Hoi An is an ancient town and a UNESCO world heritage site located in Quang Nam Province in central Vietnam on the north bank near Thu Bon River's mouth. The town has origins, dating back to the 15th century and is known for buildings with eclectic and historical architecture that combined Chinese, Japanese and European influences. It's located on 30 hectares of land and has a buffer zone of 280 hectares. Hoi An has a 7-kilometer coastline with nice beaches and a lucrative fishing sector as evidenced by the abundance of boats docked and cruising Thu Bon River.
The History of Hoi An
From the 15th to 19th-century Hoi An was a vibrant, international trading port town for Southeast, East Asia countries and the rest of the world. During the Nguyen family dynasty of 1802 to 1945, the town was the busiest trading port in the Dang Trong region, also called Nam Ha in Southern Vietnam. Traders from Portugal, China, Japan, Spain, and the Netherlands stopped in Hoi An to barter and buy commodities. Based on the earliest architectural records and archeological relics, Hoi An was also a melting point for Vietnamese, Champa, Portuguese, Japanese and Chinese cultures. Though late in the 19th century the town declined it still has relatively kept its traditional architectural aura to date.
The Architecture of Hoi An
Hoi An has 1,107 well-preserved timber frame buildings with brick and wooden walls that include architectural monuments, domestic and commercial structures with vernacular designs. The town has religious buildings like pagodas, family cult houses, an open market, and a ferry quay. The houses have tiles and wooden pieces carved with traditional patterns. They are also positioned next to each other in straight rows in narrow pedestrian streets. Hoi An also has an 18th-century wooden Japanese bridge with a colorful pagoda anchored by rugged, rectangular beams that tower over a stream with lush greenery by the banks.
Places to visit and sites to see in Hoi An
Trieu Chau Assembly Hall
This assembly hall was built in 1845 by Chinese from the Chaozhou region then called Trieu Chau. It is heavily adorned with Chinese artifacts and is a popular destination for tourists. Annually descendants of the Trieu Chau gather at this hall to worship their ancestors from the 1st to the 16th day of the first lunar month. The hall was built and dedicated to the god of wind and big waves that hall owners believed bestowed luck to them. Its entry has a two-layered roof anchored by four red pillars embossed with Chinese letters and motifs made with porcelain pieces. The wooden frames are carved with beautiful patterns and designs.
The main hall was dedicated to the god of mastering the waters who hall owners prayed to seek help to travel smoothly on the sea. Initially, people visited the hall at night to pray and hope their wishes would come true. The two sides of the Phuc Ba's altar are reserved for worshipping the gods of wealth and luck. The hall's east wing is dedicated to former sages, chiefs, and deputy chiefs.
Cua Dai Beach
The palm-lined beach is in the Cam An Ward area 4 kilometers northeast of Hoi An Town. It's over 3 kilometers long and 300 meters wide. The slightly sloped beach has fine white sands and clear and small wave blue waters ideal for swimming and other water sports. On weekdays the beach allows tourists privacy and solace which is rare in Vietnam but during the weekends, it's full.
Within the beach, there are vendors that sell drinks, snacks, pastries, and pineapples. The safest months for swimming in the waters are between April and October. In full moon season, people wander on the beach until late at night. By the Cui Dai Beach, there are resorts and lodges built in Vietnamese traditional style that host visiting tourists. Refreshments and seafood are also available at local kiosks around the beachfront.
Hoi An Museum of Folk Culture
Opened on March 3rd, 2005, the museum house on 33 Nguyen Thai Hoc Street is the largest two-story wooden house in the ancient town of Hoi An. It's 57 meters long and 9 meters in width. Its first floor hosts Hoi An culture and folklore performances. On the museum's second floor are 490 traditional artifacts, clustered in plastic fork art, performing fork arts, traditional occupations, and artifacts categories. The Hoi An Museum of Folk Culture curates previous generations' cultures when Hoi An was being developed. Yearly over 10,000 local and international tourists visit the museum that is open on weekdays. Each month on the 20th it's closed for maintenance.
Tra Que Vegetable Village
This vegetable village was started in the 17th and 18th centuries and is about 2.5 from Hoi An center to the north. Tra Que Vegetable Village produces medicinal and tasty vegetables. They are grown on 40 hectares of land by about 200 local farming families traditionally using intensive farming techniques and are fertilized by Tra Que lagoon algae. The algae fertilizer gives the vegetables an aromatic flavor and is worth visiting to sample their dishes and watch farmers tending to them. Lemongrass, coriander, basil, perilla, lettuce houttuynia, fragrant knotweed, and morning glory are among the 40 plants farmed there and used as Vietnamese cuisine ingredients. At the Tra Que Vegetable Village, visitors can make their own dishes from the vegetables and plants there and enjoy a basil seed drink.
Annually there are festivals celebrating Korean, Japanese, and Vietnamese cultures, foods, different new years, arts, environmental festivals, and tourism activities.