Hoi An: A seductive shining jewel

If you ever wonder how to satisfy your cravings for traveling, just uncover the enchanting Hoi An, the greatest paradise I’ve ever set foot on.

Hoi An is one of many magnificent destinations for not only Vietnamese but also foreign travelers – which, in a not so exaggerated way, is a grappling hook of attraction. It was a golden opportunity for me to feel the generosity and hospitability from people in Hoi An as well as to experience the delights of charming architects and exquisite local cuisine in this ancient town. I would like to cherry pick some features based on my own perspective insights.

1. Exploring beautiful history rides

At the first glance of Hoi An magnificent town, it caught my attention at the very first sight. The yellow-oriented Asian style architect suddenly made “history” and “culture” be the words springing out of my mind. Woke up early in the morning to fully witness the city, I decided to go to Sa Huynh cultural museum located in Tran Phu street

They were the living evidence of a prosperous and harmonious civilization. (Source: hoianheritage.net)

With a great display of rich and rare antiques and a number of related documents and photos, the museum is a crucial relic of Sa Huynh culture and represents the pure essence of Hoi An’s history, especially the extensive trade network and cultural exchange among Southeast Asia, South India and China. By looking at each exhibit’s material and their values, I learned how the trading reflected the life of ancient people and their agriculture activities. There is another feature that the Sa Huynh had perfected to the level of art – the funerary rituals and rites with the collection related to burial customs, conceptions of life and death, the developmental history of the region, and relationships with other cultures.

Beside Sa Huynh museum, Trung Hoa Assembly Hall (formerly, Duong Thuong Assembly Hall) was the next one I wanted to keep exploring. The old and unique Chinese architecture gave me a closer look at the Chinese people’s diverse trade activities and lifestyle: the home of Chinese immigrants and the school for Chinese people living overseas.

“The home of Chinese immigrants and the school for Chinese people living overseas.”

Last but not least, I paid a visit to the Old House of Phung Hung. Enlisted as the world cultural heritage, the house was formed by the combination of Japanese, Vietnamese and Chinese styles. Various handicrafts were presented for selling and sight-seeing in the past trade activities, and also reflected the tradition of the countries involved.

“Various handicrafts were presented for selling and sight-seeing in the past trade activities, and also reflected the tradition of the countries involved.” (source: lendang.vn)

2. Indulging in exquisite cuisine

After a sunny morning wandering around some historical sites, I had a craving for some food to fill up my empty stomach and decided to grab some local food for lunch.

My first stop was Bánh bao – bánh vạc (Hoi An style rice dumplings – White Rose). Steamy, fragrant white rice along with the combination of fillings and secret spices – all made this couple become an exclusive dish which I could not resist. This is a must-have dish everyone has to come and taste.

“This is a must-have dish everyone has to come and taste.”

One more thing I always eager to try is the simple, yet seductive handy banh mi, specifically, Banh Mi Hoi An (Hoi An bread). Needless to say, Banh mi’s popularity has long been known and etched into Vietnamese people’s everyday life. However, what really triggered me to explore its beauty didn’t come from the taste alone. It was the sauce that truly made me indulge myself. After asking for some recommendation, the Banh Mi Queen and Phuong bread would be the perfect spots to try. I preferred the Banh Mi Queen, because of not only its international quality, but also the chef’s dedication and thoughtfulness she sent into each loaf of bread. Additionally, the sauce was the second to none compared to Phuong bread, but it was more spicy, thicker and mouth-watering.

“The old dedicated chef’s and her Banh Mi Queen brand”

For some reasons to escape from the spiciness and have some desert, a cup of sweet soup (chè) would be an excellent idea. I had an amazing time trying Cam Nam corn sweet soup and I must say I was totally blown away. The richness and natural sweetness from the corn itself, raised from the land near the river, made this desert become “one of a kind”.

“There are various kinds of sweet soup that you can choose and taste for days”.

3. Getting lost when the lights are on

There was nothing much to do in the afternoon until the night finally came. After enjoying the specialties at night market and food stalls, I could see myriad restaurants and bars offer never-ending ‘happy hours’.

It was the moment when the lanterns and lights from the stores began to expose their shining colors. Hoi An, in my eyes, became a true seductive shining jewel. Getting across the famous Japanese bridge, I walked along Hoai River and saw vivid floating lantern-lit flowers, which contributed to the sparkling side of the river. Spending time wandered around, I saw Hoi An twinkled with lanterns of every colors…

Shining lanterns on the alley-ways.

My time in this enchanting city was short but I embraced every moments of it. 1 day was not enough for me to fully experience Hoi An, however, it was more than enough to long for another trip to fulfill my wanderlust.

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