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Wordtravels

Hoi An Travel Guide

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Le Loi Street, Hoi An © Judith Duk

The quaint riverside town of Hoi An was an important port town and one of the major trading centres in South East Asia during the 16th and 17th centuries. The cultural influences of the Japanese and Chinese merchants are still evident today in the town's architecture, with the famous Japanese Covered Bridge and the distinctly Chinese atmosphere of the Old Quarter forming part of its unique character.

Lining the narrow streets are two-storey Chinese shops, with charming wooden facades and tiled roofs, merchants' homes, Assembly Halls and temples that preserve an ancient character. On the 15th day of every lunar month, the ancient character of this sleepy town takes on fairytale proportions, as porches, streets and windows are lit by the glow of coloured lanterns; a practice reminiscent of the old days and aimed at retaining the spirit of the past.

Hoi An is becoming an increasingly popular tourist destination, not only for its attractive old-world atmosphere and genuine friendliness, but also for its quaint restaurants, serving delicious Hoi An specialities, and tailor-made clothes. Rows of little tailor shops with rolls of fine silk offer the chance to have beautiful garments made up within hours; however, the insistence of the tailors can be annoying.

Two miles (4km) to the east of Hoi An is the beach of Cua Dai, considered to be one of the most beautiful beaches in Central Vietnam, with its long white sandy stretch. From Hoi An, visitors can make trips to the large marble rock formations 'The Marble Mountains', which are closer to Da Nang, or take a short river cruise. Travellers going north or south can make this a great stop, if only to step back for a while into Vietnamese history.

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