Photo: Evening in Hoi An's old town.

Introduction

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Canary yellow houses draped in bougainvillea, rickety wooden shops aglow with red silk lanterns, rippling green fields of rice, baskets laden with silver fish: Hoi An is redolent of a bygone era, or the 17th and 18th centuries, to be exact. The town features a mix of Vietnamese, Chinese, Japanese and European architecture, and its continued cultural pulse is part of the reason why Hoi An was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999. It’s also why tourists come here in droves.


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Tourism is now Hoi An’s bread and butter but the town’s rise began thanks to international trade. With an ideal position in the delta of the lower Thu Bon River bordering the sea, Hoi An was a traffic hub, connecting both domestic markets and international trade routes. In its heyday in the early 17th century, it was one of the busiest commercial ports in Southeast Asia.

Hoi An's signature lanterns. Photo taken in or around Hoi An, Vietnam by Cindy Fan.

Hoi An's signature lanterns. Photo: Cindy Fan

Hoi An’s origins can be traced back nearly two millennia to Sa Huynh culture pre-second century BC, before it became an important port for the Champa Kingdom from the second to the 15th century. The commercial port was built in the 15th and 16th centuries as traders began to move silk, china, pottery, aloe-wood and swallow’s nests to East Asia, Southeast Asia, India and as far as Europe; ships from Spain, Portugal, Holland, France and England anchored for four to six months every year to trade. ... Travelfish members only (Around 1,000 more words) ... please log in to read the rest of this story.


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