Hoi An is one of the most famous places in Vietnam despite only being relatively small. Why? Because it’s gorgeous! Formerly it was a trading port, and now it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that still boasts plenty of goods to sell. If you’re into temples, historical architecture (a big chunk is from the colonial era) and shopping, then you need to get yourself down to Hoi An!
GETTING TO HOI AN
Da Nang is the hub for getting to Hoi An so there are plenty of routes from our study hub city- Grab motorbikes and cars as well as buses are options. You can also pass some great sites on your way, such as the Marble Mountains!
My mum was visiting when I went (yes, it’s perfectly possible to let your family and friends come and visit you, please do!) so we decided to get a Grab car. The trip was about thirty kilometres and cost the same as a three-kilometre taxi trip at home. It’s perfectly possible to live cheaply in South East Asia- excluding accommodation, I spent less than £50 a week which didn’t leave me scrimping.
HOI AN OLD TOWN
Most of what you will want to see is in the old town. It’s nice to get away from the chaos of Vietnamese roads- some are bike and motorbike only, some are pedestrian only.
The old town had a large Chinese influence due to many of the merchants in its trading period originating from there. You will still find some signs written in Mandarin and other Chinese languages as well as Chinese influenced buildings.
The contents of the buildings have modernised, but the vendors have done an excellent job at preserving the past. You can step back into the history of Vietnam upon entering Hoi An; it’s quaint since we’re located in the rapidly expanding Da Nang City!
JAPANESE COVERED BRIDGE
China isn’t the only East Asian nation which has had an influence on the area- Japan has too. In the 18th Century, a bridge was built so they could access the Chinese Quarter much more easily, and it’s a beautifully traditional piece of architecture. You can tell it’s not Vietnamese but it still fits in with the old town vibe of Hoi An.
RIVERSIDE AND LANTERN FESTIVAL
The riverside is a must for Hoi An! This is where a lot of the markets are located. Hoi An was a convenient stopping point for merchants in the past and the tradition of sellers setting up to grab their attention still remains.
One of Hoi An’s most iconic sights is all the lanterns which are set up on certain nights of the month. Check out some videos on YouTube and you’ll see why it’s so high on many people’s list of things to see!
It’s not just Hoi An that has amazing sights in the area- there are endless rice fields, pagodas and war memorials to see around the site!
Getting a bike is an intimate way to get around these locations, regardless of how well you can cycle. While you can see all of Hoi An by foot, it’s both better to sightsee and better for environment and your wallet if you hire a bike and go around to see everything on your own accord.
SCUBA DIVING AND SNORKELLING
Fancy seeing what’s under the waters in Hoi An? This is possible! Cu Lao Cham Marine Park is a group of eight islands off the coast, recognised by UNESCO as the World Biosphere Reserve. You can get a half an hour express boat or take a forty-five-minute trip on a fisherman’s boat. There are multiple diving centres, but if snorkelling isn’t your thing, Cham Island is also a great place to experience pristine beaches and authentic culture.
About the author
Jasmin Dawling is one of Global Grad’s January 2019 students and is completing a full-time Bachelor’s degree with the Open University in International Studies. While this is her first time formally blogging, she has had plenty of writing experience in the past, from novel writing since the age of six to working on the school newspaper. Apart from seeing the sights of South East Asia and working on her degree, Jasmin spends most of her time either procrastinating or writing down her novel ideas, be it on her travelling-inspired new ideas or the 7-part series she’s been toying with for almost ten years.