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Hoi An Ancient Town

Hoi An: An bewitching ancient town drenched in yellow

Located in Quang Nam Province (Central Vietnam), Hoi An is a UNESCO World Heritage, well-known for its well-preserved ancient town which was once a trading port city from the 15th to the 19th century.

In Hoi An, what’s most striking on entering the city’s Ancient Town is that many of the buildings are bathed in a distinctive golden-yellow hue. Hoi An has nearly 1,000 ancient buildings, of which 844 are on the Unesco list for their historical value. The astonishing cityscape has drawn travellers and artists for centuries. 

Hoi An: A celebration of colour

Hoi An Ancient Town

There are many theories as to why so many buildings here are painted yellow. Some believe that it symbolizes royalty; others believe it to be for practical reasons, as a light colour yellow absorbs less heat – ideal for Vietnam’s humid, tropical climate. Whatever the case, this shade is highly revered in Vietnamese culture, symbolizing luck, pride, wealth and respect. 

Hoi An Ancient Town

“Hoi An is like an open-air studio. The light and the yellow walls make the perfect backdrop for any subject, continually surprising and inspiring me.” – Réhahn, photographer.

Hoi An: An unchanged world

Hoi An Ancient Town

Because of its protected status, the Ancient Town has very strict building regulations in place, meaning it has retained its traditional wooden architecture of the 17th and 18th Centuries, with the original street plans, canals, bridges ­– and the ubiquitous yellow walls – remaining intact. Not much has changed here in hundreds of years.

Hoi An Ancient Town

The buildings in the Ancient Town are uniquely designed in that the entrance is from the street, while the back of the building opens to the Thu Bon River, making it easy for loading and off-loading goods that are transported by boat.

Even though times have changed, many things here have stood the test of time.

Hoi An: Morning rituals

Hoi An Ancient Town

Sunrise in Hoi An brings its own charms, with the early sun bouncing off the walls bathing the city in a bewitching tapestry of light. In the quiet dawning of the new day, one of the few noises you’ll hear is the sweeping of brooms as people clean their homes and streets. 

Hoi An Ancient Town

Since the Vietnamese mostly never have breakfast at home, you’ll likely find locals eating at the food stalls around the Japanese bridge in Nguyen Thai Hoc and Tran Phu streets. Get up early enough and you’ll see children fuelling up on their way to class; schoolgirls, as seen here, always wear the traditional ao dai.

Hoi An: Around the corner

You can spend years living in Hoi An and still discover new alleyways branching off the narrow streets. They’re always pristinely kept, and many are painted in golden hues. The quirky, tucked-away shops are full of surprises, from tailors showing off their creations to lantern craft shops and intimate restaurants.

Banh Mi Phuong Hoi An

Take your time wandering, coming across unique alleyways for an inexpensive banh mi and a refreshing cup of Vietnamese iced coffee. If you get lost, don’t worry – most locals speak a fair amount of English and will point you in the right direction.

Hoi An: Unique architectural integrity

Hoi An Ancient Town

In these ever-changing times, it’s refreshing to find a place where life seems to stay the same. Since this is one of the few places in Vietnam that is protected from development, hopefully, this ancient city will keep its unique, sunny charm forever. 

With its gentle demeanour and poetic charm, Hoi An will undoubtedly leave an imprint on your memory. It’s a place like no other in this world.