Hoi An Ancient Town at dusk. Quang Nam Province, Vietnam.
Leonid Serebrennikov/age fotostock
A short drive south of Da Nang, Hoi An is a spellbinding UNESCO World Heritage site, with intact 16th-century architecture that celebrates its origins as a trading port that long welcomed merchant ships from China, Japan, and Europe. The Old Town on the Thu Bon River has a number of sights that visitors must check off their lists. These include the covered bridge, also known as the Japanese Bridge; gorgeous riverside French-colonial buildings; traditional merchant shop-houses; historic pagodas and temples; ornate assembly halls where Chinese immigrants would congregate; and the town’s tailors, for custom garments. But the greatest joy of Hoi An comes from wandering round its quiet streets—the town center is car-free and a blissfully pleasant place to walk, especially at night, when it’s lit by red lanterns strung on the exteriors of buildings.
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Learning to Cross the Street in Hanoi, Vietnam
Navigating the chaotic armada of motorbikes in a city devoid of traffic laws certainly isn’t easy, but after watching the locals I learned my first important lesson of the trip - slow and steady wins the race. Contrary to the instinct to quickly run across the street to avoid being hit, locals gingerly step out into traffic and cross at a slow pace allowing motorbikes time to swerve and miss. After watching this all take place, I took the plunge, packed myself in with the locals, and stepped out into traffic. Though, of course holding my breath all the while...
The ancient town in Hoi An is a must for travellers visiting Vietnam. It’s the perfect place for people watching, shopping and simply breathing in the old charm of Vietnam. It’s surreal to walk along the paths that millions from centuries ago had walked. I love how this little area is being protected from pollution by vehicles. Only cyclists and pedestrians are allowed in. It also makes a safe space to hang out without having to worry about the crazy Vietnamese traffic. Even though it seems like a maze at first, we soon found our way around these tiny lanes with the help of a reliable map. There are small visitor information stations that are really helpful to travellers. I highly recommend a Guide for first timers, to take you around and tell you more stories about the ancient communities. It is much more interesting to learn about the people who’d lived in these beautiful architectures. I got myself some good quality tailor made clothes for a reasonable price at B’Lan on 23 Tran Phu St. The tailor shop itself is a historical landmark. The house is 200 years old and full of charm. On the right of B’Lan is Choi Hoi An, a food court that serves delicious and cheap noodles. We tried the Cao Lau which is a kind of thick and chewy noodles, a specialty of Hoi An. Behind the food court, is a wet market that sells all sorts of fresh local produce. I also enjoy Vietnamese iced coffee served at Streets, a restaurant committed to giving skills training to destitute orphans/youths.