DIY / Art & Craft /

Lantern Making Hoi An, Pho Hoi

Updated July 2022

My fascination with lantern making in Hoi An began when I was just a small child. I loved staring at my dad’s old photo of the city’s famous lanterns lighting up the night sky. After four different trips to Hoi An I’ve purchased countless of these little globes of magic as gifts. But today, I get to make my very own lantern at one of the best value  lantern-making Hoi An workshops in town, Pho Hoi Lantern Workshop.

Located in a traditional yellow house built over a century ago, Pho Hoi Lantern Workshop Hoi An is run by Hai. Hai starts our afternoon off with a quick tour of his family home, where he introduces me to two of his finest artisans: his mom and aunt. I marvel at the explosion of colorful fabric and bamboo frames sitting at their feet.

A Lantern History

According to Hai, Hoi An wasn’t always filled with the lanterns we’re used to seeing today. Instead, the first lanterns were Chinese in origin and style. About 30 years ago, an artisan began developing the modern Hoi An lantern to boost tourism and create jobs. Hai tells me his family joined the trade almost two decades ago.

Let’s Get to Crafting!

We begin our lantern making Hoi An class with a step-by-step demonstration of how to craft an onion-shaped lantern. After each set of instructions, Hai and his assistant Van make sure to stop, allowing me plenty of time to practice. Gluing and cutting straight lines were never my strong points, so Hai and Van, thank you for all of your patience!

Hai’s lantern making Hoi An class is quite popular with families, expats, and tourists alike. Some expat children take regular lantern making lessons at the shop. Hai proudly pulls out his phone to show me lanterns made by a student who just turned 5. “She made these all by herself,” he exclaims. “She even painted flowers!” Typically, a lantern making class takes about one hour, but if you don’t mind staying longer, you can paint your lantern too and make it all the more special.

From a selection of over 20 colors, I ended up picking a combination of yellow and blue for my lantern. It’s worth noting that it’s quite difficult to purchase a lantern with different colored panels in town. Typically, they’re made from only one choice of colored fabric. So, my little guy is indeed one of a kind!

Halfway through our lesson, Hoi An treats us to a full hour of pounding rain. Finally, a quick respite from the humidity and heat! As I watch the raindrops come tumbling down, I snap a few photos with my finished lantern and tell Hai I’ll be back.

I think I’ve just discovered the perfect place to hide out for an afternoon.

Price: 160,000 vnd

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