Eating dinner by a canal at night while the light from the surrounding buildings reflects off the waterways as small boats pass by — it’s an experience surely only found in a select number of European cities. Venice comes to mind. Amsterdam possibly. But certainly not Vietnam. It’s fitting then because Hoi An is certainly not what comes to mind when you picture Vietnam and its thick steamy jungles, packed cities, and endless rice paddies. Hoi An tells a different story, one shaped by both European and Asian colonial and trade influences. Centuries as a critical trade port have made Hoi An a strange, beautiful fusion of cultures that make it a must-visit destination. Travel startup AllTheRooms has put together a list of five reasons why Hoi An demands a place on your bucket list.
1. Old Town
This is your where you’ll make your canalside dinner dream a reality. Old Town, the city’s historic district, was the main trading centre back when the city was primarily used as a port. Since then, the people of Hoi An have preserved the district and made it almost like a living museum filled with reminders of what was once a world trading market. Rows of buildings along the canals look European while one bridge has been constructed with a distinctly Chinese design. Along the paths and canals, Old Town is illumined by traditional lanterns at night, making the ambience nothing short of magical.
2. A break from the madness
Let’s assume your Vietnam itinerary includes larger cities like Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi. For all the big city energy, those cities can become quickly overwhelming. They’re crowded, noisy and extremely fast-paced. Hoi An is a break from it all. Things slow down, become quieter and visitors can unwind.
3. Beaches and Scuba Diving
Pristine is the word. Blue-turquoise water, palm trees, long stretches of golden sand and no bustling crowds. The setting is hard to beat. If you’re the type that likes to venture offshore and explore what lies beneath the surface, Cham Island lies just off Hoi An’s coast and offers some of the best scuba diving in the region. Whale sharks, turtles, and coral reefs in every colour of the rainbow are just a few of the attractions.
Vietnamese food is renown for its flavours and cooking methods. Hoi An takes things to another level due to the local creativity, as well as the international influences that have made their marks on the city. Banh mi (a type of sandwich made with bread from baguettes) and cao lau (a noodle dish made with pork and vegetables) are good dishes to warm your palate up with.
5. Tailor shops
Whether it’s a suit or a dress, Hoi An can stitch it to perfection. The city is famous for its fine tailor shops, so missing an opportunity to purchase some new finer threads would be a shame. Come home looking sharp instead.
Alistair is a journalist by trade currently learning the ropes in Medellin, Colombia. Although the football to futbol transition is off to a rough start, the rest of the equation is balancing out well. If he wasn’t an AllTheRooms content writer, he would almost certainly be neck-deep in the Medellin reggaeton scene.
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