Sunday, July 20, 2014

Impressive Hoian ancient town

By Daniel Noll

Hoi An is considered the architectural and culinary gem of Central Vietnam, receiving the stamp of approval from UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. We arrived there on a tourist bus from Danang and were dragged through the typical Vietnamese tour routine.

Hoian Vietnam

The bus conveniently stopped at one hotel where we got a hard sell. Those tourists who returned to the bus were taken to a second hotel, with guesthouse touts literally following the bus until its final destination. We had expected Hoi An to be over-touristed, but we weren’t expecting this intense welcome. Once we broke free from the bus and the touts, we felt the laid-back (as much as is possible in Vietnam) feel of Hoi An’s old town.

Hoian ancient tow

Hoi An served as a major trading port in the 16th and 17th century, making it home to many Chinese, Japanese, Dutch, and French traders. You can still see the Chinese influence today – in the architecture and families descended from the original Chinese traders. Merchant houses line the streets and are usually outfitted with a storefront on the ground floor and living quarters in the back or on the second floor. Today, the storefronts are mostly full of souvenir shops, tailor shops, or restaurants catering to tourists.

Cycling Hoian

We filled our days in Hoi An easily, spending time at tailor shops, taking cycling tour Hoi An and cooking course, eating  specialties like cao lau and wantons, and just wandering around the windy streets. We found people friendly and not as jaded by tourism as we would have expected given the number of tourists coursing through the town. It makes for a pleasant break from the intensity of Vietnam’s big cities.


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