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Travel guide

Hoi An Town

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 produc

HOI AN TOWN

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.

Halong Tours Booking’s Pick: Top 5 Must Do

Hoi An Ancient Town

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.

Shopping

Hoi An tailor shop

This is what you have to do in Hoi An, Vietnam — getting the tailor made clothes. There are more than 400 tailor shops around the town for everything: dress, skirts, shirts, bikinis, shoes, accessories and even jewelries. You can custom made whatever you want –

The skillful tailors of Hoi An are well-known throughout the world. Many of them can trace the trade through several generations of their family, and it’s not only women who are pulling a needle and thread. With deft fingers and a keen eye, they’re known by many as master craftsmen, able to copy any design they see. If you show them a picture of a coat, suit or dress, you can expect a nearly exact replica to be produced within 24-48 hours. The best tailor shops in Hoi An are well-known, and they are the reason that Vietnamese from all parts of the country will encourage you to visit this central city.

 

 

My Son Holly Land

G-Tip

Most travelers consider Hoi An a great base to visit nearby My Son Holyland, the other UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site in Quang Nam province. It is peacefully nestled in a verdant valley, lying 40km southwest of Hoi An and 70 km southwest of Danang downtown.

My Son Holy Land was once a religious and political center of the mighty Champa Kingdom, which flourished all over Central and South Vietnam from 7th century to 15th century. The exquisite complex comprised 70 structures (mainly temples and towers) built by Cham Kings to commemorate important events during their reigns. About 20 of them, however, were nearly destroyed and many others were partly ruined by aerial bombs during American War. Only 25 monuments remain intact today though parts of them are in decreasing conditions due to weather exposure and overgrowth vegetation.

Despite all these, My Son Sanctuary is still the finest example of Cham architecture in Vietnam. It is still a secret how and by what kind of substance Cham people could stick these red baked bricks together to form such solid structures. High shrine towers with double pillars, solid walls, elaborate carvings and striking sculptures, all reflect the exclusive beauty of Cham culture. There are also many valuable artifacts (mainly sculptures) found in its archeological site and displayed in Cham Museum (Danang). Albeit not as extensive as Angkor Wat in Cambodia or Ayutthaya in Thailand, My Son is the first inhabited site of Indian Hinduism civilization in Southeast Asia. It boasts its own charm and glorious history.

Tra Que Cooking class

Riding on bike you can see the tranquil atmosphere of the countryside of Vietnam. Arrive at Tra Que Organic village, you have a walk through and visit the garden where local farmers work on their farm and use the traditional methods without having electrical machines support. Next, you are under the instruction of household; he will show you how to prepare and make the land, you fertilize green manure before growing vegetables. Watering the vegetables, which you have just grown, is the last activity in the procedure of planting them. After that, you pick fresh saw-tooth coriander and Vietnamese mint for your cooking lesson later.

You have about 20 minutes to relax by soaking your feet in Vietnamese herbs. This is one of the ways to refresh yourself after the hard time in garden. Then you can join with the family chef and learn the traditional ways in preparing and cooking local Vietnamese dishes. Have your lunch with the family after class.

Hoi An Handicraft Workshop

This 200-year-old Chinese trading house is a historic structure where contemporary travelers can bear witness ancient Vietnamese crafts. On-site artisans construct silk lanterns, practice traditional embroidery, throw terra cotta pottery and weave fabric. Guides explain techniques and offer insight into these traditional crafts. Visitors will find the prices fair and variety vast. Traditional shows are performed daily and these 45-minute events, which include music, dance and song, are worth sticking around for.

Halong Tours Booking’s Pick: Top 5 Must See

Japanese Covered Bridge

One of Vietnam's most iconic attractions, Hoi An's Japanese covered bridge dates back to the 18th century and is a beautiful historical piece of Japanese architecture. It is claimed that it was created by the Japanese then living in Hoi An as a way to reach the Chinese quarter across the water.

The bridge was opened by Nguyen Phuc Chu Lord in 1719 who carved three Chinese symbols above the door in commemoration. The bridge also features the sculptures of two dogs and two monkeys representing the Chinese years in which many Japanese Emperors were born along with the fact that the building of the bridge began in the year of the dog and was completed in the year of the monkey.

The Japanese Covered Bridge underwent renovation work in 1986 which saw the restoration of the arch that was once flattened to make way for cars. Today, the bridge stands as a symbol of Hoi An and remains as aesthetically pleasing as it was when it first opened.

Fukian Assembly Hall (Phuc Kien)

Fujian (Phuc Kien) Assembly Hall was built around 1690 and functions as a traditional assembly hall for the Chinese ethnic group from Fujian, China to socialise, but later was transformed into a temple dedicated to their deity named Thien Hau – the goddess of sea who protects sailors from danger. As told by the preceding generations, the Chinese in Hoi An decided to build that temple to worship the statue of the goddess which was found on Hoi An Beach in 1697. Probably the most prominent amongst 5 Assembly Halls in the town, today Fujian Assembly Hall is located in 46 Tran Phu St.

Old House of Tan Ky

Located at 101 Nguyen Thai Hoc Street, in the Old Quarter of Hoi An Ancient Town, Tan Ky Old house is an almost perfect example of a 18th merchant’s residence in this major commercial port town. The name Tan Ky, meaning “Progress Shop”, was given to the house by the second generation to express the owner’s wish for a prosperous business.

In spite of the decline in business of the town and the huge devastation of annual floods, seven generations of the family have continuously strive to keep the house in good condition. Therefore though it’s not the oldest, Tan Ky is the most well-preserved in Hoi An.

 

Halong Tours Booking’s Pick: Top 5 Must Eat

Com Ga

Com ga is as ubiquitous in Hoi An as pho is in Saigon on so you'll be able to find it on nearly every street corner.

It's a straightforward meal of seasoned rice and shredded chicken, served with a side of fresh onions, greens and mint leaves. Nothing about com ga will change your life but it certainly makes for a filling meal when you're in the mood for something simple and fast.

The tastiest spot I found was away from the city center, near my hotel on Hai Ba Trung at the family-run Cafe 619. I'll let you in on a secret though; their com ga is good, but not half as good as their savory pork. Same meal, different meat, but trusts me on the pork! 

Cau Lau

Cau lau is a bowl of doughy flat noodles served with bean sprouts, green vegetables, slices of juicy pork and croutons.

The secret to a good cau lau is said to come from the water from the Ban Le well in town. Whatever the secret ingredient may be, the taste is simply delicious!

The best street cau lau can be found along the river, just outside the Citronella Restaurant near the old Japanese Bridge. They add sprigs of fresh mint into their bowl of cau lau, and it makes all the difference! 

White Rose

With such a pretty name as White Rose, you can expect something as delicate and light as these steamed shrimp dumpling-like appetizers.

Trust me, they're small and you'll need something more substantial for a full meal. In any case, no meal in Hoi An truly starts without a plate of White Rose on the table. 

Fried Won Tons

Delicate and crispy fried won tons topped with fresh ingredients is another Hoi An specialty to help start a meal right.

I'm typically not one to indulge in fried foods, but the fried won tons are light and tasty, not greasy and oily. With a number of toppings to choose from such as beef and duck, as well as vegetarian options, these friend won tons can win over anyone, no matter how picky an eater. 

Dessert at Cargo

Perhaps the best surprise in all of Hoi An is the delightful bakery found at the wildly popular

Cargo restaurant.

The chocolate cheesecake literally changed my life!

It's rich, creamy and the milk chocolate topping is absolutely divine. So good that I had to have a slice three days in a row! In fact, every dessert I tried at Cargo was fabulous, including the cinnamon waffle served hot off the grill with a scoop of ice cream. Magnificent!

An evening is not complete in Hoi An without a stop in Cargo for dessert and once you try one, you'll find it hard to not keep going back.

 

Getting There

By Air

Depend on which country you come from

Airport Transfer

G-Tip

Prior to arrival, check with Halong Tours Booking  if airport transfer is already included in your holiday package.  

For less hassle, a fixed fare taxi stand is located at the exit of the airport, offering rides to the city at USD$20. You can also opt to hop onto any of the other taxis waiting at the airport, but agree on the fare before or else you’ll find yourself in for an expensive surprise. Prices range from USD$15 – USD$25. Some of these taxis may bring you to a similarly named hotel or try to sell you accommodation and tours, so be careful.
 

Getting Around

G-Tip

When crossing the streets, remember to go slow and not make any sudden movements. This allows the motorbikes and cars around you to anticipate your speed and swerve safely around you. Do not stop suddenly or run across the street.

If you’re not in a rush and have some time to spare, seeing the sights on foot in Hanoi can be very rewarding, especially if you’re staying in the Old Quarter, given the close proximity most attractions are to each other and the many cafes to stop at for a short rest and some of that obligatory Vietnamese drip coffee.

If you’re planning on touring, there are plenty of metered taxis at your service such as the Blue Bird taxi. While there are other reliable taxi services, always make sure they switch on the meter. Otherwise, you can bargain for a price or if you are not comfortable with that, you can always get another cab.

Should walking around become too taxing, there is always a cyclo (trishaw) round the corner offering to take you somewhere. While it can be a novelty to ride around the bustling city on a trishaw, you should be wary of cyclos because the drivers can sometimes be temperamental and are known for forcing tours onto unsuspecting tourists.

G-Tip

Always negotiate prices with cyclos and Xe oms in advance to avoid a fare scare later on.

Most taxi drivers speak very limited English so it’s best to bring along a business card from your hotel and an address to the destination you’re going to.

Xe oms (motorbike taxis) are also a popular form of tourist transportation for shorter trips. Just look out for the local lad out on his motorbike, looking around expectantly. Xe oms can be found almost anywhere in the city, especially if you’re not venturing far from the Old Quarter.

Taxi rates are very reasonable for longer trips if you manage to catch one without a doctored meter. The meters kick off at a rate of around 10,000d to 15,000d and every kilometre costs about 8,000d. Some trustworthy taxi companies include: Mai Linh (043-822 2666) and Hanoi Taxi (043-853 5353).
 

Motorbike / bicycle renting can be a cheap and fun option to see the city if you’re confident in your biking skills as the traffic can be quite intimidating. Motorbike rentals can be arranged with your hotel or a nearby guesthouse for USD$5 while bicycles can be rented for as low as USD$1.

Weather

G-Tip

Bring along a sweater when travelling in the colder months of December till February.

Hanoi gets especially hot with average temperatures of up to 36˚C during the summer months of May – August. This is also the period where it gets very rainy and wet.

Moderate weather can be found from September till November.

The city gets slightly cooler and temperature drops to a mild 10˚C – 20˚C from December till February.

Practical Tips & Information

Be careful of scams in the city. The most common scam thrown the newcomer’s way is the “price confusion” scam where locals will claim that the agreed price was much higher or had more zeroes. Always carry along a paper and a pen to write down prices with agreed vendors, be it transportation or shops. You don’t want to be paying 50,000d for something you initially thought was 15,000d.

When walking around on the sidewalks, always be aware of motorbikes coming from all directions. The sidewalks are just shortcuts in disguise to Vietnamese bikers, so be careful when strolling along. Just listen out for the incessant honking.

In case you run into any trouble, the police can be reached at 113. Should you need any medical help, International SOS is available at 04-934 0666 / 04-934 0555 (24-hr Emergencies).

 

 

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