The sea and surrounding waters are very important to the country of Vietnam, specifically to the seaside city of Hoi An. The nearby Thu Bon River played an important role in the city’s economy, culture and history. Known in the past as Fai Fo, Hoi An used to be the most thriving port in Southeast Asia, with trading activities to China, India, Japan, Thailand and Indonesia. The popularity of Fai Fo even reached Spain, Portugal and France. Although fishing is still an important industry in Hoi An today, the Thu Bon River is primarily known for tourism purposes. Boating and cruising in Ho An are among the favorite activities on the river.
Hoi An is 30 km away from Da Nang, the fourth largest city in Vietnam; also a few kilometers nearby is Hue, which used to be the Imperial capital. Before Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and any other Vietnamese cities were recognized internationally, Hoi An was already using the rivers and seas for international trading. Archeological finds reveal that the Sa Huynh people, early settlers in this part of the country, used boats to carry items and commodities to nearby lands. Hoi An was doing very well until Da Nang entered the scene in the 18th century. For some reason, Hoi An stopped its trading activities in favor of Da Nang and other Vietnamese ports, and since then, Hoi An froze in time, only to be discovered recently as a well-preserved historical city that is worth its title of UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Hoi An has rows of centuries-old houses and buildings. The Old Town is made up of museums, ancient conference halls, well-preserved antique homes, temples and cobblestone streets. Cruising along the Thu Bon River is the best way to sea and enjoy this ancient city and its surrounding areas.
A typical boating and cruising tour includes a pleasurable dining experience on a cruise ship that moves along breath-taking river views. On the menu are authentic Vietnamese sea foods, including freshly caught prawns and fishes, topped with fresh tropical fruit for dessert. There is also sweet music and an observation deck. A leisurely cruise normally lasts for 2 hours and would typically cost US$30 per person. This is inclusive of cocktails and snacks, insurance, river information, a cruise over the Thu Bon River, three main courses, dessert, and tons of memorable experiences to bring home.
Other cruise packages take travelers to the famous My Son ruins, the local market and other important sites along the river, and would last for a satisfying 7 hours. A Hoi An-My Son-Local Market Cruise includes an English-speaking guide, tons of photo opportunities, traditional Cham dance presentation, cooking lessons on board, dinner, and plenty of food. A cruise of this kind costs US$60 per person.
(My Son Sanctuary is a UNESCO World Heritage Site Hind ruins, perhaps one of the most important attractions in Quang Nam province.)
Finally, the coolest way to experience the splendor of Hoi An and Thu Bon River is by swan boating. Swan boats are one of a kind. They are passenger boats with giant swan heads, eyes flickering at nights, and glides on the river while playing “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” at double speed. This is clearly the most creative way of boating and cruising in Hoi An.