Things to See in Hoi An Old Town

Travel period May 2015

Exploring the Old Town

Hoi An Old Town was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1999. The word “Hoi An” means a peaceful gathering place that reflects the distinctive value of this ancient town. Hoi An owns favorable geographic characteristics, so from 2000 years ago, had existed and developed as a trading centre. 

Exploring the Old Town itself, there are plenty of things to do. It is surrounded by exceptionally colorful colonial buildings, endless restaurants & bars, fantastic shopping/tailoring opportunities and a contagious atmosphere. Our experience was to simply stroll through the alleyways, pop into old buildings, admire the architecture, walk along riverbanks and take in the ambiance of it all.

All visitors need to pay an entrance fee to enter Hoi An Old Town, that goes toward the preservation of its historic buildings. You can buy a ticket for VND 120,000 at booths dotted around the Old Town. Tickets are valid for 10 days and give you the choice to enter 5 heritage sites: pagodas and temples, historic houses and museums, and Chinese Assembly Halls.

Here are our two days of highlights exploring the Old Town:

  1. Hoi An Central Market

Hoi An Central Market

Just a short walk from the shuttle bus, resting on the banks of the Thu Bon River, is Hoi An Central Market. It is one of Vietnam’s best, offering an unmissable shopping experience. Rich in the smell of fragrant herbs and spices, and the vibrant colors of Vietnamese silk; delve deep and you are guaranteed a bargain.

The market is busy throughout the day with locals bargaining hard alongside tourists. There is a vast array of foodstuff for sale including spices such as saffron and cinnamon, that are superb purchases as are the exotic fresh fruit and vegetables on display. This bustling Hoi An Central Market is certainly worth a look for its authentic slice of Vietnamese life.

  1. Tailor Shop/Custom Made

Inside the market to the east side, there is the large shed type building that houses tailors and all manner of Asian silk and textiles. Hoi An is popular for its numerous tailor shops. If you have a couple of days to spend in Vietnam, one of the most popular things to do is to get a custom-made suit; tailors here can do this in 24-48 hours, depending on how many items you are getting.

In my own experience, I had requested a custom-made coat in one of the shops, and in the next four hours, I had a perfectly hand tailored coat delivered to our hotel. Yes, it was that quick and worth it! You can also request your orders delivered to your home country via the post office.

  1. Japanese Covered Bridge

The iconic Japanese Covered Bridge

The Japanese Covered Bridge has been an outstanding emblematic of Hoi An Old Town. It is the most desirable scenic spot for travelers. Built around the 1590s by the Japanese to link their community to the Chinese quarters, the Japanese Covered Bridge is a beautiful historical piece of Japanese architecture. With a small temple nestled inside it, it is the only original building in the town, and has retained its arch-shape over the years. The bridge stands as a symbol of Hoi An and remains as aesthetically pleasing, as it was when it first opened.

  1. The Old House of Phung Hung

Just in front of the Japanese bridge, there is the old house of Phung Hung. It was established in the year 1780. It’s a two-story building of grand proportion with both Japanese and Chinese design features.

The Japanese style of the four-sided roof can be perceived in the ground floor. On the other hand, you will see a Chinese design of a round shaped roof, that reflects a turtle shell in the upper floor. Tasteful souvenirs, such as local embroidery and crafts, are on display at the entrance. Inside the Old House, you will also find various handicrafts that reflect the culture and tradition of Vietnam.

Entrance Fee: Use your Hoi An Old Town Ticket
Hours: 8:00 AM – 12:00 PM and 2:00 PM – 4:30 PM

  1. Old House of Quan Thang

Old House of Quan Thang

It is one of the most well-preserved old merchant houses of late 17th century in Hoi An, being over 150 years old with the architecture of Hoa Ha, China. Owned by a captain called Quang Thang, the house and the interior is tastefully decorated and preserved. The structures, furniture and decoration crafted in mother of pearls, reflect prosperity of Chinese merchant of Hoi An as a trading port. The one story house’ front faces Tran Phu Street and the rear Nguyen Thai Hoc Street. Inside there was a courtyard and a small garden for the owner to relax.

Entrance Fee: Use your Hoi An Old Town Ticket
Hours: 8:00 AM – 12:00 PM and 2:00 PM – 4:30 PM

  1. Old House of Tan Ky

This traditional house in Hoi An, owned by a Vietnamese family, has stood for decades, and has a mix of Japanese and Chinese architectural influences. Its charming and elegant designs give it a cozy aspect. Tan Ky Old House, bearing tubular architecture, is the typical architecture of the Old Town. It is divided into many smaller apartments with their own functions. None of them have any windows. However, unlike other pipe-shaped houses in new urban zones in Vietnam, ancient houses in Hoi An have no stifling feelings, thanks to the ventilation in the front, side and rear, including skylights.

Entrance Fee: Use your Hoi An Old Town Ticket
Hours: 8:00 AM – 12:00 PM and 2:00 PM – 4:30 PM

  1. Museum of Trade Ceramics

Museum of Trade Ceramics

Built in 1858, the building housing the Museum of Trade Ceramics is an elegant example of traditional Vietnamese workmanship, that has been kept in first-class condition. The thematic museum exhibits ceramic artifacts found in archaeological sites in Hoi An, that reflected the trade ceramics route on the sea centuries ago. Hoi An was a key trading port, being an exchange convergence for merchants from the East, West and Europe.

The museum is home to more than 430 artifacts, including porcelain dating from the 8th century to the 18th century. Most of the artifacts are trade ceramics originating from the Middle East, India, China, Japan, Thailand and Vietnam. This shows that intercultural relations and international economy had strongly taken place in Hoi An. Among them, some antiques were picked up from a wrecked ship in 1733. Others were collected by archaeologists in the excavations carried out in the sites of Hoi An.

The house itself is in pristine condition, and is a typical ancient two-story house with wooden balconies, and visitors are welcome to wander around the rooms and courtyard to get a feel of a traditional Vietnamese house.

Entrance Fee: Use your Hoi An Old Town Ticket
Hours: 7:00 AM – 5:30 PM

  1. Tran Family Chapel

Established in 1802, this small chapel is one of the oldest and most historical houses in the city, dating back to the beginning of 19th century. The chapel was built by Tran Tu Nhac – a highly-respected mandarin under Gia Long Reign, before he was sent to China as the ambassador. Originally, it served as a worshiping place for the family’s ancestors, and as a reminder of the family’s tradition to the following generations.

Entrance Fee: Use your Hoi An Old Town Ticket
Hours: 7:30 AM – 12:00 PM and 2:00 PM – 5:30 PM

  1. Museum of Folklore

Museum of Folklore

Located on Nguyen Thai Hoc Street, the museum of Folklore in Hoi An occupies a 150-year-old Chinese trading house. It is one of the special thematic museums in Hoi An. Thanks to photographs, original artifacts and performing activities, the museum shows the value of intangible culture and the long-lasting history of culture.

The museum exhibits 484 original artifacts dating back one hundred years. These artifacts are displayed according to categories; Folklore, traditional clothing, occupations, tools, utensils and games. Besides, there are also performing activities showcasing and introducing products of the traditional villages in Hoi An as lanterns, silk goods and mats on the 1st floor of the museum.

Entrance Fee: Use your Hoi An Old Town Ticket
Hours: 7:00 AM – 5:30 PM

  1. Fukien Assembly Hall

The 17th century Fukien Assembly Hall is one of the grandest buildings in Hoi An. It was constructed as a social and sacred space for the Fujian Chinese community of Hoi An. Later on, this assembly hall was transformed into a temple, dedicated to a deity from Fujian Province named Thien Hau. The Hall features a massive gateway adorned with colorful carvings of Chinese mythological figures, and an impressive main courtyard.

Entrance Fee: Use your Hoi An Old Town Ticket
Hours: 7:00 AM – 5:30 PM

  1. Cantonese Assembly Hall (Quang Trieu Assembly Hall)

Cantonese Assembly Hall

The Quang Trieu (Cantonese) Assembly Hall, is one of the most famous historical buildings in Hoi An. Besides having a great historical significance, the hall is also a popular tourist attraction. You will be enchanted by this architectural heritage of Vietnam. The Quang Trieu Assembly Hall is rather attractive, with its stone three-entrance gate and four rows of stone pillars at the front. Four Chinese characters, meaning “Quang Trieu Assembly Hall”, are embossed on the upper part of the three-entrance gate.

Entrance Fee: Use your Hoi An Old Town Ticket
Hours: 7:00 AM – 5:30 PM

  1. Quan Cong Temple

This Confucian Temple was established in 1653, and dedicated to Quan Cong, an esteemed Chinese general who is still worshiped as a symbol of loyalty, sincerity, integrity and justice. Nowadays the temple serves as one of Hoi An’s most spectacular architectural accomplishments and a thriving tourist attraction. Inside there are two huge wooden statues, one of Quan Kong’s protector, Chau Xuong and one of his adopted sons and of course the gilt statue of Quan Cong himself.

Entrance Fee: Use your Hoi An Old Town Ticket

  1. Hoi An Riverside

Hoi An Riverside

The charming traditional buildings that border the river are still intact and the Hoi An Riverside remains a pleasant place for leisurely wanderings.

The architecture is interesting and the diverse food and beverage outlets provide plenty of opportunities to take a break, and recharge while watching local life along the river. A boat trip along the waterway is another peaceful way to soak up the surrounding sights.

Getting Around Hoi An Old Town

Located within walking distance from most areas in Hoi An, the Old Town is easily accessible on foot, cyclo (three-wheel bicycle taxi), and bicycle. As motorized vehicles are prohibited from entering Hoi An Old Town for several hours every day, it makes wandering the Old Town streets a delight.

Many main attractions are very close to each other, so if you are planning on cycling then leave your two-wheel ride at the entrance of the Old Town and do the tour on foot.

Note: The information provided in this post was correct at time of publishing but may change. For final clarification please check with the relevant service.

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