There is an elaborate ticket system in Hoi An for entry to the main attractions, which requires several decisions on the part of visitors. Basically, you need to buy a ticket for 90,000D that is good for one day and permits you entry to five of the principal buildings in this historic city.
These include either the temple on the Japanese Covered Bridge or Chua Ong (Quan Kong Temple); one of the town’s museums; one of the Chinese assembly halls; one of the merchants’ houses or chapels and the Hoi An Handicraft Workshop. There are several kiosks selling tickets around town.
The Japanese Covered Bridge, which once marked the border of the Japanese community in Hoi An, is perhaps the most iconic sight in town, an elaborate, though small, bridge that even houses a small temple dedicated to Tran Vo Bac De. There is no entrance fee for the bridge itself and there’s not much to pick between the temple here or Quan Kong Temple, on Tran Phu just north of the market.
Of the museums, the Museum of Trade Ceramics at 80 Tran Phu is probably the most interesting. Located in a traditional house, it displays ceramics that arrived here from all over the globe, including Egypt, during the 13th to 17th centuries. Perhaps the best aspect though is the explanations about the division of space within the house, allowing visitors a deeper appreciation of Hoi An architecture.
The grandest of the assembly halls, particularly for its imposing treble gateway, is the Fujian Assembly Hall at 35 Tran Phu. Originally built in the 17th century, it has been expanded since and is now dedicated to Thien Hau, the Goddess of the Sea. There is a large statue to her on the altar, and she is flanked by some colourful assistants.
Among the merchants’ houses, the most popular is the Tan Ky House at 101 Nguyen Tha Hoc. This is a two-storey, typical shophouse with a vending area at the front, then a courtyard and access to the river behind, where goods were once unloaded into the storehouse. The woodcarvings and mother-of-pearl inlay are particularly impressive, and the house is packed with ancient furnishings.
At the Hoi An Handicraft Workshop, you can watch craftsmen making silk lanterns and watch a performance of traditional dance and music at 10:15 and 15:15 each day. While all these attractions can be very rewarding to see, it’s best to pick a time when they are not overrun with visitors or it’s difficult to appreciate their beauty; this means weekdays early or late in the day.
Part of Hoi An’s appeal is that the fun does not stop when you’ve seen the main sights, as there’s still plenty to keep visitors occupied. Most visitors like to purchase garments made of Vietnamese silk, for which the town is justly famed, and there are hundreds of shops around town where you can browse the goods on offer.
It’s also worth spending a day or two exploring the nearby area, particularly the beach at Cua Dai, just a few kilometres from town, and the Cham ruins at My Son, about 40kms away, for which it’s a good idea to join a tour – easily arranged through your hotel.