A quick stop
If you're out exploring Hoi An under your own steam, Thanh Ha pottery village is a decent stop, especially since it's on the way to My Son.
The big landmark is the Terracotta Village, a park and centre devoted to all things pottery. In true Vietnamese tourism fashion, it is extremely kitsch, with the front garden full of clay replicas of the architectural wonders of the world, everything from the Taj Mahal to the Colosseum in Rome. Why travel the world when you can see it all here!
We actually suggest giving this place a skip. The only other reason you'd want to pay the 30,000 dong admission to this tourist trap is to go play with clay. You can paint a piece of pottery for 50,000 dong, or make your own pottery for 30,000 dong. This may be a good activity to kill an hour with the kids. When we visited, there was a large school group of youngsters that seemed to delight in mucking around with the clay. Despite people trying to lure you to pay to park your motorbike, you can park inside the gate for free.
It's better to head straight to the narrow lanes behind the village tourist park to find the families busy churning out pots, sculptures, roof tiles and cute handcrafted whistles shaped like animals. The potters are welcoming and friendly, and they are happy to offer a seat to watch as they work.
At the workshop with the sign "Chu Ho Le Van Xe", we watched as one woman stood and kneaded a huge lump of clay, all while kicking the wheel-head with her foot as another woman worked throwing the pot. (Note: "throwing" is the lingo for forming pottery on the wheel-head. And if you don't know what a wheel-head is, it's a good reason to come here to find out.) It was mesmerising to watch the two steadily churn out perfectly formed pots, and they even offered to let us try.
The new creations are dried in the sun and then fired in a wood-fire kiln. They only light the kiln once a month so consider yourself lucky if you're there on a firing day.
There's a booth at the entrance to the village, supposedly charging 20,000 dong admission fee but when we went the booth was empty. It's best to visit earlier in the morning or late afternoon, when it's cooler and the potters are working hard.
Thanh Ha pottery village is located three kilometres west of town. The most direct way is to head west on Tran Hung Dao Street. When it ends, veer right onto Hung Vuong Street. The road forks after three kilometres. Take the right fork for Da Nang and My Son; the left fork along the water goes to the pottery village. The more pleasant and scenic route is to go west on Nguyen Du Street, a narrow road for bicycles and motorbikes that runs along the river. It joins Hung Vuong Street at the end.
Cindy Fan is a Canadian writer/photographer and author of So Many Miles, a website that chronicles the love of adventure, food and culture. After falling in love with sticky rice and Mekong sunsets, in 2011 she uprooted her life in Toronto to live la vida Laos. She’s travelled to over 40 countries and harbours a deep affection for Africa and Southeast Asia. In between jaunts around the world, she calls Laos and Vietnam home where you'll find her traipsing through rice paddies, standing beside broken-down buses and in villages laughing with the locals.
These tours are provided by Travelfish partner GetYourGuide.
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