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Hoi An


tel 0510 * pop 75,800

Hoi An is a picturesque revierside town, 30km south of Danang. Most visitors agree it is the most enchanting place along the coast and one spot worth lingering in.

Known as Faifo to early Western traders, it was one Southeast Asia’s major international ports during the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. In its heyday, Hoi An, a contemporary of Macau and Melaka, was an inportant port of call for Dutch Portuguese, Chinese, Japanese and other trading vessels. Vietnamese ships and sailors based in Hoi An sailed to all sections of Vietnam, Hoi An retains a sense of history that envelopes you as you explore the town.

Every year during the rainy season, particularly in Octorber and November, Hoi An has problems with flooding, especially in areas close to waterfront. The greatest flood ever recorded in Hoi An took place in 1964, whent he water reached all the way up to the roof beams of the houses.

Declared a Unesco World Heritage site, Hoi An Old Town (; admission 50,000d) is governed by preservation laws that are well up to par. Several building of historical and cultural significance are open for public viewing, a number of street in the centre of town are off-limits to cars, and building alterations and height restrictions are well enforced. If only Hanoi would follow suit in its historic Old Quarter.

The admission fee goes towards funding all this conservation work. This ticket gives you a rather complicated choice of heritage attraction to visit. You can visit all the old streets, and one each of the five types of places: museums; assembly halls; old houses; “intangible culture”, such as a traditional music concert or handicraft workshop; and “other” (which mena Quan Cong’s Temple or the temple within the Japanese Covered Bridge). If you want to visit more buildings than this you should buy another ticket; there are ticket offices dotted around the town.

The system doesn’t to be well-monitored, but hopefully the fees do get collected and end up as part of the restoration and preservation fund. Despite the number of tourists who come to Hoi An, it is still a very conservation town, and visitors should dress modestly when touring the sites.

“Hoi An Legendary Night” take place on the 14th day of every lunar month (full moon) from 5.30pm to 10pm. This colourful monthly event features traditional food, song and dance, and games along the lantern-lit streets in the town centre.

Hoi An is pedestrian-friendly: the Old Town is closed to cars, and the centre are walkable. There’s plenty to do Hoi An. For a relaxed half-day walk, follow the dotted line on the Hoi An map and enjoy the cultural sites-and sight-of the town. There’s a detailed entry for each these below, or see the boxed text “Culture & Heritage Trail” for a summary of the route and places of interest.

Other activities we recommend include: taking a Vietnamese cooking class; listening to traditional music and watching local artisans working with wood, paint, ceramics and fabrics. Take a boat-ride on the river, hire a bike and cyclo to the beach; wander around the tailors’ shop and order a new set of clothes. Try to spend a few days here!


Recently excavated ceramic fragment from around 2200 years ago constitute the earlierst evidence of human habitation in the Hoi An area. They are thought to belong to the late-Iron Age Sa Huynh civilization, which is related to the Dong Son culture of northern Vietnam.

From the 2nd to the 10th centuries this region was the heartland of the Kingdom of Champa – when the Cham capital of Simhapura (Tra Kieu) as well as the temples of Indrapura (Dong Duong) and My Son were built (see the boxed text “Kingdom of Champa”) – and ther was a bustling seaport at Hoi An. Persian and Arab documents from the latter part of the peroid mention Hoi An as provisions stop for trading ships. Archaeologists have uncovered the foundatione of numerous Cham towers around Hoi An: the bricks and stones of the towers were reused by Vietnamese settlers.

In 1307 the Cham king married the dughter of monarch of the Tran dysnaty and presented Quang Nam province to the Vietnamese as a gift. When the Cham king died, his successor refused to recognise the deal and fighting broke out; for the nest century, chaos reigned. By the 15th century, peace had been restored, allowing normal commerce to resume. During the next four centuries, Chinese, Japanese, Dutch, Portuguese, Spanish, Indian, Filipino, Indonesian, Thai, French, British and American ships called at Hoi An purchase high-grade silk (for which the area is famous), fabrics, paper, porcelain, tea, sugar, molasses, areca nuts, pepper, Chinese medicines, elephant tusks, beeswax, mother-of-pearl, lacquer, sulphur and lead.

The Chinese and Japanese traders sailed south in the spring, driven by winds from the northeast. They would stay in Hoi An until the summer, when southerly winds would bolw them home. During their four-month sojourn in Hoi An, the merchants rented waterfront houses for use as warehouses and living quarters. Some traders began leaving full-time agents in Hoi An to take care of off-season business affairs. This is how foreign colonies got started, although the Japanese cesed coming to Hoi An after 1637, when the Japanese government forbade all contact with the outside world.

Hoi An was the first place in Vietnam to be exposed to Christianity. Among the 17th century missionary visitors was the french priest Alexandre de Rhodes, who devised the Latin-based quoc ngu script for the Vietnamese language.

Hoi AN was alomost completely destroyed during the Tay SOn Rebellion in the 1770s and ‘80s. It was rebuilt and continued to serve as an important port for foreign trade until the late 19th century, when the Thu Bon River (Cai River), which links Hoi An with the sea, silted up and became too shallow for navigation. During this period Danang (Tourane) began to eclipse Hoi An as a part and centre of commerce. In 1916 a rail line linking Danang with Hoi An was destroyed by a terrible storm; it was never rebuilt.

During French colonisation Hoi An served as an administrative centre. During the Maerican War the city, luckily, remained almost completelt undamaged.

Hoi An was the site of the first Chinese settlement in southern Vietnam. The town’s Chinese congregational assembly halls (hoi quan) still pay a special role among southern Vietnam’s ethnic-Chinese, some of whom come to Hoi An from all over to participate in congregation-wide celebrations. Today, 1300 of Hoi An’s population of 75,800 are ethnis Chinese. Relations between ethnic Vietnam and ethnic Chinese in Hoi An are excellent, partly because the Chinese here have become assimilated to the point where they even speak Vietnamese among themselves.


Money There’s a local branch of Vietincombank (Đ Hoang Dieu), which can exchange both cash and travellers cheques. Cash advances on credit cards are also given here. Incombank Le Loi) and Hoi An Bank for Agriculture Tran Phu) will also exchange cash.

Post The post office  is located on the northwest corner of Đ Ngo Gia Tu and Đ Tran Hung Dao

Email Internet Access You will fall over Internet cafe on every street in Hoi An. Most charge around 300d per minute, with a minimum 10-minute charge.

Travel Agencies Check out the strip of agencies opposite the Hoi An Hotel on Đ Tran Hung Dao. It’s difficult to recommend one over the other; typically most of them offer the same services (including tóu to My Son, bú and plane ticketing, and visa extensions) for the same costs. Competition around here is pretty fierce, so if you want to book something expensive or complicated, it’s probably worth checking out a few options and negotiating.

Medical Sevice The hospital (10 Đ Tran Hung Dao) is opposite the post office.

Phac Hat Pagoda

This newish pagoda (map item 32) has a colourfull facade of ceramics and murals and is an active place of worship.

Truong Family Chaple

The Truong Family Chaple (Nha tho Toc Truong; map item 50), founded about two centuries ago, is a shrine dedicated to the ancestors of the ethnic- Chinese Truong family. A number of memorial plaques were presented by emperors of Vietnam to honour members of the Truong family, who served as local officials and also as mandarins at the imperial court. To get there, turn into the alley next to 69 Đ Phan Chu Trinh.

Tran Family Chapel

The Tran Family Chapel (map item 26; 21 Đ Le Loi) is at the northeast corner of Đ Phan Chu Trinh at the intersectione of Đ Le Loi. This house for worshipping ancestors was built about 200 years ago with donations from family mambers. The Tran family noved from China to Vietnam around 1700. The architecture of the building reflects the influence of Chinese and Japanese styles. The wooden boxes on the altar contain the Tran ancestors’ stone tablets, and feature chiselled Chinese charaters.

Museum of Trading Ceramics

Showcasing a collection of blue and white ceramics of the Dai Viet period, this simply restored house (map item 53) is delightful. In particular, notice the great ceramic mosaic that’s set above the pond in the inner courtyard.

House at 77 Đ Tran Phu

This private house (map item 72) is about three centuries old. There is some especially fine carving on the wooden walls of the rooms around the courtyards, on the roof beams and under the crab-shell roof (in the salon next to the courtyard). Note the green ceramic tiles built into the railing around the courtyard balcony. The house is open to visitors for a small fee.

Chinese All-community Assembly Hall

The Chinese All-Community Assembly Hall (Chua Ba; map item 54) was founded here in 1773 and was used by all of the five different Chinese congregation in Hoi An: Fujian, Cantonese, Hainan, Chaozhou and Hakka. The pavilions off main courtyard incorporate elements of 19th century French architecture.

The main entrance to the assembly hall is located on Đ Tran Phu, opposite Đ Hoang Van Thu. However the only way to get inside thse days is to enter from around the back at 31 Đ Phan Chu Trinh.

Assembly Hall of the Fujian Chinese Congregation

This assembly hall (map item 55; opposite 35 Đ Tran Phu; open 7.30am-noon& 2pm-5.30pm daily) was founded as a place to hold community meetings. Later, it was transformed into a temple for the workship of Thien Hau. the deity who was born in Fujian province. The triple gate to the complex was built in 1975.

The mural near the entrance to the main hall, on the righ-hand wall, depicts Thien Hau, her way lit by lantern ight, crossing a stormy sea to rescue a foundering ship. On the wall opposite is a mural of the heads of the six Fujian families, who fled from China to Hoi An in the 17th century, following the overthrow of the Ming dynasty.

The second to last chamber contians a statue of Thien Hau. To either side of the entrance stand red-skinned Thuan Phong Nhi and green-skinned Thien Ly Nhan. When either sees of hears sailors in distress, they inform Thien Hau, who sets off to effect a rescue. The replica of a Chinese boat along the right-hand wall is in 1:20 scale. The four set of triple beams that support the roof are typically Japanese.

The central altar in the last chamber contains seated figures of the heads of the six Fujian families. The smaller figure below them represent their successoers as clan leadrs. In a 30cm high glass dome is a figurine of Le Huu Trac, a Vietnamese and China for his curative abilities.

Behind the altar on the left is the God of Prosperity. On the right are three fairies and smaller figures representing the 12 “mid-wives” (ba mu), each of whom teachers newborns a different skill necessary for the first year of life: smiling, sucking, lying on their stomachs and so forth. Childless couples often come here to pray for offspring. The three groups of figures in this chamber represent the elements most central tolife: ancestors, children and financial wellbeing.

The middle altar of the room to the right of the couryard commemorates deceased leadres of the Fujian congregation. On either side are lists on contributors-women on the left and men on the right. The wall panels represent the four seasons.

The Fujian assembly hall is fairly well-lit and can be visited after dark. Shoes should be removed upon mounting the platform just pass the naves.

Quan Cong Temple

Founded in 1653, Quan Cong Temple (Chua Ong; map item 57; 24 Đ Tran Phu ) is a Chinese temple that is dedicated to Quan Cong, whose partially gilt statue, made of papier-mache on the wooden frame, is in the central altar at the back of the sanctuary. On the left is a statue of General Chau Xuong, one of Quan Cong’s quardians, striking a tough-guy pose. On the right is the rather plump administrative mandarin Quan Binh. The life-size white horse recalls a mount ridden by Quan Cong, until he was given a red horse of extraordinary endurance, representations of which are common in Chinese pagodas.

Stone plaques on the walls list contributors to the construction and repair of the temple. Check out the carp-shaped rain spouts on the roof surrounding the courtyard. The carp is a symbol of patience in Chinese mythology and is popular in Hoi An.

Shoes should be removed when mounting the platform in front of the stayue of Quan Cong. Note that according to the old numbering system, the address is 168 Đ Tran Phu.

Quan Am Pagoda & History Museum

This comparatively austere building (map item 58) houses a small collection of bronze temple bells, gongs and canon. There’s also a display of Cham artefacts.

Assembly Hall of the Hainan Chinese Congregation

This assembly hall (map item 60; Đ Tran Phu ) was built in 1883 as a memorialto the 108 merchants from Hainan Island, who were mistaken for pirates and killed in Quang Nam province during the reign of Emperor To DUc. The elaborate dais contains plaques in their memory. In front of the central altaris a fine gilded woodcarving of Chinese court life.

The Hainan congregation hall is at the east end of Đ Tran Phu, near the corner of Đ Hoang Dieu.

Assembly Hall of theo Chaozhou Chinese Congregation

The Choazhou Chinese in Hoi An built their congregation hall (map item 63; opposite 157 Đ Nguyen Duy Hieu) in 1776. Some outstanding woodcarving are on the beams, walls and altar. On the doors in front of the altar are carvings of two Chinese girls wearing their hair in Japanese style.

The assembly hall is near the corner of Đ Hoang Dieu.

Tran Duong House

There is a whole city block of colonnaded French-colonial buildings on Đ Phan Boi Chau, between Nos 22 and 73, among them the 19th century home of Mr Tran Duong (map item 65; 25 Đ Phan Boi Chau). Mr Duong, a friendly retired mathematics teacher, speaks English and French, and is happy to explain the history of its 62m long house and its contents to visitors. There is no entrance fee, but contributions are welcomed by owner.

Old House at 103 Tran Phu

The wooden frontage and shutter make a good photographic backdrop to this electric shop (map item 74), where women make silk lanterns, ornamental auqarium fish are for sale and you can buy shampoo.

Assembly Hall of the Cantonese Chinese Congregation

Founded in 1786, this assembly hall (map item 46; 176 Đ Tran Phu; open 6am-7.30am& 1pm-5.30pm daily) has a main altar that is dedicated to Quan Cong. Note the long-handle brass “fans” to either side of the altar. The lintel and door posts of the main entrance and a number of the columns supporting the roof are made of single blocks of granite. The other columns were carved out of the durable wood of the jackfruit tree. There are some interesting carving on the wooden beams that support the roof in front of the main entrance.

Museum of Sa Huynh Culture

Artefacts from the early Dong Son civilisatio of Sa Huynh are displayed at this museum (map item 44). The building itself is not as interesting as many others but you should go visit the museum for the collection of objects it houses, rather than for its setting.

Japanese Covered Bridge

This famed bridge (Cau Nhat Ban or Lai Vien Kieu; map item 43) connect 155 Đ Tran Phu with 1 Đ Nguyen Thi Minh Khai. The first bridge on this site was constructed in 1593. It was built by the Japanese community of Hoi An in order to link them with the Chinese quarters across the stream. The bridge was constructed with a roof so that it could be used as a shelter from both the rain and sun.

The Japanese Covered Bridge is very solidly constructed; apparently the original builders were concerned about the threat of earthquakes. Over the centuries, the ornamentation of the bridge has remained relatively faithful to the original Japanese design. Its understatement constrast greatly with the Vietnamese and Chinese penchant for wild decoration. The French flattened out the roadway to make it more suitable for their motor vehicles, but the original arched shape was restored during major renovation work carried out in 1986.

Built into the northern side of the bridge is small temple, Chua Cau. The writting over the door of the temple is the name given to the bridge in 1719 to replace the name meaning Japanese Covered Bridge. However the new name, Lai Vien Kieu (Bridge for Passers-By from Afar), never quite caught on.

According to legend, there once lived an enormous monster called Cu, who had its head in India, its tail in Japan and its body in Vietnam. Whenever the monster moved, terrible disasters such as floods and earthquakes befell Vietnam. This bridge was built on the monster’s weakest point and killed it, but the people of Hoi An took pity on the slain monster and built this temple to pray for its soul.

The entrances of the bridge are quarded by a pair of monkeys on the one side and a pair of dogs on the other. According to one story, these animals were popularly reverd because manyof Japan’s emperors were born in years of the dog and monkey. Another tale relates that construction of the bridge started in the year of the monkey and didn’t finish until the year of the dog.

The stelae, listing all Vietnamese and Chinese contributors to a subsequent restoration of the bridge, are written in Chinese characters (chu nho) – the nom script had not yet become popular in these parts.

Phung Hung Old House

In a lane full of beautiful buildings, this old house (map item 42) stands out. At present it houses a bookshop and showcases designer ceramics; wander through and enjoy the ambience.

Cam Pho Temple

This less-ornate, newish building (map item 40) is not often open, and is notable mainly for its ceramics dragon roof-line.

Caodai Pagoda

Serving Hoi An’s Caodai community, many of whom live along the path out to the Japanese tombs, is the small Caodai Pagoda (map item 9), between Nos 64 and 70 Đ Huynh Thuc Khang (near bus station). Only one priest, who grows sugar and corn in the front yard to make some extra cash, lives here. It was built in 1952.

Tan Ky house

Built two centuries ago as the home of a well to do ethnic Vietnamese merchant, the Tan Ky House (map item 79; tel 861474; 101 Đ Nguyen Thai Hoc; open 8am-noon and 2p.m daily) has been lovingly preserved and today looks almost exactly as it did in the early 19th century.

The design of Tan Ky House shows some evidence of the Japanese and Chinese influence on local architecture. Japanese elements include ceiling (in the area immediately before the courtyard), which is supported by three progressively shorter beams one on top of the other. There are similar beams in the salon. Under the crab-shell ceiling there are carving of crossed sabres wrapped in silk ribbon. The sabres symbolise force; the silk represent flexibility.

Chinese poems written in inlaid mother of pearl re hung from a number of the columns that hold up the roof. The Chinese characters on these 150 year old panels are formed entirely of birds gracefully portrayed in variuos positions of flight.

The courtyard here has four functions: to let in light; to provide ventilation; to bring a glimpse of nature into the home; and to collect rainwater and providedrainage. The stone tiles covering the patio floor were brought from Thanh Hoa province in north central Vietnam. The cerved, wooden balcony supports around the courtyard are decorated with grape leaves, which are a European import and further evidence of the unique mingling of culture that took place in Hoi An.

The back of the house faces the river. In the past, this section of the building was rented out to foreign merchants. That the house was a place of commerce, as well as a residence, is indicated by the two pulleys attached to a beam in the storage loft just inside the front door.

The exterior of the roof is made of tiles; inside, the ceiling consists of wood. This design keeps the house cool in summer and warm in winter. The floor tiles were brought from near Hanoi.

Tan Ky House is private home, but is one of the choices on your Hoi An entrance ticket. The owner, whose family has lived here for seven generations, speaks fluent French and English.

Diep Dong Nguyen House

This house (map item 75; 58 Đ Nguyen Thai Hoc; open 8am-noon&2pm-4.30pm daily) was built for a Chinese merchant, an ancestor of the current inhabitants of the house, in the late 19th century. The front room on the ground floor was once a dispensary for Chinese medicine (thuoc bac); the medicines were stored in the glass-enclosed cases lining the walls. The owner’s private collection of antiques, which includes photographs, porcelain and furniture, is on display upstairs. The objest are not for sale! Two of chairs were once lent by the family to Emperor Bao Dai.

The house is at 58 Đ Nguyen Thai Hoc, by the old numbering system.

Other Sites of Significance

Hoi An Church The only tombs of Europeans in Hoi An are found in the yard of this church (cnr Đ Nguyen Truong To & Đ Le Hong Phong). This modern building was built to replace an earlier structure at another site. Several 18th century missionaries were exhumed from tombs at the original site and reburied here.

Chuc Thanh Pagoda Founded in 1454 by Minh Hai, a Buddhist monk from China, Chuc Thanh Pagoda is the oldest pagoda in Hoi An. Among the antique ritual objests still in use are several bells, a stone gong two centuries old and a crap-shaped wooden gong said to be even older. Today, several elderly monks live here.

In the main sanctuary, the gilt Chinese characters inscribed on a red roof beam give details of the pagoda’s construction. An A Di Da Buddha flanked by two Thich Ca Buddhas sits under a wooden canopy on the cantral dais. In front of them is a statue of a boyhood Thich Ca flanked by his servants.

To get to Chuc Thanh Pagoda, go all the way to the end of Đ Nguyen Truong To and turn left. Follow the sandy path for 500m.

Phuoc Lam Pagoda This pagoda was founded in the mid 17th century. The head monk at the end of that century was An Thiem, a Vietnamese prodigy who had become a monk at the age of eight. When he was 18, the king drafted An Thiem’s brothers into his army to put down a rebellion. An Thiem volunteered to take places of the other men in his family and eventually rose to the rank of general. After the war, he returned to the monkhood, but felt guilty about the many people he had slain. To atone for his sins, he volunteered to clean the Hoi An market for 20 years. When that time was up, he was asked to come to Phuoc Lam Pagoda as head monk.

To reach Phuoc Lam Pagoda, continue past Chuc Thanh Pagoda for 350m. The path passes an obelisk that was erected over the tomb of 13 ethnic Chinese, who had been decapitated by the Japanese during WWII doe resistance activities.

Japanese Tombs The tombstone of the Japanese marchent Yajirobei, who died in 1647, is clearly inscribed with Japanese characters. The stele, which faces northeast towards Japan, is held in place by the tomb’s original covering, made from an especially hard kind of cement, the ingredients of which include powdered seashells, the leaves of the boi loi tree (which are used to make incense) and cane sugar. Yajirobei may have been a Christian who came to Vietnam to escape persecution in his native land.

To get to Yajirobei’s tomb, head north to the end of Đ Nguyen Truong To and follow the sand path around to the left (west) for 40m, until you get to a fork. The path that continues straigh on leads to Chuc Thanh Pagoda, but yo should turm right (north). Keep going for just over 1km, turing left (north) at the first fork and left (northwest) at the second fork. When you arrive at open fields, keep going until you cross the irrigation channel. Just on the order side of the channel turn right (southeast) onto a raised path. After 150m, turn left (northeast) into the paddies and walk another 100m. The tomb, which is on a platform bounded by a low stone wall, stands surrounded by rice paddies.

The tomstone of a Japanese named Masai, who died in 1629, is a few hunderd matres back towards Hoi An. To get there, turn left (southeast) at a point about 100m towards town from the edge of the rice fields. The tombstone is on the righ hand side of the trail about 30m from main path.

For help in fiding the Japanese tombs, show the locals the words ma nhat or mo nhat, which mean “Japanese tombs”.

There are more Japanese tombs in Duy Xuyen district, across the delta of the Thu Bon River.

Places to Stay

Tiny Hoi An gets backed in the peak travel seasons – August to Octorber and December to February. Unlike much of the rest of Vietnam, where the overbuilding of hotels has caused mass vacancies and cheaper prices, Hoi An is the one spot that still faces shortages. During the high season, hundreds of Hoi An visitors typically have to head up to Danang just to find a room. New hotels are springing up around town, but if you have your heart set on a particular hotel, you should probably book ahead.

Most travellers want to find a room right in the town centre, so not surprisingly these fill up quickly. Yet the quieter and more spacious hotels tend to be on the outskirts of town. Considering how small Hoi An is, and how easily you can walk around, there should be no great compulsion to find a place in the bustling heart of town.

Rates listed here are “standard” rates; expect most of these to skyrocket during the busy months, especially November to January. Alternatively – it’s unusual, but it does happen – if you walk in without a booking, when a hotel’s not full, you may well be offered a discount.

Near to and in the town centre there is a range of accommodation options.

Thanh Binh Hotel (tel 861740, fax 864192;; 1 Đ Le Loi; twins with fan US$8, with air-con US$12-20) is a family-run hotel close to the town centre and rooms are a good size; try to get one that looks over the small park beside hotel.

Thien Nga Hotel (tel 916330; Đ Nhi Trung; air-con rooms US$10)is a small, bright hotel a few minutes’ walk from the centre that looks over rice fields, from the balcony at the back.

Phu Tinh Hotel (tel 861297, fax 861757; 144 Đ Tran Phu; rooms with bath US$8-15) is a bit tatty but it’s central and has a pleasant garden forecourt.

Hoai Thanh Hotel (tel 861242, fax 861135; 23 Đ Le Hong Phong; rooms with fan/air-con from US$8/10, with satellite TV US$ 28/35), on the northern outskirts of town, is a huge, state-run place. The budget rooms in the lod section are tatty, but clean and quiet.

Huy Hoang 1 (tel 861453, fax 863722; 73 Đ Phan Boi Chau; rooms with fan US$10-15, with air-con US$15-20, river-view rooms US$30) is a pleasant place by Cam Nam Bridge. Breakfast on the balcony, which overlooks the river, is included.

Thien Trung Hotel (tel 861720, fax 863799;; 63 Đ Phan Dinh Phung; rooms US$10-15) is an older, motel style place. The rooms and bathrooms are good, though it’s on the main road and a bit noisy. If you’re travelling by car or motorbike, it has ample parking.

Thuy Duong Hotel I (tel 861574,; 11 Đ Le Loi; rooms from US$10-18) has fairly tatty rooms and a busy Internet area.

Binh Minh Hotel (tel 861943;; 12 Đ Thai Phien; twins with fan US$8-10) has parking, if you have your own transport; otherwise it’s fairly ordinary but fine if other hotels are full.

Vinh Hung 1 Hotel (tel 861621, fax 861893;; 143 Đ Tran Phu; downstairs/upstairs rooms US$15/20, deluxe rooms US$30-45) is an atmospheric hotel that’s housed in a classic Chinese trading house. For a little more you can stay in one of two rooms used by Michael Caine when filming The Quiet American; each is decorated with antiques and a beautiful canopy bed. Unless you’re a heavy sleepr, try to avoid the one directly above reception. Rates include breakfast.

Vinh Hung 2 Hotel (tel 863717, fax864094;; Đ Nhi Trung; fan rooms US$15, air-con rooms US$20-35) is an attractive, larger, new hotel featuring a swimming pool in the central courtyard.

Vinh Hung 3 (tel 863717) was opening the day we visited. It’s near Vinh Hung 2, of a similar standard, and also has a great roof top pool.

Cong Doan Hotel (Trade Union Hotel; tel 826370, fax 861899,; 50 Đ Phan Dinh Phung) was being renovated when we visited and was close to reopening. It’s near Vinh Hung 2.

Thanh Binh 2 Hotel (tel 863715, fax 864192;; Đ Nhi Trung; rooms USD15-30) is a new place that’s larger and smarter than Thanh Binh ă; rates include breakfast.

Hoi An Hotel (tel 861373, fax 861636; 6 Đ Tran Hung Dao; rooms USD45-100) is in a grand, mordern, colonial-style building and is government owned. It is one of the largest hotel in Vietnam.Room rates range widely and there’s a good sized swimming pool. Many tour group stay here.

On the eastern edge of town, on the way to Cua Dai Beach, there’s a gaggle of decent mid-range hotels. A small cluster of restaurant, Internet cafes and travel agencies has sprung up nearby. From the following hotels, it’s 10 minute stroll to the Old Town.

Sao Bien Hotel (Sea Star Hotel; tel 861589, fax 861382; 15 Đ Cua Dai; twins US$8-15) is tatty but fine for the price. The budget rooms at the top have fine views over Hoi An’s red-brick roofs.

Green Field Hotel (Dong Xanh Hotel; tel 863484;; air-con rooms US$10-25) is the furthest away from town. Rooms are fine; a new annexe and pool were about to open.

Cua Dai Hotel (tel 862231, fax 862232;; 18 Đ Cua Dai; single/twins US$20/25) is an elegant place. It’s an attractive option as it’s semirural, yet still walking distance to the town centre. There are comfy rattan chair doted around and a good balcony. Rooms are air-con with satellite TV, and rates include breakfast. Book ahead if you can.

Hotel Hai Yen (tel 862445, fax 862443;; 22A Đ Cua Dai; rooms US$25, suite US$50), near Cua Dai, is friendly place. The standard room are equipped with air-con, satallite TV and bath tubs, and there’s a pleasant quite garden.

There is also a cluster of decent hotels near the bus station, about 10 minutes’ walk from town.

Thuy Duong Hotel II (tel 861394, fax 861330; 68 Đ Huynh Thuc Khang; fan rooms from US$7, air-con rooms US$15), right between the bus station and a small Caodai pagoda, is a pleasant enough cheapie. Ask for one of the rooms overlooking the pagoda gardens.

Huy Hoang 2 Hotel (tel 926234,; 87 Đ Huynh Thuc Khang; rooms from US$10) is good value with big clean rooms with satellit TV and a garden restaurant. It’s opposite the bus station, about 10minutes’ walk from the Old Town.

Towards and on Cua Dai Beach are some splendid (and splendidly expensive) resorts.

Hoi An Riverside Resort (tel 864800,; Đ Cua Dai; rooms US$109) is an elegant hotel in a fabulous rural setting, overlooking the river and rice fields. It’s only a couple of kilometres from the beach and there’s a huge pool. Discounted rates are often available.

Victoria Hoi An Resort (tel 049330318; Cua Dai Beach;; rooms from US$120++) at Cua Dai Beach itself, about 5km east of town, has a fabulous private beach frontage and all the stylish facilities you’d expect for the price. The rooms are gorgeous, and you may get a 30% discount if there are available rooms. For US$10++ you can have day use of the facilities.

Hoi AN Beach Resort (tel 927011,; Cua Dai Beach; rooms for US$80) has fantastic big, airy rooms that have balconies, but avoid those on the noisy beachfront road.There are two swimming pools here.

Places to Eat

Hoi An’s contribution to Vietnamese cuisine is cao lau, which are doughy flat noodles mixed with croutons, bean sprouts and green and topped off with pork slices. It is mixed with crumbles, crispy rice paper immediately before eating. You’ll see cao lau listed on menus all over Hoi An, which is the only place genuine cao lau can be made because the water used in its preparation must come from Ba Le well. (The well itself, which is said to date from Cham times, is square in shape. To get there, turn down the alley opposite 35 Đ Phan Chu Trinh and hang a right before reaching number 45/17. You might need to ask someone for directions).

Other Hoi An specialities are fried won ton and the delicate “white rose” (steamed shrimp wrapped in rice paper). You can find these in most local eateries.

There are heaps of restaurants on Đ Nguyen Hue, Đ Tran Phu and, on the waterfront, along Đ Bach Dang where you can enjoy a leisurely meal or linger over drinks. Many types of cuisine are available, including Western (eg, banana pancakes, pasta, pizza), Vietnamese, Chinese and vegetariant. Unless otherwise stated, you can expect to get a filling plate of food for around 15,000d. Around 50,000d will buy a good three course set menu in many of the restaurants.

Miss Ly Cafeteria 22 (tel 861603, 22 Đ Nguyen Hue; open from 6.30 am), a true Hoi An institution, has some of the best won tons and white roses in town. The restaurant closes when empty (and that’s usually late) and is nearly always crowded.

Mermaid Restaurant (tel 861527; 2 Đ Tran Phu) serves good food all day and sensational, three course set menu during the evening.

Brother’s café Hoi An (tel 914150; 27 Phan Boi Chau; set lunch US$6; open 10am-10pm) is within a complex of restored French colonial buildings and a garden that runs down to the river, at the eastern end of town. It’s a gorgeous setting and the attention to designer detail is perfect; you can just drop by for coffee or a drink.

Café des Amis (tel 861616; 52 Đ Bach Dang; 4 course vegetarian menus 50,000d, seafood menus 60,000d; open from 5pm) continues to get food reviews for its “surprise” dinners – the set menu is whatever the chef, Kim, feels like cooking that day.

Hoi An Hai san (tel 861652; D64 Đ Bach Dang; main meals around 50,000d; open frombreakfast) is a seafood restaurant serving innovative Vietnamese and international meals.

Heading west beyond the previous two restaurant, the Đ Bach Dang riverfront is a virtual eating arcade. Cruise the next few hundred metres and check out the line of waterfront seafood restaurant and their daily specials.

Han Huyen Restaurant (Floating Restaurant; tel 861462; meals from 30,000d; open from breakfast) is moored on the banks of the river. It’s in a great setting and has OK food.

Chinese style places include the Thanh Thanh 1 Restaurant and Tu Do Restaurant both on Đ Tran Phu, and the Thanh Binh Restaurant (Đ Le Loi).

Some other popular spots for traditional and good backpacker cuisine include Café Bobo and the excellent Dudi Restaurant, both on Đ Le Loi.

Banana Split café (tel 861136; 53 Đ Hoang Dieu), cloned direct from the beaches of Nha Trang, is where sweet-tooths can relieve any sudden craving for ice cream, fresh fruit juices and, of course, banana splits.

Omar Khayyam’s Indian Restaurant (tel 910245; 14 Đ Phan Dinh Phung; veg/non-veg thalis 39,000/49,000d) has good value and filling, if unimaginative, curries.

On the fringe of the Hoi An Old Town, on the corners of Đ Nhi Trung and Đ Phan Dinh Phung, a gaggle of lively cafes and bars has sprung up. Treat’s Café 2, a popular bar-café, has opend a second one here (same same not different), and Jean’s Café Restaurant is popular with travelers.


Tam Tam Café & Bar (tel 862212, fax 862207;; 110 Đ Nguyen Thai Hoc) is located upstairs in a thoughtfully restored tea warehouse. Started by an expat, this most unexpected retreat has a good menu of French and Italian food, a wide range of wine, salads, anairy billiard table and bar area, a balcony for summer dining and a collection of over 400 CDs. The Aussie steaks (90,000d upwards) washed down with a frosty draught beer are popular. There is also a simple bar menu for light bites, and coffee and cake on offer.

Treat’s 1 Café (tel 861125; 158 Đ Tran Phu)is another watering hole that gets good reports. It is a spaciuos place with a pleasant restaurant cafe on 2nd storey. The congenial young owner Treat is known for his generous happy hour. Treat’s 2 Cafe is near the corner of Đ Phan Dinh Phung and Đ Nhi Trung and is the same style.

Hai’s Scout Cafe (tel863210; 98 Đ Nguyen Thai Hoc; sandwiches around 30,000d; open all day) is a dimly lit local cafe with a pleasant, real cappuccino and lattes, and cocktails. You can enter the cafe on Đ Nguyen Thai Hoc or Đ Tran Phu.

Tam Long Quan Cafe (tel 862113; 48/10 Đ Tran Cao Van) is an interesting little Chinese style coffee shop that is worth seeking out. It is tucked in to a narrow alley near the Vinh Hung 2 Hotel. It is run by Mr Ngo Thi Hai, a local kung-fu master, who has decorated the place with variuos weapons and an impressive collection of hand-carved wooden sculptures.

Cooking Classes

Several cafe offer an early evening cooking class of commercialism has increasingly taken a toll on the mellowed charm of the town, it is nowhere near as overwhelming as many other tourist in Vietnam.

Hoi An is known for its production of cotton cloth. All over the city there are cotton mills with rows of fantastic wooden looms that make a rhythmic “clackety-clack, clackety-clack” sound as a whirring, cycloidal drive wheel shoots the shuttle back and forth under the watchful eyes of the machine attendant. The elegant technology used in building these domestically produced machines dates from the Industrial Revolution. This is probably what mills in Victorian England must have looked like.

Tailor made clothing is one of Hoi An’ s specialities and in the space of just a few years the number of tailor shops has grown from a handful to over 200! Recommending one tailor over another is a difficult proposition, and with so many tailors competing for limited tourist dollars, touts are out in full force (most of them cute young girls who use the “What’s your name? Where are you from? Would you like to come and see my auntie’s shop? approach”). In fact, the tailors are all rather similar, and most of them should be fine, whether you’re looking for alterations or a whole new wardrobe. They’re very good at copying, so take any favourite clothes you want replicated. Leave yourself time for adjustments to be made, and for a final fitting. For a look at the various materials available locally, take a peek at the Hoi An Cloth Market on Đ Tran Phu.

The presenseof numeruos tourist has turned the fake antique business into a major growth industry for Hoi An. Theoretically you could find something here that is really old, but it’s hard to beleive that all the geniune stuff wasn’t scooped up long ago.

On the other hand, there is some really elegant artwork around, even if it was made only yesterday. Painting are genarally the mass produced kind of stuff, but are still hand panted; for a fed US dollars you can’t complain. A row of art galleries inside the gorgeous old building on Đ Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, just across form Japanese Covered Bridge, are great to browse through.

Woodcarving are also a local speciality. Cross Cam Nam Bridge to Can Nam village, a lovely spot where woodcarving are made. Acroos the An Hoi footbridge if the An Hoi Peninsula, which is known for both its boat and mat-weaving factories.

There are lovely blue and white ceramic goods for sale at a strip of small shops along the Đ Bach Dang riverfront.

Getting there and away

Bus The main Hoi An bus station (74 Đ Huynh Thuc Khang) is 1km west of the centre of town. Buses from here to go to Dai Loc (Ai Nghia), Danang, Quang Ngai, Que Son, Tam Ky and Tra My. More frequent services to Danang leave from the northern bus station on Đ Le Hong Phong. The cost id about 20,000d and services begin at 5am; the last Danang bus departs in the late afternoon.

Minibus Virtually every hotel in Hoi An can sell you a minibus ticket to either Nha Trang to Hue. The Hoi An-Hue minibus (US$4)goea through Danang (US$2)and you can be gropped off there if you like. Or you van get out at Nha Trang (US$8) of My Lai (US$6). Most minibuses leave from the cafe on the cornes of Đ Phan DInh Phung and Đ Nhi Trung at aruond 8am; there’s often a mid-afternoon service too.

Car & Motorbike There are two land routes from Danang to Hoi An. The shorter way is via the Marble Mountains (11km), from where you continue south for another 19km. Alternatively, head south on National Hwy 1 and, at the signposted intersection 27km from the city, turn left and Hoi An is 10km to the east.

The going rate for a motorbike taxi between Danang and Hoi An is about 30,000d. A taxi will cost from US$8 to US$10.

Boat Small, motorised ferries leave Hoi An for nearby districts and Cham Island from the landing at the end of Đ Hoang Van Thu. There are daily boats to Cham Island (usually departing between 7am and 8am), weather dependent, and foreigners need permirs to make this trip on a public boat. There is also frequent service to Cam Kim Island.

Getting Around

Anywhere within town can be reached on foot. To go further afield, rent a bicycle from 5000d per day, but spend US$1 if you want a more comfortable bike. A motorbike will cost around US$5/10 per day without/with a driver. Hire places are located all over town.

Boat A paddle boat trip on the Thu Bon River (Cai River) - the largest in Quang Nam province – is recommended. A simple rowing boat with someone to row it costs something like US$2 per hour, and one hour is probably logn enough for most travellaers. Some My Son tour offer the return trip to HOi An by boat, which is a fun way to travel.

Boats that carry up to five people can also be hired to visit handicraft and fishing villages in the area; expect to pay around US$4 per hour. Look for the boats near the rowboat dock.

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