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Built in the 1590s by the Japanese community as a connection to the Chinese quarter, this ornamental bridge remains one of Hoi An’s most iconic architectural features. Guarded by statues of monkeys on one side and dogs on the other, one local tale explains that many of Japan’s emperors were born in the years of the dog and monkey, while another has it that construction started in the year of the monkey and finished in the year of the dog. Access to the Japanese Bridge is free, but a ticket must be purchased to see a small temple on the northern side.
If you prefer exploring at your own pace with a sense of independence, Anantara Hoi An Resort offers complimentary bikes, a city map and advice on a choice of interesting routes.
To Cam Nam - Discover village and island charms by bicycle and boat. Ride around Hoi An’s back streets. Weave through country lanes. Then board a cruise and stop at an island on the Thu Bon River for a sunset barbecue.
To An Bang Beach – Cycle past lush rice paddies en route to An Bang Beach. Just four kilometres from Hoi An, the white sandy shore is edged by casuarina trees, boasts year round warm water and an island dotted sea view.
Three kilometres north of Hoi An Ancient Town, edging the De Vong River, this rural village is blessed by fertile soil and prime conditions for herb and vegetable cultivation. Tour the immaculate gardens and see traditional farming methods. Learn about the organic techniques which fertilise the land using pond algae, resulting in produce of exceptional quality and taste. Even the village name reflects the land’s bounty, with Tra Que meaning Thai basil, and many of Hoi An’s culinary specialties are made from the produce grown here, such as Cao Lau and Quang Noodle.
This UNESCO World Heritage Site, a 70 minute journey to the south, was once the religious and political capital of the ancient Champa Kingdom during one of the most important historic periods in Southeast Asia. Constructed between the 4th and 13th centuries, impressive tower temples illustrate the Hindu influence of this time, and were built to honour the Hindu divinities Krishna, Vishnu and Shiva, with architecture symbolising the mythical sacred mountain home of the Hindu gods, Mount Meru, and bas-reliefs depicting scenes from Hindu mythology.
Aptly located in one of Vietnam’s oldest pagodas, Quan Am, this museum is well worth a visit. Relive 2,000 years of Hoi An’s fascinating history. Investigate the changes that occurred over time, including significant eras such as the Champa Kingdom from the 7th to 15th centuries, and Da Viet from the 15th to 19th centuries. Gain insight into cultural customs throughout the ages as you browse interesting displays of relics and artifacts, architectural photos, ceramics and pottery.
For international visitors, please be advised that not all plaques feature an English translation.
Step back in time to an affluent merchant heritage with a visit to one of the most beautiful house shops in Hoi An Ancient Town. Constructed more than a century ago, Phung Hung Old House has a unique cultural blend of eastern and western architecture. Meaning “prosperity” in Vietnamese, the first owner did indeed enjoy great success in the trade industry. Once a shop selling cinnamon, pepper, salt, silk, porcelain and glass, the residence now belongs to the eighth generation of the original family, who take great pride in maintaining the property.
Dating back to 1653, this well preserved temple was once frequented by merchants who came to pay respect to their ancestors. Dedicated to the Chinese General Guan Yu - famed for his dignity and loyalty - the shrine features a tranquil interior with a fish pond and bonsai trees, decorative Chinese patterns and most impressively the red face of Guan Yu. A highlight of the many intriguing symbols to be found here, one of the two horse statues is the legendary Xich Tho (Red Fur), who travelled 1,000 miles without stopping.
Built two centuries ago, this ancient house has been lovingly preserved for seven generations. Japanese and Chinese architectural influences are visually attractive and also steeped in meaning. Under the crab shell ceiling, carvings of crossed sabres are wrapped in silk ribbon - the sabres symbolising force and the silk representing flexibility. Chinese poems are written in inlaid mother of pearl and the Chinese characters are formed entirely of birds, gracefully portrayed in various positions of flight. The courtyard features a carved wooden balcony decorated with grape leaves, which are a European import, providing evidence of the town’s cultural fusion. While the back of the house faces the river and was once rented to foreign merchants, illustrating the importance of Hoi An’s trading days.
On the 1st and 14th night of every lunar month, Hoi An Ancient Town switches off its lights, closes to motorised traffic and transforms into an ambient haven of candlelit coloured lanterns and traditional music. For locals, the nights of the new moon and full moon are a time to honour ancestors. Alters are set up outside homes and businesses, laden with fruit, flowers, candles and incense. The ritual of burning coloured paper and fake $100 bills is offered in exchange for good luck and prosperity. For visitors, street food delights include festival moon cake. Folkloric music, games and plays are accompanied by meaningful traditions. Temples host beautiful ceremonies, monks perform candlelit rituals, and at Fujian Assembly Hall, local fishing families honour the Goddess of the Sea, Lady Thien Hau, who protects sailors.
Once a Champa city, Hoi An is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In the 1st century it laid claim to Southeast Asia’s largest harbour, and between the 7th and 10th centuries the Cham people controlled the wealthy spice trade. The port was an important trading centre in the 16th and 17th centuries, attracting Chinese, Japanese, Dutch and Indians to settle. During this period of Chinese trade the town was called Hai Pho, translating as Seaside Town in Vietnamese, and was divided with a Japanese settlement located across the Japanese Bridge, which features a unique covered structure and a Buddhist pagoda.
Today the ancient town is revered as a living museum that reflects its merchant trading heritage and diverse cultural fusion, with well-preserved buildings, narrow streets and rich traditions making it a charming haven to explore on foot.