Colourful and historic Hoi An is one of Vietnam’s most atmospheric towns.
A former trading port, the coastal city retains a charming mix of architectural styles with a French flare, local culinary delights and riverside heritage, free from the congestion of modern day traffic. Here are five things you can do to make the most of your time in the Vietnamese gem that is Hoi An.
1. Visit Old Town
Hoi An is World Heritage listed for its preserved ancient trading port which dates back to the 15th century. According to UNESCO, more than 800 historic buildings have been preserved, making Old Town look as it did several centuries ago. History’s cultural influences can be seen in the colourful homes, narrow alley ways and riverside cafes. Explore the ancient town by foot or bicycle and stroll passed the riverside markets and merchant houses, uncover the city’s history in the Chinese Assembly Hall and stop by the iconic Japanese Covered Bridge and pagoda.
2. Tailor your designer wardrobe
Roam among the city’s shop houses in designer-quality style. Home to the world’s highest concentration of tailors per capita and a major drawcard to the city, the tailors in Hoi An can design whatever you want, from suits and dresses to t-shirts, bags and leather shoes. The personalised tailored experience is also among the most affordable in the world.
We sent The Living Room’s Chris Brown to Yaly Couture to get suited up for the 2017 TV Week Logie Awards. Yaly Couture are prestigious tailors and shoe makers who provide exquisite traditional Vietnamese tailoring and an extensive range of fabrics, silks, cottons and cashmeres.
3. Cycle through town
Hop on the city’s most popular mode of transport and pedal your way through outlying farmlands and villages. Pass by rice paddies in the backstreets and experience Hoi An the way it was intended – on a bicycle. Make your way to An Bang Beach between March and September for a pleasant afternoon swim or stay in town and mingle with the locals for an authentic Hoi An experience.
4. Cruise the canals
Take to the water of the Thu Bon River on a cruise or sampan or hire your own kayak and navigate the waters at your own pace. Drift by markets lining the shores of the river as you paddle in to the setting sun. The Thu Bon River is the main water thoroughfare for many tourists and locals and can get quite busy in peak periods. Rarely visited is the Water Coconut Palm Canal, a tranquil area where local fisherman navigate basket boats through narrow waterways.
5. Lanterns of Hoi An
Hoi An ditches the comforts of electricity seven times a year, sending the city back to a time when the bustling port was adorned in flickering candle light. Vietnamese silk lanterns hang from overhead wires and drift along the river in a magical display of light during lantern festivals on the 14th of each lunar month. Lanterns make the perfect souvenir and can be purchased in the city.