I instantly fell in love with Hoi An from the very first night that I spent there. The beautiful old buildings, narrow streets, lanterns and picturesque river setting make it an absolute must see when you travel to Vietnam.
The UNESCO World Heritage listed old town has a lot to see and do, from temples and old houses to traditional cultural performances; although just wandering the streets is a tourist attraction in its own right in my opinion.
To visit the attractions in the Old Town of Hoi An, you need to buy an Old Town Ticket which costs 120,000 Dong ($6) from one of the ticket offices around town. The ticket gives you a 24 hour pass to visit five of the sites in the Old Town. There are quite a lot of sites to see, so you can just pick a few to visit or buy a new ticket each day to see some different sites.
We only spent one day seeing the sites of the Old Town. These are the five that we chose:
Tan Ky House
There are a few traditional houses that you can check out in Hoi An, and we chose Tan Ky House. This beautifully preserved 19th century house has the Chinese and Japanese architectural influences that make Hoi An unique, and the house has been owned by the same family for seven generations.
Phuc Kien Assembly Hall
The assembly halls in Hoi An were used by the Chinese for community meetings. There are a couple here and we visited Phuc Kien Assembly Hall on our way from Tan Ky House. Similar to a temple, the assembly hall is truly stunning and well worth the visit.
Quan Cong Temple
A Chinese temple, Quan Cong is very interesting to explore. The temple isn’t exactly grand, but the artwork, decorations and atmosphere inside makes it worth checking out.
Museum of Hoi An History & Culture
Perhaps we should have visited this museum first. It has a good collection and plenty of information on the history of the people and culture in the area of Hoi An, from the ancient Cham people to the rise of the important trading port that made Hoi An what it is today.
Japanese Covered Bridge
I was (and still am) confused about the ticket thing with the Japanese Covered Bridge. Obviously, this beautiful 16th century covered bridge can be seen from the street for free, however if you want to walk across it you have to show your ticket. Funnily enough, the first night that we were there we had no idea about the ticket thing and simply walked across the bridge on our way back to our guesthouse without having to show a ticket. I’m not sure if we were just lucky or if you don’t need a ticket at night time. Either way, you could quite easily just view the bridge from the outside and use your fifth entry on one of the other sites in the Old Town. Doing it this way means that you could technically see six sites with your Old Town Ticket.
For me, one day was enough for visiting the attractions in the Old Town of Hoi An. I spent several days here, but I was happy just to wander the streets and explore the little shops and alleyways and taste the unique cuisine. I also took a couple of excursions outside of town as well.
However long you have in Hoi An, I guarantee that you will love the place. It truly is unique.