While wandering my way through Vietnam, I stumbled upon this little beauty of a town, and I just could NOT get enough of it! Originally planning to only stay in Hoi An for 3 days, I extended my stay to 5, and was still pretty sad to leave this cozy spot. If time had allowed, I think I would have stayed a week, maybe longer, who knows! But the point is, this ancient town is dripping with charm and beauty, and I just could not get enough of it.
Why was I so mesmerized by Hoi An? I’m glad you asked, let me explain.
Why Hoi An is the Hidden Jewel of Vietnam
The Old Town
The Old Town is such a well-preserved mix of Vietnamese, Japanese, Chinese and French architecture that is was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This ancient city is oozing with old world charm that can sometimes be lacking in other parts of Southeast Asia. Spending a few days in this town can make you feel like you have travelled back in time to an era that has since been replaced with department stores and concrete buildings. You could easily get lost for hours just walking the narrow alleys and taking in the French-colonial shophouses and yellow stained walls.
The Colorful Lanterns
These handmade silk lanterns are a symbol of the Old Town. Whether being strung throughout the streets, or hung in a boutique shop, these lanterns are everywhere. They immediately add a magical atmosphere from a cozy dinner for two to a fun night out on the town. Fortunately they are also for sale! I wish I would have brought them back for home décor!
The Unique Atmosphere
Part of the appeal of Hoi An is the laid-back, hippie-esque vibes. It also manages to maintain a classy feel with it’s boutique shops, hotels and elegant restaurants and cafes. Whether you are on a backpacker budget or seeing Vietnam in style, this town has the unique ability to cater to both worlds.
The Tailor Shops
Hoi An is known for their high-quality, tailor-made clothing and shoes! With more than 200 shops, Hoi An caters to the limited number of tourists passing through. Because of the competition, they are all wanting your business!
I purchased a customized suit that was whipped up within 24 hours of taking my measurements. It was beautiful and it fit like a glove. Honestly, you really can’t beat it! There are similar tailor shops in Hong Kong and Bangkok, but if you are passing through Hoi Ann, save my money for these shops. I found they were better priced and the overall experience was more relaxing and enjoyable.
The Hoi An Riverside
What makes this town truly special is the almost Venetian-like atmosphere along the river. In the 18th century, this seaside town was a major trading port for all of Southeast Asia. But now, these waters sail mostly small boats and local fishermen. Along the river you’ll see the beautiful and picturesque traditional boats that line the river.
This vibrant and bustling market is a must see! Travelers and locals alike flock to this market to sample the local cuisine, take in the fresh fruit and veggie stalls, or purchase the local crafts. Don’t be fooled though, the experience is not complete unless you see some unique sights. You’ll find chickens tied together for sale and less than pleasant smells of, well, who knows what. Overall I personally loved trying new foods (the good and the bad) and it took everything to resist purchasing all of the amazing ceramics.
Have I convinced you yet? I adored Hoi An and found it to be the perfect spot to relax for a few days, enjoy a coffee, read a book, and soak in the daily lives of the local Vietnamese.
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Have you been to Hoi An, Vietnam? Love to know your thoughts below!