A 30-minute drive from the central city of Danang, Hoi An has earned a reputation as one of Vietnam's most picturesque towns. Declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, Hoi An draws visitors to its lovingly preserved mix of Vietnamese, Chinese, Japanese and French architecture - evidence of the town's fascinating past as a major trading port. From the 17th to the 19th century, Phai Pho which is Hoi An's old name riverside port was frequented by trader from as far away as Holland, China, Japan and India , who came for Vietnam's silk. porcelain, pepper, cinnamon and medicinal plants. While the trade dried up when the river filled with silt, the town distinctive architecture remains intact, having miraculously survived the wars of the 20th century.
Hoi An's quarter features traditional shop - houses, the facades of which are made from carved ironwood.
The front rooms of these houses served as shops, while the families lived on the second floors. Central and back courtyards allowed both sunlight and fresh air to penetrate. To this day, many houses have a pair of carved wooden yin yang symbols are thought to protect the house's inhabitants from ghosts and bad luck.