A Helping of Old Vietnamese Culture from Hoi An
Hoi An is one of the most interesting sites to visit in Vietnam for a simple reason: when the French came to the country, they shifted port activity to Da Nang, resulting in the old port of Hoi An losing most of the action that used to pass through it. The result was that later foreign influences thus entered Vietnam through Da Nang instead of Hoi An, leaving the old port city relatively untouched by many of the foreign elements that came to Vietnam later on.
This means that the tourist visiting Hoi An can look forward to a taste of Vietnam nearer its character in the olden days, before the French or other westerners ever came into the country. Indeed, Hoi An’s Ancient Town is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its significance, and it continues to draw thousands of curious tourists eager to see old Vietnam every year. Add to this such memorable sights as the Japanese Covered Bridge, a unique structure that many associate with the city immediately, as well as the century-old Phung Nung House or the revered Quan Cong temple.
A glimpse of these sights should tell the smart traveler that although Hoi An may be relatively free of western influences in its valued culture, it nevertheless manifests some Asian ones, as indeed may be expected of such an old port city. Open your eyes to it and you should see the architecture of the Chinese, the balanced aesthetics of the Japanese, the rich flavors of India. Hoi An provides a fascinating look, then, into a multicultural but distinct Vietnam, one that used to thrive and trade powerfully with other nations instead of suffering the ravages of war in its dealings with them. In Hoi An, you can discover a Vietnam unlike any other, and come away with a better understanding of the essential culture that gave rise to the Vietnam of today.