An old trading port with an architectural mix of influences

street view of Hoi An

In the morning I take the bus to Hoi An, and once arrived in the city a motorcycle taxi to my hotel. The rooms are well-kept, but mine doesn`t have hot water. This needs to get fixed, or I will have to move to another place. Hoi An is an old trading port with many places of interest. Many tourists come here to enjoy the relaxed atmosphere and to wander around the city with its architectural mix of local and foreign influences.

A unique Japanese bridge with a temple attached

places of interest in Hoi An: the Japanese bridge

One of the places of interest is located at the Thu Bon River; a Japanse bridge, built in the 16th century. It is a masterpiece, not only it has a covered structure, but on one side of the bridge, there is an adjacent Buddhist temple. That seems to be unique in its kind.

A city with a laid-back atmosphere

In the afternoon while exploring the town, I notice the old city center is bursting with restos and shops, but with a laid-back atmosphere. For instance, when I walk to the hotel in the evening, I take the wrong direction. So I approach a motorcycle driver; for a dollar, he brings me to the hotel, and even though he has to search for the location himself, afterward there is no hassle about the price.

Having a good feeling about Hoi An

In the evening I eat fried wonton, a local dish, in the city center. And later on, I settle at the bar of a nicely decorated, establishment; lounge music plays in the background. I have a good feeling about Hoi An, probably this is also because I have become more relaxed in the meantime here in Vietnam. I return to my hotel on time, after all, I booked a sunrise tour to visit some Cham temples in the area; the tour starts at 5 am tomorrow morning.

A disappointing, rainy trip to some Cham temples

Cham temple ruin near Hoi An

The trip itself becomes a visit in the pouring rain; wearing a rain badge and holding an umbrella I try to take some photos while our tour guide informs us about the site we are exploring. We make an extra stop at Tra Kieu, the first capital of the Champa Kingdom, and the reason why I booked this trip in the first place. But that is a disappointment, there is a church on the site now.

Buying a ticket to four places of interest in Hoi An

marble Buddha statue at Museum of Folklore in Hoi An

After a siesta, I head back into the old city. This time I buy a ticket for four places of interest, which you can enter according to your own schedule. I visit the Museum of Trade Ceramics and the Assembly Hall of the Fujian Chinese Congregation. Before returning to my room, I chill out in a bar for a while. I decide to have dinner at the hotel, where I try another specialty from Hoi An, White Rose, good but less tasty than wonton or Cau Lau.

dragon at Assembly Hall of the Fujian Chinese Congregation in Hoi An

Unticking my places of interest list

During my third day in Hoi An, I visit the Quan Kong Pagoda and, in the afternoon, the Tran Family Chapel early in the afternoon. Afterward, I go to the handicraft workshop. That completes my entrance ticket for the 4 included places of interest in Hoi An.

places of interest in Hoi An: relics at Tran Family Chapel

Hoi An is an excellent spot to buy your Vietnam souvenirs

I already decided to stay here one day longer than initially planned. After all, Hoi An is the place to buy your Vietnam souvenirs, so later in the afternoon, I start my shopping tour. I buy some Chinese character wood carvings, representing happiness, prosperity, and long life.

French pop music and jazzy grooves

lounge bar interior in laid-back Hoi An

As it is Saturday night, I want to have a drink somewhere. First I walk around the center, but I do not find a cozy place anywhere, so I end up in the same cool lounge bar again. Today in the early evening French pop music plays in the background, later in the evening, jazzy grooves follow. In the corner at the counter, there is a Gerard Depardieu lookalike. As he drinks more, he begins to flirt with some of the staff. He is a poseur.

Back off when too many tourists enter

In my opinion, the Vietnamese are stubborn people, also a bit reserved, but once you get in touch with them, they can be very friendly and pleasant. I drink a few beers, but when a group of Dutch tourists comes in and seats themselves in my neighborhood, I back off to the hotel again.

Lunch along the Thu Bon river

places of interest in Hoi An: a flooded Thu Bon river

My last day in Hoi An consists of hunting for – more – souvenirs. First I go to a fair trade store, helping disabled children. The supply there is somewhat limited, so I only buy a few trifles. For my mother I let her name be painted in Chinese characters; I assume she will appreciate it as an original gift. For lunch once more I cross the Thu Bon river. This time I order European lettuce, a mistake, you better stick with the Asian kitchen. Hoi An remains a beautiful place, but it’s time to move on.