Hoi An is the colour of prosperity – it was prosperous

Hoi An likes an outdoor gallery. The light and yellow walls create the perfect backdrop for any photographic topic and they have constantly inspired me.


The town of Hoi An is a photographic sensation not only due to its colourful lanterns but also due to its architecture and mustard colour. I was taken aback by the contrast of the dark wooden houses with the bright yellow brick buildings, and history would tell me how this came to be.

Dating from the 18th century, the architecture of the ancient town is today a fusion of Vietnamese, Chinese and French Colonial architecture.

My personal favourite is the wooden houses, also the oldest of Hoi An. Traditionally these were simply single-floor buildings, often with a two-level roof. Yet, as the town started to develop, wealthier merchants began to add a second floor to the houses, primarily those belonging to merchants and shopkeepers, allowing more space for living and also for storage. Many of these 2-floor houses also had a balcony, where the families would sit and observe the life happening on the streets below.

Whilst the Colonial style of architecture started to appear during the French colonization of Vietnam in the 1880s, these were mostly built by wealthy Chinese families. At this time, they found inspiration in the Parisian style, so in the ancient town of Hoi An you’ll find shuttered windows, arched entrances and ornate columns. Yet, the interiors would still reflect the Vietnamese style to ensure the home was comfortable to live in the tropical weather.

From the 1930s, a fusion of wooden and colonial houses started to take root. These houses have shuttered windows and French balustrades in the balconies, but adopt the traditional tiled roofs of Vietnam.

With all of this diversity though, there is one thing that stands out to the eye when you first arrive in Hoi An. It is painted mustard yellow, bringing unity to a place with so many different foreign influences. It is important to remember wealthy merchants lived in the port town of Hoi An and yellow is considered to be the colour of royalty. Moreover, it symbolises luck and prosperity. Technically speaking, some also say that it absorbs less heat, creating a cooler interior, suitable for the humid and tropical weather of Central Vietnam.

Of course, this makes Hoi An a photographer’s paradise. In the ancient town, you will also find little galleries by the French photographer Réhanh. Based in Hoi An, he has spent most of his career capturing the soul of Vietnam, photographic people from different parts of the country and belonging to different tribes, some of them near extinction. For anyone who likes photography but also wants to learn a little more about the country and its people, I entice you to visit his gallery.

If you can, do visit the gallery. It is free entrance and it’s such a great source of knowledge and mostly inspiration.




3 thoughts on “Hoi An is the colour of prosperity – it was prosperous

  1. Until your post I had never realised just how diverse the architectural influences of Hoi An were. I guess I was too enthralled by that mustard colour that, as you said, brings a sense of unity to the old town. Great pics!

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.