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Updated by Joanna James on Jun 23, 2019
Headline for Interesting Facts About Hoi An - Discovering Ancient Hoi An
Joanna James Joanna James
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Interesting Facts About Hoi An - Discovering Ancient Hoi An

When in Vietnam, visiting Hoi An is a must! Here are some interesting facts about this ancient port town:


How it all began

In spite of the port of Hoi An being officially established in 1595 by a Nguyen lord, traces of human civilisation residing in the area date back 2200 years. The port town (whose name loosely translates to "peaceful meeting place in English") was the first location in Vietnam to be exposed to Christianity due to missionaries visiting the country from overseas. It is a noteworthy example of a small-scale trading port that has remained active between the 15th and 19th centuries and until the present day.


Historic prominence

Hoi An was once the most important port for trading purposes in the South China Sea, under Nguyen rule. Shipwrecks reveal that Hoi An was the location from which ceramics from various Asian countries, including Vietnam, were transported around the world. The aforesaid ceramics were delivered as far as Sinai in Egypt. High quality silk was another commodity that was commonly traded from the port during this period.


Ancient streets

Vietnam's original street plan remains intact. It entails a grid of streets with one of its axes lying parallel to the Thu Bon River and the other axis of alleys and streets positioned at a 90 degree angle. The buildings tend to face the streets for the convenience of customers while the back of the buildings are open to the river, permitting ease of loading and unloading cargo from boats.


The river life

The Thu Bon River is integral to the port town's geography, culture and history and is the main culminating spot for most of Hoi An's events and festivals as well as the primary source of livelihood for many of the town's residents. Boat rides down the river are a popular attraction amongst tourists staying at Anantara Hoi An Resort and other hotels in the vicinity. Of such significance is the river to the Vietnam experience that many a Hoi An luxury resort has introduced scenic cruises along the river for expatriates and visitors in the area.


Business central

Hoi An continues to be occupied and functions as a business hub and trading port to this day. The port town's heritage reflects a fusion of indigenous and foreign cultures; primarily that of China, Japan and Europe, that amalgamated to ensure the town's unique survival. So vital is Hoi An to Vietnam that a master plan has been put in place with the aim of conserving, restoring and promoting the town for tourism development.


Glimpses of the past

The town has a well-maintained complex comprising of more than a thousand timber frame buildings featuring either brick or wooden walls. The aforesaid buildings include architectural monuments, commercial and residential spaces and places of religious significance such as pagodas. The most notable of the latter is the pagoda positioned on a fine wooden Japanese bridge that dates back to the 18th century. Houses in the area are tiled while any of their wooden aspects feature traditional motifs carved into them.