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Hoi An Style
The former trading port of Hoi An attracts visitors with its ancient buildings, pretty river views and taller made fashions.
In the 16th century, the riverside town of Hoi An was a bustling trading port, its harbor packed with ships from China, Japan, Holland and beyond. The foreign ships came with the southern trade winds, exchanged their goods for local wares and, six months later, followed the northerly winds home. For local traders, business was brisk, with Vietnamese merchants selling products from the sea; ethnic Cam people peddling pottery and forest products: K'Ho traders dealing in brocade; Lat people selling coffee beans; and Ede trading black pepper.
To meet international demand, local craftspeople formed guilds, and then established craft villages that specialized in producing popular items. Some local villages' fame has endured to this day. Kim Bong village is known for its woodwork and Thanh Ha village for its pottery. Merchants introduced mulberry cultivation and silk processing to the Bao Loc Highlands, where this industry flourished. Faifo became famous for its fine silk.
When the river silted over, the merchants stopped coming and Hoi An became a sleep hamlet, dozing like Sleeping Beauty for 300 years. Then word of the town's beauty began to spread, attracting visitors from around the world. Declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, Hoi An offers peaceful streets lined with ancient shop houses, serene pagodas, and shops stocked with locally made handicrafts. Many of the old trades have been resurrected, and the silk industry is especially successful. Dozens of shop offer silk and speedy tailoring services.
Just how fast are Hoi An's tailors? When a group of 60 Russian CEOs visiting nearby Danang needed 60 traditional Vietnamese outfits to wear to a party, A Dong Silk (www.adongsilk.com) sewed them up in just 12 hours. One of the oldest tailor shops in town, A Dong is also one of the biggest with 80 employees. Last April the company even introduced Hoi An's silk and fashions to the world at Vietnam Italy Trade Workshop in Milan.
If you make it to Hoi An, enjoy the town's cultural sites and fantastic shopping. After 300 years of solitude this little town is once again drawing scores of eager visitors.