Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999, the little town of Hoi An tucked away on the central coast of Vietnam was a highlight of my few weeks in the country.

Hoi An (not to be confused with Hanoi in the northern part of the country) is the type of place most people imagine when envisioning picturesque rural-meets-urban Vietnam, complete with colonial-style buildings, a scenic river and historic bridges.

Between the 16th and 18th centuries Hoi An was the most important port and trading post in Vietnam, largely built on ceramics trade with China. Today it’s a super charming town made up of 844 structures protected as historical landmarks with major French, Chinese and Japanese influence.

For being so small there’s plenty to keep you busy over a few days here. Covered by foot within a couple of hours, Hoi An is known as the place to get tailor-made apparel, shoes and handbags in Vietnam. A shopping fanatic could easily get lost here, weaving within its wide streets and back alleys covered in small shops, markets, cafes and restaurants. In town there are a dozen or so sites ranging from historical houses to art workshops and museums. When one gets tired of playing tourist, it’s super easy to rent a bike or motorbike and spend a day riding through rice fields and tiny villages outside of town, or hit a nearby beach for some fun in the sun.

Hoi An offers two large markets, one on each side of the river passing through town. My favorite, the Night Market, runs every night and is pictured above and below.

A definite word of warning though: Hoi An is 99% catered to tourists. Most locals speak enough English to haggle and will constantly approach you in their iconic conical hats with fruit-carrying poles offering photo-opps or hawking various wares. Western-themed coffee shops, restaurants and even juice bars can be found anywhere.

Shown above and below, one of my most favorite places was the super cute Morning Glory restaurant, which also doubles as a cooking school.

Some of the best food I ate in Vietnam was at Morning Glory. Pictured below are its tasty beef noodle salad and white rose dumplings, the signature dish of Hoi An not found elsewhere in Vietnam.

White rose dumplings consist of ground shrimp combined with spices and herbs, folded in rice paper and steamed, then covered with fried garlic. SO amazing!

As long as you’re prepared for some semi-aggressive vendors and to be full-on catered to as a tourist, Hoi An will likely be a favorite stopover during your trip to Vietnam. Perfect for just a few days visit, it’s the perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of big city Vietnamese life and enjoy some ridiculously beautiful scenery and seriously delicious food.

If you can, time your visit to coincide with the full moon, when the old town switches off all its lights and closes to motorized traffic. Completely transformed by flickering candlelight and multi-coloured lanterns sold by touts, the monthly Full Moon Lantern Festival is a surreal sight to see.

Thanks for reading!

xo Carrie