Hoi An Ancient Town - The Lanterns City

Located on the coast of in the Central of Vietnam, Hoi An is a city in Quang Nam Province and is an exceptionally well-preserved trading centre in the south of Vietnam in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries. During that time, merchants coming from Europe and over the East gathered in Hoi An to exchange business frequently which was the main factor affecting the architectural styles as well as the fusion of cultures of the region. By the mid-19th century, the progressive silting up of the Thu Bon River forced the cargo ships to call at Danang harbour that made Hoi An into a forgotten backwater and almost untouched by the changes of Vietnam for more than hundred years. The result is a delightful old town as well as a living museum with lots of historical monuments and ancient architectures preserved – a tranquil place where the visitors should immerse and explore for several days.

The name Hoi An means “peaceful meeting place”, it is exact words to describe this place. Hoi An was recognized by UNESCO as World Cultural Heritage in 1999 for its unique historical and cultural values that cannot be seen anywhere else in Vietnam. Although Hoi An is not very big, this charming town is the right place for you to have an unforgettable experience on your trip to this S-shaped country. 

Best time to visit Hoi An

Unlike Northern parts of Vietnam, Hoi An has two seasons in a year. The dry season runs from February to August when the highest temperature may reach around 35°C. Among them, the period from February till April with pleasant weather, low humidity is considered the best time to visit Hoi An. The rainy season from September to January see the high chances of constantly rain as well as flood and typhoons. There are also sunny days available in this season but not the majority. Most people consider this is the low season, but many people still choose to travel to Hoi An during this time to enjoy the comfortable weather.

Furthermore, it is lucky if you travel to Hoi An right on the 14th day of the lunar month when Hoi An excitedly celebrates the Full Moon Festivals and is covered in the lively atmosphere with traditional songs performance, dancing, games, special vegetarian versions of all the local specialties, with lanterns lining along the streets.

Things to see and do in Hoi An

Hoi An Ancient Town

The stunning Hoi An ancient town is a great place to get around on foot to explore the living museum that houses historic architectures constructed over a century ago. Some remarkable heritage buildings that you should spend time to visit include Chinese temples, a Japanese-designed bridge, pagodas, wooden shop-houses, French-colonial houses, and old canals. Nowadays, most of the old shops have been converted to modern multi-purpose businesses to serve tourists such as tailors, souvenir shops, art galleries, restaurants and café.

Hoi An Ancient Town

Hoi An Ancient Town - Hoi An Old Town

Hoi An Riverside

Hoi An Riverside once has been the main stop amongst foreign traders between the 16th and 18th centuries due to its convenient location right on the bank of Thu Bon River. Coming to this waterfront area, you can enjoy fresh seafood, drink beers and feel the lively atmosphere here. The local boats are always available for rent to go fishing or cruise along the peaceful river. During annual festivals, hundreds of colourful hand-crafted lanterns hanging everywhere in the town create a sparkling scenery that you do not want to miss in your journey to Hoi An.

Hoi An Vietnam, Hoi An city, Thu Bon river, Hoi An Old town

Thu Bon Riverside, Hoi An Vietnam

Japanese Covered Bridge

Spanning 18 meters length, the Japanese Covered Bridge (known as Cau Nhat Ban or the Pagoda Bridge) is one of the must-see attractions in Hoi An ancient town. The Hoianian believe that this bridge was built by the Japanese to conveniently reach the Chinese quarter. The intricate sculptures of two dogs and two monkeys at either end of the bridge represent the prominent Japanese Emperors’ years of birth. This is the place where locals often gather to pray for not having to suffer from the earthquake.

Hoi An Vietnam, Hoi An city, Hoi An Japanese Covered Bridge, Hoi An old town, lantern

Japanese Covered Bridge, Hoi An Vietnam

Hoi An Central Market

Visiting a market is always a fun and exciting activity wherever you are. Located right in the ancient town, Hoi An Central Market is a typical local market selling all necessary foods such as meat, seafood, vegetable, noodles and other fresh produces. Besides having the chance to taste local food at an attractive price, you will also be able to observe local people’s everyday life or catching the bartering of fish which starts at around 7 AM daily.

Museum of Trade Ceramics

Located in Hoi An’s Old Quarter, the museum of Trade Ceramics is a beautifully restored timber house preserving a wide selection of Chinese, Vietnamese and Japanese ceramics mainly dating from the 8th to the 18th centuries. Visiting this museum, you will have the chance to get a cultural insight into the history of the town; the foreign relationships with Asian countries including Japan, China and India; and the different architectures’ style found in Hoi An through fascinating drawings. Today, Hoi An is well-known as a fishing town, but lasting for a long time ago, it was one of the Asian leaders in the trading of pottery from Asian nations and the Middle East.

Cua Dai Beach

Cua Dai Beach is considered a relaxing beach heaven out of the busy ancient streets of Hoi An. It is famous for the 3-kilometre-length beach with white sand, mile waves and tranquil atmosphere, forming a great place for swimming, snorkelling and enjoying fresh seafood at numerous restaurants located along the coast.

An Bang Beach

An Bang, a pretty 4-kilometre-stretching beach lying north of Cua Dai Beach, houses a vast array of beachfront resorts, seafood restaurants and hippy bars with a spectacular view of mountains and islets. Being one of the few beaches in Hoi An not being spoiled by the development, it caught a lot of media attention since 2016 and honourably listed in CNN’s “Top 100 best beaches in the world”. Located just about 10-minute drive from Hoi An ancient town, this exciting beach attracts more and more people every year coming here to enjoy the beach relaxation or other beach activities including swimming, paddle-boarding, sunbathing…

Cham Islands

Consisting of eight small islands off the coast of Hoi An, Cham Islands is a perfect place for tourists who are interested in active outdoor beach activities and water sports. The most popular beaches located on Hon Lao Island are Bai Cong, Bai Ong, Bai Bac and Bai Xep which feature fishing villages and pristine beaches. There is also a lot of seaside shops that you can easily rent necessary pieces of equipment for kayaking, jet skiing and snorkelling. Furthermore, Cu Lao Cham Marine Park – home to a stunning coral reef system and marine life, offers a popular spot for scuba diving, especially during the period between June and August.

Tra Que Vegetable Village

Located in Cam Ha Commune (about 3km from Hoi An centre), Tra Que Village is famous for a long time with high-quality fresh vegetables growing on fertile soil without using pesticides or any harsh chemicals. The vegetables are only fertilized by seaweed from De Vong River to create its unique flavour that you cannot find anywhere else. Tra Que is a lovely name describing the unforgettable tastes and aromas of the vegetable village, literally translating to ‘cinnamon tea’. Most of the people remember Tra Que as a quiet and peaceful hideaway out of the busy streets and daily life. Visiting this village, tourists have a chance to wander around the picturesque village, observe farmers’ daily activities and try some simple gardening works, attend a cooking class, taste dishes made with vegetables and herbs planting here, experience water buffalo riding.

My Son Sanctuary

My Son Sanctuary, a famous UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a typical sample of the ancient Champa civilization featuring many impressive stone sculptures, temples and towers among the tropical forest. My Son was also a political centre as well as a royal burial ground during the period being an independent state from around the 2nd to the 17th century. The complex comprises more than 70 structures dedicated to Hinduism and the most important one among them is Shiva – the protector of the Champa’s emperors. Although being destroyed by time passing and wars, especially the most recent American war, this site is still a must-visit for those who are interested in history and unique architecture.

How to travel to Hoi An

By air

Visitors should take flights to Danang airport which locates around 30km far from Hoi An and then take a car to reach the town. Danang airport is the main hub in the central part of Vietnam, which serves daily flights from both in and outside of Vietnam.

By train

Another option to travel to Hoi An is taking a train to Danang railway station. A lot of tourists from Hanoi, Hue, Quy Nhon and Nha Trang use the railway network to reach Hoi An from Danang.

By car

Hoi An is about 1 hour driving from Danang and 3 hour driving from Hue. The scenic drive passes by some famous sightseeing places and scenic spots such as China Beach, Lang Co Beach, Hai Van Pass, Cau Hai Lagoon, Marble Mountains…


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