Holed Up in Hoi An
If you are fed up with your long work days and want to refresh your soul, Hoi An’s charming Old Town is a great choice. Set on the Thu Bon river, Hoi An,or Faifo, has a relaxed life style. It once played an important role as an international trading port in the early 17th century, and was widely known as the gateway for Chinese, Japanese and European traders to access Vietnam. This historical position has deeply influenced its culture, which is currently preserved and reflected in local architecture, art, and food and drink.
The first impression most travelers get when you visit Hoi An is one of the sheer history of the place. You cannot leave Hoi An without visiting the Tan Ky House and the Japanese Covered Bridge, which are two magnificent structures in the Old Town. Tan Ky House is a lovingly preserved house that was built in the 19th century, and once belonged to a Vietnamese merchant. You can easily see the Chinese and Japanese influences in this construction. The current home owner speaks French, English and Vietnamese, and is proud to show his home to tourists. The Japanese Covered Bridge, which was built in 1593, is a special structure which has a roof for shelter and a small temple in its northern side. There was a myth that the bridge was constructed in the year of monkey and finished in the year of dog, thus one entrance is guarded by monkeys, the other by dogs. It is a beautiful piece of history that everyone should see. It is not only the architecture that is exquisite, but also is the art. You should check out the arts and crafts villages here to shop for handmade clothing or souvenirs. Hoi An is well-known for its fabulous fabrics and skillful tailors, who can satisfy the most fastidious customer. Hoi An also boasts many art galleries and handicrafts shops, especially on the west side of the Japanese Covered Bridge, selling a various range of fake antiques and reproductions of famous pictures. Last but not least, you should not miss out on the diverse local food and drink. There are mainly three local specialties here, and the most famous one is cao lau. It is a mixture of doughy flat noodles, croutons, bean sprouts and greens, topped with pork and served in a savory broth. This traditional dish can only be found in Hoi An. The other two dishes are “white rose”, a type of shrimp steamed dumpling made from translucent white dough bunched up to look like a rose; and wonton dumplings, which are essentially the same as the Chinese kind, served up in soup or deep-fried. There are always many reasons for tourists to visit Hoi An, but they all say the same thing, Hoi An is just too good to miss. It is the perfect place to relax for a while.