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Hoi-An

Famed for its vivid silk lanterns and sunny yellow-washed streets, Hoi-An is well-worth a visit.

The historical city was Vietnam's most important trading port between the 16th and 18th centuries, attracting merchants from China, Japan, India, Indonesia and Europe with its silk, spices and porcelain.

Some of these merchants settled in Hoi-An and their influence can be seen to this day within the architecture, particularly some of the well-preserved original shops and the 400-year-old Japanese Covered Bridge.

The immaculately preserved town centre is like a living museum, with historic houses, cafes, craft shops and temples making up some of the 844 structures now protected by UNESCO. Make sure to wander the pedestrian-only cobbled streets to no doubt be tempted by the textiles, jewellery and wooden handicrafts of the riverfront market stalls. Care has been made to protect the charm and peace of the Old Quarter by having a ban on motorbikes between 07:30 - 11:30, and it is only lit up by traditional lanterns at night, rather than bright street lamps or halogen lights, which cast their beautiful glow over the river.

Just beyond the city lies the mystical Marble Mountain and the 5th century My Son Temples, which both make for idyllic day trips from here. Home to picturesque peaks, caves and tunnels, this spot is not only scenic but also culturally interesting as Buddhist temples and pagodas dating back to the 17th century can be found tucked away in between the verdant hills. We recommend climbing one of the peaks to be met by spectacular panoramic views across the untouched landscape and taking a farming tour of nearby Tra Que village, if you are after some glimpses into everyday life in the Vietnamese countryside.

Food lovers will appreciate the steaming local delicacies here, from ‘Bánh Bao Vạc’ (‘White Rose’ prawn dumplings) to ‘Bánh Xèo’ (crispy pancakes), and can try their hand at making these themselves at the fabulous cooking workshops offered in Hoi-An. The fresh food markets are destinations in their own right: not only do they team life but they also offer insights into local culture - you will be sure to remember the lively atmosphere, cheerful calls of the vendors and the fragrant smells that surround you.

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