Vietnam history is alive in Hoi An
In fact, it looks after its history so well that UNESCO have declared it a World Heritage Centre. The abundance of bikes and absence of exhaust fumes makes it easier to take in the ancient architecture, fascinating shopping experiences and aromatic food culture.
Hoi An highlights
Ride back in time
Hoi An has retained its cultural character and personality, despite the powerful influence of Western globalisation. You'll still find yourself marvelling at fragile temples and traditional fishing villages that act as windows to a less-hurried time.
For the most authentic of adventures, pedal around Hoi An with one of many acclaimed bike tours. Beyond the region's urban epicentre lies a countryside dotted with picturesque riverside villages and old world secrets. Tours will often see you leaning your bike up against a local's home for lunch. Though it's an arranged introduction, you'll find the hosts genuinely inviting and eager to share their culinary secrets. This attitude is fairly universal among locals, with the tourism influx of the 1990s helping to reinvigorate their near-forgotten city.
The curious Quan Cong Temple definitely deserves your attention. Its ornate, delicate design is an unlikely monument to a Chinese military general known for his toughness. Make a donation to the slightly plump-looking statue and the caretaker will give the gong a resounding strike.
The beautiful Japanese Covered Bridge is another historic delight. First constructed in the 1590s to connect Japanese and Chinese communities, it's a physical display of Hoi An's cultural fusion.
Shopping is a magical experience in Hoi An. With irresistible bespoke clothing made by expert tailors, you can add to your travel wardrobe with wearable souvenirs. Choose from a huge range of fabrics, select a design and you'll be modelling the eye-catching end product in no time.
Choose from a huge range of fabrics, select a design and you'll be modelling the eye-catching end product in no time.
Toss aside your views of Eastern tailoring. In Hoi An, many shops specialise in perfection rather than cheapness. Whether you're asking a seasoned shopper or local for tips, it won't be long before you're directed to Yaly Couture. This tailoring house has a mind-boggling range of fabric and a team able to execute even the most elaborate looks. They are also one of the few tailors in Hoi An with their own factory, so you can rest easy knowing the people you deal with are the ones putting their loving craft into your new look.
For less outlay and charming local service, stroll into Tony the Tailor. Sitting unassumingly on the outskirts of town, the place feels as humble as it sounds, but they have a country-wide reputation for creating the sleekest of suits.
Eat like a local
Hoi An's interactive culinary scene will ensure the taste of Vietnam lingers long after you leave. Cooking classes are offered by several operators and are perfect for giving your taste buds a richer appreciation for the city's flavours.
To discover more than just the local delicacies, head to Red Bridge Cooking School, where lessons include a relaxing cruise down the Thu Bon River. Once you're back on firm ground, you'll learn to make an authentic dish, right down to the rice paper.
If you'd rather have someone else do the cooking, Hoi An offers a huge choice of excellent restaurants. Gorge yourself on delectable steamed buns, dumplings in broth, pancakes filled with fragrant salad and slow-cooked caramelised port. Then confuse your palate completely with something like chilli ice-cream. Every meal is another opportunity to explore Vietnamese cuisine, which is much-admired for its perfect balance of flavours.