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Hoi An Ancient Town is an exceptionally well-preserved example of a South-East Asian trading port dating from the 15th to the 19th century. Its buildings and its street plan reflect the influences, both indigenous and foreign, that have combined to produce this unique heritage site. Hoi An Old Town is located 30km south of Danang City, and 60km northeast of Tam Ky. Hoi An used to be an international trade center by sea on the east area in the 16th and 17th centuries. Hoi An Old Town is situated 30km to the south of Danang City, and 60km northeast of Tam Ky. Hoi An used to be an international trade center by sea on the east area in the 16th and 17th centuries. During the reign of Nguyen Dynasty, Hoi An used to be the busiest trading port in Dang Trong region.as merchants from Japan, China, Portugal, Spain, Holland...often stopped over to exchange and purchase commodities. In the historical progress of establishment and development, Hoi An was known by foreign merchants as Faifo, Haisfo, Hoai pho. Based on archeological relics and early records of architectural dwellings. Hoi An was also an important meeting place of many cultures, such as Champa, Vietnamese, Portuguese, Japanese and Chinese, and has been greatly impacted upon by Vietnamese and Chinese civilisation.
Set near the coast in central Vietnam, from the 16th to 19th centuries the riverside town of Hoi An once drew merchants from as far as Japan, India, Indonesia and Europe who bought the area’s silk, spices and porcelain. Hoi An still retains remnants of its trading days as evident in the bustling market and abundance of souvenir and tailor shops. What makes Hoi An remarkable today is that its Old Quarter has been beautifully preserved, the streets still lined with old tile-roofed shop houses, shady pagodas and colorful communal halls earning it the status as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Hoi An is surrounded by attractive countryside where you can observe the traditional way of life of farmers and fishermen.
From the 1600s to the 1800s, Hoi An was a major trading outpost known as Faifo. However, when the river silted up and the harbor became too shallow, trade moved north to Da Nang - and Hoi An lost its significance. Today, this cosmopolitan heritage is reflected in its mix of Japanese, Chinese, and Vietnamese influences. Because of its rich blend of aesthetics, the entire old city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Hoi An, an exceptionally well-preserved example of a traditional Asian trading port, is an outstanding material manifestation of the fusion of cultures over time in an international maritime commercial centre. The town is a special example of a traditional trading port in South-East Asia which has been completely and assiduously preserved: it is the only town in Viet Nam that has survived intact in this way. Most of the buildings are in the traditional architectural style of the 19th and 20th centuries. They are aligned along narrow lanes of traditional type. They include many religious buildings, such as pagodas, temples, meeting houses, etc., which relate to the development of a port community. The traditional lifestyle, religion, customs and cooking have been preserved and many festivals still take place annually.
The tourist trail through Vietnam is well marked as thousands of wanderers make their vertical trek between Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) and Hanoi. While the trail is certainly dotted with some of the country's unequivocal highlights - Sapa, Halong Bay, Hoi An, Mekong Delta - here's a list of some of Vietnam's lesser-known gems that will have you away from the tourists, and immersed in a sea of conical hats. Archaeological finds and excavations have shown that there was a port and trading centre of the local Sa Huynh people along the Thu Bon River as early as the 2nd century BC. This continued to expand, especially during its most flourishing period from the late 16th to the early 18th centuries. It was through Hoi An that Christianity penetrated Vietnam in the 17th century.
By the end of the century, the rise of other ports on the coast of Vietnam, in particular Da Nang, and silting of its harbour, led to the final eclipse of Hoi An. As a result of this economic stagnation, it has preserved its early appearance in a remarkably intact state, the only town in the country to have done so. The ancient town is situated on the north bank of Thu Bon River. There is a street running east-west along the river's edge and three further streets parallel to the river. They are intersected at right angles by streets and alleys. Within this area there are houses (often combined with shops), religious monuments such as pagodas, temples, communal houses and family cult houses, a ferry quay and an open market.
The architecture of Hoi An, which is almost entirely of wood, is of considerable interest. It combines traditional Vietnamese designs and techniques with those from other countries, above all China and Japan, whose citizens settled there to trade and built houses and community centres to their own designs.
The typical house conforms to a corridor plan, the following elements occurring in sequence: house, yard and house.
The buildings are:
- family cult houses, dedicated to the worship of ancestors;
- the community houses, used for worship of ancient sages, founders of settlements, or the legendary founders of crafts;
- the pagodas are almost all from the 19th century, although inscriptions show them to have been founded in the 17th and 18th centuries. They conform to a square layout and decoration is largely confined to the elaborate roofs. In the case of the larger examples, they constituted nuclei of associated buildings with religious and secular functions. Some of the larger pagodas also served as meeting halls. These are located along the main street (Tran Phu).
There is a fine wooden bridge, reminiscent of Japanese examples, with a pagoda on it. It has existed from at least the early 18th century, as an inscription indicates, but it has been reconstructed many times. There is also a number of ancient tombs in Vietnamese, Japanese and Chinese style within the buffer zone.
Where in the world could remain such a cristine ancient beauty after nearly 300 circles of the four seasons? It is Hoi An – the famous Old Town in Mid Southern Vietnam…
Located on the banks of the poetic Thu Bon River, in central Quang Nam province, 30 kilometers south of Danang, Hoi An ancient town is an Eastern oriental classic captivation. With the strategic location on the banks of the great river, with one seaside border (East), it used to be one of the major trading centers in Southeast Asia during the 16th century due to the early western trader occupying period. Hoian district and town is on the lower section of the Thu Bon River system. It is in the coastal plain of Quang Nam province, just 28 km to the Southeast of Danang City. Hoian is situated at latitudes 15o15’26’’ - 15o55’15’’ North and longitudes 108o17’08’’ - 108o23’10’’ East and shares its boarders with Duy Xuyen district in the South, Dien Ban district in the West and North and the Pacific ocean (the East Sea) in the East.
Hoi An has been through a few centuries of history, but still remains as in the very first days of its being born. Its two main historical landmarks are the occupying of the Japanese & Chinese, and the Western (Dutch and Spanish) during the 16th and 17th centuries. During the period of the China trade, the town was called Hai Pho (Sea Town) in Vietnamese. Originally Hai Pho was a divided town, because across the “Japanese Bridge”, it used to be the Japanese settlement (16th-17th century). Then it was known to the French and Spanish as Faifo, a major international port city. Thanks to these days, the foreign comprehensively possitive and special pastimes and culture had made deep influences on the today’s Hoi An.
Whoever coming to Hoi An could not deny that it is favored by nature. The weather here is typically tropical. Hoi An is comparatively warm especially during the entire year, and can be classified into two main categories namely wet and dry seasons. The daily temperature rises beyond 70o F reaching mid 60o F especially during the nighttime. Travellers should really take a journey here and enjoy Hoi An weather!
Coming here, tourists can see a series of old-architectured lanes and houses with nearly 100% cristinely left from their initial buildings with mossgrown walls, deeply plain roofs, old furniture in their cristine past arrangment etc. Hoi An is fortunate to be a cultural crossroads of the Cham culture in the very first southward expansion of Dai Viet (the Vietnamese nation more than 5 centuries ago encroaching on the Indianized Kingdom of Champa, which covered much of what is now central Vietnam, the Asian (Japanese, Chinese, Indian), and the Western ones during their trading here in the 16th century. These diverse cultural influences remain visible today. Colourful guildhalls, founded by ethnic Chinese from Guangdong and Fujian provinces, stand quietly, a testament to the town’s trading roots. While Hoi An’s old-fashioned charm is always visible, on the 14th of every lunar month modernity takes another step back. Most premium oriental and western style of architecture meet together here, making a unique ancient Hoi An, absorbing all tourists who are eager for classic beauty! Even you are not classic styled, you still want to see by yourself how a lively ancient world can cristinely survive in this new modern and high-tech era!
Tourists should not miss some of the great festivals of Hoi An, among which is Full Moon Festival, held on the 14th of every lunar month, one night before the full moon, when the Old Town becomes even more festive than usual, active and marvellously decorated with colorful lights and lamps along every lane. Another one is the Mid-Autumn Festival – held on the 14th of the August lunar month. Last but not least, the “lantern festival”, the most enchanting and special one of Hoi An, which is typically demonstrated with all colorful hanging cloth and paper lanterns on the 15th of every lunar month switched on altogether while all electrical equipment is off, leaving the Old Quarter bathed in the warm glow of colored silk, glass and paper lanterns.. A sparkling, romantic and mysterious view is opened, stimulating anybody’s curiosity and eye feed!
The 14th day of the lunar month is a Buddhist day of worship. Hoi An residents place offerings of food and incense on their ancestral altars and visit one of Hoi An’s many pagodas. The scent of incense and the sounds of people singing add to the town’s enchanted atmosphere. Visitors will get a rare glimpse into another era – the very far away period of our ancestors, and discovering it themselves.
Hoi An’s delicacies are plentiful and particularly tasty and cheap. Let’s take an example, one of the most popular one – Cao lầu, a dish of rice noodles somehow closer in texture to pasta. What is its secret? It is the water used to make it, being collected from a special well in the city. The noodles are topped with slices of roast pork, dough fritters, and lots of fresh herbs and veggies. I think you should try one of these, or else you will soon regret! Let’s see, you are sitting on stools, eating a bowl of Cao Lau with wooden chopsticks, and sipping the ice cold “White Coffee with vinamilk”! Oh, this is really an interesting adventure!
Places to go and Things to do in Hoi An?
Since Hoi An is an old Town, its places of interest are of full historically classical meaning and image. Hoi An symbol, the most popular remnant is the Japanese Covered Bridge (Chua Cau or Lai Vien Kieu), on the west end of Tran Phu Street. The bridge was constructed in the early 1600′s by the Japanese community. Tourists should spend time on visiting Quan Cong Temple, Musium of Culture… Many ancient style – oriented architects come here to have a direct look into the ancient houses of the town, among which are Phung Hung House, just west of the Japanese Bridge, Quan Thang House, or Tan Ky House. The design of the houses show how local architecture incorporated Japanese and Chinese influences. Cantonese Assembly Hall (Quang Dong), has a calm courtyard with ornate statuary. You could take a peek at the half-hidden back yard and its kitschy pastel dragon statues. Hokien (Fujian) Meeting Hall (Phuc Kien) and Chinese All-Community Meeting Hall (Trieu Chau), are also spanning the block. If you are Buddhist, there are a lot of pagodas to visit. Ong Pagoda, Quan Am Phat Tu Minh Huong Pagoda, etc. are premium places to get in.
Today, Hoi An is also known as a shopping paradise that attracts tourists towards its wonderful souvenirs, handicrafts, antique pieces, silk materials and art paintings, and so on. A Hoi An with colorful lanterned nights, a Hoi An with cristinely old plain houses and special mysterious cultural elements, and a HoiAn with the Etiquette & culturally hospitable and friendly people are warmly welcoming you! Are you ready to take a culture discovery journey?
The climate in Hoian is rather mild. The annual average temperature is 25.6o, the percentage of humidity is 82%, rainfall reaches up to 2066mm and sunshine of 2158 hours.
Area and Population:
Hoian has a total area of 6027.25 ha (60sq.km) inhabited by 81,021 people.
Hoi An is famous for nice beaches and sea products ( from fishing industry). Hoian also has a large fishing industry as well as plentiful in other sea products.. About 15km from the Cua Dai beach lies the Cham archipelago (of 1,591 ha) where there are many famous sea swallow nests (bird nests) as well as excellent natural environments suitable for the promotion of eco tourism.
From the 15th to the 19th centuries, Chinese, Indian, Dutch and Japanese settlers came here to exchange products. It made Hoi An become a major international port. This cosmopolitan mixture, along with the local Vietnamese culture, produced a rich and diverse community whose foreign influences can still be discerned today. Hoi An was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999 to preserve its beautifully restored buildings, shops and houses. As early as the first century AD, Hoi An had the largest harbour in Southeast Asia. During the 16th to 18th centuries, the port’s heyday, the city was the most important trading centre in Vietnam, especially for Chinese goods. It traded spices, silk, porcelain, pepper and medicinal plants. Eventually the river filled with silt and trading moved downstream to Da Nang, about 15 miles away.
One of the oldest buildings is the Lai Vien Kieu which means ‘Pagoda in Japan’. It was built in the early 1600s, probably by the Hoi An Japanese community and it has been renovated several times since. The Riverside Museum of History and Culture is also housed in one of the oldest building which dates back to 1653. It now houses a collection of ancient ceramics, photographs of local architecture and artifacts which span 2000 years of history. The town today continues to thrive as a tourist attraction and market. Around 88,000 people live and work here, maintaining its ancient traditions as they sell locally made silk and crafts. The Old Town has retained its winding lanes and Chinese-style shop-houses. Altogether there are 844 buildings which have been preserved and restoration continues.
Archaeological finds and excavations have shown that there was a port and trading centre of the local Sa Huynh people along the Thu Bon river as early as the 2nd century BC. This continued to expand, and by the 15th century Hoi An (known in Vietnam and abroad under various names - Fayfo, Haifo, Kaifo, Faifoo, Faicfo, Hoai Pho) was already the most important port of the powerful Champa Kingdom. It continued after the Vietnamese absorption of the Champa Kingdom in the same capacity, becoming one of the most important centres of mercantile, and hence cultural, exchange in South-East Asia, attracting ships and traders from elsewhere in Asia and from Europe, especially during its most flourishing period from the late 16th century to the early 18th century. It was through Hoi An that Christianity penetrated Vietnam in the 17th century. It retained its role as the main port of the central region throughout the 19th century, when the Nguyen dynasty kings operated a "closed trade policy." By the end of the century, the rise of other ports on the coast of Vietnam, in particular Da Nang, and silting of its harbour, led to the final eclipse of Hoi An. As a result of this economic stagnation, it has preserved its early appearance in a remarkably intact state.
Outstanding Universal Value
Hoi An Ancient town is located in Viet Nam’s central Quang Nam Province, on the north bank near the mouth of the Thu Bon River. The inscribed property comprises 30 ha and it has a buffer zone of 280 ha. It is an exceptionally well-preserved example of a small-scale trading port active the 15th to 19th centuries which traded widely, both with the countries of Southeast and East Asia and with the rest of the world. Its decline in the later 19th century ensured that it has retained its traditional urban tissue to a remarkable degree.
The town reflects a fusion of indigenous and foreign cultures (principally Chinese and Japanese with later European influences) that combined to produce this unique survival.
The town comprises a well-preserved complex of 1,107 timber frame buildings, with brick or wooden walls, which include architectural monuments, commercial and domestic vernacular structures, notably an open market and a ferry quay, and religious buildings such as pagodas and family cult houses. The houses are tiled and the wooden components are carved with traditional motifs. They are arranged side-by-side in tight, unbroken rows along narrow pedestrian streets. There is also the fine wooden Japanese bridge, with a pagoda on it, dating from the 18th century. The original street plan, which developed as the town became a port, remains. It comprises a grid of streets with one axis parallel to the river and the other axis of streets and alleys set at right angles to it. Typically, the buildings front the streets for convenient customer access while the backs of the buildings open to the river allowing easy loading and off-loading of goods from boats.
The surviving wooden structures and street plan are original and intact and together present a traditional townscape of the 17th and 18th centuries, the survival of which is unique in the region. The town continues to this day to be occupied and function as a trading port and centre of commerce. The living heritage reflecting the diverse communities of the indigenous inhabitants of the town, as well as foreigners, has also been preserved and continues to be passed on. Hoi An Ancient Town remains an exceptionally well-preserved example of a Far Eastern port.
Hoi An Ancient Town has retained its original form and function as an outstanding example of a well-preserved traditional South East Asian trading port and commercial centre. It remains complete as a homogenous complex of traditional wooden buildings, with the original organically developed street plan, within the town’s original river/seacoast setting.
These original cultural and historic features demonstrate the town’s outstanding universal value and are present, well-preserved, and evident within the boundary of the inscribed property, even while it continues to be occupied and function as a trading port, as well as a popular tourism destination. As a result of this economic stagnation since the 19th century, it has not suffered from development and there has not been pressure to replace the older wooden buildings with new ones in modern materials. This has ensured that the town has retained its traditional urban tissue and is preserved in a remarkably intact state.
Hoi An Ancient Town has retained its traditional wooden architecture and townscape in terms of plot size, materials, façade and roof line. Its original street plan, with buildings backing on to the river, with its infrastructure of quays, canals and bridges in its original setting, also remains. The historic landscape setting is also intact, consisting of a coastal environment of river, seashore, dunes and islands.
Because most of the buildings were constructed in wood it is necessary for them to be repaired at intervals, and so many buildings with basic structures from the 17th and 18th centuries were renewed in the 19th century, using traditional methods of repair. There is currently no pressure to replace older buildings with new ones in modern materials such as concrete and corrugated iron.
Take a cooking class at Brother’s Cafe and feast on your creations for dinner. This grand, U-shaped colonial building by the Thu Bon River is a window into a bygone era, with its gourmet Vietnamese cuisine and romantic garden courtyard.
Explore the abandoned Hindu temples of My Son, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The temples were constructed by the Champa kings between the 4th and the 14th century A.D. and are dedicated to the worship of the god Shiva. Beyond the beauty of the temples themselves, My Son area is home to rich scents emanating from neighboring coffee plantations and the sound of freshwater streams running through the tropical forest. Learn aout the sculptural details here that are specific to Cham design, as well as about the history of this period.
Take a private boat to the nearby Cham Islands. These islands are a quiet little fishing area populated by ethnic Cham people, an Austro-Asiatic group that fought the north Vietnamese for this territory for centuries. The islands are famed for salanganes, swallows whose nests have long been considered a delicacy by aristocrats and the wealthy. The islands are also a fine place to go snorkeling, as its waters are filled with all the manner of coral reefs and dazzling tropical fish.
Thu Bon River Cruise
Take a day trip along the Thu Bon River on a private river boat. Pass through Hoi An and take in the fishing villages and local markets along the riverbank before continuing upriver, where you will be immersed in the sights and sounds of sleepy, rural Vietnam.
Hoi An is one of the best places in Vietnam for bespoke clothing. Visit one of the finest tailor shops in Hoi An and choose from a variety of fabric swatches (linen, silk, cashmere wool, etc) and have your measurements taken for traditional garments, such as an ao dai, a form-fitting, traditional Vietnamese woman’s outfit composed of long silk pants and a long-sleeved top, or place an order for a Western suit or dress.
East Sea Beach
The pristine, white sands of East Sea Beach are famed for having been a favored rest and relaxation spot for American soldiers during the Vietnam War.
Cycling Tour of Old City
Explore the notable buildings of Hoi An on two wheels. Notable sites include the Japanese Covered Bridge, the Old House of Phung Hung, and the Sa Huynh Culture Museum.
Tours Information with Ethnic Voyages
It is easy to find transportation from Da Nang International Airport to Hoi An town. As Hoi An is pretty small, most tourists usually wander on foot or hire a bike to explore the town on their own. However, booking a tour with travel agencies is recommended for those who wish to make a day trip from Hoi An to other tourist attractions in the vicinity such as My Son Holy-land, Cu Lao Cham island or the suburban area.
Getting here: Hoi An is a 30 minute drive from Danang International Airport.