Tuesday, 3 June 2014

The Charming Merchant Town of Hoi An

From Nha Trang, Angela and I took a night bus up to Hoi An, an ancient merchant town located in the middle of the country. Once a strategic centre of the spice trade, its distinctive mustard-yellow buildings, Chinese lanterns and Japanese bridges have come together to create a unique heritage site that has drawn visitors for centuries. Today, it feels like a sleepy Chinese village filled with saloons from a western film, only they've been converted into tailors, souvenir shops and travel agencies. For some, the tourism here has detracted from any authenticity the town once had. For us, it was still remarkably picturesque, especially at night when the lanterns glowed and cast light on the old buildings.

Our route north from Nha Trang to Hoi An.
The night bus took about 12 hours, and wasn't especially comfortable.
Fortunately, we caught some pretty views of the countryside as the sun was rising.
Hoi An is small and easy to explore on foot, which is what we did once we arrived.




One of the prettiest areas is this stretch of houses along the river.








The Japanese Bridge.
This street near the Japanese Bridge was filled with decorative lanterns.




A tasty, light lunch.
Hoi An is filled with hundreds of tailors, and is one of the most popular places in Asia for getting custom-made suits and dresses. We decided to spend a couple hundred bucks each to get our own set of fancy clothes.
Getting measured up.
Back at our hotel, trying out our new clothes.



That evening, we explored the town by night, while all the lanterns were aglow. This was when Hoi An really came alive.





















Hoi An was one of the most charming places we visited in Vietnam, and in fact we stayed for three days in total, renting a motorbike and exploring the nearby countryside and coastline, which will be the subject of my next post.

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