Photo Essay: Stepping into the Past in Hội An

Hội An is a majestic jewel in the center of Việt Nam.  For years David and I have been hearing about the wonders of this town. When our original plan to visit Myanmar during his October break became untenable, we decided to seize the opportunity to visit. Our week long vacation gave me an opportunity to take hundreds of photos and reengage with my occasional photography hobby. Rather than telling stories of our trip, I will share my favorite photos from our time in Hội An. We also visited the former imperial capital of Huế and learned about the history of the Cham people in Central Việt Nam. These activities deserve their own post – so I will share photos from them soon.

Just some quick history before we begin. For hundreds of years Hội An was an essential port for traders from around the world. Located on the Thu Bồn River, Chinese, Japanese, Dutch, and Indian traders flowed goods through this community. In the last hundred years the river silted. No longer able to function as a port, the city did not modernize like nearby Da Nẵng, which replaced Hội An as the major port in Central Việt Nam. Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, greater Hội An is known for gorgeous beaches (which we did not visit), historic charm, delicious food, and hoards of local and foreign tourists. However, perhaps it is most famous for its lanterns, which you will see are a common feature of my photos.

It is easy to see why Hội An is on the agenda for most tourists to the country. We look forward to returning there when our friends and family visit to share its charm.

Lanterns of Hội An

It is hard to believe that once a month this town holds a special lantern festival when the lantern activity is amplified even more!

A vibrant night market sells lanterns in a variety of shapes and colors.

Many restaurants and shops are framed with lanterns that add an enchanting quality every night.

People release lanterns on the river each night in tribute to those they have lost. The site is quite striking.

 A park along the river includes several large lantern statues, including this friendly dragon.

David views lanterns for sale in the Night Market.

A very inviting alley.

Old World Charm

The Japanese Bridge, which was originally built in the 1590s. This is the most iconic landmark in town.

Two young women cross the Japanese Bridge just after dawn. By afternoon this bridge is packed with dozens of pedestrians every moment of the day.

Stools for a street food stall await patrons early in the morning.

Dawn over old Hội An.

Flowers pour over nearly every roof in the heart of town.

Old meets new all over Việt Nam.   

This tree captivated me as it watches over a small park.  

Shops compete for tourist dollars by selling unique goods, including this bamboo bike.    

This town attracts artists from around the world.

Including performance artists who lined the river on Saturday night.

Food is central to the tourist experience here. The region is known for some unique delicacies that showcase the wonderful rau (vegetables) of Việt Nam.

There are adorable dogs all over town.  

I took most of my pictures early in the morning to appreciate the quite beauty of these buildings.   

An artist makes custom artwork for tourists in the Night Market.  

There is charm around every corner.

Town is filled with old community halls and temples like this one that served the tradesmen who lived and traveled through for hundreds of years. 

Just outside of town on Cam Kim, craftsmen have created boats for centuries.

Imagery of dragons adorns countless ancient buildings.


The rural communities that surround town have beautiful temples of their own.

A bridge over lanterned water.

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