Centuries after they were first built, five assembly halls still stand on the narrow streets of the Hoi An Ancient Town. These striking structures are the work of merchants and migrants from various regions in China, who settled in Hoi An and built the halls as places to worship, meet, celebrate, and connect with each other. Read on for a quick guide to these historic halls and the best ways to visit them.

Fujian Assembly Hall (Hoi quan Phuoc Kien)

46 Tran Phu Street

The largest and oldest assembly hall in Hoi An was first built in the 1690s by six founding Fujianese families. Since then, the hall has gone through several renovations funded by Fujianese residents of Hoi An. A tiled pathway leads from the outer gate to a more elaborate three-entrance gate and the main hall, passing two beautiful courtyards. This feature creates a secluded oasis, away from the buzzing street. Take a closer look at the colorful tilework and murals before entering the central shrine to pay tribute to the Sea Goddess.

TIP: You might like to visit Hoi An’s assembly halls in chronological order, starting with Fujian (1690s), Chinese (1741), Teochew (1845), Hainanese (1875), then Cantonese (1885). You can also view all five halls by walking along Tran Phu St. from the Japanese Bridge to the Teochew Assembly Hall.

Cantonese Assembly Hall (Hoi quan Quang Trieu)

176 Tran Phu Street

The Cantonese Assembly Hall faces one of the town’s busiest intersections, right next to the Japanese Bridge. This compact yet stunning structure is dedicated to Quan Cong, a heroic general in Chinese history. Coils of incense wrapped around paper prayers hang from the ceiling. Like most other halls, the Cantonese Assembly Hall still functions as both a place of worship and a community center for the local Cantonese population. If you’re a fan of architecture you will love the traditional yin-yang tiled roof and the original timber frame.

Teochew Assembly Hall (Hoi quan Trieu Chau)

157 Nguyen Duy Hieu Street

The Teochew Assembly Hall lies just a few steps from Hoi An Market and is one of the lesser-visited halls in Ancient Town. Look for fascinating wood carvings, roof ridge mosaics, a gorgeous Four Gentlemen screen, and vibrant glass door paintings all within these yellow walls. Many of the construction materials used to build this hall and its relics – including an ancient copper bell and an intricate painted wood carving – were brought here from China by boat. The central shrine worships Ông Bổn, a mysterious figure in Chinese culture.

TIP: Some assembly halls feature a model ship in their main hall. This is a reminder of how the first Chinese settlers came to Hoi An and how they made a living in the old days.

Hainanese Assembly Hall (Hoi quan Hai Nam)

10 Tran Phu Street

Built in 1875 to honor 108 Hainanese merchants who were mistaken for pirates and wrongly  executed, the Hainanese Assembly Hall dons a soft pink facade with two paintings of horse carriages on either side of the entrance. Feel free to rest under the flower canopy inside the entrance to read about the legend of the 108 merchants, or continue down the courtyard to admire the hundred-year-old burner in front of the main hall. The Hainanese Assembly Hall is one of the only halls in Hoi An with a tiered backyard (ask for a look if you’re interested.)

Chinese Assembly Hall (Hoi quan Ngu Bang)

64 Tran Phu Street

While the other four assembly halls on this list are dedicated to groups from different areas in China, the Chinese Assembly Hall, also known as the Five Congregations Assembly Hall, was a meeting place for all Chinese who settled in Hoi An, regardless of their hometown. The building is nearly 300 years old and is the only blue assembly hall in the Ancient Town. Bright royal blue walls house a communal area on either side of the main hall, where language lessons are still held today for children of Chinese families and anyone interested to learn.

Read more: How to spend a perfect day in Hoi An

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