The old town of Hoi An, the city of coloured lanterns

Hoi An was a port city in Vietnam, with more than 2,000 years of history, where Chinese, Japanese and European merchants shared tasks and space. Muslims, Chinese or Vietnamese passed through it, turning it into a multicultural city that still today reflects this mixture in its streets and monuments. In 1999 it was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, valued for its tangible and intangible heritage.

Old town of Hoi An

The old town of Hoi An, on the banks of the river Thu Bon, is undoubtedly one of the most interesting of all southeast Asia for having resisted history without too many interventions and having maintained that original character of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries in which it lived its commercial splendor.

Casco antiguo de Hoi AnOld town of Hoi An

Cars are not allowed in, so welcome to the calm. I’m sure you don’t miss them. It is an ideal neighborhood for walking or cycling, you do not need any means of locomotion.

What to see in the old town?

Two-storey houses, colourful alleys to lose yourself in, small shops where you can buy handicrafts, order custom-made clothes or enjoy the local food. And also visit some places if you feel like a little cultural tourism. Some of the monuments charge an entrance fee, we recommend you buy a general ticket that allows you to visit the 5 that you choose, for 120,000 VND, just under 5 euros. Among the places of interest you will find historical buildings, museums or old houses open to visitors; we point out some of them:

The Japanese bridge

It was built at the beginning of the 17th century and gives an image to 20,000 VND banknotes, making it one of the country’s emblematic symbols. Cross Tran Phu Street and Nguyen Thi Minh Khai Street, and they are guarded by a dog and a monkey made statue. Here we tell you more about its history.

Guia de viaje Hoi An Puente cubierto japon├ęsHoi An travel guide Japanese covered bridge

The Quan Cong Temple

Near the Japanese bridge, about 500 meters, we find this seventeenth-century temple dedicated to the general of the Han dynasty, Quan Cong. It has been declared a National Cultural and Historical Site. Recognizable by its pink bricks and green tiles, it takes your time to inspect its decoration which includes dragons and unicorns.

Casa Cantonesa QUANG DONGCantonese House QUANG DONG

The house of the merchants Tan Ky

It is one of several houses open to the public, in this case built by a Vietnamese family and with Chinese and Japanese influence. It is always interesting to sneak into the houses of other times to imagine the past life.

Casa de Mercaderes Tan KyHouse of Merchants Tan Ky

The central market of Hoi An

Local market, a building full of food stalls where local people buy, colours and smells mix with places to taste a bowl of Pho or a fruit juice. An indispensable visit to get to know the day-to-day life of its neighbors to which we recommend you to go soon, to see the arrival of the fishermen.

Mercado central de Hoi AnCentral market of Hoi An

The night market

From 18.00h, cross the bridge that takes you to the island in front of the old town and you will be on An Hoi Island. Hundreds of coloured lanterns are lit there, hanging all over the streets. On the banks of the Hoai River, the night market is open daily until 23.00h and invites you to visit its souvenir stalls, street food and small entertainments such as popular games.

Nigh market de Hoi AnNigh market of Hoi An

For the market madmen, this one is worth a lot. It is a city known for its custom fabrics and workshops, so it is an ideal place to make you a shirt or a dress for a good price. If you are lucky enough to be in Hoi An on the 14th of every month, don’t miss the spectacular legendary night.

How to get to the old town of Hoi An?

Within the city is easy to locate, the ideal is to get a bike or motorbike to go from one place to another. Thus, in a few minutes you can be on the beach or elsewhere in the city.

If you come from outside the city, the most normal way is to get to Dan Nang and from there travel the 30 kilometers that separate it from Hoi An by bus or taxi.

To get to Dan Nang from Ho Chi Minh, we recommend an airplane, the flight lasts one hour and costs between 50 and 80 euros, depending on when you buy it. You can also arrive by train or bus, but the investment in time is enormous, because you have to cross about 1,000 kilometers. If you want to know more, in our Hoi An Guide we will tell you.

In any case, aim Hoi An as a place to meet on your trip to Vietnam, and stay at least one night to enjoy the light and colors of its traditional lanterns.