It was love at first sight. The shabby blue and yellow walls, old wooden houses of Chinese merchants, colorful lanterns, small shops, proximity to a beautiful beach and a quiet countryside.
I knew it would be pretty, as everybody praise this town. But still, I didn’t know it will be that gorgeous.
We had crossed already half of Vietnam. Until now, my impressions were mixed. A dreadful tour on Mekong delta, crowded and modern Ho Chi Minh, loud and kitschy Nha Trang. I needed something that will finally convince me to Vietnam, make me change my attitude. I needed Hoi An.
Hoi An is a small town situated in central Vietnam. Although it is not located right at the coast, but along the estuary of Thu Bon river, Hoi An was a very important trading port on the South China Sea. The maritime part of the Silk Route passed through it making it home for lots of foreigners: Japanese, Chinese and even Europeans. This fact is important as Hoi An has conserved many buildings from those times and thanks to this is so interesting. On just a couple of streets you can find buildings where local elements mix with influence from different parts of the world. The most recognizable spot is covered Japanese Bridge, build by merchants from Japan in 16th century. Moreover, you can see some Chinese Assembly Halls, buddhist temples, old houses made of a characteristic black wood and a couple of museums showing the history of the place. Hoi An is recognized as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO since 1999.
The old part of the city is closed for cars and motorbikes. It’s a big relief, as most of the Asian cities is crowded with thousands of loud cars and scooters. You can walk through the old town in silence and peace, disturbed only by some ladies from numerous shops with souvenirs and clothes. Hoi An is a city of tailors. At every step you can find shops with tailor-made clothes, usually ready for the next day. I wasn’t planning to shop, but after I entered one of the tailors I was measured so quickly and presented to many beautiful clothes, that before I looked back the dress was ordered. The following day I came back for fitting, but everything was ok, so the new dress was ready to wear after less than 24 hours.
Hoi an is wonderful in the afternoon, when the sun brightens the intense yellow walls of most of the buildings. Later in the day you can go by the river and admire a colorful sunset that reflects in the shiny sheet of water. At night you can walk along the narrow streets in the light of many colorful lanterns hanging from every house. Hoi An is gorgeous, quiet and also located nearby a nice beach and pleasant villages, where you can spot people fishing, working in the fields and water buffaloes chilling in the mud. The biggest must in Vietnam.