Hoi An Ancient Town

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

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.


3 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.


  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.


  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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