Hoi An was once an important trading port in Indochina and today is a tourist hub retaining authentic Asian traditional architecture. As an UNESCO World Heritage Site, its nostalgia vibe makes it an incredible place to see, though today the division between the locals and the magnificent restaurants and tourism services is apparent. Though the whole town is worth visiting, there are some you should spend time explore as mentioned below.
The whole Old Quarter can be seen as a huge museum with endless reminiscences of the past time with ancient houses, narrow streets and shops remained the same as they were a few centuries ago.
Walking around the Old Quarter, you can feel the cultural essence of the Vietnamese, Chinese and Japanese intermingling harmoniously into the unique culture of Hoi An. Ancient houses, assembly houses or the Japanese bridge are some typical well-preserved architecture representing the culture. You can also enjoy traditional arts performance or enjoy specialties in restaurant scattering the area.
Apart from the ancient and touristy town, you can take yourself to the suburb and enjoy eco-tourism in villages such as Tra Que Vegetable Village or Kim Bong Carpentry Village. Visiting these areas, you can see the real life of locals in Hoi An and enjoy something cannot be found in the town.
You can spend half a day to visit Kim Bong Village by bicycle or by boat to see artisans there making furniture, religious statues or other wooden items. Its artisans has involved in work on furniture and house across the country, including those in Hue and Hoi An.
Tra Que Vegetable Village, 2km away from the Old Quarter, is where you can watch the simple and healthy life of farmer beside the touristy town. You can also experience the farmer’s life, attend traditional Vietnamese cuisine cooking class and try fresh vegetable grown in the village. It can be reached by bike or boat.
Getting out the nostalgic town of Hoi An, tourists can reach the beautiful beaches and islands to enjoy the nature, play water sports like scuba diving, snorkelling or join an offshore fishing tour.
The UNESCO’s World Biosphere Reserve Cham Island, which is locally known as Cu Lao Cham, is about 18 km away from Hoi An.
It has recently been open for tourists and is accessible only seven months a year. Visiting the island, tourists can enjoy the unspoilt beauty of nature with a diversity of fauna and floea and a few human beings. Besides, it provides wonderful seafood and interesting eco-tour visiting fishing villages or exploring the forest.
From Hoi An, tourists can take a ferry from its public pier at 7.30 am or book an organized tour to get to Cham Island.
Cua Dai, 4km from downtown Hoi An, was once a favourite destination for many tourists but impacts of erosion and sea encroachment destroyed it.
2km further north, An Bang beach is now the best beach option for visitors to Hoi An. It offers a clean beach with nice coastal restaurants and bars with great seafood.
Hoi An food is heavily influenced by traditional culinary art of central Vietnam and of foreign traders, especially Chinese, coming and living in the town for a long time.
Typical cuisines include my Quang (Quang-styled noodles), cao lau (another type of rice noodles), com ga (yellowed rice served with shredded chicken and herbs), banh bao and banh vac (steamed rice dumplings stuffed with pork and mushroom or shrimp and spices), banh beo (steamed rice pancake) and banh mi, which is often praised as among the best Vietnamese sandwiches.
Hoi An’s street food is worth trying, as you can taste the flavour of almost every locations in the country there, thanks to the city’s central position.
Surprising as it sounds, Hoi An houses more than 200 tailors in its tiny area. The town is also famous for its skilful tailors, whose skills and techniques are handed down through several generations. Tourists can have traditional Ao dai or other clothes custom-made for themselves within 24-48 hours. Be noted that you should do some research to choose the best tailor shop and the best clothes.