Hoi An is a beautiful and ancient port city in central Vietnam with over 2000 years of history. The name, Hoi An, translates to "peaceful meeting place". The city was given this name because multiple cultures, influences, and cuisines all interact and exist together in this bustling metropolis.
Hoi An is truly a great place to see breathtaking villages and beaches as well as to explore a modern city and learn about the multiculturalism it consists of.
To help you plan your time in Hoi An, here are the top 7 must-see attractions that will make your journey the experience of a lifetime:
Ancient Town - Port of the Far East
Known as the cultural heart of Hoi An, Ancient Town began as an important trading port in the 15th-century. There are many port cities in East Asia, but what is special about Ancient Town is how well it has been preserved. Many of the buildings, streets, and families have been the same for hundreds of years.
Ancient Town is also well-known in Vietnam because of the mixture of cultures that have all left their mark in the area. The three groups that have had the most influence in the city are the Chinese, Japanese, and French and many homes in Ancient Town were built with inspiration from all three cultures.
The best time to visit Ancient Town is at sunset when the streets are illuminated by yellow lanterns which glow in the windows of the antique homes. At festival times, the streets are lively and decorated with paper lanterns, which makes for an interesting time to visit also.
Phuc Kien Assembly Hall - Chinese Heritage
Founded in 1690, the Phuc Kien Assembly Hall was built by Chinese immigrants who came to Hoi An by boat. The literal meaning of Phuc Kien is "place for gathering". The assembly hall was built as a place for the new Chinese immigrants to socialize and worship.
Today, Phuc Kien stands out in Hoi An for its incredible architecture. The ornate and colorful gate that leads into the courtyard is a little taste of what lies inside. The biggest attraction is the center temple which is dedicated to Thien Hau, the sea goddess who was said to have protected the Chinese immigrants on their journey.
This is a great place to go for visitors who want to sit and observe the daily life of Hoi An's people and see the Chinese influence on the area.
Japanese Covered Bridge - Linking Cultures
The Japanese Covered Bridge is located in Ancient Town and was constructed in the early 1600s by the Japanese people who had settled there. This bridge's original purpose was to link the Japanese community to the Chinese quarter of Ancient Town.
This beautiful piece of architecture is one of the biggest tourist attractions in the city and has become a symbol of Hoi An. The bridge is made of colorfully painted wood and sits over the still reflective waters of a canal. At night the bridge is lit up with traditional lanterns and is a beautiful sight!
At the north end of the bridge, there is a small Taoist temple where some locals go to worship. In order to enter the temple, visitors are required to purchase a ticket.
House of Tan Ky - Glimpse of the Past
Built by an ethnically Vietnamese family, this 200-year-old house is a great example of the fusion architecture of Hoi An. The house contains Vietnamese, Japanese, and Chinese influences all in one place.
Although Tan Ky is not the oldest house in Hoi An, it is the most well-preserved. The family who built and owns the house has worked for 7 generations to keep the house in good condition.
Taking a tour of Tan Ky not only gives visitors a good idea of how Vietnamese people live, but it also helps the owners maintain the house for future generations.
An Bang Beach - White Sand and Blue Water
Only 4 miles from Ancient Town, this beach is the perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and relax on the sandy shores. An Bang Beach is the up-and-coming beach of Hoi An. It has everything that beach-goers could want, from entertainment to great food.
An Bang offers visitors an array of seaside entertainment including resorts, affordable restaurants, and casual bars. For those looking to be active on their beach day, other activities such as paddle boarding, surfing lessons, snorkeling, and kayaking are also available.
Last but not least, the view from An Bang is gorgeous, with bright blue waters and three tropical islands in the distance.
Tra Que Village - Live Like a Local
This small picturesque village is well known as a supplier of Hoi An's fresh and organic vegetables. These vegetables are produced without using manure or toxic chemicals, instead, the farmers use a special type of local algae as fertilizer. The vegetables of Tra Que village are highly valued throughout Vietnam for their taste and fragrance.
When visiting Tra Que, travelers have the opportunity to experience the daily life of people in the villages of Vietnam. There are three different tours to Tra Que Village including a bike tour of the area, a farming experience tour, and a culinary tour. Some companies will offer a combination of all three!
Tra Que is only a 15-minute bike ride away from Ancient Town and is definitely worth a visit, even for people who don't have time to do a full tour. It has been described by many as a "photographers paradise" with the beautiful scenery, great lighting, and Vietnamese people going about their day-to-day work.
My Son Sanctuary - The Ancient Kingdom
This Hindu temple complex was once part of the ancient Champa civilization that used to rule central Vietnam from the 2nd to the 17th-century. My Son Sanctuary is often considered the most stunning landmark in the region. The sanctuary contains more than 70 Hindu structures and was built over a period of ten centuries.
The name My Son means "beautiful mountain" in Vietnamese. The reason for its name is that the complex is located in a stunning jungle valley that is surrounded by picturesque mountains and lush green vegetation. The peaks of the mountains make the perfect background for the 70 red stone temples that cover the area.
My Son Sanctuary is considered one of the oldest and longest inhabited archaeological sites in Indochina. The site itself has survived many natural disasters and wars and is still an incredible sight!
Explore Asia with Asia Highlights
At Asia Highlights we offer tailor-made tours through Asia, where you can enjoy all highlights as well as amazing cultural experiences. To get started, send us an email.