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An experience we will never forget
March 24, 2012

Hoi An Old Town


Hoi An old town was once a bustling trade port founded by Sa Huynh people nearly two thousand years ago. (Sa Huynh is one of the three ancient civilizations in Vietnam, along with Dong Son in the north and Oc Eo in the south. Though their settlements in central Vietnam have been confirmed with thousands of artifacts found, they are almost seafaring people).

From 7th to 10th century (the peak of Champa Kingdom), Hoi An remained a major harbor for spices trade. During 16th and 17th century, it became an important node on the Silk Road. Due to its strategic location, a large number of international merchants settled down in the city. It was known to Chinese, Japanese and Thai people as “Lam Ap” while Indian, Dutch, Spanish and Portuguese people called it “Faifo”.

Entering the 19th century, as Thu Bon estuary gradually silted up, Hoi An lost its key role to its more industrialized neighbor, Da Nang port. Happily, this decline turned out to be a privilege, allowing Hoi An to perfectly preserve its cultural and historical beauty. The heart of Hoi An old town covers four main streets: Tran Phu, Bach Dang, Nguyen Thai Hoc and Le Loi.

Generally, you may drop in Hoi An at any time from February to June, but the best months are May and June. If you can afford, visit resplendent Hoi An on the 14th lunar day every month for its Full Moon festivals, when the town becomes a little Disneyland with lanterns row lighting up all streets.

 

 

The most famous attraction also considered the soul and symbol of Hoi An old town is the Chua Cau or Japanese Bridge built in 1593 to link the two communities of Chinese and Japanese merchants living in Hoi An. It has remained the finest Japanese structure in the town. This uniquely covered bridge looks like a pagoda with two shrines at two entrances: one is guarded by a pair of sacred monkeys and the other by sacred dogs. This speaks to both Japanese and Chinese beliefs, which are interesting to discover. Do not miss a stunning sunset on this bridge, also.

Fujian Assembly Hall (46 Tran Phu St) is a must see in Hoi An for both its grandeur and historical significance. Built by Fukian merchants in 1697, the meeting hall has remained the finest Chinese structure in Hoi An. Its main temple is dedicated to the Goddess of the sea (Thien Hau). There are other two small altars honoring the Goddess of prosperity and the Goddess of fertility. The hall is also rich in symbolic figures of animals. It does give you a true touch of Chinese resplendent culture. No doubt, it is always thronged with worshippers and tourists.

Phung Hung Old House (4 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai St) is Hoi An's most beautiful old house comprising two wooden floors with 80 columns. Its architecture features a blend of Chinese and Japanese influences. The ground floor has a four-sided central roof while the upstairs is highlighted with a turtle-shell roof with elaborate carvings on supporting beams. The house was constructed in 1780 and have been inhabited by 8 generations since then. It also used to be a busy hub of merchants’ get-togethers. Phung Hung Old House was listed a historical vestige of Vietnam in 1993.

House of Hoi An Traditional Handicraft (41 Le Loi St) is a fantastic silk shop which showcases the complicated and labor intensive process to produce such exotic fabric.  You may see live silkworms in different phases of maturity and the way silk is made from their downy cocoons. The house itself is highly admired for its 200-year-old charm and traditional-style decorations. You may also find an abundance of arts and crafts here from textiles and pottery to lacquer ware. In addition, there is traditional art performance held around 10.am daily except Sunday.
 

 

 

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