5 Traditional Handicraft Villages in Hoi An Old Town, Vietnam

Rachel Tran
Rachel Tran | Published: December 20, 2019

A visit to traditional handicraft villages in Hoi An is one of the best ways to get an insight into the daily life of local people and understand the traditional values of this land. Let’s check out a list of 5 must-visit traditional handicraft villages in Hoi An. These villages will surely make your trip more memorable.

1. Kim Bong Carpentry Village

Kim bong capentry village

Highlights:

Spending 10 minutes going across the Thu Bon river from Hoi An town, you can find Kim Bong Carpentry Village. For more than 600 years, Kim Bong Carpentry Village has provided quality woodwork products for the country, from royal tombs in Hue to high-rise buildings in big cities like Hanoi or Saigon. Its style is believed to be the finest combination of Japanese, Chinese, and Cham kingdom’s style.

Kim Bong village has formed 3 groups of artisans: shipbuilding, civil wooden furniture, and ancient architectural construction so it can satisfy various demands. These groups contribute to vigorous development of the village and help to maintain the traditional work and the rank of master through many years. 

What to do:

Kim Bong Carpentry Village is so famous for handiworks which are available to Hoi An visitors. Visiting the village, you can find the two main streets to shop for fine woodwork to bring home. With the clever and skillful hands of artisans, they turn wood into the water buffaloes, bamboo shaped carved plates, and rustic wood pig,… 

You also can meet Mr Duong Ngoc Sang who is an expert in making gongs and adjusting the sound of this instrument. Considered as a “living treasure” of the village, he has a lot of things to share with the tourists.

Enjoy the fresh and peaceful atmosphere of the countryside will help to blow away your stress. And the smell of wood and paint everywhere will surely impress you a lot.

Tips:

You don’t have to pay entrance fee to enter. It takes a 10-minute boat ride from Hoi An Old Town to Kim Bong village.

2. Phuoc Kieu Bronze Casting Village

Phuoc Kieu Bronze Casting Village

Highlights:

Existing for more than 400 years, Phuoc Kieu Bronze Casting Village is one of the oldest traditional craft villages in Hoi An. First established by followers of feudal lord Nguyen Hoang, it was expanded to make weapons, and items used in royal ceremonies and government seals. Until now, the villagers still keep the fire burning in the forges and it is now famous for its bronze ceremonial artifacts and decorative items. 

Currently, the village has more than 20 families with around 100 labors. They have casted over 4000 gong sets for highland ethnic minority villages. Noticeably, the 2 artisans Duong Ngoc Dung and Duong Ngoc Truyen are two famous people in the village who completed the project of a 1.8 ton great bell in 2006. The craftsmen have made products like bells, incense burners, ancient vases, gong-like music instruments, lamp holders,…

Just 9 kilometers away from the ancient town, it is easily accessed by bicycle or motorbike. The village will be a great opportunity to see the spiritual life of the local people through cooking products and worship products,…

What to do:

The bronze products can be found on the road side so you can buy a bronze piece to bring home after bargaining. There are various types and the price ranges from VND 100.000 to millions of Vietnam dong.

Apart from buying souvenirs, you also can participate in the process of making bronze items to understand how careful the craftsmen are to make a product. 

Another highlight and unique product of this village is gongs. The artisans will perform with gongs so you can listen to the special sound and also the soul of Phuoc Kieu Bronze Casting Village.

Tips:

You should bring a hat, face towel, and camera.

3. Xa Duong Lantern Village

Xa Duong Lantern Village

Highlights:

Visiting Hoi An ancient town, you may get lost with thousands of colorful lanterns at night. Do you know where these lanterns are made? It’s Xa Duong Lantern Village where the sparkling lanterns are made by hand. It can be said that there is nowhere else can make lantern as good as Xa Duong village. Hoi An people consider Xa Duong as the lantern-making ancestor. In more than 400 years, its products and designs have been greatly improved and diversified. In the past they only made lanterns and unicorn basic heads. Now, the lanterns have so many shapes like diamond, sphere, tetragon, hexagon, and circular cylinder. 

You can find many lanterns on the streets of Hoi An ancient town, but remember that they are made in this village. These lanterns are symbols of Hoi An which create a romantic beauty of this town. 

What to do:

  • Buy lanterns for friends and family. Hoi An people believe that hanging lanterns will bring happiness, luck, and wealth. So they will be meaningful and awesome souvenirs and also help remind you of the trip to this ancient town and Xa Duong Lantern Village.
  • Join a lantern making class. The class is an amazing way to learn about the traditional craft techniques and Vietnamese culture. You will learn the process of making lantern from choosing silk for the screen and bamboo for the frame. When completed, you can bring these unique hand-made lanterns home.

Tips:

The best time to visit Xa Duong Lantern Village is on the 14th day of each lunar month when they celebrate the monthly lantern festival. You can admire the stunning lantern view and put a lantern on the Hoai river at night.

4. Tra Que Herb Village

Tra Que Herb Village
Photo: vietnamexoploretravel.com

Highlights:

Another name to be listed in the most famous traditional villages in Hoi An is Tra Que. The name of the village means “cinnamon tea”. It was established more than 300 years ago when the villagers worked as fishermen for living. After finding out the advantages of rich fertile soil, they began to plan herbs and vegetables. So why is this vegetable so special? Its produce are freshest and cleanest thanks to using Tra Que lagoon’s seaweed manure. The farmers say no to using harsh chemicals and toxins. 

The village is home to about 200 families and it is attractive with its peaceful atmosphere and lush green farming area. Although it is just a small village, it plays an important role in providing vegetables to many restaurants and households in Hoi An. The farmers use their special techniques to produce the highest quality vegetables. They do their best to earn around VND 200.000 (around USD 8.6)/ day.

There are up to 41 kinds of herbs and vegetables like water spinach, winter melon, turmeric,…grown by the villagers. For some kinds, it only takes 20 days from seeding to harvesting. Their distinct flavor is well-known and preferred by most Hoi An people.

What to do:

  • Join a cooking class: Tra Que has its own restaurant called Waterwheel. The owner of this restaurant is experienced and skilled in cooking. They are willing to share their local techniques and recipes. The best thing is that you can cook the freshest ingredients which have been picked up from the local farm that day.
  • Make rice paper. You may know the rice paper because it is used to wrap in many Vietnamese dishes, especially the spring rolls. If you don’t know how the rice paper is made, there is a workshop in the village where you can learn every step of making, from rice grinding, to boiling and stretching, to drying.

Tips:

You should try out a dinner with these dishes: “Banh xeo”, papaya salad, and three friends at an organic farm in this village. 

5. Thanh Ha Pottery Village

Highlights:

Thanh Ha pottery village, which is around 2 kilometers, remains a less-known tourist attraction. To get to this traditional craft, you can get on a bus or a boat from Hoi An. Visiting Thanh Ha village, you can get to know its long-established history, and see how local artisans have preserved the pottery making tradition.

Thanh Ha pottery village has gained its reputation from the late 15th century when the Northern people migrated there in hope of starting a new life. The pottery craft experienced a vibrant development in the 18th century thanks to Hoi An Port’s prosperity.

The skilled craftsmen have made clay pottery products by using their traditional techniques. These techniques have been passed down from generation to generation over 6 centuries. When arriving in this village, you will be captivated to see impressive ceramic works that depicts famous landscapes in the world. Though going through many ups and downs, the artisans still have great passion and keep the traditional pottery making intact.

What to do:

  • Visit the Thanh Ha Pottery Museum: It is a new and open air building which offers full activities for everyone in your family. Inside the two-story building, you can find a workshop, a gallery, a gift shop, the terracotta market,… Here, you can choose to enjoy an exhibition to get to know more about Hoi An’s pottery history and its poetic ambiance. You also get a chance to listen to old stories and tales about ancestors or sit down to find the soul of this land.
  • Wander around Terracotta Park. The park looks like other sculpture parks from the outside. But no, when you go inside, you can find a miniature display of famous architectural wonders in the world. Going around and you may recognize a few such as the Lady Liberty, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and the Taj Mahal,…You even can touch some pieces of art and imagine how they created these artworks 50 years or even 100 years ago.

Tips:

If you go with your children, you can head downstairs of the Pottery Museum where they can try pottery making, mask painting, or other smashing activities. The children are always eager to get their hands dirty and explore every part of the museum.

No matter how technology and science develop, Hoi An traditional villages remain their truly traditional value that you cannot find anywhere else in the world. Let’s come to these villages and spend one or two days here. You will not regret your decision!

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