The main port of the Champa Kingdom in the Middle Ages, Hoi An was a major player in the spice trade with Indonesia, starting in the 7th Century. Ten centuries later it had established links with the Europeans and some of the foreign influences are still apparent today. Indeed, the Champa were not native to this land; it is believed that they originated in Java and though they were originally Hindu by the 10th Century after extensive contact with Arab traders, a number converted to Islam.
Travellers on Hoi An tour packages will see the influence the Chinese have had on the region. Initially it was Chinese traders but subsequently many Chinese headed south out of China before moving further south to establish Saigon (now Ho Chi Minh City). The buildings within the Old Town are very much in the style of the Chinese.
Hoi An has long since lost its commercial importance to the nearby city of Danang but Hoi An tours reveal an interesting Old Town with several buildings in Chinese style and narrow lanes which make it a very interesting environment especially late in the day. There is no modern building nor tourist orientated bars which have clearly meant that its Heritage status is fully justified. However, as tourist numbers increase it is difficult to see that some development will occur as a result. Vietnam’s understanding of the importance of its tourists and the many treasures that they wish to see will hopefully limit any potential commercial damage.
Visitors to Vietnam may arrive for their Vietnam holiday into nearby Danang’s international airport. Danang has domestic links on a daily basis as well with Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi. With good road and rail links Hoi An is easy to accommodate in Vietnam travel whether travelling north to south or in reverse.
Access to the Old Town is by ticket, even if your accommodation is within its boundaries. If you are on organised Hoi An tour packages your Vietnam tour operatorwill make all arrangements for you. The ticket is for five attractions which can be:
• Museums of which there are four in the Old Town
• Folk Culture
• Trade Ceramics
• History & Culture
• Sa Huynh Culture from the 1st and 2nd Centuries
• Old Houses
• Phung Hung
• Quan Thang
• Tan Ky
• Assembly Halls
• Cantonese built in 1885
• Hokien from the mid-18th Century
• Chinese All-Community from 1887.
• Handicraft Workshop (and traditional music show)
• Traditional Theatre
• the Japanese Covered Bridge and its pagoda(Chua Cau). The bridge is 17th Century and was built by the Japanese. It was renovated 30 years ago and is regarded as the main landmark in Hoi An.
• the Quan Cong Temple.
Wherever there is a river it is worth taking a cruise; better still you may like to hire a kayak? You can dine on a night-time cruise and your Hoi An tour package can include that in your itinerary.
One of the many pleasures in a Vietnam holiday is to learn more about the life of the locals whether in the Highlands or the fishing villages on its extensive coastline or within the Mekong Delta. If you are in Hoi An then there is a chance to get out into the community:
• Tra Que Village is just a short distance away. You can watch the farmers or even learn to cook like the locals using the beautiful fresh vegetables that they grow,
• There is a village known for its pottery and another where lantern making has been made by successive generations.
• Offshore islands provide a great chance to snorkel or scuba dive.
• The Kianh Foundation is a UK charity providing health and education for disabled children. Go along and see what you can do to help.
• Hoi An Silk Village offers tourists a chance to see the whole process from the silkworm to dressmaking in typical Champa tradition.
• My Son Sanctuary chronicles the history of the Champa Kingdom.
• Vinahouse Spaceon the road towards My Son is an Architecture Museum covering the 18th Century onwards as well as local carving and cuisine.
There are many sites that have sought recognition from UNESCO but have yet to be granted Heritage status. Hoi An has passed that hurdle and travellers going through Central Vietnam should visit this ancient city within their Vietnam Tour package. A good Vietnam tour operator will prepare an itinerary to include Hoi An and it will be time well spent.
To learn more about Hoi An, please read our Hoi An travel guide.