Behold: the Riot of Color in Hoi An, Vietnam

 

Hoi An, Vietnam lanterns. Photo by Charish Badzinski.
Hoi An, Vietnam lanterns. Photo by Charish Badzinski.

Take a stroll through this ancient city and UNESCO World Heritage Site

Hoi An just might be Vietnam’s prettiest city.

From fragrant, vibrant markets in the morning to lanterns dancing on the breeze in the afternoons, to the colorful lights that bring the streets to life at night, it’s an absolutely captivating place.

Stroll through the ancient town, and it’s easy to see why this has been named an UNESCO World Heritage Site.

By Morning: Central Market

As the city wakes up, your senses will awaken too, with the sounds and scents of the Central Market. From skinned frogs to lemongrass to live chickens to fruit you’ve never seen before and may not ever see again, the selection is vast. And the crowds, noise and motorbikes, overwhelming.

The Central Market in Hoi An, Vietnam. Photo by Charish Badzinski.
The Central Market in Hoi An, Vietnam. Photo by Charish Badzinski.
Fish at the Central Market in Hoi An, Vietnam. Photo by Charish Badzinski.
Fish at the Central Market in Hoi An, Vietnam. Photo by Charish Badzinski.
Women shopping for the day's fresh goods at the Central Market in Hoi An, Vietnam. Photo by Charish Badzinski.
Women shopping for the day’s fresh goods at the Central Market in Hoi An, Vietnam. Photo by Charish Badzinski.
Fruit and flower vendors at the central market in Hoi An
Fruit and flower vendors at the Central Market in Hoi An, Vietnam. Photo by Charish Badzinski.
fresh lemongrass at the central market in hoi an
Fresh lemongrass for sale at the Central Market in Hoi An, Vietnam. Photo by Charish Badzinski.
Produce vendors at the Central Market in Hoi An, Vietnam. Photo by Charish Badzinski.
Produce vendors at the Central Market in Hoi An, Vietnam. Photo by Charish Badzinski.
The entrance to Hoi An's Central Market. Photo by Charish Badzinski.
The entrance to Hoi An’s Central Market. Photo by Charish Badzinski.
fresh meat and fish at the central market
Fresh meat and fish at the Central Market in Hoi An, Vietnam. The smell was overwhelming. There was even a stack of skinned goat heads, but I wasn’t quick enough to snap a photo. Photo by Charish Badzinski.
Live chickens on offer at the Central Market in Hoi An, Vietnam. Photo by Charish Badzinski.
Live chickens on offer at the Central Market in Hoi An, Vietnam. Photo by Charish Badzinski.

If you’re brave, or just hungry enough to overcome any shyness, pull up a plastic stool and join the locals for breakfast, often a bowl of noodles or pho bo.

two bowls of pho
Locals often start their day with a bowl of noodles. Here, it looks like they’re about to enjoy beef pho, or pho bo. Photo by Charish Badzinski.
Locals enjoy their breakfast at the Central Market in Hoi An. Photo by Charish Badzinski.
Locals enjoy their breakfast at the Central Market in Hoi An. Photo by Charish Badzinski.

By Afternoon: Instagram-worthy Lantern Shots

By afternoon the market begins to clear, and you’re free to roam about without the market congestion, snapping photos of the beautiful lanterns draped from the buildings and over the charming city streets.

Now, I guess some people come to Hoi An for custom-tailored clothing. And there are some lovely clothes to be found.

But I was there for the snaps.

A bicyclist and passenger travel over the Japanese Bridge, the symbol of Hoi An. Photo by Charish Badzinski.
A bicyclist and passenger travel over the Japanese Bridge, the symbol of Hoi An. Photo by Charish Badzinski.
Boats and lanterns at the canal by the old town section of Hoi An. Photo by Charish Badzinski.
Boats and lanterns at the canal by the old town section of Hoi An. Photo by Charish Badzinski.
Lantern-draped streets create a magical setting in the old town section of Hoi An, Vietnam.
Lantern-draped streets create a magical setting in the old town section of Hoi An, Vietnam.
Lanterns in Hoi An. Photo by Charish Badzinski.
Lanterns in Hoi An. Photo by Charish Badzinski.
Lanterns in Hoi An. Photo by Charish Badzinski.
Lanterns in Hoi An. Photo by Charish Badzinski.

But don’t think for a moment you’ll have it to yourself: Hoi An is a popular stop for tourists, lovers and backpackers, and nabbing a photo of yourself alone with lanterns or jockeying for that perfect shot can be tough. You’ll have to grin and bear it, in spite of the Instagram set.

But it will be worth it. Hoi An is magical.

Lanterns and a bicycle in Hoi An. Photo by Charish Badzinski.
Lanterns and a bicycle in Hoi An. Photo by Charish Badzinski.
Lanterns in Hoi An. Photo by Charish Badzinski.
Lanterns in Hoi An. Photo by Charish Badzinski.
Lanterns in Hoi An. Photo by Charish Badzinski.
Lanterns in Hoi An. Photo by Charish Badzinski.
Lanterns in Hoi An. Photo by Charish Badzinski.
Lanterns in Hoi An. Photo by Charish Badzinski.
Lanterns in Hoi An. Photo by Charish Badzinski.
Lanterns in Hoi An. Photo by Charish Badzinski.
Lanterns in Hoi An. Photo by Charish Badzinski.
Lanterns in Hoi An. Photo by Charish Badzinski.
Lanterns in Hoi An. Photo by Charish Badzinski.
Lanterns in Hoi An. Photo by Charish Badzinski.
The Japanese Bridge in Hoi An. Photo by Charish Badzinski.
The Japanese Bridge in Hoi An. Photo by Charish Badzinski.
The old town section of Hoi An, Vietnam. Historic and charming. Photo by Charish Badzinski.
The old town section of Hoi An, Vietnam. Historic and charming. Photo by Charish Badzinski.

Even the city’s souvenir shops are captivating, a riot of color upon color.

Souvenirs in Hoi An, Vietnam. Photo by Charish Badzinski.
Souvenirs in Hoi An, Vietnam. Photo by Charish Badzinski.
Souvenirs in Hoi An, Vietnam. Photo by Charish Badzinski.
Souvenirs in Hoi An, Vietnam. Photo by Charish Badzinski.
Souvenirs in Hoi An, Vietnam. Photo by Charish Badzinski.
Souvenirs in Hoi An, Vietnam. Photo by Charish Badzinski.

Can you ever have too many photos of lanterns and brightly-colored handicrafts and charming streets? I think not!

Hoi An by Night

As night falls in Hoi An, the lights come on. And somehow this city becomes even more beautiful.

Lanterns light up the city of Hoi An by night. Photo by Charish Badzinski.
Lanterns light up the city of Hoi An by night. Photo by Charish Badzinski.

Boats docked in the canal are set free, filled with spellbound travelers, coasting silently into the dark with just a lantern to guide them.

And lovers light candles set in paper lanterns, make a wish, and let them go into the wavy reflected city on the water.

Lanterns holding candles are purchased by tourists and sent out into the canals. Photo by Charish Badzinski.
Lanterns holding candles are purchased by tourists and sent out into the canals. Photo by Charish Badzinski.
Lanterns holding candles are purchased by tourists and sent out into the canals. Photo by Charish Badzinski.
Lanterns holding candles are purchased by tourists and sent out into the canals. Photo by Charish Badzinski.
The Japanese bridge glows at night, as passenger boats wait for tourists. Photo by Charish Badzinski.
The Japanese bridge glows at night, as passenger boats wait for tourists. Photo by Charish Badzinski.
The city of Hoi An is reflected on the canal, by night. Photo by Charish Badzinski.
The city of Hoi An is reflected on the canal, by night. Photo by Charish Badzinski.
Tourists stroll through the old town section of Hoi An at night. Photo by Charish Badzinski.
Tourists stroll through the old town section of Hoi An at night. Photo by Charish Badzinski.
The city of Hoi An by night. Photo by Charish Badzinski.
The city of Hoi An by night. Photo by Charish Badzinski.

If you grow weary of the shutterbug-clogged streets of Hoi An, you can rent a bicycle, usually from your hotel, and bike a few miles to An Bang beach. The trip will take you past vast fields of rice, seemingly exploding with green.

Rice paddies stretch as far as the eye can see just outside old town, Hoi An. Photo by Charish Badzinski.
Rice paddies stretch as far as the eye can see just outside old town, Hoi An. Photo by Charish Badzinski.
Beautiful An Bang beach in Hoi An, Vietnam. Photo by Charish Badzinski.
Beautiful An Bang beach in Hoi An, Vietnam. Photo by Charish Badzinski.
Beautiful An Bang beach in Hoi An, Vietnam. Photo by Charish Badzinski.
Beautiful An Bang beach in Hoi An, Vietnam. Photo by Charish Badzinski.

And you’ll arrive at the beach at last, with thatched umbrellas and gentle waves and ample sunshine and sugar soft sand.

That, too, is beautiful. A wholly different kind of beauty, but stunning nonetheless.

Is there a city in Vietnam prettier than Hoi An?

Not that I’ve seen. But in truth the country I saw–from Hanoi to the Mekong Delta–is beautiful, nose to tail. And if you are able, it’s worth traveling the whole country just to find out.

At the very least, it’s sure to delight your Instagram followers.


Charish BadzinskiCharish Badzinski is an explorer and award-winning features, food and travel writer. When she isn’t working to build her blog: Rollerbag Goddess Rolls the World, she applies her worldview to her small business, Rollerbag Goddess Global Communications, providing powerful storytelling to her clients.

Posts on the Rollerbag Goddess Rolls the World travel blog are never sponsored and have no affiliate links, so you know you will get an honest review, every time.

Find Charish on Twitter: @rollrbaggoddess and on Instagram at @rollerbaggoddess. You can also read more about Charish Badzinski’s professional experience in marketing, public relations and writing.

Rollerbag Goddess Rolls the World by Charish Badzinski is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.


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