Where We Be
Hoi An is a gorgeous, upscale town with a romantic ambience. It will instantly appeal to most
Westerners and is especially pretty at night when all the Chinese lanterns reflect in the water.
Hoi An, Vietnam
This bridge crossing the river represents the center of town. Both sides of the
river offer terrific places to hang out, grab a drink or a meal, and people watch.
This traditional covered Japanese Bridge from the 16th century once
separated the divided Japanese settlement from the rest of town
It's a pleasure walking around Hoi An with its many pedestrian-only streets. The UNESCO World
Heritage Site is one of the best examples of a Southeast Asian trading port from the 1400s to the 1800s.
The town is wonderfully well preserved and fun to explore. If you visit just
one place in the south central coast of Vietnam, this would be our pick.
Be sure to wander the town after dusk when all the lanterns are lit.
You can even buy a candle in a paper box and float it down the river.
This lit-up sign decorates the main bridge
You can also buy clothing at great prices right off the rack. We loved these silk robes
($12 to $15 each) and ended up buying them not just for ourselves but for family.
The colorful lanterns really add to the ambience of the town
The rest of this page highlights a few of the cultural sights we took in during our time in
Hoi An. Our first stop was also one of the best -- the elaborate Cantonese Assembly Hall.
The central courtyard and surrounding buildings
are ornately decorated with statues and carvings
If you like vibrant colors and an almost childlike
exuberance of decoration -- this is your place!
Huge spirals of incense hang down over proud horses
Tan Ky is a two-story late 18th century shophouse of a wealthy
merchant. We were served tea here and given a short tour.
This private merchant's house is built around an open courtyard. It is filled with antiques -- all of which need to be
lifted to safety when the house floods nearly every year -- as shown by the yellow flood stage markers on the wall!
Gorgeous pearl inlay work is one of the highlights of Tan Ky House. The
central image above is an elaborate Chinese character with a bird motif.
This assembly hall was built by Chinese merchants back in 1697.
First you pass through a courtyard filled with statues and flowers.
This is another strong contender for best assembly hall in
Hoi An. The elaborate entry gate hints at the splendors within.
Topiary graces the entry courtyard
We particularly liked this dramatic 3D painting
of a blue-faced warrior charging into battle
The inner sanctum is filled to the brim with statues,
icons, calligraphy, gold filigree, and incense spirals
Some of the statues seem quite traditional, others boisterously creative
This well-preserved historic merchant's home across from the Japanese Bridge
features these three jolly old men standing right in the middle of the first floor
We chose this last assembly hall out of some twenty others in town
because of the exquisite wood carvings surrounding the central "altar"
Each assembly hall and merchant home takes only about 10 to 15 minutes to visit,
but by the end you're left with an overall sense of Hoi An's rich cultural heritage
Hoi An is famous for its tailor shops, where custom-fitted
clothing can be made for you in just a day or two at terrific prices
Each day we would go for a swim in the rooftop pool at our
conveniently located Hotel Vinh Hung 3 ($33 per night)
We particularly enjoyed The Little Menu where we had tender red snapper topped with minced pork and mushrooms
and followed it up with a decadent white chocolate mousse with passionfruit topping -- the best we've ever tasted!
Without question one of the pleasures of visiting Hoi An
is dining out on delicious food at reasonable prices
Hoi An is a lovely river town, especially in the
evening when all the round Chinese lanterns
are lit. Many of the streets are pedestrian-only
and filled with boutique shops and restaurants.
The sheer number of shops for clothes, leather,
personal tailoring, art, and knick knacks make
this a shopper’s paradise. It's also a foodie town
by any standards. You could eat in a different
restaurant every day for a month if you wanted
to, but we preferred finding a few favorites and
trying different scrumptious dishes on the menu.

It's worth spending a "culture day" here. For
120,000 dong each ($6), you can buy a ticket that
entitles you to see five different cultural sights
in town. Historically the Chinese in Hoi An
organized themselves based on which part of
China they were from, with each group striving
to build the most elaborate assembly hall. We
visited three of these, as well as two historic
merchants’ homes and a lovely Japanese bridge.
Cantonese Assembly Hall (Quang Trieu)
Tan Ky -- Historic Merchant Home
Fujian Assembly Hall (Phuc Kien)
Phung Hung -- Historic Merchant Home
Chauzhou Assembly Hall (Trieu Chau)
"3D" paintings add another fun element
Inside are some vivid paintings -- this one of a shipwreck