

houses along river, Hoi An, Vietnam
River Scene

As the day ended we walked along the waterfront and across one of the bridges.

sunset on the Thu Bon River, Hoi An, Vietnam
Sunset on the Thu Bon

The next day we rented bicycles and rode along the river to the huge beach.

Thu Bon River, Hoi An, Vietnam
Thu Bon riverfront
beach, Hoi An, Vietnam
The 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.

coracle, Hoi An, Vietnam
Coracle on Beach

After leaving the beach we road along some side roads past rice paddies and other crops.

road among rice paddies, Hoi An, Vietnam
Bicycling by Rice Paddies

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.

river sculptures, Hoi An, Vietnam
River Sculptures

At night the sculptures on the river light up…

sculpture on Thu Bon River, Hoi An, Vietnam
Sculptures at Night

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).

lanterns, Hoi An, Vietnam
Lantern Store

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).

market, Hoi An, Vietnam
In the Market

But we usually enjoyed our dealing with local vendors.

street vendor, Hoi An, Vietnam
Street Vendor

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.

Museum of Trading Ceramics, Hoi An, Vietnam
Museum of Trading Ceramics

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.

Museum of Trading Ceramics, Hoi An, Vietnam
First Room

The hole in the ceiling and the central courtyard also help provide cooling in the summer heat.

Museum of Trading Ceramics, Hoi An, Vietnam
Museum of Trading Ceramics, Hoi An, Vietnam
Second Floor

After leaving the museum we visited the Tan Ky House.

Tan Ky House, Hoi An, Vietnam
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.

Tan Ky House, Hoi An, Vietnam

Note the interesting ceiling supports…

Tan Ky House, Hoi An, Vietnam
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.

Assembly Hall of the Fujian Chinese Congregation, Hoi An, Vietnam
Main Gate

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.

fountain, Hoi An, Vietnam

Inside many incense coils hang from the ceilings.

incense coils, Assembly Hall of Fujian Chinese Congregation, Hoi An, Vietnam
Incense Coils
Assembly Hall of Fujian Chinese Congregation, Hoi An, Vietnam
Architectural Details

Finally we visited the Quan Cong Temple, built in 1653 to honour a Chinese general.

Quan Cong Temple, Hoi An, Vietnam

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….

street corner, Hoi An, Vietnam
Hoi An Night

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