The spice trade between Indonesia and the Champa Kingdom which began in the 7th Century saw HOI An grow to be the Chams’ most important port. The Chams were thought to have originated in Java themselves and among the influences brought to bear on the region were the Chinese, Arab traders bringing Islam, the Viet, Japanese and the colonial masters, the French who did not leave until the middle of the 20th Century. Hoi An’s Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage site and well worth inclusion on any Vietnam travel package. If you are on a Vietnam family vacation there is something for everyone if you are typically heading north to south through the Country.
• Night-time is a great time for walking around the Old Town. The whole area lights up at sundown, often with lanterns so simply strolling around, window shopping perhaps, is a pleasure. There is street food readily available as an alternative to a local restaurant though there are bars and restaurants in the Old Town as well.
• The Thu Bon River is an attraction. You can kayak individually or take a longtail boat. There are coconut groves and some wildlife. Dress like the locals and get a conical hat.
• A cruise with dinner is a delight; wooden junks and great service. Sunset and an evening on the water is great fun with the added pleasure of good food.
• The beach is to the north of Hoi An and is the great place to swim or simply relax. There is shade under the palms and food vendors by day, and good seafood restaurants at night.
• If you enjoy scuba diving or snorkelling, then there are local companies that offer the services you need. There are seven small islands which are a few kilometres off shore, accessible by ordinary boat or speedboat.
• One of the real pleasures of a Vietnam holiday is meeting the people and seeing them at work. Many are farmers or fishermen but some have other skills as well. In Hoi An, you can combine cycling with a visit to see villagers make pottery or lanterns, or simply watch them doing their daily work in the fields.
• There is a silk village where you can get to know the whole process from the silkworm to the finished garment. There are many tailors incidentally in Hoi An who can make you made to measure clothes very quickly.
• Cookery lessons are available in many different places. You can learn about the skills of combining herbs and spices then sample your own creations. If you need any help in arranging this, talk to a Hoi An travel agent if you have not included it in your original Vietnam tour package.
If you are travelling in a group, you can each choose something different and meet up later. It’s is entirely up to you and easy to arrange. If you have questions then talk to your Vietnam travel agent who will be able to help.