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Hoi An Cities in the past.

For visitors of Viet Nam with even the slightest interest in the national culture and history, Hội An is a must-see.

In ancient days Hội An was a major international port from the 15th to the 19th centuries. At that time, Chinese, Japanese, Indian and Dutch settlers rubbed shoulders with the Vietnamese to produce a rich local culture, whose foreign influences are discernible to this day.

Hoi An lies 30 km South of Da Nang and is well-developed to offer tourists accommodation in any price range. The city can be easily reached from Da Nang or Da Nang airport (by taxi around 250 Thousand Viet Nam Dong, by motorbike less than 150 Thousand Dong).

Hoi An is very near to the ocean (around 7 km away from the South China Sea) and lies at the mouth of the Thu Bon River. The city is cozy with about 88.000 inhabitants. As early as the first century Hoi An had the largest harbor in South-East Asia. From the 16th to the 18th century it became the most important trading center in Vietnam, especially for Chinese goods. As most trade moved to Da Nang, Hoi An is now a quiet, sleepy harbor now.

Having escaped the destruction of all the successive wars in Viet Nam, the old town of Hoi An was declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO (in 1999) as a well-preserved example of an ancient Southeast Asian trade port. As a rapidly growing tourist spot, seated only less than five kilometres away from the beautiful Cua Dai Beach, there are plenty of best-value hotels in the heart of the town as well as nicely built beachfront hotels. Hoi An is the ideal starting point to gain an insight into Vietnam's fascinating past.

The Old Town of Hoi An, with a size of just around 200m x 300m, is good to stroll around in a few hours. It is full of winding lanes and tiny boutiques, restaurants, galleries, tailors and souvenir stores. It is a reminder of Hoi An's historical importance. Some 800 buildings in the Old Town have been preserved and, unlike other places in Vietnam, restoration has proceeded slowly and carefully. Though being touristic, Hoi An is refreshingly free from tower blocks and karaoke parlours. Best of all, cars are prohibited in the Old Town and even motorbikes are not allowed to be turned on three days a week. After sunset, when most visitors have left, there is a special atmosphere.

Today, Hội An is still a small city, but it attracts a fair number of tourists, also being a well-established place on the backpacker trail (Tay Ba Lo). Many visit Hoi An for its numerous art and craft shops and tailors, who manufacture made-to-measure clothes for a fraction of the Western price. Several Internet cafés, bars and restaurants have opened along the riverfront. The town is also famed for its unique paper lanterns.

Combined with a trip to nearby Hue, Da Nang, and My Son, a visit in Hoi An offers tourists a deeply rewarding impression of Vietnam's fascinating past.


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