City Guide: Hoi An
Even though Hoi An is a relatively small city, it is one of the most famous places in whole Vietnam. The reason for that is the Old Town, which was named UNESCO World Heritage in 1999. In this city guide, I’ll show you which places you should see in Hoi An and why visiting the city is a really great experience.
First of all, it needs to be stressed that Hoi An gets very crowded in high season. While not many people stay in Hoi An, there are plenty of tour groups, which you easily spot in the city. That also means that the city is way calmer in the morning and evening hours, before the groups arrive and after they leave. You may also be aware that there is an entrance fee for the whole old town area, which you need to pay once. Yet, you can reenter as often as you want, including at different entrances and days.
The streets and promenade of Hoi An
Before I’ll get into more detail about the famous sights of Hoi An, I’d like to give you an idea how walking through Hoi An is like. The whole city feels a little artificial, in my opinion. While it is totally beautiful, you just feel that it is a touristic place.
There is a very nice promenade along the Hoi An River. Yet, when having a relaxed walk there, you can bet to be approached several times as people want to sell you boat times.
When walking through the colorful and yet again very nice streets of Hoi An, which often even come with decorations, there are lots of shops selling souvenirs and such.
Sure, the Old Town of Hoi An and its streets are lovely, but you should keep in mind that this is not the “real” Vietnam. At least, not anymore today.
The Japanese Bridge Hoi An
Something I find a littel bit odd is that the most famous landmark in Hoi An is the Japanese Bridge.
While quite an interesting building and very old and historic, it didn’t strike as totally fascinating. Yet, the Japanese Bridge is one of the oldest bridges in the world and looks very rustic, but I’m not sure what to think about the fact that there is even a touristic shop in the bridge.
Yet, taking a picture of this special and covered bridge and walking “through” a single time is a nice experience. Nevertheless, you shouldn’t expect to be totally fascinating by the Japanese Bridge. In my opinion, there are many more sights in Hoi An, which are more beautiful and tranquil.
The Assembly Halls of Hoi An
This includes the second landmark, which Hoi An is famous for: Its Assembly Halls. Often, only three of those are mentioned, but in my opionion, you should visit them all.
Before I’ll go into more detail, I’d like to give you a very short glimpse of history about Hoi An: The city looks like it does today, because it was once a Chinese trading point and went through several Chinese cultures. Thus, there are many remainings of the Chinese past, which best can be seen in the any Assembly Halls in Hoi An. The most famous of the Assembly Halls is the Cantonese Assembly Hall Hoi An, which is especially remarkable due to the crazy dragon art right in front of the building.
If just judging the building, I actually liked the Chinese Assembly Hall a little more.
It’s very colorful and looks very inviting. Yet, my personal favorite of all the famous Assembly Halls in Hoi An is the Phuoc Kien Assembly Hall.
This is due to the fascinating entrance gate – a colorful combination of pink and green with fascinating artwork.
However, as I told earlier, it would be wrong to just focus on those Assembly Halls as there are a couple of more in Hoi An, which are well visiting.
Famous temples in Vietnam
Hoi An is mainly famous for its Assembly Halls, but the Old Town is also filled with lots of different temples, most with a very individual design. As I want to help you choose the best places to visit in Vietnam in this city, I’d especially recommend the Diem Than Temple, which is dominated by the color yellow.
It’s surprisingly plain and has a clean design, which makes it unique for Hoi An. It’s also a stark contrast to the Phab Bao Temple Hoi An, which I liked even more.
This temple comes with an especially beautiful garden and courtyard. While the building itself is quite nice as well, I just loved the garden of the Phab Bao Temple.
Other places worth seeing in Hoi An
When in Hoi An, I’d recommend just strolling through the streets to enjoy the scenery. In my opinion, it’s no place where you have to have a special destination to enjoy the city. While the mentioned sights are worth visiting, there’s no need to be sad even if you didn’t see them all. Additionally, I’d recommend checking the Hoi An Market, which has incredible offerings and feels very local.
There’s also Hoi An Museum, which shows a little more about the history of the city, but didn’t fascinate me.
Something I’d recommend doing when staying in the city overnight is the Night Market, which is very lively.
You may also do a boat tour along the river. I chose a rather one hour ride, but didn’t find it too spectacular. However, the longer tour seems to be a little more exciting. Additionally, you may do a trip to My Son, a famous historic landmark, which belongs to the UNESCO World Heritage as well.
Overall impressions of Hoi An
Generally, I loved Hoi An very much. The city has a lot of charm and feels especially nice in the morning and evenings before the crowds arrive. While the historic buildings and landmarks of Hoi An are fascinating, I personally enjoyed strolling through the historic streets the most. Nevertheless, you should not fault Hoi An to be a typical Vietnamese city. It is very touristic in all regards and doesn’t feel local at all. Nevertheless, I’d definitely recommend visiting when doing a tour through Vietnam!
Do you have any questions about Hoi An? Feel free to ask or share your impressions in the comments!