Inside Vietnam's postcard perfect town: Hoi An
Little needs to be said about the charm and beauty of Hoi An. Located in Central Vietnam, this is most probably the country's prettiest town, full of bright colors and mesmerizing lanterns. Once a well kept secret, Hoi An has been receiving more and more tourists over the past few years, mostly thanks to the international travel blogging community and its members' Instagram accounts. And for a good reason of course : Hoi An is one of the most picturesque places in all of SE Asia and visiting it is now part of many explorers' bucket list.
The town has no airport or train station, so it can only be reached by road. Da Nang is the nearest big city (30 km away) and most tourists fly into it and then take the bus or hire a taxi to take them to Hoi An. Once there, visitors can easily get around either on foot or by bike. Keep in mind that entering the Ancient Town of Hoi An requires a ticket of 120.000 VND (~4.50€), which allows you to enter 5 of the city's attractions.
Back in the day, Hoi An was an important trading port and its diverse influences are more than apparent up to date. While wandering around the town, one will easily spot the vietnamese, chinese, japanese and french styles, on Hoi An's architecture. In 1985, Hoi An Ancient Town was classified as a national Cultural Heritage Site by UNESCO for being "an exceptionally well-preserved example of a traditional Asian trading port" and "an outstanding material manifestation of the fusion of cultures over time in an international commercial port".
The Japanese covered bridge is the town's iconic landmark, which dates back to the 18th century and is said to have been built by the Japanese (duh) as a means to connect with the city's Chinese community.
Crossing the bridge will lead you in Hoi An's Ancient Town, a real life postcard full of elaborate temples, traditional wooden houses and shops, pagodas, canals and yellow colonial houses with terracotta tiles on their roofs and bright pink bougainvilleas on their door step. The colorful, hand-made lanterns will immediately catch your eye and will give you ample opportunities for great photos, since they're almost everywhere in Hoi An.
Hoi An is also famous for its tailor shops, where you can have your ideal, high quality suit made sur mesure, just for you! Apart from the final result, the whole measuring process is a unique experience which most of us have never had. No better place to try it out though, than Hoi An!
One of the town's greatest traditions has to do with throwing lit paper made lanterns in to the canals. The locals do this almost every night, but if you can, try to be at Hoi An when the Full Moon festival is held (the date is not the same throughout the year). That's when the town's lights go completely off and all you can see is lit lanterns going down the river! It might not be the most environmentally conscious tradition, but we'd lie if we said it's not a magical one!
Regardless how you choose to spend your day(s) in Hoi An, you won't be disappointed by its charming beauty and vibrant culture, that's for sure!