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Azamara Quest Blog #5 from Hoi An

Ben Hall

After the New Year celebrations in Ho Chi Minh City, next port of call is the central Vietnamese city of Danang which serves as an access point to the Imperial City of Hue and the ancient town of Hoi An. We opted for a drop off at Hoi An as we'd been to Hue already.

Hoi An was a very busy commercial port in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. Merchants from Japan, China, Holland and India - among others - traded with the city.

The Thu Bon River however silted up and the town died economically for nearly 200 years and has been given a new lease of life thanks to tourism. Almost all of its architecture including streets, ports and buildings are intact and although it is a little touristy these days there's good reason for it. It's one of the few Vietnamese town that has survived centuries of conflict and it has a real charm which makes it one of the most enjoyable sightseeing places in the country. Much of the original Old Town is pedestrianised as well which makes it a good walking city and most of the original houses now operate as retail outlets selling traditional handicrafts and jewellery.

There's plenty to see in Hoi An, including the famous Japanese Bridge, the Cantonese Assembly Hall, the Phung Hung Ancient House and the lively market down near the river.

But this places oozes history and charm from every pore and you could easily spend a day wandering the streets and taking in its easy charm, with the odd coffee stop along the way.

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