While Costa Rica is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Americas, Vietnam is one of the most exciting places to visit, especially for those living in the West.

The country is an introduction into a part of the world you may have never experienced, with a culture very different from anything you know. There is beauty all around, and a vibrancy difficult to find anywhere else.

However, you should not limit yourself to the cities of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh. While these are good starting points, there is so much more of Vietnam to be seen. One of the best places to visit is Hoi An on Vietnam’s central coast. You will have no trouble getting there, with trips from anywhere, including Da Nang to Hoi An, easy to find.

Here’s why you should visit Hoi An.

An Ancient Town

Hoi An is best-known for its well-preserved ancient town. While many cities around the world boast “old towns”, Hoi An’s old town is perhaps more deserving of the name than any other. Unlike other parts of Vietnam, it was never bombed during the Vietnam War, and it still retains hundreds of historical buildings, which have garnered it its status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Walk around the old town and feel as if you’ve stepped into ancient times. You’ll find lovely spots to eat, stunning locations to have a photo shoot, and many places to buy handicrafts and gifts for family and friends.

Gorgeous Beaches

Hoi An is most famous for its ancient town, but it is also on a beautiful coast and hosts some gorgeous beaches. These are idyllic spots, with crystal clear waters and pristine stretches of sand. With rice paddies all around, you’ll experience all sorts of sites on the way to spending the day swimming and tanning.

The Countryside

Those rice paddies will provide you with the countryside experience you’ve come to expect from Vietnam. On the days you’re not walking around the old town or sunning on the beach, you can get acquainted with Vietnam’s famous greenery. You will see plenty of buffalo under the clear blue skies, with local hawkers taking advantage of tourists who hope for photos with the majestic creatures.

You can see the countryside on your own, but there are also organized tours that will take you to the best spots and provide a comprehensive experience.

The Japanese Bridge

The Japanese Bridge is another one of Hoi An’s famous features. Its history is poignant. The Japanese community in the 1590s wanted to better connect with the Chinese parts of Hoi An. They built this covered bridge to help achieve that goal. It is beautiful and well-preserved, and deserving of its fame.

My Son Ruins

Finally, you can catch a day trip to the My Son ruins. This complex of abandoned Hindu temples from the fourth century is one of the most spectacular sites you’ll ever see. It’s close to Hoi An and well worth the trip. Join an organized tour to get there. It will save you precious time and effort, and make the most of your opportunity.