Located along the central coast of Vietnam is the ancient town of Hoi An. This town dates back centuries, and is rich with history and natural beauty. For travelers to Vietnam, Hoi An is a must-see for providing a glimpse into the country’s heritage. LeafCanoer, DeclanBradley, recently shared some of his favorite places to visit in his leaf, titled “Hoi An Hotspots.” A closer look at the culture and history behind the city provides some insight into these Hoi An hotspots.
History and Culture
In the 15th to 19th century, Hoi An served as an important trading port in Southeast Asia, bringing in traders from China, as well as Japan and European countries. The town’s architecture became greatly influenced by these multi-cultural interactions. Hoi An still retains many of its original wooden buildings, including a Japanese style bridge. And much of the city’s layout remains the same as it was centuries ago, with the buildings are laid out in a grid-like fashion, especially in the Old Town portion of the city. The Old Town is considered a UNESCO World Heritage site, and even today, Hoi An continues to serve as a trading port.
Old Town is full of places to walk and explore. One of the most popular spots is the market, which is located along the riverside. Visitors to the market can find fresh meat, fish, and vegetables, as well as fabrics, artwork, and wood carvings. There are also plenty of roadside cafes to grab a bite to eat and a rest, after a long day of shopping.
Being a coastal town, Hoi An is surrounded by natural beauty. About 1 km away from the historical part of Hoi An are beach resorts that can offer travelers a chance to relax and enjoy the sun and sand. Popular beaches include Cui Dai and An Bang, where visitors can enjoy a drink or meet other travelers. Biking along the beach is a common activity for travelers, and it’s a great place to watch the local fishermen bring in their haul.
If you’re interested in a brief excursion, head to the island of Cam Nam, across the inlet from Old Town. Visitors can access this island by bridge, and can walk or bike around the island. Cam Nam Island has plenty of small roads, fields, and lakes that are perfect for exploring. Many of Cam Nam’s locals are fisherman, so travelers can get a taste of what the fisherman life is like by visiting this island.
For a lengthier excursion, head to the Marble Mountains, which is located about 19 kilometers north of Hoi An. The Marble Mountains is a cluster of five hills made of limestone and marble, named after the five elements: metal, water, wood, fire, and earth. The mountains are home to several Buddhist sanctuaries and grottoes. Climbing up to the top of the mountain offers travelers breathtaking views of China Beach.
For those looking to explore the water, a trip to the Cham Islands, located about 16 kilometers east of Hoi An, is worth a try. Visitors can rent speedboats leaving from Cui Dai beach out to the islands. While there, visitors can enjoy snorkeling, or sample the local seafood. There are a couple of homestays and guest houses located on the islands, for those interested in staying overnight, but most travelers visit the Cham Islands as just a day trip from Hoi An.
Hoi An is a wonderful travel destination, rich in history and surrounded by natural beauty. For any traveler to Hoi An, it’s easy to fall in love with the picturesque buildings, the laid back atmosphere, and the delicious food. From the bustling market to the quaint fishing areas, there is a lot to love about this town.