Hoi An is a picturesque old port city bursting with the cultural remnants and merchant-style houses of Chinese, Japanese, Indonesian, and Vietnamese traders who thrived here between the 15th and 19th centuries.
Hoi An served as the principal port of the Cham Kingdom, a Hindu state largely influenced by the cultures of nascent Indian kingdoms. Then known as Faifo, the city flourished from the Southeast Asian spice trade, and in later centuries the port city became a major international shipping hub as Portuguese, British, Dutch, and French traders began calling at the harbor to break into the lucrative spice, ceramic, and silk trades of the South China Sea.
Today, much of the town’s medieval cosmopolitan atmosphere still exists in the narrows streets of the Hoi An’s Old Town. Two story Chinese merchant-shop houses rest beside Japanese and colonial European structures in the historic part of the town, and there are a number of locally curated museums that chronicle this once bustling port’s egalitarian history.
In 1999 Hoi An was granted UNESCO World Heritage Site status because of its diverse, multicultural history and well preserved structures, many of which date back to the 15th century. Once a month as the sun is setting, Hoi An’s buildings go dark as the town’s residents prepare for the regular lantern festival. The harsh light and grating drone of modern electrical devices are replaced by the soothing ambience of traditional gem-colored Chinese lanterns and the soft lick of waves on the shore. A stroll through the Old Town during the lantern festival feels more like time-travel than a quick trip down the strip.
Thanks to the tourism boom that revived the town’s fortunes after most of the shipping business moved up the coast to Da Nang in the 19th century, Hoi An has an excellent selection of shops and markets specializing in local craft goods for travelers to enjoy.
Between October and March the weather of Central Vietnam is generally warm and temperate, with slight chances of quick rain showers. From May to September temperatures rise along with the chance of rain in the late mornings and early evenings.
Hoi An is a coastal city in Central Vietnam. Guests on our luxury tours of Vietnam usually reach the city using our private vehicle service departing from the city of Hue some 50 miles to the north. Alternatively, the nearby city of Da Nang can be reached by international or domestic flight, and travelers can reach Hoi An overland from there.
There are plenty of historical and cultural sights to take in along Hoi An’s narrow, pedestrian friendly streets, but the real draw for travelers on Vietnam tours is the timeless atmosphere that permeates the ancient port city’s aesthetic, especially during the monthly lantern festival.
Appropriate Attire :
Though portions of the city are fairly modern, the governing body in charge of Hoi An’s historic Old Town asks travelers to dress modestly in clothing that covers shoulders, arms, and knees while sightseeing in Hoi An.