Thanh Ha Pottery Village is proof that even if you try, you cannot get bored in Hoi An. After biking around the Old Town, exploring the local markets and the rice fields or enjoying a good book on the beach, there are still lots of things to do in Hoi An.
One often-missed highlight is to head to Thanh Ha and put your imagination to the test by trying to make a piece of pottery by yourself. Here is a complete guide to Thanh Ha Pottery Village, including the best time to visit and things you should not miss when going there like the Terracotta Park and Museum.
Thanh Ha Pottery Village
What is Thanh Ha Pottery Village?
For the Vietnamese people, pottery represents an important means of livelihood, not just a form of art and Thanh Ha Pottery Village is one of the best examples. It is a unique place where everything is manually crafted from terracotta clay taken from nearby riverbeds and shipped worldwide.
Nowadays, millions of tourists seeking an authentic hands-on experience explore the Pottery Village every year. It is a living museum where you can interact with Vietnamese artists living there and learn about their lifestyle and their work but you can also put your talent to a test and see how handy you are around clay.
Those who want to visit Thanh Ha will be happy to hear that the village is equipped with all kinds of activities for visitors including a museum with ever-changing exhibits and history, pottery-making workshops, a temple, and hands-on pottery-making experiences.
Where is Thanh Ha Pottery Village?
The Pottery Village is located in the Thanh Ha ward of Quang Nam province, just off one of the tributaries of the Thu Bon River, which is about 3 kms (2 miles) from the Old Town of Hoi An. It is very easy to get to the village and you can visit it by yourself every day of the week. In order to get there, you can ride a bicycle, grab a taxi or a boat.
Riding a bike is one of the best ways to get to Thanh Ha because the ride is a lovely pedal, alongside the Thu Bon River that takes less than half an hour. On the way there, make a few stops to take in the surroundings.
In order to reach it, you have to take Hung Vuong Street out of town until you see the river on your left. After that, continue for about another 1 km and turn left at Pham Phan – the Terracotta Pottery Park and Pottery Village are about 15 meters further down on the left. Once there, you can either park your bike along the fence or ride around the village, if you don’t fancy walking.
If you want to save your energy for exploring the Pottery Village, you can easily call a taxi, which should cost less than 80.000 VND (3.50 USD), one way. Make it easy for yourself and download the Grab app which will let you call one in a few seconds and pay online via credit card.
Lastly, if you want to treat yourself, you can take a private boat from the Old Town in Hoi An to Thanh Ha Pottery Village. The boats leave at all times of the day from along the river in the Old Town then head downstream, giving visitors a unique view of Hoi An. If you make your way down the Bach Dang Street, from the Central Market towards the famous Japanese Bridge, you’ll see dozens of boats lined up on both sides of the river. Prices are negotiable, but they usually start around 100,000 – 150,000 VND/person.
A more comfortable option would be to book a tour that includes hotel pick up and drop off, along with a personal tour guide. There are plenty of tours you can choose from and they all include multiple sights, but the most common one is the one that takes you by boat on a journey that makes a first stop in the Thanh Ha Pottery Village and then goes on to the Kim Bong Carpentry Village. This kind of tour usually lasts about 4 hours and prices start at 700,000 VND (30 USD) per person.
History of Thanh Ha
It is believed that artisans from the Thanh Ha province settled in Hoi An at the beginning of the 16th century. Since then, they practiced their traditional craft and handed it down through the generations. Even though the villagers have been making beautiful artwork for about 500 years, Thanh Ha was put on the map during the time of the Nguyen Dynasty, when craftsmen were invited to fashion some decorative articles for the palace.
Nowadays, the products made by the villagers serve the daily lives of the native people in domestic markets. The pottery products include bowls, jars, pots, animal shapes, in all forms and colors, and they are lighter than the same products in other places. But economically, these days the village is sustained primarily through exports and by tourism.
Things to do at Thanh Ha Pottery Village
Thanh Ha Terracotta Park
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, the 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.
Everybody loves a good sculpture park and Thanh Ha Terracotta Park might be one of the best ones out there. Take your time and walk around trying to name as many sculptures as you can. While you will probably recognize Taj Mahal, the Leaning Tower of Pisa or the Statue of Liberty, others may not be so easy to name. Put your knowledge to the test and have fun!
Thanh Ha Pottery Museum was founded in 2015 and tells the story of the pottery founders, the progression of their craft and also features exhibits of all kinds. It is the house of many ceramic pieces from ancient Vietnamese cultures as well as modern paintings and sculptures.
It is a new, well-kept open-air building, full of activities for people of all ages so if you have kids, make sure to bring them along, as they will enjoy it just as much. Inside the building you will find a workshop, gallery, history, the terracotta market, gift shop and more (see more below).
Make sure you do not leave the village before trying your hand at becoming a potter! You might actually enjoy it and take it up as a hobby (or even a profession) in the future! As you will be walking around the village, people will kindly invite you into their workshop to make your own masterpiece. The lessons itself are free of charge, although the artisans will ask you to buy a souvenir in return, which is more than fair. With prices ranging from 20,000 VND (0.8c USD) up, you can have as many lessons as you like.
Guided Tours of Thanh Ha Pottery Village
Even though you can easily explore Thanh Ha Pottery Village by yourself, you can opt for a guided tour if you wish to learn more about this unique place. There are a lot of tours you can choose from and many of them include other exciting activities around Hoi An. Prices range between 500,000 VND (21 USD) and 1.200.000 VND (51 USD) depending on the length of it and the number or activities that are included.
You can visit Thanh Ha Pottery Village all year round, from 8 am to 5.30 pm, but try to go mid-week so you can avoid the crowds taking over the village. Also, try to get there early, as it can get very hot and humid in the afternoon, especially in the summer time.
Recommended if you have kids
Inside, the terracotta 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 – they’ll be much happier in the museum with their own creation in their 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. 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 are genuinely moving while others such as the row of contorted faces will make you 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.
Child Policy (Terracotta Museum)
Children over 1.2m: 15.000 VND
Children under 1.2m: Free
Looking for something fun to do with your children? Check out this guide to the best children’s activities in Hoi An.