Set on the ground of a long-lost kingdom, Champa, Hoian was the most prosperous trading port across the Southern half of Vietnam, which was named as Đàng Trong and ruled by nine generations of Lord Nguyễn. Born in the early 17th century and existing for roughly 400 years, Hoian varied much inside out. How was it like and what can you expect when taking Old Quarter tours? Read further for details!
Hoian Market in the past
Brought to life as a trading port and living on as a tourism center
In the early 19th century and back, Chinese and Japanese businessmen came over Hoian after spending a long period of time in the ocean. This is Hoian’s most flourishing heyday when hundreds of sailing boats were docking and leaving every day. Villages sitting at the two banks enclosing Faifo River were much wealthy and crowded with full of boats coming and leaving until 3 pm each day. Given the fact that lots of traders coming from not only East Asia but also the Western half of the Globe, high-end cuisine, and street food vendors covered every single corner of the town. Unfortunately, due to a civil war occurring later, this well-off and fancy vibe was soon killed. Soon after 1858, the French invasion directed this bustling ambiance to the long-lost wharf of Danang, a close-by Northern neighbor. Nowadays, even though its ancient pace of life was long gone, a Hoian day tour around this saffron-color town still offers a basic glimpse into how it used to be, through the presence of chained ancient buildings and landmarks.
Ancient city life
Located right at the International trading route in between East and West, the economy of this whole region became thriving followed by the search of outlander entrepreneurs. The booming took off by the end of the 16th century with Portuguese businessmen and hit its peak when Chinese and Japanese started to settle down in the 17th and 18th centuries, bonus by the joining of Western nations which included Dutch, French, British and so on.
According to Cristophoro Borri, Đàng Trong in 1621, “within 100 miles back, they counted up to 60 different ports which are all convenient to dock. The most robust where all of the outlanders came over and lied a well-known market is the one belonging to Quảng Nam Province. The previous Nguyễn Lords allowed Japanese and Chinese to pick a place and open up their own town for the sake of business. This town is later known as Faifo”.
Japanese Covered Bridge in its early ages
Today joining in a Hoian tour, apart from the old quarter itself, further steps outside will lead you to various types of activities and scenes, such as Trà Quế Herb Village, Kim Bồng Carpentry Village or the three famous seashores of Cửa Đại, An Bàng and Hà My. Hoian is now best eye-catching at night falls, which is the moment of all lanterns lit up and illustrating the sunny-colored walls. In replacement for its previous ancient role as the biggest trading port, Hoian now captivates visitors not with an aim of trading but traveling.
A street vendor in the 40s
Hà My Beach
Hoian gastronomy – Then and Now
Cao Lầu and Mỷ Quảng are the town’s most recognized dishes you can surely have a chance to taste in a Hoian Old Quarter tour. Yet, Cao Lầu differs greatly from Mỳ Quảng thanks to its uniqueness in ingredients. Made out of rice flour soaked in water mixed with ash, which was formerly taken from woods on Chàm Islet. Hence, Cao Lầu strands of noodles are tiff and shining with natural golden. Nowadays, only a few households in Hoian are qualified enough to make Cao Lầu noodles.
Cao Lầu today
Talking about Mỳ Quảng, this symbolic dish was once known as Phú Chiêm noodles that have been spread broadly all over the Southern land of Vietnam where Quảng Nam citizens settle down. Only several decades back has the dish been renamed as Mỳ Quảng, which might be given by “non – Quảng Nam” citizens in the aim of referring to a type of noodles made by the Quảng people.
An old building is now a cafeteria
Old Quarter tours in Vietnam are now found in Hanoi and Hoian, which are also the two only old quarters left. This insight helps to boost your love of a long-established port town by looking further back to its golden age.