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Once known as Faifo, Hoi An was one of the orient's major trading ports in the 16th and 17th centuries. After the Thu Bon River linking Hoi An to the sea silted up ocean going ships were no longer able to sail into town and trade moved 30km up the coast to Tourane, known nowadays as Danang. Despite the passing of 200 years and the ravages of the weather and war, the centre of Hoi An remains much the same as it was in its heyday. A walking tour is the best way to see the wooden-fronted houses that once belonged to the town's prosperous merchants, the Japanese-covered Bridge and the wonderful market.Hoi An is one of the best places in Vietnam to shop for souvenirs at bargain prices including silk, handicrafts, antiques and paintings. Five kilometres from the centre of town is Cua Dai Beach, popular with both locals and visitors alike for its sandy beach, warm sea and seafood stalls.
Hoi An is known throughout Vietnam for its excellent seafood and it also boasts its own unique dishes such as Cao Lau, a delicious combination of noodles, pork, bean sprouts, mint and croutons. Inland and a half-day trip from Hoi An is My Son, where the capital of the once great Champa Kingdom stood. The Cham, originally from India and Hindus, were the rulers of large areas of central Vietnam between the 2nd and 15th centuries. The Cham Museum, housed in a classical French colonial building in Danang, has the finest collection of Cham sculpture in the world, much of it originating from the My Son site.