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The ancient town of Hoi An
Lying on the estuary of the Thu Bon river, the longest river in the province, 30 km away from Danang City to the gouth-East is Hoi An. In the 16th century Hoi An used to be famous for the busiest commercial port in the country. Peoplefrom various Chinese provinces, Japan, Dutch and India had settled down duringthe same period. Today Hoi An stands as an example of ancient architecture andis declared as a World Heritage by UNESCO for being one of the best preservedancient Southeast Asian trading ports.
Japanese Street, Chinese Street, Japanese Bridge and many ancient architectural structures are still preserved in this old town despite its past history of ups and downs. This quite small town holds hundreds of relics from the past, with its mossy roofs, weather-beaten walls, narrow streets, mysteriously, carved doors "eyes" along with many temples and pagodas of unique architecture. The most typical example of this unique style can been seen at Chua Cau (Bridge Pagoda).
What is so special about Hoi An is that this little port town is in anincredible state of preservation. It offers some of the mostdensely concentrated sights in Vietnam with its old streets bordered withancient houses and assembly halls, its pagodas, temples, ancient wells andtombs. The architecture of Hoi An is characterized by a harmonious blend ofVietnamese, Chinese and Japanese influences. After many centuries, Hoi An isstill respectful of its traditions, folk festivals, beliefs and of itssophisticated culinary art. Many of these buildings have been preservedin their original forms, making it easier to imagine its former prosperity andglory trading town.
WhileHoi An's old-fashioned charm is always visible, on the 14th of every lunarmonth modernity takes another step back. On these evenings the town turns offits street lamps and fluorescent lights, leaving the Old Quarter bathed in thewarm glow of colored silk, glass and paper lanterns. In ancient times, Vietnamese people made lampsout of shallow bowls filled with oil. Later, foreign traders introducedlanterns, ranging from round and hexagonal designs from China to diamond andstar shaped ones from Japan. In the ensuing quiet the streets of Hoi An are attheir most romantic, the darkness broken only by jewel-toned lanterns in allmanner of shapes and sizes.
Setin a quiet environment, Hoi An is surrounded by peaceful villages, a beautifulriver, and five kilometers from the centre of town is Cua Dai Beach. Both locals and visitors alike are here for its sandy beach, warm sea andseafood stalls. Hoi An is known throughout Vietnam for its excellent seafoodand it also boasts its own unique dishes such as Cao Lau, a deliciouscombination of noodles, pork, bean sprouts, mint and croutons. Offshore, Cham Islands are very famous for sheltering their prized birds’nests. Hoi An is also well known as a shopping paradise that attracts youtowards its wonderful souvenirs, craft handiworks, antique pieces, silkmaterials and art paintings, that you cannot miss out on.Hoi An is also famous for its wood carvings from Kim Bong village. You can see the craftsmanship of the Kim Bong wood carvers in the temples, pagodas and family altars throughout a Hoi An. Hoi An is being considered by the Vietnam Government for submitting an application to UNESCO to be recognized as a World Cultural Heritage.
If you go, Hoi An will be one of the highlights of your Vietnam visit. From the 16th to the 18th century, Hoi An was Vietnam's most important port and trading post, particularly in ceramics.
Today, it is a quaint old town (844 structures have been designated historical landmarks) still showing the influences of the Chinese and Japanese traders who passed through and settled here.
Moreover, it's small enough to cover easily on foot but bikes can be rented from $2 . Wander through the historic homes and temples on a quiet Saturday afternoon, stop to lounge in an open-air cafe, gaze at the endless oddities and exotic foods in the market or take a sampan ride down the lazy river. In the afternoons when school is out, the streets are thronged with skipping children in spotless white shirts.
While the city is eagerly courting tourism and your tourist dollars--meaning there's plenty of pesky vendors and hawkers--it's still relatively low-key and genuinely friendly.