The small town of Hoi An is located in Quang Nam Province on the coast of south central Vietnam, a short distance from the larger city of Danang, and by virtue of the exceptionally well preserved old buildings of this historic port it recieved UNESCO World Heritage status in 1999. Many of the historic buildings you can see today date from the 16th and 17th centuries but it’s likely that with it’s strategic location and large natural harbour at the mouth of the Thu Bon River Hoi An was an important port from at least the period of the Cham empire if not before.
Many of the older buildings are clustered in narrow lanes leading off the busy waterfront area which even today is still more crowded with small fishing boats than tour boats whilst the iconic 16th c ‘Japanese Bridge’, see above, linked the main town with the Japanese merchants’ quarter. Chinese, Portuguese, Dutch and Indian traders also contributed towards the certainly very cosmopolitan nature of the wealthy trading port.
The lanes and waterfront are full of cafes and restaurants and with a distinct Luang Prabang-by-sea feel to it, (these are almost certainly the two best preserved old towns in Southeast Asia), it’s a great spot to wander, explore or just hang out in a for a few days.
The location also lends itself to some easy and interesting day trips; China Beach, Marble Mountain, Danang, My Son, (the ancient Cham ruined city and also World Heritage Site) and boat trips around the estuary and offshore islands.