Hoi An is a small city located in central Vietnam. The old city-section has a charming blend of Chinese, Japanese and French influences. Even with a storied history of multiple occupations and wars, the former trading port has remained well preserved. Adding to the charm are the ubiquitous colorful lanterns which light up the town every evening. Nightly, there is the opportunity to place a small lotus lantern in the river as you make a wish.
One of the most iconic attractions is the Japanese covered bridge which dates back to the 18th Century.
Hoi An’s colourful market is a shopping experience filled with a plethora of aromas and fresh everything. Most produce, meat and fish are gone before noon. The stalls are organized by product; it is a chaotic scene to watch the daily purchase of ingredients.
Behind the market, we boarded a small boat for a short river ride to the Red Bridge Cooking School. We spent several hours preparing and then feasting on some Vietnamese dishes including Hoi An pancakes, seafood stew and rice paper wrappers for spring rolls.
Back in town, we spent a little time discovering the coffee history and culture at Phin, a small roaster and coffee shop.
We also made a stop at Reaching Out Teahouse. This is a unique cafe run by the hearing and speech impaired. You order your food and drink by using blocks or a notepad and pencil. You are also encouraged to keep quiet here or whisper with your friends. We were able to use ASL to communicate with the staff.
Tailor shops and leather shops are as common as the lanterns in town. Beautiful beaches, the Marble Mountains and the historic sanctuary of My Son are easy day trips. The unique and delicious Cau Lau noodles and white rose shrimp dumplings are all part of what makes Hoi An, which translates to ‘peaceful meeting place’, a tourist destination.