We flew to Đà Nẵng in Central Việt Nam, and from there went by road to Hội An, a small coastal city designated a World Heritage Site in 1999.
Hội An was a busy trading port until the end of the 18th century, with Chinese, Japanese, Portuguese, and Indian traders establishing themselves in various parts of the city. Then two factors contributed to its decline: the Nguyễn dynasty which came to power in Việt Nam gave their French allies access to Đà Nẵng as a main trading port; and the Thu Bồn river passing through Hội An silted over, making it more difficult for ships to use the harbor.
Soon eclipsed by Đà Nẵng, Hội An languished until recently when international tourism discovered its charms. The old quarters along the river have been preserved much as they were originally. The pace of life is much more relaxed than in cities like Sài Gòn or Đà Nẵng, and it is possible to stroll leisurely along its streets without being bothered by cars or motorbikes. Walking is what we did over two days in Hội An from our homestay lodging to the old quarters, both during the day and at night.
During the day, it was easier to see the old assembly halls or temples, some dating back to the 16th century.