The Hanoitimes – The UNESCO-recognized world heritage, Hoi An ancient town, in central Vietnam, has been named for the first time as one of the ten leading tourism cities in Asia, according to Condé Nast Traveler, the world’s premier travel magazine.
This is part of the Condé Nast Traveler 25th Annual Readers’ Choice Award which was published recently in New York.
The 111-year-old Sofitel Legend Metropole, located in capital Hanoi, ranked third among 20 best hotels in the region, according to the magazine.
Two other Vietnamese candidates Park Hyatt Saigon and Sheraton Saigon were also on the list.
Life Heritage Resort Hoi An and Nam Hai were placed the 10th and 14th positions among 15 leading resorts in Asia.
This year, the award drew the participation of 46,476 voters.
Hoi An, an exceptionally well-preserved example of a traditional Asian trading port, is an outstanding material manifestation of the fusion of cultures over time. It was recognized as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
The town has been completely and assiduously preserved: it is the only town in Vietnam that has survived intact in this way.
Most of the buildings are in the traditional architectural style of the 19th and 20th centuries. They are aligned along narrow lanes of traditional type. They include many religious buildings, such as pagodas, temples, meeting houses, etc., which relate to the development of a port community. The traditional lifestyle, religion, customs and cooking has been preserved and many festivals still take place annually.
By the end of the century, the rise of other ports on the coast of Vietnam, in particular Da Nang, and silting of its harbor, led to the final eclipse of Hoi An. As a result of this economic stagnation, it has preserved its early appearance in a remarkably intact state, the only town in the country to have done so. The ancient town is situated on the north bank of Thu Bon River. There is a street running east-west along the river’s edge and three further streets parallel to the river. They are intersected at right angles by streets and alleys. Within this area there are houses (often combined with shops), religious monuments such as pagodas, temples, communal houses and family cult houses, a ferry quay and an open market.
The architecture of Hoi An, which is almost entirely of wood, is of considerable interest. It combines traditional Vietnamese designs and techniques with those from other countries.
The typical house conforms to a corridor plan, the following elements occurring in sequence: house, yard and house.
The buildings are: family cult houses, dedicated to the worship of ancestors; the community houses, used for worship of ancient sages, founders of settlements, or the legendary founders of crafts; the pagodas are almost all from the 19th century, although inscriptions show them to have been founded in the 17th and 18th centuries.
They conform to a square layout and decoration is largely confined to the elaborate roofs. In the case of the larger examples, they constituted nuclei of associated buildings with religious and secular functions. Some of the larger pagodas also served as meeting halls. These are located along the main street.
There is a fine wooden bridge, reminiscent of Japanese examples, with a pagoda on it. It has existed from at least the early 18th century, as an inscription indicates, but it has been reconstructed many times. There is also a number of ancient tombs in Vietnamese, Japanese and Chinese style within the buffer zone.