The city of Hội An is quickly becoming one of the most popular destinations for westerners traveling to Vietnam. What makes Hội An unique is that it has a well preserved charm and history dating back to its days as an Asian trading port from 1400 to 1900. The Old Town of Hội An is where you will find the most interesting buildings, streets, museums, markets, and restaurants of this UNESCO World Heritage Site. I recently spent a week traveling in Vietnam, and really enjoyed spending a few days in the area. If you’re planning a trip to Vietnam, you don’t want to miss this city. Here are 8 things to do in Hội An during your visit!
1.) Walk Through The Lanterns Of Old Town
Many visitors are drawn to Hội An by the amazing monthly lantern festival. On the night of a full moon, locals will traditionally light small lanterns and send them floating down the Thu Bon river that passes through town. If you’re not visiting during the full moon, you need not worry, as lanterns can still be seen everywhere. There are also many shops and markets that sell lanterns if you would like to take a few home with you.
2.) Pay A Visit To Mỹ Sơn Sanctuary
My favorite thing that I saw in the Hội An was the Mỹ Sơn Sanctuary. Like Hội An, Mỹ Sơn is also a UNESCO protected site, and can be reached from Hội An via a one hour car ride. Mỹ Sơn is cluster of ancient Hindu temples that were built by the Champa people between the 4th and 14th century. The temples were built to worship Shiva. Unfortunately, carpet bombing from the United States destroyed large parts of this temple complex during the Vietnam War. Large craters can still be seen on the grounds today.
3.) Walk Over The Japanese Covered Bridge
In the Old Town of Hội An, you’ll find the Japanese Covered Bridge. This bridge was constructed by a group of Japanese traders in the late 15th century to connect their community to a group of Chinese traders across a stream. The bridge construction was started in the year of the monkey and completed in the year of the dog. Because of this, you’ll see statue guardians of each animal on either end of the bridge.
4.) Eat All Of The Great Food On Offer
Just like every other place we visited in Vietnam, Hội An has some amazing restaurants and street food vendors. The most popular regional dish is cao lầu, a pork and noodle dish that originates from Hội An. I tend to order and love just about any popular noodle and meat based dishes from any restaurant, but the ones in Hội An were especially good.
The Old Town of Hội An also has a great night market with tons of street food vendors. After enjoying a bowl of cao lầu, there are plenty of options for a banana pancake dessert!
5.) Shop At The Old Town Markets
The Japanese bridge mentioned above links two major streets in Hội An, Nguyen Thi Minh Khai St and Tran Phu St. If you’re looking to do little shopping, this is a great place to start. As is the case with most tourist locations, the further away you get from the city center, the more unique items you’re likely to find. Hội An is world famous for their tailors and clothes makers, so make sure to stop by one of those shops if you’re in need of a new outfit. We opted to spend our time window shopping and buying things from the handicraft makers.
6.) Visit The Many Museums
There are a number of very interesting museums in the Old Town of Hội An located within a few blocks of each other. We visited museums on ceramics, Hội An culture, crafts, and more!
7.) Visit Quang Trieu – The Cantonese Assembly Hall
Quang Trieu is a historic building that was constructed by Cantonese merchants in 1885. Quang Trieu is one of most famous historical buildings in Hội An. There used to be a wharf in the front of the house where Chinese traders and fisherman could exchange goods.
8.) Stop By The Fujian Assembly Hall
The Fujian Assembly Hall was built in 1690 as a place that residents from Fujian China could meet while living in Hội An. This assembly hall is also a protected World Heritage Site. The inside of Fujian contains the Jinshang Golden Mountain temple and a fertility shrine.
Don’t Forget To Visit The Beaches!
Hội An is in close proximity to some pristine beach real estate. If you’re looking for some slow relation during your visit to Hội An, check out An Bang Beach. We didn’t have time to visit, but heard was a pretty nice place to spend a few hours.
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