Guidebook A living museum of 19th century architecture


A living museum of 19th century architecture

The ancient town of Hoi An is a “beguiling place to spend a few days,” says Liz Boulter in The Guardian, “with its lazy river lined with mustard-yellow merchants’ houses, and beaches a few kilometres away.” Yes, acknowledges Boulter, it’s touristy, “but the old town is surprisingly extensive and can absorb a lot of visitors without losing its dreamy atmosphere.”

Foreign traders have been arriving in Hoi An for over 1,000 years, explains Wanderlust, which made it “one of Asia’s most important trading ports, initially under the auspices of the Champa kingdom and later under their vanquishers, the Vietnamese.” During its halcyon days, between the 16th and 19th centuries, traders from Japan, Europe and China “came seeking silk, precious metals, gems and tea.”

It's a UNESCO heritage-listed old town with a “wonderfully ancient Japanese Bridge as its centrepiece,” writes Traveller. “Miraculously untouched by the Vietnam-American War,” Hoi An has survived intact as “a living museum of traditional early 19th century architecture and some.” And it is mostly closed to motorised traffic, “leaving pedestrians to wander carefree along serene lantern-lit streets.”

Hoi An “packs enough of a culinary and cultural punch to keep you charmed for days,” says Alexis Mastroyiannis at Suitcase. “Nestled between a beautiful stretch of pristine beach and the crook of the lazy Thu Bon river, Hoi An’s long and illustrious history as an international trading port is writ large on its elegant and eclectic mix of Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese and French colonial architecture.”

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