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Hoi An

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As you step into the old town of Hoi An, it’s easy to imagine yourself as a sailor from the 15th century. Your view wouldn’t be too dissimilar, as the mellow amber street fronts and leaning timber-frame buildings haven’t changed much in the past few hundred years. UNESCO calls the ancient town an “exceptionally well-preserved example of a South-East Asian trading port”, indeed, Hoi An was once considered the most important trading port on the South China Sea.

The many sailors who crossed Hoi An’s docks bought their cultures with them. One of the city’s most famous monuments is the Japanese Covered Bridge, built by Japanese merchants in the 16th century to connect the Japanese quarter to the Chinese quarter on the other side. There is a Buddhist temple attached to one side of it, supposedly built to placate the earthquake-inducing monster Namazu. English and Portuguese sailors also crossed Hoi An’s shores as early as the 15th century.

The city comes to life at night, when the streets are bathed in the warm orange glow of paper lanterns. Walking to the river, you can take a boat ride over the peaceful waters, lying down to make it under the low bridges. There is also a wealth of shops to explore. The city hasn’t strayed far from its mercantile roots, and is renowned for its excellent tailors. Getting a custom suit made is remarkably cheap, though it can take up to a day to complete, so make sure you have enough time to collect it before you leave.