Free things to do in Hoi An: Sunsets, lanterns and art


Vietnamese visitors often cite the charming city of Hoi An as one of their favorite cities. A thriving medieval port city reduced to the countryside in the late 18th century, Hoi An has recently become a UNESCO World Heritage Site listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its well-preserved old town. Every year, nearly five million people visit Hoi An every year, most spending a modest $ 120,000 VND on a ticket to visit five of the city’s 22 heritage attractions or not-so-modest amounts to buy clothes and clothes. tailored shoes in the capital. 300 sewing shops.

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Large paintings of women in traditional dress sit either side of a yellow archway leading to a shop entrance

However, with its picturesque grid-like streets (pedestrian friendly most of the day) for walking and its flat country roads ideal for cycling (bicycles sometimes provided free by hotels), there are a handful of interesting things to see and visit. do where you will not even have to open your wallet.

Wander street arts

Phan Boi Chau Street, just east of Hoi An Market, is fast becoming a destination of choice for art lovers. Within a few blocks of this Arts street, you can see spectacular photographs of Hoi An and its inhabitants by French photographer Réhahn (in front of the Precious Heritage Museum). There are also watercolors inspired by Hoi An by British artist Bridget March, and Art Space, a café with a selection of sculptures, photographs and paintings.

Colourful paper lanterns are strung across the street creating a warm atmosphere in the darkness

Enjoy incredible sunsets from Cua Dai Bridge

Just a short distance from Cua Dai Beach, the Cua Dai Bridge, nearly 1.5 km long and spanning the Thu Bon River, is a high point of view, especially at sunrise or sunset. There are superb panoramas in all directions, including over the mouth of the river and the Cham Islands beyond, and across the city, with the mountains in the distance.

Direction the beaches

Just 5 km north of the city are An Bang Beach and the nearby Cua Dai Beach. Although the beaches of Hoi An have problems of erosion of the sand, they are always perfectly acceptable (and free!), Because they constitute an antidote to all the purchases and tourist visits that you will probably make.

Absorb the warm glow of the old town in the cool evening

Yes, the narrow streets of Hoi An’s old town are lined with shops and cafes and look like an outdoor mall most of the day. But there is something about historic shophouses with their terracotta tile roofs and their ocher-colored walls that remain timeless. For a better experience, try visiting early in the morning when the market is mostly populated by locals, or in the cool of the evening when the city comes on. This is especially special on the 14th day of each lunar month, when the old city turns off its electric lights and is lit only by colorful lanterns for the full moon festival.

Three wooden ships in various states are lined up on the shoreline, with planks of wood on the ground in front of them

Breathe deeply into atmospheric fish markets

If you smell fish before breakfast, go to one of two fish markets in Hoi An – Duy Hai (near the Thu Bon River that flows into the sea) or Thanh Ha ( near the pottery village). Watch the return of the fishing boats early in the morning, unload their catches that are quickly sorted and sold. The atmosphere is lively and all the activity in the light of the early morning is a dream for the photographer.

Browse the night market

If you thought Hoi An was a tourist during the day, wait until you see the night market. It is a noisy and crowded section of Nguyen Hoang Street on 300 m, loaded with vendors selling everything from snacks and trinkets to cut paper cards and silk ties. The lantern shops are particularly interesting for photo backgrounds.

Take a tour of Cam Kim Island

Hoi An is just across the Thu Bon River on Cam Kim Island, with its rural scenes of rice paddies and family sanctuaries. The star of the island is probably the village of Kim Bong, famous for its many carpentry workshops. Take a stroll through the workshops and watch craftsmen working with wood of all shapes and sizes, from hand-carved wooden statues to fine mother-of-pearl inlays to furniture making and shipbuilding. You can cycle 9 km on the Cam Kim Bridge to the southwest of the city, or join a free Hoi An tour with enthusiastic English-speaking university students. The visit is free, however, visitors are welcome to pay VND 50,000 for the ferry crossing and a small donation to the community.

Two mannequins wearing traditional clothing stand in front of three large portraits of women in similar traditional clothing

Visit the workshop at Reaching Out

If you can not go to one of the craft villages around Hoi An, stop at the small workshop at the back of Reaching Out, where you’ll find artisans (many disabled) making everything. silver jewelry with intricate embroidery. Book a free visit to the website or take a stroll alone in the small workshop.
Visit the Precious Heritage Museum
The French photographer Réhahn has spent almost a decade documenting almost all of the 54 minority ethnic groups in Vietnam, some with fewer than 10 people still able to speak the language. As a result, the Precious Heritage Museum presents stunning portraits and costumes from across the country.

Explore Cam Nam Island

Just across the Cam Nam Bridge from Hoi An, the Cam Nam River Island is a tranquil place to cycle. The city’s inhabitants flock to the island in the evening for its famous clam dishes, but its palm-fringed rivers and numerous cottage industries make for an equally interesting background. Head to the port at the end of the island and watch the fishing boats arrive at the end of the day.
The most famous dish of Hoi An is cocoa noodles, whose particularly soft texture comes from soaking the rice in the original washing of the Ba Le Well (which is why it is practically impossible to find outside Hoi An). Reserved for hardcore gourmets, visit the modest Ba Le Well to see where this famous dish has begun.

Observe the artisans of Thanh Ha pottery village

About 5 km east of Hoi An is the village of Thanh Ha, which specializes in pottery. Originally established to supply clay tiles and other pottery and pottery needs in the city, the village still produces hand-thrown pottery, although a large part of it is now predominantly intended for decoration. Watch the craftsmen fashion vases and bowls with a foot-operated potter’s wheel, then look for Ms. Phu, now over 90, who can still throw a large pile of clay.

Enjoy the countryside near the vegetable village of Tra Que

Most of the aromatic herbs that accompany many of Hoi An’s dishes come from the village of Tra Que. Located between the city and the beach, the village is famous for its organic herbs and vegetables, fertilized with local algae rather than chemicals. Stroll through the neat rows and watch the farmers work by hand in the fields. Also look for scarecrows dressed in conical hats. While in the area, explore the surrounding trails through the beautiful Hoi An countryside dotted with lush paddy fields, curious water buffaloes and ponds full of shrimp and fish.

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