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Hoi An - Vietnam

Hoi An Japanese Bridge Hoi AnPhuc Kien Hall, Hoi AnQuang Trieu Assembly HallRiver, Hoi AnMarket Sellers, Hoi An

Hoi An is one of Vietnam's most charming towns. As an important trading port town Hoi An has been influenced by Chinese, Japanese, European and Vietnamese cultures and retains a blend of architectural styles throughout the UNESCO listed old town.

The chief draw is the pleasant streets lined with wooden shop houses in various states of repair. The town opens out onto the waterfront with roads and tracks leading out into the surrounding countryside of flat paddy fields. Boats trips run from here to some of the islands in estuary, home to handicraft villages.

Within the old town are several important Chinese Assembly Halls - each trading guild had its own hall which is a combination of temple, meeting rooms and social club. The hidden gardens of the Quang Trieu (Cantonese) Assembly Hall has a massive dragon fountain, while the Phuc Kien Hall's dominant feature is the pink three-doored gateway. Each of these has a small Chinese temple, complete with colourful icons and burning incense.

During the full moon, Hoi An closes the streets to traffic and switches off many of the lights, leaving much of the old town lit by coulourful paper lanterns. The best view of these is from opposite the Japanese Covered Bridge, atmospherically lit by the lanterns. During the full moon festival offerings are made and the river is scattered with floating candles while throughout the town various cultural events are performed for the public.

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