Hoi An is the city located on the central coast of Vietnam and it used to be the most significant trading port in Southest Asia in the 18th and 19th century. Traders came from various countries around the world, but most of them were Chinese and Japanese. Therefore, the architecture of Hoi An is a combination of Vietnamese, Chinese and Japanese designs which made it one of the most unique places in Vietnam. Despite the impact of urbanization on the whole country nowadays, Hoi An still remains its ancient and peaceful atmosphere, attracting a great number of tourists from all over the world.
Since Hoi An was recognized as World Heritage by UNESCO, there must be lots of things we need to discover. It is famous for many temples, Japanese merchant houses, Chinese temples, ancient teahouses and so on. Moreover, there are many households making traditional handicrafts including lanterns, kites, pottery and handmade clothes, etc. They also offer some workshops to visitors who want to try out making crafts. Not only do the host give you instructions on how to create souvenirs but they are willing to share the history, tradition, culture and customs with genuine sincerity.
A special feature that everyone should take note is that there is a lantern festival on the 14th of each lunar month. On that day, people can let the lighting lanterns float down and make a wish for themselves and their families. The atmosphere is almost quiet and peaceful because motorbikes are abandoned during this period of time. Besides, the town’s scenery is totally picturesque and magnificent with the colorful silk lantern in every corner of the street.
One of the cultural symbols here is the Japanese Bridge. It was constructed in the 17th century by Japanese people to help them connect with Chinese quarters. It is said that there are some tales behind the two statues of a monkey and a dog placed at the opposite side. Local people say that the reason is because it was built in the year of dog and was completed in the monkey year. In addition, the town is surrounded with a great number of sights including ancient houses, halls, pagodas, temples and shrines, etc. The architecture of each ancient house maintain a perfect harmony between Vietnamese, Japanese and Chinese influences. Most of them have been preserved very well, so Besides, with the gentle flow of Thu Bon River, it is undeniable to say that Hoi An is a haven for anyone who is seeking for a tranquil life.
Another thing that makes Hoi An special is the cuisine here. Though prepared and cooked with basic natural ingredients and herbs , Cao Lau and rice chicken are two of the most favorite of dishes winning tourist’s hearts. Other dishes that noone cannot miss when taking a visit are Hoi An’s bread, banh beo, Quang noodles, wonton, chicken rice, grilled pork, pork satay and many kinds of luscious dessert such as xí mà (black sesame sweet pudding) and tào phớ (tofu).
Last but not least, Hoi An’s people are warm-hearted, friendly and welcoming. Why not grab your backpack and fly to Hoi An to escape the busy life for a while, to enjoy the charming town with one of a kind landscape, try excellent dishes and meet hospitable people? I bet that no one will be disappointed for sure.
By Ngoc Vo, ASEAN Correspondent from Vietnam