Hoi An Ancient Town Where The Time Stops

Hoi An Ancient Town is a famous tourist destination of Quang Nam Province. The old town remains almost intact with more than 1,000 architectural relics, covering streets, houses, assemblies, communal houses, pagodas, temples, ethnic churches, and old wells.

Hoi An has the friendly soul of the local people and owns many traditional dishes, attracting a lot of tourists. A journey to Hoi An will enchant travelers by its timeless beauty, rustic and modest.

Hoi An Ancient Town
Hoi An Ancient Town | © Minh82bn/pixabay

When traveling to Hoi An, you can choose the time from February to April every year because that is the best time when Hoi An weather may satisfy tourists the most. Less rain, no too hot sunlight like summer, pleasant climate, clear opening space. At this time, you can easily visit the beautiful scenery in Hoi An Ancient Town or join the outdoor activities to enjoy the beauty of this place.

Hoi An Ancient Town

  • Location: Hoi An Ancient Town, Hoi An City, Quang Nam Province, Vietnam
  • The closest airport to Hoi An: is the Da Nang international airport, 30 km far away.

1. Typical traditional architecture in the old town

Hoi An is famous for the beauty of traditional architecture, the harmony of houses, walls, and roads. Passing the ups and downs of history, Hoi An ancient city still retains the classic beauty of moss in each tile roof, bricks, and tree lines. This area also owns the simple features of the local people, including the honest personality and pure soul.

Hoi An Ancient Town
An old street in Hoi An Town | © Vietnamdrive

The most common housing types in Hoi An ancient town are tubular houses with a narrow width and a very long depth. The house is made of high-strength and durable materials due to the harsh climate here. The two sides have brick walls and wooden frames, divided into three compartments with the aisle in the middle.

Each house in Hoi An ensures the harmony between living space and nature. A courtyard is very important for collecting the air from the sky, connecting life with nature, and lightening the areas in the longhouse. This sky yard often is paved with stone and decorated with water tanks, rockery, bonsai, creating harmonious beauty.

With unique architecture, the house space in Hoi An is always airy, filled with sunlight, people and nature become one. These things bring a comfortable life for owners and excitement for tourists when visiting this place.

Streets in the old town are arranged horizontally along with the chessboard style with short, beautiful, and winding distance, embracing the antique houses. Walking through those beautiful and peaceful small streets, you not only can enjoy the charming of the antiquated architecture but also see the daily life of Hoi residents, a simple life.

Hoian Ancient City
A guest explores Hoi An comfortably. | © vietnguyenbui/pixabay

The relic complex of Hoi An ancient town is beautiful and very rich in types, so this city has been a popular place attracting domestic and foreign tourists to visit, explore, and spend their holidays.

When staying in the ancient town of Hoi An, you will realize that time seems to stop here in each yin-yang roof covered with moss, old gray walls, which have been preserved for the hundred years.

2. Indicative monuments in Hoi An ancient town

2.1. Japanese Covered Bridge

Japanese Covered Bridge in Hoi An
Japanese Covered Bridge | © Vietnamdrive

The highlight of the ancient building in Hoi An old town is the Japanese Covered Bridge, also called Temple Bridge, which is a symbol of Hoi An city. The short bridge connects Nguyen Thi Minh Khai and Tran Phu Street. This unique architectural work also is printed on the 20,000 VND note of Vietnamese currency.

The Japanese Bridge is curved, made of wooden planks across the creek that connects with the Hoai River. The bridge is 18m long with a yin-yang title roof. The special thing is that although the Japanese traders built the bridge, it has bold Vietnamese architecture.

Next to the bridge, there is a small temple worshipping Bac De Tran Vu, specializing in the control of storms, floods, and bringing joy and happiness to everybody. The locals also call this bridge the Temple Bridge.

Over the years and many times of restoration, the Temple Bridge is still a unique project, a beauty of Hoi An and Vietnamese architecture. This invaluable property is officially selected as the symbol of Hoi An.

2.2. Old Houses

To understand more about the life and culture of Hoi An people, you may visit some famous ancient houses(such as Quan Thang, Duc An, and Tan Ky). These beautiful places in Hoi An help you experience the typical cultural space of Hoi City.

2.2.1. Tan Ky ancient house (10 Nguyen Thai Hoc Street)

Tan Ky Old House
Tan Ky Old House | @cuc.hoa.mi.1893

Tan Ky House is honored to become a National Heritage Site and is the essential place to welcome heads of state, politicians of Vietnam, and other countries. The old house combines Chinese, Japanese, and Vietnamese architecture. The main material to build the house is ironwood. On the wooden columns inside, the owners inlaid a lot of beautiful design with mother of pearl.

2.2.2. Quan Thang ancient house (77 Tran Phu Street)

Quan Thang house is also one of the most beautiful old buildings in Hoi An. The artisans of Kim Bong carpentry village carved the delicate motifs and vivid sculpture inside the building following the style of Hoa Ha ( an area in China). Over time, the ancient house still stands there as a challenge of time, helping the new generations to imagine the life of the merchant class in the old Hoi An.

2.2.3. Phung Hung Old House (4 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai Street)

Phung Hung House has a lifespan of more than 100 years. This building owns a unique structure with a high wooden attic and wide front corridors, show the development of architecture and the exchange of Asian architectural styles at Hoi An in the past centuries. The house contains much information about the lifestyle of the business owners in the old Hoi An commercial port. Although it is also made of precious materials, the Phung Hung House is not carved on columns, but intentionally kept origin.

2.3. Assembly halls

2.3.1. Assembly Hall of Fujian (46 Tran Phu Street)

Assembly Hall of Fujian
A gate at Assembly Hall of Fujian | © falco/pixabay

Legend has it that the forerunner of the Assembly Hall is a small shrine dedicated to the Thien Hau Thanh Mau goddess who blesses traders over the ocean waves. The building was build in 1697. 

After many times of restoration, the assembly hall has become a beautiful place. Besides worshipping the Thien Hau goddess, the temple honors the 12 holy mothers to create and care babies. So, many people come there to wish to have a new baby.

Every year, on the 15th of the first lunar month and the 23rd of the third lunar month, that place organizes the big festivals attracting plenty of people.

2.3.2. Assembly Hall of Chaozhou (157 Nguyen Duy Hieu Street)

The Assembly Hall was built in 1845 to worship the three gods who could control the wind and waves. The people believe that these gods can help them overcome the obstacles when traveling in the sea.

The highlight of the Assembly Hall has typical values ​​for decorating on the roof. Many statues and motifs are exquisitely carved on the wooden frames.

2.3.3. Assembly Hall of Cantonese ( 17 Tran Phu)

The Assembly Hall was built in 1885 by the Overseas Chinese in Guangdong (China). Initially, this temple is to worship Thien Hau Thanh Mau and Confucius. But, after 1911, it was converted to worship Quan Cong and Tien Hien of the state.

With the art of using wood and stone materials in decorative motifs, the assembly hall has a unique beauty. Every year, on the 15th of the first lunar month and the 24th of the sixth lunar month, the assembly hall holds large festivals.

2.4. The old temples

2.4.1. Ong Pagoda (24 Tran Phu Street)

Ong Pagoda Hoi An
Ong Pagoda in Hoi An | @lenana_

Ong pagoda was built in 1653, having 6 times of restoration in the years: 1753, 1783, 1827, 1864, 1904, 1906. Ong pagoda has majestic architecture, here is worshiping Quan Van Truong statue (one symbol of loyalty – faith – knight), so it is also called Quan Cong Mieu. Ong pagoda used to be the religious center of the ancient Hoi An and is also a place where traders often come to commit to borrowing, trading and praying for good luck.

2.4.2. Minh Huong Buddhist Temple (7 Nguyen Hue Street)

This site is the only remaining Buddhist temple in the middle of the old town of Hoi An. The temple has beautiful architecture and preserves almost intact special wooden sculptures made by artisans of Kim Bong carpentry village. The temple worships the Bodhisattva and several other Buddhas and the other Buddhist statues.

This building now is combined to use as the historical museum of Hoi An and right behind Ong pagoda.

3. Famous local food in Hoi An

Hoi An local food is also one of the unique and attractive features to visitors. During your holidays in Hoi An ancient town, you can find a variety of restaurants, street vendors selling tasty food.

If you want to enjoy the best sweet soup, you can come to the corner of Hoang Van Thu and Tran Phu Street or at the gate of Hoi An food market. Also, you can try Quang noodles in the food market.

Hoian Old Town
A small sweet soup shop on the pavement of Hoang Van Thu Street. |© Vietnamdrive

For Cao Lau (dry noodle), you can come to Ba Le Restaurant 49/3 Trang Hung Dao Street, or Cao Lau Ba Be at 19 Tran Phu Street. This dish is worth trying when traveling to Hoi An old town. The golden color of noodles lumpy with a little delicious broth, herbs, crispy fried pork will make diners satisfied.

Besides, you enjoy the lovely dishes, such as Ba Buoi chicken rice (22 Phan Chau Trinh Street) and Hoi An bread at Phuong restaurant (2B Phan Chau Trinh Street). All these local food will enrich your experience of cuisine in Vietnam.

4. A suggested itinerary to visit Hoian ancient town

Tran Phu Street in Hoi An Ancient Town
A beautiful street of Tran Phu in Hoi An Ancient Town | © Vietnamdrive

The writer of this article has worked as a local guide traveling and guiding the guests to visit Hoian ancient town plenty of times. Thus, if you follow the plan as below, you will save a lot of time, but can explore the highlights in the old town, with estimated time 2 hours for visiting.

  1. Buy a ticket is the first thing that you need to do (please see more the Hoi An ticket price). You can find the ticket staff at the corner of Nguyen Hue and Tran Phu Street. Then, you go to another side of the road to visit Chua Ong Temple (24 Tran Phu) and Hoi An historical and culture museum (20 minutes).
  2. Step cross Tran Phu Street to visit Hoi An Market, including Hoi An food, which is one of the famous markets in Hoi An. It takes you 30 minutes. If you want to taste the food, you need around 15 minutes more.
  3. Walk on the old streets to the Assembly Hall of Fujian (46 Tran Phu) (20 minutes). After that, continue taking pictures and enjoying the ancient architectures along Tran Phu Street to travel to the Japanese Bridge that is right in the middle of Tran Phu Street (30 minutes).
  4. Then, take a walk along the river to enter Nguyen Thai Hoc Street to visit Tan Ky Old House ( 110 Nguyen Thai Hoc Street) (2 minutes).
  5. Go out at the back door of Tan Ky House to the Hoai River. This chance is for you to enjoy the river view. And, the last is chill out at a coffee shop to relax. You may check the Bosgaurus Coffee Roasters at 105 Nguyen Thai Hoc Street.

Although you spend a short time exploring the attractions, you can know most of the top things in the ancient town of Hoian. It is because we follow the best routes to combine the temple, museum, market, assembly hall, old bridge, the old house, and coffee shop to relax.

However, we recommend you spend more time to wander around by yourself to understand more Hoi An life. You may spend more time at coffee shops and restaurants for tasting local food, visit a tailor shop to get measured-made clothes, and buy souvenirs and lanterns.

Hoi An Ancient Town is small enough to visit it in a while. But, you have to need hundreds of hours for shopping, enjoying the local cuisine, and relaxing.

After you visit Hoi An Ancient Town, you can stay at some beautiful resorts along Hoi An beaches, 5 km from the old city center. You also choose to spend overnight at one of 4-star hotels in Hoi An close to the ancient city. And only one hotel right in the heart of the old town is Vinh Hung I Hotel at 143 Tran Phu Street.

Will you come to Hoi An Ancient Town for your next journey?

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    About the author

    The editorial staff of Vietnamdrive is a team of travel experts managed by Mr. Thom who has worked in tourism for 14 years. Trusted by thousands of tourists from all over the world.