Hoi An, Vietnam - Stein Travel
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Hoi An

The quaint riverside town of Hoi An was an important port town and one of the major trading centres in South East Asia during the 16th and 17th centuries. The cultural influences of the Japanese and Chinese merchants are still evident today in the town's architecture, with the famous Japanese Covered Bridge and the distinctly Chinese atmosphere of the Old Quarter forming part of its unique character.

Lining the narrow streets are two-storey Chinese shops, with charming wooden facades and tiled roofs, merchants' homes, Assembly Halls and temples that preserve an ancient character. On the 15th day of every lunar month, the ancient character of this sleepy town takes on fairytale proportions, as porches, streets and windows are lit by the glow of coloured lanterns; a practice reminiscent of the old days and aimed at retaining the spirit of the past.

Hoi An is becoming an increasingly popular tourist destination, not only for its attractive old-world atmosphere and genuine friendliness, but also for its quaint restaurants, serving delicious Hoi An specialities, and tailor-made clothes. Rows of little tailor shops with rolls of fine silk offer the chance to have beautiful garments made up within hours; however, the insistence of the tailors can be annoying.

Two miles (4km) to the east of Hoi An is the beach of Cua Dai, considered to be one of the most beautiful beaches in Central Vietnam, with its long white sandy stretch. From Hoi An, visitors can make trips to the large marble rock formations 'The Marble Mountains', which are closer to Da Nang, or take a short river cruise. Travellers going north or south can make this a great stop, if only to step back for a while into Vietnamese history.

Information & Facts


Featuring a tropical climate, with warm temperatures all year round (average of 79°F or 26°C), Hoi An still experiences two very distinct seasons each year; that is, dry and wet. Unsurprisingly, most tourists choose to visit the area in the dry season, which runs from February to June. Note that Hoi An can get extremely hot and humid in July and August.


The official language in Vietnam is Vietnamese. Some Chinese, English and French are spoken. Tour guides can also speak Russian and Japanese. Numerous ethnic languages are also spoken in parts.


The official currency is the Dông (VND). There are no smaller denominations. Currency can be exchanged at banks, bureaux de change, hotels and on the black market. Visa, MasterCard and American Express are becoming more widely acceptable, particularly in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, but it is best not to rely on them elsewhere. It is recommended that visitors bring travellers cheques in US Dollars, which can be cashed at major banks in the main cities and tourist areas. US currency acts as unofficial tender and is useful as a back-up when banks won't cash travellers cheques outside the main cities, but notes must be relatively new and unmarked. Dông can be withdrawn from ATMs, which are becoming more widespread.


The shopping landscape in Hoi An is dominated by its long history of sartorial excellence. Lining any of the quaint narrow downtown streets, are a host of extremely skilled tailors, just waiting to make you up a fine, custom-fitting outfit, for the fraction of the price you'd pay for something of equal quality back home. The materials available are also top-notch: fine silks, and rich, brushed cotton abounds. A warning, however: these artisans can be rather insistent, so say 'No' firmly if you're not interested, and move on.


Local time in Vietnam is GMT +7.

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