Inside Asia Tours: Vietnam, Cambodia & Laos

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Friday, 25th November 2016

Vietnam's yellow city: Hoi An

The port city of Hoi An in in central Vietnam has been gaining attention with visitors in recent years. This is mainly down to its incredible food scene and the beautiful handmade silk lanterns that are created locally. One thing that has not gained so much attention, however, is the vibrant hue in which many of the houses are painted.

Yellow is an auspicious colour in Vietnam, as it symbolises royalty and superiority, as well as giving the feeling that sunshine is coming out of the walls of the place. At night, when the city’s famous lanterns are lit, Hoi An takes on an even warmer glow from its yellow facades.

Not every house and shopfront is painted in the exact same shade, but while bright, the hues are not vulgar and have led to Hoi An’s nickname The Yellow City. Even on a cloudy day, the colour is uplifting and puts you into a happier disposition.

Some say that yellow inspires creativity, which could account for all the artisans and artists that call Hoi An home. Others believe that the colour reflects heat and therefore keeps houses cool in the bright Vietnamese sun. Either way, it makes for a stunning backdrop to an exciting city and lends itself to plenty of photo opportunities.

Hoi An is a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Site, with 844 of its ancient buildings documented by the body as of historical importance. Strict building regulations ensure that the city retains its integrity, which means the original street plans are adhered to, roof lines are maintained and only traditional building materials can be used.

Wooden houses with neatly tiled roofs and ornately carved detailing and then finished off with a coat of yellow paint look stunning. Many line the river bank, offering a unique vista, and people on food, cyclists and those in traditional dress are beautifully contrasted against them. Sometimes the tropical climate means that green moss also grows on the walls to add another dimension.

You can also find yellow inside Vietnamese homes if you are lucky enough to be invited in. The traditional altar, which is dedicated to deceased ancestors, is usually decorated with yellow ornaments and flowers. Look out for yellow daisies during the Lunar New Year celebrations, too, as they are a common sight throughout the streets and alleyways of Hoi An.

Related news stories:
Why include Hoi An on your Vietnam itinerary? (29th September 2015)
A guide to getting clothes custom made in Hoi An (31st July 2014)
Hoi An - land of lanterns (12th March 2015)
Calls for Hoi An's iconic Japanese Covered Bridge to be restored (23rd August 2016)
3 attractions you cannot miss in Vietnam (14th October 2015)