The appeal of Hoi An Vietnam is how well the city is preserved, which also caused UNESCO to designate it as a World Heritage Site. The city is set on the coast about twenty miles south of Da Nang. The best way to get here is to fly to the international airport in Da Nang and drive down on the coastal highway. Many vacation packages have Hoi An travel on their itineraries, and will drive down in deluxe motorcoaches. There is very inexpensive public bus transportation, but unless you are an intrepid traveler it is not the most comfortable and can feel intimidating and confusing. Many of the Hoi An hotels will arrange for transfers if you book them in advance.
The major Hoi An attractions are the lovely assembly halls, trade buildings, pagodas, and temples that cluster around the center of the city and the port. This is the largest port in Southeast Asia, has been an important port for trade between Asia and Europe since the fourteenth century. It was, in fact, an important port during the era of the Champa people several hundred years before that. A vacation to Hoi An will almost always include walking tours of this charming area.
The Champa people ruled all of the southern part of the country from the seventh to the tenth centuries, during which time Hoi An Vietnam was called Champa City and was the center of their empire. They became wealthy with their strategic location as a port for the lucrative spice trade, and they left behind wonderful works of art in the form of beautiful ceramics and monumental stone carvings. Things to do in Hoi An include visiting the nearby My Son Sanctuary, a remarkable Champa religious complex of temples that is reminiscent of the incredible ruins of Angkor Wat in Cambodia. This also is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
During the great voyages of discovery of the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries, Hoi An travel was important to the merchants from Japan, India, Portugal, and the Netherlands. In the nineteenth century, France arrived to rule the country as a colony until after World War II. A thriving expatriate community that is still present today was the result, and some of the Hoi An attractions include the graceful colonial homes and other structures they built. There is an exquisite Japanese covered bridge, the only known one in the world with a Buddhist pagoda attached. Some of the elegant French colonial villas, with their balconies covered with brilliant bougainvillea, are similar to sites in New Orleans.
Another of the Hoi An attractions is the ocean. The seaport city is set on the South China Sea, and not long ago Hoi An travel was possible only by boat. This is the port where the master nhe gang (traditional junk) boat builders first created the sailing vessel that today is the symbol of Asian maritime history. It is possible to book sightseeing and sunset cocktail cruises aboard some beautiful examples of this seafaring craft.
While the best museum for Champa sculpture will be found in the city of Da Nang, Hoi An Vietnam has a couple notable museums of its own. Shopping for fine silk garments is also an important one of the things to do in Hoi An. The tailors in the city are famous, and you can order a tailor made ao dai, the graceful silk tunic worn over pants that is the national dress for Vietnamese women, or a gentlemen’s business suit that would be at home in the halls of the New York Stock Exchange.