THANH HA POTTERY VILLAGE
Want to do something cultural, educational and creative that all the family will enjoy? Then head out to Thanh Ha Terracotta Park and Pottery Village to paint your very own Vietnamese Theater Mask followed by a bit of pottery and a saunter through a museum that will blow your mind.
Set in a beautifully tasteful, manicured garden, Thanh Hạ Terracotta Museum and Park is a visual and sensory delight with soft romantic music wafting mellifluously around a stunning array of pottery exhibits.
First up is the Gulliver’s Travels walk through a waist high Lilliputian garden display. Featuring miniature terracotta models of iconic monuments from around the world, this becomes a fun game of test your knowledge (or lack of knowledge!) There’s the Taj Mahal, Statue of Liberty, Big Ben, Stonehenge, Pyramids, White House, Vatican, our very own Sydney Opera House and much more including a miniature replica of Hoi An. It’s as fabulous as the barking frogs that sit like sentinels on the lily pond leaves nearby.
Recommended if you have kids
Inside, the museum spans three floors and is home to some stunning displays in a variety of media including ceramic, sculpture and painting. However, if you have kids in tow, we suggest heading first to the activity area downstairs. Our eight-year-old was far happier looking at the rest of the museum once she was clutching some pottery in her hands.
Pottery and Mask Painting downstairs
Downstairs in the garden is where most kids will come alive. Here there is a variety of activities associated with pottery.
You can select your own pot style and an artisan will then assist. Our eight-year old loved this activity. Not only do children get to dirty their hands in the squishy clay but when their masterpiece is done they can personalize it with their name and draw on their own design.
Or you can purchase pre-made pottery and masks to paint. All the masks come from Son Hau (a Vietnamese classical drama composed around the end of the 18th Century) so not only do you get your own souvenir you get your own little bit of theater history to take home.
Thanh Ha Terracotta Park Museum
The museum houses many ceramic pieces from ancient Vietnamese cultures as well as modern paintings and sculptures. Many of the exhibits are breathtaking and some pieces like the young girl cradling her dying lover genuinely moved me while others such as the row of contorted faces (that resembled yours truly in the mirror after a heavy drinking session) made us laugh out loud.
There’s humor, pathos and beauty within these walls and the tasteful displays of lighting with gentle pipe music adds to the visual beauty of the whole.
This relatively new museum is a wonderful insight into Hoi An’s history and the description on the center’s brochure (whilst hampered by Google Translate) really does sum up the ‘poetic ambience’ prevalent throughout the gallery: “At Thanh Ha Terracotta Museum you can see the dance of ceramics in jars, pots, stalls, statues, lanterns; the spirit and soul of the clay and can hear old stories and tales of ancestors. If you want you can sit down and find the soul of the land.”
Next up – the Pottery Village
In previous years Thanh Ha Pottery Village was the main attraction but due to massive tourism and the lure for the locals to make a fast buck, it isn’t quite what it once was. While we don’t suggest you bypass this attraction, we do urge you to make the Terracotta Museum your first port of call. Here you will find everything the pottery village offers and more.
Thanh Ha Pottery Village
Dating back to the 15th Century, this tiny village’s narrow alley ways on the water’s edge are a captivating step back in time to when life was slow and pottery was made without the aid of modern machinery.
As you walk around villagers will invite you into their workshops to try your hand at becoming a potter. We advise you to walk around to see all the village has to offer before succumbing to the first one you see.
It is free to make the pottery but villagers will ask you to buy a souvenir as payment. Pieces range from 20,000vnd up.
Maybe we went too late in the day but our Pottery Village experience was quite different to past times on this visit. Previously artisans took far more care assisting you as you tried to create the pot of your choice. This time it was a quick affair and the end result – compared to the pottery we walked away with on our last visit – was not very good.
However, it all still combined to make a great day out.
Cost of Entry
Adults need a ticket for visiting the Pottery Village. As prices have been known to change depending on the time of the year, call them in advance to check the prices.
Adult: 30.000 VND
Children over 1.2m: 15.000 VND
Children under 1.2m: Free
How To Get There
Taxi: the easiest way is by taxi 80,000vnd (approx.) from the Old Town. You may have to wait a while for a taxi back to your hotel. To avoid this get the number of the taxi driver who takes you out there and organize for him to pick you up. Alternatively, give him a time to pick you up. It took us around 3 hours to see all.
Bike: take Hung Vuong Street out of town until you can see the river clearly on your left. When you come to a fork in the road keep left. Continue for about 1 km and turn left at Pham Phan – the Terracotta Pottery Park and Pottery Village is about 15 meters further down on the right.