A Brief Guide to Hoi An – The City of Colorful Lanterns

Dec 09, 2022

Hoi An Ancient town is located in Viet Nam’s central Quang Nam Province, on the north bank near the mouth of the Thu Bon River. It is an exceptionally well-preserved example of a South-East Asian trading port dating from the 15th to the 19th century. The town reflects a fusion of indigenous and foreign cultures (principally Chinese and Japanese with later European influences) that combined to produce this unique survival. 

With a reputation for being one of the prettiest cities in all of Vietnam, Hoi An Ancient town has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site thanks to its 800 historic buildings. Flanked by local markets, cafes, bars and restaurants, Hoi An is an ideal destination for those who enjoy the peacefulness and want to take a temporary break from the busy life. When walking along the banks, especially at night, you can take in the views across the rippling water. Along with tourist attractions such as museums, ancient homes and pretty temples, Hoi An also has a delicious local food scene, which has an indelible impression that you can’t find anywhere else. 

What to do?

  • Getting suit made

Hoi An is famous across Vietnam for its textile industry and one of the reasons many people come here is to get clothes tailor made for them. To that end, you will find amazing tailors all over town and you can choose from a plethora of silks, other textiles and patterns to make your own personalized creations.

  • Shopping for local handicrafts

Hoi An is known for being a hub for beautiful locally made products.There are a number of handicraft villages dotted on the outskirts of the town and you can usually take a tour to these where you can learn about the historical and cultural background behind the making of these items. Many of these are made by local minorities and make excellent gifts or souvenirs.

In the handicraft villages you can also take classes such as ancient weaving or calligraphy.

  • Hoi An Cooking Class

Hoi An is known for having a number of cooking schools where you can get stuck in and learn all about how to make some local dishes.Taking part in a cooking class is not only a fun activity but also offers great insight into local culinary culture. In addition to learning awesome recipes, you get to make delicious food and memories to last a lifetime.

Discover our Hoi An Cooking Class tour: https://asiavacationgroup.com/hoi-an-cooking-class-tour/

  • Walking around the Old Town

Hoi An is something of a rarity in Vietnam as it managed to escape most of the bombing that razed many other cities to the ground during the Vietnam War. This means that the beautiful buildings here were spared, and so you will still find some gorgeous architecture here in the Old Town which makes the perfect place to go for a walk and take in all the sights.

Discover our Hoi An Walking tour, which will take you an enlightening walk through the town: https://asiavacationgroup.com/half-day-hoi-an-walking-tour/

  • Shopping at the Lantern Market

Hoi An is known for being a city of colorful lanterns and the lantern market here is one of the most scenic markets in Vietnam. As the name suggests, you can buy traditional lanterns here which come in all different shapes and sizes. Many of these are made of gorgeous Hoi An silk and you can walk around at night and take in all the amazing illuminated lanterns which come in a range of different hues.

  • Visiting the Tra Que village

Tra Que Village for its delicious fruit and vegetables. The village is named after the sweet-scented vegetables Hoi Anese grow in the village, which are used to spice up famous Hoi Anese delicacies. Located between Hoi An and An Bang Beach, Tra Qu village is made up of a local farming community who grow most of the produce that you will eat during your time in Hoi An. From your hotel, you can go to the village by private car or bicycle. 

Discover our Tra Que Vegetable Village tour: https://asiavacationgroup.com/tra-que-vegetable-village-tour/

What to eat?

The city’s dining scene reflects its historical nature, being a widely varied array of foreign and domestic flavors. Within the relatively compact Ancient Town, you can find everything from high-end European restaurants to budget-friendly Vietnamese street food. However, when coming to Hoi An, trying local food is a must-do. The streets of Hoi An Ancient Town are filled with an array of dining choices, ranging from glitzy Vietnamese restaurants to riverside food stalls. Let’s discover some best local dishes here:

  • Cao Lau 

Cao lau is Hoi An’s definitive dish, comprising chewy and thick rice noodles, Chinese barbecued pork slices, beansprouts, croutons, and fresh herbs in a pork-based gravy. This local delicacy is only available in Hoi An because the noodles can only be cooked using water from well-hidden ancient Cham wells, while fresh greens are sourced from Tra Que Vegetable Village.

  • Com Ga (Chicken Rice)

Com ga is a hearty ensemble of fragrant rice, shredded village chicken, fresh herbs, black pepper, and chilli jam. Originating from China, it’s a very common dish in Southeast Asia, but Hoi An is said to utilize only top quality rice and farm-raised chickens. 

The rice is also cooked in a mixture of pandan leaves, chicken stock and turmeric in wood-fired clay ovens, resulting in its distinctive pale yellow exterior. Each plate of chicken and rice comes with a small bowl of clear soup, dipping sauces, and pickled green chillies.

  • Mi Quang 

Mi quang consists of yellow rice noodles, bone broth seasoned with fish sauce, black pepper, shallot, and garlic, topped with a variety of meat, herbs, and local greens. Traditionally, meat toppings are either chicken, pork, or beef slices, but many restaurants now include squid, boiled quail eggs, snails, and frogs. 

As with most noodle and rice dishes in Vietnam, mi quang also features lots of fresh herbs and other additions such as basil, peanuts, coriander, sliced banana flowers, and sesame rice crackers.

  • Banh Mi 

Banh mi is a hearty baguette sandwich consisting of pickled vegetables, pâté, butter, soy sauce, cilantro, chillies, and hot peppers. It’s one of Vietnam’s quintessential dishes that you shouldn’t miss out on.

Depending on the restaurant or food stall, you can also choose from a variety of meat fillings for your banh mi, including heo quay (roasted pork belly), cha ca (fried fish with turmeric and dill), cha lua (boiled sausages), xiu mai (meatballs), thit ga (boiled chicken), trung op la (fried egg), thit nuong (grilled pork loin), and xa xiu (Chinese barbecued pork).