Hoi an is a charming little riverside town famed for its beautiful old buildings, its narrow, quiet streets and its history as a merchant trading post. As the citizens of the town grew richer from trading with China, Japan and the rest of Southeast Asia, they spent their money on building attractive houses and pagodas.
It is now one of the most popular tourist destinations in Vietnam, and rightfully so. The architecture in the town is beautiful, the atmosphere relaxed and the food fantastic. There is a long beach not far from the town and plenty of shops and tailors within the town that encourage travellers to stay for a while.
Despite the high numbers of tourists Hoi An manages to retain its charm – perhaps many of them stay hidden away inside the many hotels and resorts that fill the town. The main evidence is the number of shops and tailors lining the central streets, but even this doesn’t detract too much from the atmosphere.
In fact, many people come to Hoi An specifically for the tailors – reknowned throughout Viet Nam for their skill and value for money, they can produce just about any garment to order, be it a suit from $50, a copy of your favourite piece of clothing or a reproduction of a dress from a photo in a magazine.
The tailors are great value but it does pay to look around – examine the quality of the samples in their shop, and try visiting stores a little further away from the main tourist streets.
There are also a number of workshops in Hoi An for people who would like to learn to cook Vietnamese food, or perhaps to make their own silk lantern in the Hoi An style, which you can take home as gifts for friends and families.
Most of all though you can find a lot of pleasure in strolling around the quiet streets (as motorbikes and cars are banned from many of them), sitting quietly by the river, visiting museums and merchants houses and generally taking life at a slower pace than you might elsewhere in the country.
A great website about Hoi An is hoian.co.uk – The No Bull Travel Guide for Hoi An.
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