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Whether looking for a transcendental experience, or just some mindful relaxation, visitors to Vietnam are heading to Hoi An. Local Samantha Nguyen is our (spiritual) guide, as she tells us why the city has become a yoga paradise.
Hoi An is more than one of Vietnam’s favourite cities – it’s an inspiration, a haven for spiritual adventure. Its old world charm has off-beat adventurers and the artistically inclined veering away from Vietnam’s larger cities. There is a deep sense of spirit here; it’s a city that welcomes you in and asks you to namaste awhile.
A community of yogis, spiritual seekers and healers from around the world are starting to congregate at Hoi An’s sacred sites.
Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism maintain a strong influence on social and spiritual practices throughout the country. Dating back to the 1800s, the Tran Family Home and Chapel was built by a civilian mandarin to worship his ancestors.
On the northwest edge of the old city is Hoi An’s Confucius Temple, a serene space that honours the teachings of the great philosopher. The Confucian philosophy is deeply woven within Vietnamese culture, emphasising a sense of personal and cultural morality.
One of the oldest Buddhist temples is Van Duc Pagoda, drawing visitors from around the world to pay homage to deities and local monks. The unique blend of religious and spiritual teachings provide a sense of soul that’s woven into the city’s cultural fabric. It’s no wonder Hoi An is captivating to those in search of spirituality.
The culinary tapestry of Hoi An is another benefit that attracts mindful individuals. For many yogis and healers, access to fresh and healthy food is truly key. In Hoi An, 200-year-old buildings are given a new lease of life, turned into restaurants by world-renowned chefs.
The influence from the sea, spice trade and cross-cultural leanings brings a unique flavour to Hoi An. Chefs blend European techniques with Vietnamese ingredients, meaning you can find simple dishes like a consommé made with seaweed and ginger, the steam rising with aromas of the sea, and flavourful mains of Marseille curry with pork and barracuda wrapped in banana leaves. The stunning views are enough to draw many yogis here, but the culinary landscape is what keeps them.
Compared to India, Bali or South America, Vietnam is not as renowned for its traditional healing traditions. However, medicine streets can be found throughout the country, lined with makeshift shops and stalls offering bins of dried herbs and elements that are prescribed for almost any ailment. Traditional practitioners will do a brief check, look into your eyes, check your pulse and concoct a herbal tea to cure your condition. This homeopathic approach to healing attracts many health and wellness gurus.
Aside from traditional modalities, Hoi An is home to A Luminary Life, a wellness centre that provides holistic solutions to modern day life. It advocates progressive concepts that positively impact wellbeing. Whether it’s restorative yoga with crystal-bowl sound healing or modern integrated hypnotherapy, the collective of skilled practitioners are bringing the benefits of natural healing to Hoi An.
This beautiful beachside, lantern-lit town is full of yoga studios, each of them offering a variety of disciplines and workshops to connect your mind, body and soul. Hoi An doesn’t seem like the most obvious choice when it comes to a yoga retreat, but it’s actually a yoga haven, with studios providing whichever style, budget and experience you are looking for.
The first to downward dog into Hoi An was Nomad Yoga, a centre that places values on community and nomadic connection. This studio is dedicated to the traditional teachings of Rishikesh, a practice from the Himalayan footbeds of India. It attracts eclectic individuals who seek to strengthen their yoga practice or simply nurture themselves with specialty workshops and treatments. Annen Yoga was originally a vegetarian restaurant that quickly thrived in Hoi An’s yoga scene. It teaches in the Sivananda tradition, a synthesised essence of yoga that’s concentrated into five principles. Classes are taught in a spacious room tucked away from the bustle of the town.
My Chi Spa Hoi An is the largest of its kind in central Vietnam. This luxurious spa immerses visitors in ancient traditions to promote self-discovery and balance. On the higher end, it offers wellness journeys that include daily spa treatments, yoga, tai chi and more. If this sounds a little on the pricey side, opt for one of the daily passes which allow you to access the spa and classes.
For those looking to deepen their yoga practice, seek a spiritual awakening or simply unwind, Hoi An is the perfect destination.