Hoi An, an enchanting heritage

Hoi An, an enchanting heritage

Exuding an ancient vibe similar to Lijiang (China) or as romantic as Venice (Italy) or tranquil like Giethoorn (Netherlands) these are popular descriptions of Hoi An in Quang Nam by most tourists who had the chance to visit this place also known as the "city of titles". It surprises no one that tourism to Hoi An has increased rapidly, both domestically and foreign, immediately after Vietnam reopened the country after a long closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Unforgettable city


Hoi An, a world heritage site, has been voted many times as the most charming and romantic ancient city in the world. For the past two years, the sweeping storm of COVID-19 halted all tourism activities around the globe, but the name Hoi An was still mentioned regularly in the international tourism community.


During the two years of pandemic, Hoi An continued to be honored by international media and was given prestigious awards like being in the top 25 best cities for tourism in the world 2020 (Travel & Leisure), the top 15 of Asia's best cities 2021 (Travel & Leisure) and Asia's best cultural urban destination 2021 (World Travel Awards). Most recently, it reached the top 10 most hospitable cities in the world 2022 by Traveler Review Award, and one of the most romantic destinations in the world 2022 voted by Time Out. This shows that Hoi An has a unique charm for local and global tourism.

Visitors ride a boat along the Hoai river. photo: Thanh Hoa/VNP


Located on the shores of the poetic Hoai river, the 400-year-old old town is enchanting in its serene antique beauty. There are rows of old houses with mossy tiled roofs and distinctive yellow-lime walls. After hundreds of years, people going to Hoi An still can see the silhouette of a busy trading port, imprinted in more than 1,000 monuments on the streets, in the houses, assembly halls, pagodas, shrines, churches and ancient wells. They can even be seen in small alleys, the traditional dishes and the manner and hospitality of the people.


Hoi An is a typical Asian port city. As early as the end of the 16th century, this town harbored cultures from all around the world. Next to the bold imprint of Vietnamese culture, one can also see in Hoi An the colors of China, Japan, and also Western countries such as the Portuguese, Spanish, Dutch and French who were traders from many centuries ago.

Restaurants and shops in Hoi An are ready to welcome visitors. Photo: Bao Uyen/VNP


Although being managed carefully as a special heritage site, Hoi An, luckily, is not "frozen" as a museum but rather it lives and breathes as a bustling town. Life goes on here today as it was hundreds of years ago. The people in Hoi An own the heritage, live with the heritage and protect the heritage, and day after day, they become more and more connected with this ancient urban cultural space. In Hoi An, visitors can easily come across scenes of daily life activities that would make them feel as if they are on a period film set. A one-of-a-kind experience indeed.

The colors, sounds and rhythms of life blend together to create a cozy, friendly, peaceful and romantic Hoi An that is like no other city. The BBC once described Hoi An as “A bewitching town drenched in yellow”. Renowned chef and author, Anthony Bourdain said after tasting Hoi An's popular banh mi for the first time "That's a symphony in a sandwich". Major newspapers around the world have compared Hoi An to a "miniature Venice of Asia", the most charming and romantic destination in the world.



All of these things have made up Hoi An’s indescribable charm, a beautiful and unforgettable old town that leaves a deep imprint of love and nostalgia in the hearts of visitors.


The town that calls you back


In 2022, Vietnam's tourism has the opportunity to be revived, starting with the resumption of international flights from February 15. Vietnam’s announcement of a complete reopening of all tourism activities from March 15 of this year and notably, Quang Nam’s decision to host the 2022 National Tourism Year with more than 60 events throughout the year, promise to be the premise for Hoi An tourism’s strong recovery.

Dancing to welcome National Tourism Year 2022. Photo: Thanh Hoa/VNP

So far, about 70% of the hotels in Hoi An have reopened, some even reported a 80-90% increase in booking rates on weekends. In April, just about ten days after Quang Nam successfully organized the opening night of National Tourism Year 2022 with the theme "Quang Nam - a green tourism destination", domestic visits increased sharply. Hoi An also welcomed delegations of 126 Americans and 50 Germans. 

American travelers are the first to visit Hoi An right after Vietnam opened for tourism. Photo: The Hoi An city Center for Culture, Sports, Radio and Television


Before that, many travel agencies, newspapers and bloggers from Korea and Thailand also visited to search for tours. These are positive signs that Hoi An tourism is going to have a strong comeback.

In addition to enjoying the "miniature Venice of Asia", within a short distance, visitors can explore many other places such as, Cam Thanh nipa forest, a miniature Southwestern Vietnam in Hoi An, Tra Que village which is the home of hundred-year-old vegetable farming recognized as a national intangible cultural heritage, Thanh Ha pottery village, a village more than 500 years old, Kim Bong carpentry village dating back to the 16th century, if tourists don’t mind going a little further out, the World Cultural Heritage My Son Sanctuary, which is considered on par with well-known relics such as Angkor Wat (Cambodia), Pagan (Myanmar) or Borobudur (Indonesia).

The outstanding value of scenery, culture, environment and services is the reason why Hoi An is highly appreciated as a quality tourism destination. The old town offers experience in integrating cultural-ecological-entertainment factors which is a tourism model expected to take the throne in the "post-pandemic" period. Visiting Hoi An after months of being “contained” will be a perfect journey of discovery that will satisfy every emotion.


  • Story: Thanh Ha & Hong Hanh
  • Photos: Bao Uyên, Thanh Hoa, Hoang Ha, Tat Son & Files
  • Designer:  Trang Nhung