Hoi An – Vietnam
Exotic Time Machine of European Influences
Nowhere has Vietnam’s charm and history endured longer than in the ancient port city of Hoi An, which for centuries was a major center for Japanese, Portuguese, Dutch, Arab, Chinese, and French merchants and seafarers.
A miracle left the city and its more than 800 historic structures unscathed by the Vietnam War, and today its people are understandably proud of their architectural heritage. You’ll find many homes, temples, wells, pagodas, bridges, and stores in varying degrees of preservation, many of which are open to the public free of charge, allowing visitors to stroll in and out of the centuries.
A contemporary of Malaysia’s port town of Malacca, Hoi An has so far escaped the overzealous tourism-incited preservation that’s given that city something of a theme-park look, and the beautiful stretch of beach at Cua Dai, just outside town, is still blissfully free of resorts and hawkers. Development is in the wind, though, so make this your first stop.