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.
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.
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.
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.
Even the city’s souvenir shops are captivating, a riot of color upon color.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
Rollerbag Goddess Rolls the World by Charish Badzinski is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.