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Tuesday, 29th September 2015

Why include Hoi An on your Vietnam itinerary?

The central Vietnamese city of Hoi An has become a must-visit for many people travelling to the country, but what is it about this ancient former port town that is so appealing? It could be down to the wonderful mix of history, architecture, food and shopping. Here are some of the top things to do in this part of Vietnam.

Tan Ky family house

For an opportunity to step back into the Hoi An of old, head to the Tan Ky family house, which was originally constructed in the 18th century and has been home to generations of local merchants. It combines Vietnamese, Japanese and Chinese architecture throughout, with stunning touches, such as poems displayed in mother of pearl on the columns.

Japanese Bridge

Hoi An is the only place to boast a covered Japanese Bridge with a Buddhist temple inside, making a visit to this famous landmark an absolute must. It was first built in the 16th century to represent harmony between the Japanese and Chinese communities of the city and retains its elegant Japanese style to this day.

Fujian Assembly Hall

It's almost impossible to miss the Fujian Assembly Hall, as this ornate building, constructed as a hub for the Fujian Chinese community of Hoi An, has an impressive gateway. It is decorated with representations of mythical figures and leads to a spacious courtyard. Members of the cultural group still come to the 17th century building to pray in front of the 12 midwife statues inside the grounds in the hope of conceiving children.

Tailor-made clothes

Having a suit or dress tailor-made is one of life's most appealing luxuries and there is a plethora of places to choose from in Hoi An. Textiles have traditionally been brought into the city from all over the world and the swathes of material on display will leave you spoilt for choice. The best tailors will measure you at the beginning and offer a second fitting to get it just right.

Lantern Market

Welcoming visitors from the dark, the sight of lit up traditional Vietnamese lanterns at the market where they are sold is a quintessential experience of Hoi An. To get the best effect, visitors should cross the river at night to see the glow emanating from behind silks of many bright colours. These beautiful creations can be collapsed to take home if you wish to purchase such a souvenir.

An Bang Beach

Cua Dai may be the most well-known beach in Hoi An, but those with a little inside knowledge prefer to head further north to An Bang. This pristine stretch of sand is much quieter and boasts a selection of beachside restaurants for when a bout of hunger begins.

Culinary scene

In recent years, Hoi An has built up a reputation for itself as a world-class culinary destination and it is one that is well deserved. Whether you are after a fresh and tasty dish from one of the street vendors or to splash out on a decadent sit-down meal, there is plenty to get those taste buds going in Hoi An. Many of the restaurants also offer cookery courses, so you can learn how to make the specialities after you've enjoyed eating them.

Related news stories:
A guide to getting clothes custom made in Hoi An (31st July 2014)
Why has Laotian food not been widely exported to the rest of the world? (2nd April 2015)
3 attractions you cannot miss in Vietnam (14th October 2015)
The Huffington Post highlights reasons to visit Vietnam (7th January 2015)