Are you a culture vulture who loves visiting UNESCO heritage sites? Then you should definitely put Hoi An ‘Ancient Town’ on your list. In this post, i have written everything you need to know to take a culture trip through Ancient town. Plus the five must visit sites here.
As usual, this blog is the result of my love for travelling and writing. Nothing is sponsored and everything is based on our own honest reviews and experiences.
So, let’s begin!
Hoi an ‘Ancient Town’ is a UNESCO heritage site which lies just across the riverside, connected by a bridge. I love visiting cultural sites and this was one of the cultural highlights of our Vietnam trip. This place has been kept beautifully preserved with picturesque streets, merchant houses, quirky shops, museums and temples.
Walking through Hoi An ‘Ancient Town’ was one of our favourite romantic experiences.
Numerous shops and restaurants operate out of the restored and preserved heritage sites. Chinese and Japanese elements have influenced the architecture and there are colorful lanterns hanging all over town, making it beautiful and brightly lit at night.
SOME TIPS FOR ANCIENT TOWN
- To enter the town and wander through it, you will need tickets. The Entrance fee is 120,000 VND (5 USD/pp)
- If you just wander around the town, it is unlikely that someone will check your tickets. Even then, i would suggest buying one because it is so cheap and the money goes into the restoration of the sites.
- Though the ticket may show the duration of validity as being 24 hours, in reality you can use the same ticket for more days.
- Tickets are checked when you try to enter any one of the designated heritage sites.
- Tickets can theoretically be checked at any time, so make sure to keep yours safe.
- Tickets can only be bought at specific ticket booths. Check out this list which shows the locations of all the ticket stalls in town.
- Buying the ticket will also get you a map with all the locations and directions.
- The ticket gives access to 5 heritage sites from the numerous ones dotting town. If you want to visit more than 5, pay the entrance fee at that site.
HOW MUCH TIME WILL YOU NEED?
Take a half day to walk around the streets. Enjoy the atmosphere by getting lost in the alleys and chance upon something new! Cyclo tours are available which cost around 500,000 VND(20-25 USD) that will take you to five of the sites. This can be a good option especially during summer, when the heat and humidity gets unbearable.
SITES TO VISIT
While there are a number of Heritage sites present, only 5 can be visited using the entrance ticket. So what 5 sites should you visit ? It is best to choose one assembly hall, one restored house and one museum. These were my picks to visit.
1. JAPANESE BRIDGE
This little bridge, with it’s arched shape is symbolic of Hoi An and is a major tourist draw . Built by the Japanese to connect with the Chinese quarters on the other side in 1590s, the Japanese architecture has been beautifully preserved. The bridge houses a small shrine dedicated to the god of weather, Tran Bo Bac De inside. However, it can get really crowded, so its best to visit it first thing in the morning.
2. FUJIAN ASSEMBLY HALL
This was by and far, our favourite heritage site in the Ancient Town. Fujian assembly hall was constructed in 1757 as a community gathering place, but was later converted into a temple. The beautifully constructed triple gateway leads to a hall which houses a shrine dedicated to Thien Hau (a deity from the Fujian province of China who is believed to be the Goddess of the sea) and is one of the best examples of Chinese architecture in Hoi An. The interiors have been richly restored and house murals depicting the story of Thien Hau.
Hours: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m
3. QUAN CONG TEMPLE
This little Chinese temple houses both a temple as well as a Buddhist pagoda (Quan am pagoda)and is dedicated to Quan Cong, a Chinese general from the Han dynasty. The temple was built in 1653 and has been very well prerved with beautiful statues and artworks in traditional Chinese style. The altar is housed at the back of the sanctuary with a koi pond and a small garden overlooking it.
4. TAN KY HOUSE
Chinese and Japanese elements have influenced this beautifully preserved merchant house from the 18th century. this building was in fact one of the first three to be designated as a ‘National heritage building’. Walk through the well preserved rooms and take a look at the furnishings and the beautiful ceiling. Descendants of Tan Ky still live in this house on the upper floors.
Hours: 8:30 a.m. to 5:45 p.m. daily
5. HOI AN FOLK MUSEUM
Occupying two floors of a restored wooden house, this little museum houses a number of artefacts and pictures depicting the culture and lifestyle of the people. I especially liked the silkworm farming and weaving practices.
Hours: 7:00 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. daily; closed on the 20th of every month
The pretty streets are filled with numerous shops selling various souvnirs. Vendors selling pop up cards, a Hoi an speciality are found everywhere. In addition, silk scarves, wooden puppets, quirky posters and frames are some of the items to buy. We also came upon a beautiful shop selling wooden carved boats of every size and bought one.
So this was our little guide on taking a culture trip through Hoi An Ancient town. Hopefully you enjoyed it! Do you like visiting UNESCO heritage sites? Have you been to any in Vietnam? Share your stories in the comments! If you liked reading this post, subscribe for more travel content !