Hoi An Ancient Town

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A riverside view of Hoi An (Crazy3108/Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0).
Hoi An Town, Quang Nam Province
N15 52 60 E108 19 60
Date of Inscription: 1999
Criteria: (ii)(v)
Property : 30 ha
Buffer zone: 280 ha
Ref: 948
6914926621_55a407275a_b
Japanese Covered Bridge of Hoi An (Sacha Fernandez/Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).

Hoi An Ancient town is located in Viet Nam’s central Quang Nam Province, on the north bank near the mouth of the Thu Bon River. The inscribed property comprises 30 ha and it has a buffer zone of 280 ha. It  is an exceptionally well-preserved example of a small-scale trading port active the 15th to 19th centuries  which traded widely, both with the countries of Southeast and East Asia and with the rest of the world. Its decline in the later 19th century ensured that it has retained its traditional urban tissue to a remarkable degree.

The town reflects a fusion of indigenous and foreign cultures (principally Chinese and Japanese with later European influences) that combined to produce this unique survival.

The town comprises a well-preserved complex of 1,107 timber frame buildings, with brick or wooden walls, which include architectural monuments, commercial and domestic vernacular structures, notably an open market and a ferry quay, and religious buildings such as pagodas and family cult houses. The houses are tiled and the wooden components are carved with traditional motifs.  They are arranged side-by-side in tight, unbroken rows along narrow pedestrian streets. There is also the fine wooden Japanese bridge, with a pagoda on it, dating from the 18th century. The original street plan, which developed as the town became a port, remains. It comprises a grid of streets with one axis parallel to the river and the other axis of streets and alleys set at right angles to it. Typically, the buildings front the streets for convenient customer access while the backs of the buildings open to the river allowing easy loading and off-loading of goods from boats.

The surviving wooden structures and street plan are original and intact and together present a traditional townscape of the 17th and 18th centuries, the survival of which is unique in the region. The town continues to this day to be occupied and function as a trading port and centre of commerce. The living heritage reflecting the diverse communities of the indigenous inhabitants of the town, as well as foreigners, has also been preserved and continues to be passed on. Hoi An Ancient Town remains an exceptionally well-preserved example of a Far Eastern port.

Criterion (ii): Hoi An is an outstanding material manifestation of the fusion of cultures over time in an international commercial port.

Criterion (v): Hoi An is an exceptionally well-preserved example of a traditional Asian trading port.

Suggested Base:

Da Nang (Đà Nẵng) is Vietnam’s third largest city after Ha Noi and Ho Chi Minh city. It’s located in Central Vietnam and on the South China Sea coast, midway between Ha noi and Ho Chi Minh City. The city itself has neither the ambiance of Hanoi nor the hustle-bustle of Ho Chi Minh City, but has its share of sights and is close to the charms of Hoi An and the imperial capital of Hue, making it a popular vacation spot for those looking to explore the attractions of central Vietnam or soak up some sun while hanging out on the city’s beaches. The regions surrounding Da Nang (My Son, Quang Nam) were founded by the Cham Hindus perhaps 3,000 years ago, serving as the capital city and centre of the Hindu Champa Dynasty. Vietnamese invasions into the region in the 17th century significantly halted Cham development. [read more]

Hue (Huế) (sounds much like huh-WAY) is in the central region of Vietnam and is the former imperial capital. Hue is intimately connected to the imperial Nguyễn Dynasty, based in Hue, which ruled from 1802 to 1945, when the Emperor Bao Dai abdicated in favour of Ho Chi Minh’s revolutionary government. The city went through tough times during what is known locally as the American War, when it was conquered by the Viet Cong and held for 24 days. During that time, they executed around 1,000 people suspected of sympathizing with the South. After a ferocious assault, US and South Vietnamese forces retook the city. Hue is easy to get a grip on. The main landmark is the Perfume River (Hương Giang), with the old city and the citadel on the north side and the newer city, including most hotels and restaurants, on the south side. [read more]

Tam Ky is in the Central Coast of Vietnam. The city is linear in shape, spreading along three major roads that run North-West to South-East. Quang Nam state’s third city, Tam Ky is often passed over by visitors, amenities, and services, in favour of historic Hoi An or cosmopolitan Da Nang. Quang Nam state’s network of semi-urban buses serves the city and surrounding areas, however routes and times are difficult to discern, and drivers will often refuse to board foreigners who only want to make short trips. Stops are generally well posted, but routes are confusing, often backtracking. Buses may move at a crawl in the city as they look to pick up more passengers. Fare is 6k for trips less than 10km. From the train station to the beach at Tam Thanh (~11km), a meter taxi should cost 100-150k, and a motorbike taxi about 60k. [read more]

CATEGORY:   VIET NAM
TAG:   VN – HOI AN ANCIENT TOWN

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7 Replies to “Hoi An Ancient Town”

  1. Hoi An was, beside the Six Senses in Nha Trang, the most enjoyable part of our three week holiday in Vietnam earlier this year. We stayed in a smaller guest house, just outside of town, and cycled everywhere, in to town, around town and to the beaches too. Five days was perfect, and we are glad we didn’t shorten the trip and try to cram in more. We would have skipped Saigon, 24 hours was fine for Hanoi, 2 days in Halong Bay, but the full five days was ideal at Hoi An. Of course we had suits and skirts and blouses made, and are delighted with our purchases. Arrive with an empty suitcase, take only your favorite clothes you wish to have copied.

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  2. Laden with multicolored lanterns, the ancient town’s canals and alleyways are a sight to behold during the lantern festival. The locals turn off their lights, leaving the town bathed in candlelight.

    The myriad floating lanterns dotting the water’s surface make for an incredible view, but the festival’s atmosphere is lively, romantic and mystical.

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  3. I love the lights at night it looks so magical ! I also like the fact that some streets are blocked to traffic, must feels so quiet. Can’t wait to go there !

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  4. When it comes to ancient towns, Hoi An is right up there for us. I’ve always loved the romance and allure of an old town where all the buildings date back 100’s of years, generations within a family own businesses and each street has a tale to tell. Add colorful fabric lanterns adorning the streets, brightly painted shop fronts and bicycles a plenty and you have old world charm like no other and plenty of Instagram-worthy corners. In fact I dare you to try not take photos whilst there; it’s not possible.

    It’s a great place to find many a talented tailor who can whip up a dress, linen pants or suit of your choice within a day. One of my favourite leather bags comes from a shop there ( made from buffalo hide) and I can’t recall finding better vietnamese food anywhere else. By day you can cycle through the streets, cruise the river in a local boat and by night watch the town explode with markets, lanterns aglow and their Japanese bridge ( dating back to 16th century) change colour in the light.

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  5. One way to gain some perspective – geographically speaking – on how exactly Hoi An looks, is by doing a cruise on the Thu Bon River which runs right through the heart of the city. We were there when a monsoon struck central Vietnam, but judging by the locals’ nonchalance about this imminent disaster, this was the sort of this that happened quite often… Either way, the elevated river gave us an even better view of the famous Hoi An market at dusk, just when the Chinese lanterns lit up the streets…

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  6. I was lucky enough to be there during the lunar lantern festival where the old town shuts off electricity in the evenings, is closed to traffic and transforms into magical alleyways of colourful lanterns, flickering candles and lively gatherings.

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