Though tourists seem to almost outnumber the locals in the town, Hoi An’s Old Town has lost none of its traditional charms. Life here moves in the slow lane, with this town seemingly still stuck in the old ages, in a good way.
If you wish to experience the unique Asian characters, markets in Hoi An are definitely nice places to come. Resting on the banks of Thu Bon River, the Central Market in the morning and the night market are worthy for tourists to take a look inside Vietnamese life.
The Central market is lively with full of sights, sounds, colors and smells. Everybody is busy at selling, buying, hanging around, getting on and off the boat. As being a local riverside market, the products here are mainly food with seafood section, along with fresh fruits, vegetables as well as many kinds of prepared meals. The negotiating over fish usually starts around 7 am as the fishermen drop their catch off and the market vendors dive in to get the best fish. There is also a vast array of foodstuff for sale including spices such as saffron and cinnamon. Besides, the marketplace is renowned for its fine silk tailoring which is sold cheaper than anywhere else in Hoi An. They may be clothes, handbags, purses, scarves or home decors like lampshades and wall-hangings.
When bargaining, don’t hesitate to suggest about half the price and continue to work towards an agreement. Just walk on and smile to avoid the argument with the stall holders. It is a good idea to wear closed shoes as the floor in the market can get damp and sticky, especially in the fish section.
Besides the Central Market, you should not miss the night market crossing Japanese bridge. The highlight of this market is the silk lantern with a lot of stalls keeping the prices competitive. Created with ultimate dexterity, they are a perfect combination between the nature of bamboo sticks and the esthetic quality of silk. The choice of styles is endless from traditional silk, lace and chiffon alongside detailed hand-painted cotton. More interestingly, the local tailors can design lanterns according to your request. Together with other local souvenir items like lacquer ware, bonsai plants, paintings; bamboo lanterns convey the meanings of prosperity and happiness.
The lantern is not the only thing; there are plenty of stalls laden with trinkets, jewelry, silk fans and cheese graters as well. You can also get self-designed leather goods such as bags and wallets at a low price. There are a lot of tailors and craftsmen throughout the town offering such services for a range of prices to fit everyone’s budget, but remember that good quality will come at a higher price. These stalls line the street from sunset till 21:00 or 22:00, whereas the lantern stalls open up slightly earlier at around 16:00. The night market is considered as the cheapest place to pick up a souvenir.
If you want to drink a cup of nice cold fresh beer, you should make your way to a restaurant called An Hoi directly opposite the bridge. For dinner, pick any one of the riverside spots, but try to sit upstairs on a balcony seat to avoid hassle from the occasional hawker. If you were looking for something better, Mango Rooms on the riverside to the right of the market is highly recommended. Other activities that you can do in the night market are enjoying local performances, exploring some street food or buying a floating lantern to send down the river for luck.
Get immersed in these markets and if you love to shoot photos, many things will capture your attention!