Must-See Sights in Hoi An, Vietnam

Endless tropical pools at the Nam Hai resort.

Endless tropical pools at the Nam Hai resort.

Looking for your next Southeast Asian beach resort — with a deeply local history? Hoi An, a small trading port in Vietnam’s Quang Nam Province, could be your pick. We asked friends of Max to tell us what they liked about their luxury vacation in the South China Sea beach town.

– Stay

All signs point to the opulent Nam Hai Hoi An, one of the GHM Hotels and a Leading Hotel of the World. This all-villa beach resort boasts tranquil private pools and stunning views. Feel free to bring children, who will enjoy the resort’s kids’ club. The food is one of the high points, our informants say. If you fall in love with the place, the villas (up to 5 bedrooms) are for sale, with personal butler service included.

– See

The resort is situated close to three UNESCO World Heritage sites: the old town of Hoi An, My Son and Hue.

Hoi An, UNESCO says,  is “an exceptionally well-preserved example of a small-scale trading port active from the 15th to 19th centuries” revealing the influence of  Japan, China, and Europe. The town has an abundance of temples and features a noted Japanese-style covered bridge with a pagoda.  Lanterns illuminate the town at night, and a special night market is devoted to lights.

Hoi An is an old trading port and life there still revolves around the water.

Hoi An is an old trading port and life there still revolves around the water.

My Son, a day trip from Hoi An, is the ancient capital of the Champa Kingdom, which flourished from the 4th to the 13th centuries. The site includes 71 stone towers dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva. It’s comparable in quiet magnificence and worldwide significance to Indonesia’s Borobudur temple and the Cambodian holy complex at Angkor Wat. Hue is another former capital, the seat of the Ngyuen dynasty, which ruled Vietnam from the early 1800s until 1945.

– Do

If lounging by your own pool is too passive for you, rent bikes and ride into the surrounding rice paddies or the local markets. You can also try a cyclo, a three-wheeled bike, which is ideal for touring the Old Town.

Locals traditionally fish using giant baskets. The hotel or a tour agency can arrange an outing where you can try this technique yourself.

For foodie travelers, the Nam Hai offers cooking classes that include excursions to market stalls with the hotel chef. Other culinary seminars off the resort are easy to find and can introduce you to local styles of cooking.

The area is famous for its tailors and some 400 of them are in business here. Stop in with a picture of your favorite dress, or any clothing item you love, and have a tailor replicate it for you.