From the old city of Hue, we took a bus down to the charming small town of Hoi An. Many travelers we had met in Vietnam so far all told us about how much they loved their time here. Hoi An may be small, but it was filled with attractions, from its lovely promenades to the food to the ubiquitous tailors.
Hoi An Ancient Town (UNESCO Heritage Site)
The Ancient Town of Hoi An was an attraction in and of itself. With old colonial houses and small alleys, it had such a vivid and unique atmosphere. It was nice to walk around, passing by the countless tailors and shops. We spent a lot of time just exploring every hidden corner of this lovely town.
The Thu Bon river split the town into small islands, creating ideal areas by the river for a romantic meal or a nice promenade. There was nowhere else better to be at night. All the shops and restaurants by the river hung lanterns that were lit up at night for some beautiful views and reflections. In addition to the already gorgeous riverside views, locals sold floating lanterns that, in dozens, lit up the river.
Night markets took control of a few streets at night, with vendors selling all sorts of crafts, especially handcrafted lanterns – a Hoi An specialty. Vendors sold lanterns of all shapes and sizes and colours and patterns. With all of them lit up at night, each shop glowed so prettily, we would have bought lanterns to take home if we could carry them.
Japanese Covered Bridge
Within the Ancient Town, the Japanese covered bridge was a robust yet exquisite landmark of Hoi An. This small bridge was built by the Japanese as a means of connecting them with the Chinese quarter in the 1590s. To this day, the original structure and decoration of the bridge has been preserved.
While we didn’t think it was super impressive, it’s one of those must-see, iconic places in Hoi An.
Reaching Out Teahouse
One of the coolest experiences we had in Hoi An was at the Reaching Out Teahouse, a teahouse owned and operated by handicapped individuals. The teahouse was very beautifully decorated, each table a different style. When we walked in, we were greeted by a deaf and mute waiter, who directed us to a table, where we had several cards to help us in the ordering process. Julie got some lemonade, while I ordered an herbal tea and a coconut cookie. Everything was delicious!
The teahouse was a great break from the usual noisy Vietnam to sit there in complete silence, and calmly watch people passing by outside. A place of peace in the middle of chaos, so different than the usual busy restaurants and coffee shops that have their own characteristic buzz. It was also funny to see the expression on the faces of uninformed visitors, who would try to talk to the waiters, taking some time to realize that they couldn’t hear or speak.
Besides the teahouse, the Reaching Out organization also has a gift shop with all types of handcrafts, from ornaments to jewelry. The owner and creator deserves credit for starting such a positive initiative to empower handicapped individuals. We’re always happy to support such great causes.
Considered one of Vietnam’s most beautiful cities, Hoi An certainly lived up to our expectations and we were charmed by its Ancient Town as well as its food. Read more about Hoi An’s best food offerings.
For more pictures from Hoi An, please visit the gallery!