It’s no wonder Hoi An is on most travelers itineraries while visiting Vietnam and South East Asia. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage site, a place to do some serious shopping and learn how to cook authentic Vietnamese food by a trained chef.
Hoi An represents everything Vietnam is and more. French, japanese and chinese influences in the architecture, food and layout of the city. The city once was the center of Vietnamese merchant trade, but in the mid 1800’s Da Nang became the trade center with its larger and deeper port.
Hoi An was left virtually unharmed after it’s country experienced military conflict in the mid to later part of the 20th century. The city is best at night when the tour buses have left and the winding streets are closed off to traffic. The city becomes dark and quiet and the streets are only lit up by silk lanterns and an occasional street light. The Old Town center does not have the internet cafes, karaoke bars and snarled dirty scooter traffic that have taken over the night in other major Vietnamese cities.
My favorite thing to do in town is eat at one of the many restaurants (my favorite is Cafe des Amis) along the river and wander the Old Town streets afterwards. There many things to see and do before heading back to the hotel. Visitors can indulge in a french pastry and coffee, grab a Tiger Beer and/or shop. This is also a good time to visit a Hoi An tailors since most are open later in the evening and will be more relaxed after working it all day. I suggest bringing pictures, allow enough time for alterations (usually need 2-4 days) and keeping it simple for the most desirable results.
Hoi An may be in the center of this Banana Pancake Trail that backpackers have come to call it, but it can’t be missed. I would almost suggest going here instead of Da Nang, Hue or even Saigon if there was a choice to be made between them, but then again that is up to you the traveler.