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Hoi An - a World Heritage from 1999

The ancient town of Hoi An,30 km south of Danang, lies on the banks of the Thu Bon River. Occupied by early western traders, Hoi An was one of the major trading centres of Southern Asia in the sixteenth century. Hoi An has a distinct Chinese atmosphere with low, tiled houses and narrow streets; the original structure of some of these streets still remains pretty much intact. All the houses were made of wood and decorated with lacquered boards and panels engraved with Chinese characters. The town is famous for its tailors and this is the best place in Vietnam to get your clothes and shoes made. You can visit the relics of the Sa Huynh and Cham cultures and also the beautiful scenery of the romantic Hoi An river, Cua Dai Beach and Cham Island.

Hội An is a small city on the coast of the South China Sea in the South Central Coast of Vietnam. It is located in the Quảng Nam province and is home to approximately 88,000 inhabitants.

The city possessed the largest harbour in Southeast Asia in the 1st Century and was known as Lâm Ấp Phố (Champa City).

The former harbour town of the Champa people at the estuary of the Thu Bon river was an important Vietnamese trading centre in the 16th and 17th centuries, where Chinese from various provinces as well as Japanese, Dutch and Indians settled down. During this period of the China trade, the town was called Hai Pho (Seaside Town) in Vietnamese. Originally Hai Pho was a divided town, because across the "Japanese Bridge", it used to be the Japanese settlement (16th-17th century). The bridge (Chùa cầu) is a unique covered structure built by the Japanese, the only known covered bridge with a Buddhist pagoda attached to one side.

The town is known to the French and Spanish as Faifo, and by similar names in Portuguese and Dutch. A number of theories have been put forth as to the origin of this name. Some scholars have suggested that it comes from the word "hải-phố" () meaning "sea town", while others have said that it seems more likely to simply be a shortening of Hội An-phố (), "the town of Hoi An", to "Hoi-pho" which became "Faifo".[1]

In 1999, Marrakesh - UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee, meeting since November 29 in Marrakesh (Morocco), has inscribed 48 new cultural and natural sites on the World Heritage List.

The List now has 630 sites of "exceptional universal value" in 118 countries. Sites in South Africa, Nigeria, Saint Kitts and Nevis, and Turkmenistan are on the List for the first time. And The old town was declared a World Heritage site as a well-preserved example of a Southeast Asian trading port of the 15th to 19th centuries, whose buildings display a unique blend of local and foreign influences.

Today, Hội An is still a small city, but it attracts a fair number of tourists, also being a well established place on the backpacker trail. Many visit for the numerous art and craft shops and tailors, who produce made-to-measure clothes for a fraction of the western price. Several Internet cafés, bars and restaurants have opened along the riverfront. Some popular evening venues, especially with Western visitors, are Tam Tam’s restaurant and bar, the Before and Now bar on Le Loi, the Mango restaurant as well as the Salsa on the other side of the river.
Hoi An is famed for its centuries old Cao lầu noodle, which can only be uniquely served here.

     
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