26 Oct Hoi An, Vietnam
Hoi An, Vietnam
Would you like to travel back in time by visiting an ancient coastal town?
If you ever wanted to see how a 15th century trading post looked like, a visit to Hoi An ancient town, Vietnam is a must. Hoi An which translates to “peaceful meeting place” is a seaside town located on the South China Sea in the Quang Nam province adjacent to the mouth of The Bon River. The buildings in the town reflect the indigenous as well as Chinese, Japanese and European influences. Hoi An is listed as World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Read on to know more about this beautiful town…
During first century, this town was occupied by Austronesian speaking Malayo Polynesian people. The town was part of Champa Empire and was known as Lam Ap Pho(“Champa City”). Around 16th century, Hoi An was founded by by Lord Nguyen Hoang. It had the largest harbor in Southeast Asia. Although the port was trading a number of exclusive materials, it was predominantly involved in spice trade. The town saw it’s peak during 18th century, when Chinese and Japanese merchants considered Hoi An as the best destination for trading in the entire Asia. The Japanese were very sure that the dragon that brings good luck is hidden under the earth of Hoi An. The town was also considered an exclusive port dealing with Ceramic materials. Ship wreck discoveries reveal that Ceramic was transported to as far as Egypt.
The town came to a grinding halt when Nguyen’s rule collapsed during the end of 18th century. Since then, Hoi An remained untouched by the changes that took place in Vietnam.
There are a number of top attractions at Hoi An. The following are the notable ones:
- Japanese Covered Bridge. A trip to Hoi An would not be complete without a visit to this bridge. The Japanese built it in the 1590s to connect the Chinese quarters across the stream. As there were earthquake scares during the time, this bridge was built very strongly using the latest technologies that existed during that time. The bridge has a roof to protect people from rain and sun. There were a number of modifications done to the bridge including the flattening of the road to facilitate easy movement of vehicles however the original arch shape was restored in 1986.
- Assembly Hall of the Fujian Chinese Congregation. This is a religious site dedicated to Thien Hau, a diety from Fujian province. This was originally built as a place for Fujianese immigrants to meet, socialize and trade. There are a number of murals depicting stories of the deity as well as Fujian mythology. The architecture of the site is attractive due to the usage of striking colors and decorative carvings. The temple is surrounded by lush gardens which are not only refreshing but also makes the trip that much more complete.
- Tan Ky House. This is a truly a gem of a house which was built by an ethnic Vietnamese family two centuries ago. The house has been carefully preserved for seven generations. The house reflects elements from both Japanese as well as Chinese influences. The Japanese style ceiling, Chinese style interiors and European style decorations on the balcony are an absolute treat to watch. The back of the house overlooks the river which was used by foreign merchants back then. The house is built in such a way that it’s kept cool during summer as well as winter.
- Tran Family Chapel. This chapel was commissioned by Tran Tu back in 1802. The chapel has a turtle shaped Chinese style roof, Japanese style triple beam and vernacular. There is a central door which is reserved only for the dead. It is generally opened on November 11th which happens to be the death anniversary of the main ancestor. The wooden boxes on the altar contains Chinese characters inscribed on it. On the death anniversary of each family member, food is offered to their box along with burning of incense.
- Swan Boats One of the coolest ways to experience Hoi An is by river. Swan boats are one of a kind passenger boats with giant swan heads. The eyes of the swan light up at night making it a real feast to watch. The boat glides on the river showcasing the best scenery Hoi An has to offer. Passengers can get to listen “Santa Claus is coming” which is normally played at double speed.
Apart from these attractions, there are numerous museums, cycle rides and shopping precincts which makes Hoi An a great place to visit.
Of late, heavy tourism has driven the prices up significantly. So, tourists can expect inflated prices on just about anything. The extent to which this might affect the travel depends on the currency exchange rate. For instance a beer costs 15000 Vietnamese dong which is approximately 1 US dollar whereas a bowl of noodles costs 20000 dongs i.e close to 2 US dollars. If you are looking to stretch your dollar, there are number of cheap eats available. Most of them are street side restaurants.
Coming to accommodation, rooms in the city center and around the coast are available in the range of 20 US dollars per night. However, there are cheaper options available for 10 US dollars per night few kilometers away from the center.
TRAVEL TIPS TO GET AROUND
Hoi An is a congested city so visitors would often find motorists and pedestrians fight for space on the road. The best way to get around the town is on a bicycle. Hiring a bike is also less expensive approximately 20000 dongs (2 US dollars). The government imposes road closures on certain dates when there would be traditional events so it’s best to check before hand. As a result of these closures, motorists tend to ride through the narrowest residential streets so tourists need to be extra cautious while walking on any road.
PRICES OF ENTRY/TRANSPORT IN LOCAL AREA
Hoi An is served by Da Nang airport. The town is 30 kilometers away from the airport and it normally takes forty five minutes to get there. Round trip tickets from United States cost around 2500 US dollars on average. However, there are generally discounts available reducing the cost significantly. There are number of transport options available at Hoi An including taxis, motorbikes and boat. The cost for public transport is approximately 1 US dollar to 5 US dollars per hour.
As you can see, Hoi An ancient town, Vietnam is absolutely a wonderful place to visit and is guaranteed to take visitors by surprise. There is no doubt that Hoi An would make visitors want to come again and again.