Hoi An Ancient Town
Arguably Hoi Ans best attraction, the Ancient or 'old town' has over 800 preserved buildings offering a glimpse into the history of this beautiful location. What is so unique about the ancient town is that it has maintained the image that it had in its infant years. There are few untouched sites in Vietnam that have not either been destroyed over time and through war, or that have not undergone construction in modern society.
(Above: a tourist travels by bike down one of the lanes in Old Town)
Hoi An Ancient Town boasts some of the best architecture in south east Asia. Here you will see Japanese, Chinese and Vietnamese influences blended together to create these marvellous structures. This is due to the occupancy of these neighboring countries centuries ago. It was named Hai Pho during this time period, which means "sea town" in Vietnamese. Of the 800 preserved buildings in Hoi An Ancient Town, 18 of the most noteworthy are open to be explored by visitors. This will require an 'Old Town ticket' which is 120,000 VND. Pleasingly, the money goes towards conservation of these divine historic structures.
(Below: the coveted Japanese bridge is stunningly lit at night time)
Each structure that is permitted to entrance in Hoi An Ancient Town tells a different story. Here is what you can expect to see and explore:
Old Houses: These houses were built by wealthy merchants a few hundred years ago, and used to double as shopfronts. Tan Ky House is over 200 years old and one of the most beautiful, well-kept architectural examples in Hoi An. Duc An House was a Chinese traditional medicine shop and a bookstore. Quan Thang is one of the oldest houses in Hoi An with an inner courtyard wall’s mosaic - a scroll-shaped design decorated with fragments of Chinese porcelain.
Assembly halls: Phuc Kien (1757) Quang Trieu (1885), Trieu Chai (1887) - all have similar strucure, with central courtyards and meeting rooms. Fountains featuring dragons made from mosaic tilework are present in each and the best time is to visit at night - when hundreds of small candles and incense spiral from the ceiling, truly giving tranquil experience.
(Above: A glimpse inside one of the amazingly preserved buildings)
Japanese Bridge: Hoi An Ancient Towns biggest attraction, the elegant Japanese Bridge has become the iconic symbol and has thousands of people cross each day. This shows the quality of the structure. Built in the 1590's by the Japanese community, who are responsible for much of Hoi Ans beautiful architecture. It is guarded by a statue of a monkey and a dog at each end.
Museums: There are a few museums on offer in Hoi An, and it us up to personal preference whether you want to visit one if not all of them. The most popular tends to be the Museum of Sa Huynh Culture, which explores a culture that dates back 2,000 years. It encapsulates the starting of Hoi An as a trading port. If you want something a little bit different and somewhat quirky, he Museum of Folk Culture is notable for its eerie-looking plaster statues of Vietnamese peasants in traditional clothing, miming labor that was done at the time.
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