Like Ha Long Bay, Hoi An is a UNESCO World Heritage site and a popular tourist destination in Vietnam. The historical district is recognized as the best example of a historic SE Asian trading port from the 15th to 19th centuries, according to Wikipedia. But to the non-Googling eye, the area is an incredibly quaint, well decorated old town with clear Japanese, Chinese, and French influences. Presumably, because they all traded there.
The streets between bright yellow buildings are narrow and covered with vines and hanging lanterns. Cars are not allowed in the area so it is pleasantly quiet compared to the typical choir of honking in the country.
Because of the UNESCO designation, most of the yellow buildings are now boutique shops seeming to specialize in leather goods, linen clothing, and intricate lanterns. Even the food is aimed at tourists—all pizza shops, Chinese restaurants, and smoke-free cafes (unlike the rest of Vietnam where there are equal number cigarettes to coffee cups).
We spent five days at a run-down resort outside of town, close to the beach. Each day, we covertly exercised at the neighboring resort’s gym, ate our free breakfast by the pool, and decided where to bike.
We often biked to the historical district where we loitered the day away people-watching at a river-front coffee shop. On other days, we biked up the coast to a beachside café and alternated between staring at our computers and the waves. In the evenings, I took pictures of the lantern-filled streets.
And that is what I will leave you with—photos of lanterns, yellow buildings, and more lanterns. Plus, one shot of the best Banh Mi in town.
The Japanese bridge