Nights in Hoi An

When night falls, the ancient town of Hoi An, a World Cultural Heritage Site, becomes sparkling and fanciful in the light of thousands of lanterns. From somewhere, the chants of the Quang area sung by young women resound, fascinating visitors.

Night in Hoi An is always deep, making visitors feel peaceful, cozy and familiar like they are in their native places.
Along small streets are old houses with rows of lanterns hung at the entrances spreading warm red or yellow light. There are shops selling many souvenir items with typical characteristics of the town, such as the lanterns made of fabric, silk garments, terracotta toys and fine-art items made from bamboo, rattan, copper and wood.
On the sidewalks, under the shade of the bougainvillea flower trellis are small shops selling coffee or dinner. Inside the shops, people can enjoy a bowl of noodles from Quang Nam, or sip coffee in a calm atmosphere full of gentle music and yellow shimmering candlelight.
At night, the streets are always crowded with people, but the atmosphere is not too noisy like other tourist destinations. Everyone walks slowly to enjoy the street life with a peaceful, tranquil atmosphere.

Hoi An sparkles with thousands of lanterns. Photo: Tran Thanh Giang

A small restaurant on a street. Photo: Trang Linh

An ancient house with lanterns in Hoi An. Photo: Trang Linh

A Choi singing group in Hoi An. Photo: Trang Linh

On the Hoai River. Photo: Trang Linh

Foreign tourists are interested in different kinds of lanterns in Hoi An. Photo: Tran Thanh Giang
The streets along the Hoai River create the most beautiful scene. Late at night, the river looks more brilliant and sparkling in the light of the decorative coloured lanterns from the streets on both banks. The singing from a Bai choi singing group becomes more and more thrilling, luring visitors to stop to watch the folk games and enjoy the love duets sung by young men and women. Not far away, near the Cau (Bridge) Pagoda, many passers-by are interested in the smooth folk songs performed on the sidewalks by young men and women of Hoi An Town. A little further on, there is a folk song class for children. In the yellow light, about ten children sit quietly to learn to sing folk songs. They look like young birds that are learning to sing.
In Hoi An today, visitors also have an opportunity to take a cruise on the Hoai River to listen to folk songs at night. On a wooden boat floating slowly on the river in gentle breeze, they sit in the soft yellow light of a hurricane-lamp hanging on the mast to listen to girls singing the chants of the Quang area. The rustic singing gently spreads over the river, making the visitors relaxed.
As usual, on the night of the 14th of every lunar month, all people in the town turn off all electric lights and hang decorative coloured lanterns in front of their houses. This is a practice that has existed for over 300 years. In the quietness of the night, the town looks more beautiful in the moonlight. The incense fragrance from a tray of offerings placed under the front eave makes the atmosphere more shimmering and splendid.
Hundreds of years have passed, but Hoi An still retains the features of a prosperous port town in the past. More importantly, in the architectural space which has been recognized as a World Cultural Heritage Site, the residents are still as simple, ardent and decent as they were in the past. Seemingly, the noisy life of modern times cannot make any changes in their lifestyle, even in their thoughts.
Story: Tran Thanh Giang – Photos: Trang Linh – Tran Thanh Giang