Dating back to the 15th century the picturesque port town of Hoi An, where merchants from all over Asia once traded their precious goods, was declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 1999 and is one of the best preserved examples of a South East Asian trading port of the era. During the 17th & 18th century Hoi An, (or Hai Pho as it was known at the time), was considered to be one of the most important trading ports in S.E. Asia. The town’s eclectic array of architecture is testament to the rich history of the port, with a unique blend of local Vietnamese, Chinese, Japanese and French influence.
Thankfully Hoi An has somehow managed to retain its ‘small town’ feel, despite becoming an ever more popular tourist destination. It’s hard to avoid the towns numerous tailors, who will run up all sorts of made to measure clothes for you, in half the time and for a fraction of the cost back home (and they’re usually a better quality as well).
A stay in Hoi An would not be complete without a visit to the Japanese Covered Bridge. First built in 1593 the bridge was constructed by the Japanese to connect them to the Chinese quarter of the town. The entrances to the bridge are guarded by a pair of monkeys at one end and a pair of dogs at the other. Rumour has it that construction of the bridge started in the year of the monkey and was completed in the year of the dog.
If you have the time, a day trip to My Son is an absolute must. Possibly the most significant heritage site of this nature in Vietnam. My Son outdates the likes of Angkor (Cambodia) & Ayuthaya (Thailand) and is the best example of architecture from the Cham Dynasty.
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