Hoi An was one of our favourites places on our three month trip around Southeast Asia, so I was keen to learn more…
So I did some research and found some interesting facts about Hoi An.
The Sinking Town
Most of Hoi An is less than two metres above sea level, leaving it vulnerable to rising ocean levels. In November 2017 it experienced the worst flooding on record with many of the ancient heritage buildings letting in water. This has led to UNESCO putting it on a list of sites at risk due to climate change.
The Third Oldest Chinatown in the World
Established in the 1600s, Hoi An lays claim to having the third oldest Chinatown in the world. As a trading port that was especially important to the silk and leather trade, many people came over and settled from the coastal Fujian Province.
With streets reserved for pedestrians and even the famous Vietnamese scooters kept away at certain times of days, Hoi An has earned as being one of the best car-free towns in the world.
A Site of Outstanding Universal Important to Humanity
In 1999 Hoi An was given UNESCO Heritage Site status, putting it on a list of just over 1,000 worldwide sites that should be protected for future generations. Hoi An was listed due to it being an example of an exceptionally well preserved South-East Asian trading port.
READ NEXT: Why I Love UNESCO Heritage Sites
A Peaceful Place
Hoi An translates into English as ‘peaceful meeting place’.
An Exclusive Dish
Hoi An has its own special dish, Cao Lau, which can only be found in the town. Tradition states that authentic Cao Lau can only be made from water of the ancient Ba Le well, that only ash from trees on the local Cham Islands can be used to make the distinctive earthy noodle dough and that one family guards the full secrets to the dish.
The fact it’s on sale in dozens of restaurants across the town probably dispels the myths, but it’s still the only place in Vietnam you’ll find it.
A Small Town
You have to go down 80 places on the list of towns by population in Vietnam before you find Hoi An. In 2021 the population was listed as merely 32,757 people.
The Dog and the Monkey
At either end of Hoi An’s iconic Japanese Bridge, you’ll find two statues – one of a dog, and one of a monkey. Records suggest that this is probably because the construction of the bridge started in the year of the dog and ended in the year of the monkey, though it could also be because they are sacred symbols in Japanese culture.