Visiting the beautiful UNESCO World Heritage site of Hoi An ancient town in Quang Nam Province is like stepping back in time to a bygone era.
During the day the town is peaceful and quiet, no cars or motorbikes are allowed in the center of the old quarter, therefore the feeling is of laid-back tranquility as one wanders around at will, and time becomes irrelevant. The town is awash with the sunshine yellow ochre color which creates a calm ambiance.
Hoi An translates as “peaceful meeting place” and the visitor can enjoy this sense of peace whilst meandering the ancient streets, admiring the beautifully preserved wooden houses and shops, many with balconies or terraces and adorned with colorful climbing plants.
Pagodas and temples abound; these are oases of calm contentment where one can sit and let time pass by. Venture into the numerous side streets and tiny alleyways to discover a way of life that seemingly has not changed for centuries.
No visit to Hoi An would be complete without seeing the Japanese covered bridge which has become the town’s iconic symbol. It was built originally to link the Japanese and Chinese communities, who lived either side of a stream. It is solidly constructed of wood with understated ornamentation and guarded on each end by a pair of statues, with monkeys on one end and the other a pair of dogs.
At night the atmosphere changes when the whole town is lit with the hundreds of lanterns for which Hoi An is famous. The lanterns are particularly effective strung along the banks of the river, with their myriad colors reflected in the water. Locals and visitors alike come out onto the streets, to walk, eat in a restaurant or from a street food stall or enjoy one of the street theater shows that are sometimes staged, usually depicting traditional scenes from the town’s history.
Even though the evenings bring more activity there is still a relaxed, timeless feel to the town where one never feels the need to hurry, just relax and enjoy the passing scene.