Thanh Ha Pottery village (Pottery Village Hoi An) is the biggest example of passion, profession and art. The amazing creative pottery is an important mean of livelihood for the villagers. They love to welcome tourists and show them their master pieces to sell. This village is around 400 years old and the people working in the field for generations. It remained unknown until the Nguyen dynasty invited the people to show their crafts in the palace. The event of fashion and decorative pottery made the village popular to different places and the remaining fame it got from tourism. It is not an ordinary place with some typical things but a complete workshop of a huge variety of pottery. You will see a lot of decorative pottery in making and many pieces are getting painted or glazed. The designs are also distributed in the markets all over the Vietnam so you can also buy from there but in higher price.
To buy things directly, you do not have to go through a lot of hassle to reach the village where as you can easily get there by taxi, bike or scooter. Although a lot of tourists visit this place each year but this is not a tourist trap. It will remain in your mind because of its uniqueness and the hard work of the people. The clay for the crafts is collected from the river beds. The crafts from the pottery village Hoi An are distributed around the world but some designs are only available in the village.
Charges of Thanh Ha Pottery village (Pottery Village Hoi An)
Thanh ha pottery village has a museum, temple and park.
Village entrance fees 35,000 VND
Museum and park entrance fees 40,000 VND (Park timings 8:00 am to 5:30 m daily
Combined ticket for all of the places including the village entrance is 70,000 VND.
Lifestyle of the locals
The small beautiful village is knowns as a “living museum” because of the hundred years old pottery pieces among the collections. Lifestyle of the village people is very simple with small simple river front homes with the kilns in the back yards, two-man pottery wheel (that is still used in the village), the kilns are very simple ovens made of red bricks. The environment of the village has a mix smell of wet clay and cooking pottery. The entire place is very creative and enhance the experience of the pottery making workshops which invite everyone to try their hands on the crafts.
How the village works
There is a ticket booth on the right of the village entrance where the tickets are sold for adults and the kids are free to enter. Everyone can freely explore the workshops and crafts displaying areas. While you explore the place to see the people working on the potter’s wheel, the people invite you inside to watch. You can also try using the potter’s wheel and after that take your crafts with you. It is for free but you can give a little tip. The uncooked clay creations are very cheap priced and you can straight away decorate them in your home.
The village is a small cluster of houses on the riverside that looks very cute. The houses are made of wood among them some are very old and some are new and modern. Due to the river, village gets flooded after every few years and the houses get repaired or reconstructed. The people remain happy with the river because it helps them to ship the products and raw materials. Apart from the pottery, villagers build the boats and do fishing for food.
Pottery lessons for everyone
Sometimes the villagers call you to try the pottery making or sometimes you can ask them. There are electric potter’s wheel at some places and some are foot powered. The villagers are very kind and friendly so they love to share their heritage with the guests. You can also try new shapes and designs for fun.
How to get to pottery village Hoi An
The Quang Nam province is the home to the pottery village. It is located in the west of the old town of Hoi An alongside the Thu Bon river. You can easily get taxi or a bike to get to the pottery village and can park the rented bike anywhere for free. There are many boats at the river to take the tourists to the village. It is at the bank of one of the tributaries of Thu Bon river so you can find it very easily. When you get closer you will recognize the place by the burning smell of the kiln. The smell is very strong because almost every house has a kiln made of red bricks. The village was established in the 16th century and the people started using their traditional techniques of pottery so some of the houses are very old and you can easily point out the ancient ones.
The other way to explore the village is booking a tour from local agents and leaving the rest on the agency. You can easily find and book a guided tour online as well. Exploring the village without the guided tour group is more interesting because you can roam around freely and explore by yourself. It is a must thing to do especially if you are travelling with kids. They are going to fall in love with everything because of the activities and surroundings. Everything is very low priced and very affordable even for the families.
When to visit Thanh ha pottery village
The time of the entire trip of the village is from three to four hours, if you do not want to spend a long time in activities and shopping. Sometimes tourists remain there for long so they do not close the village until 6:00 pm. The best time to enjoy are the mornings of weekdays to avoid crowds because most of the tour groups start coming at 3:00 pm. You will still find some non-crowded places in the village though. Try to get your own portable fan, although villagers have them in their sheds but having your own one can help you a lot.
Exporting pottery worldwide
The craft of pottery flourished through the ages because it was transferred to generations of the villagers. They were asked to create some master pieces for the Nguyen Dynasty palace from where the word spread. People from different countries started buying from them. As the development occurred the village found new ways of exporting the products. They distribute their products from Thua Thien Hue to Binh Dinh provinces and different countries like Japan, China and Spain. Hoi An trading port make it easy for the people to ship their local crafts. You can visit the Museum of trade crafts to see the evolution and creativity of the style of the potters.
Process of Thanh Ha Pottery
Traditional methods are used to create pottery like clay mixing, molding and using potter’s wheel, burning and baking. The clay is taken from rice paddies and river beds according to the need. Farmers of the rice paddies remove the clay from fields and give it to the village. Potters keep adding water in the clay for several days and cover it to retain moisture. After the clay become ready they craft it with hands and give it the best design. For example, there is a pitcher and they have crafted it. It will be left in the sunshine for several days to dry completely. After the drying they put it in the kiln. The baking time depends on the size, color and texure of the clay. Sometimes the heating time is intentionally changed to make the pottery change its color like pink, red, brown or jet black.
The pottery is unique and durable because of the quality of clay they use. You will see the stmap of the artist under the pot. Some typical designs are available in the market with the stamp of “made in Vietnam” but they are of a little lesser quality and they are also available in the village. The main pottery collections of the artists are very fine.
Thanh Ha Terracotta Park
The terracotta park is the master piece of the Lilliputian display of the wonders of the world. This is not like an ordinary sculpture display in a garden whereas you will recognize a lot of things differently and easily. There are different architectural things like Taj Mahal, Sydney Opera House, Lady Liberty and leaning tower of Pisa. Some other things which some people might not familiar of are St. Peter’s Palace, Temple of heaven China, Notre Dame De Paris and more. You will find rustic landscapes in the wall telling the history of the ancestral crafts of the village. They are like the stories of struggle and hard work. There are many crafts in the village which are hundreds of years’ old, remaining in the families of the ancient crafters. You will find some hundred years old pieces in the park as well. Most of the things have the signs to not touch to prevent the damage of the delicate parts. However, you can touch some of them with the “touchable” to get the real feeling of the pottery.
The Thanh Ha Pottery Museum
Thanh Ha pottery museum is a new place that was created in 2015 to keep the ancient crafts of the village well protected. It is an open air building with two storey distributed among the workshop, history, gallery, gift shop, terracotta market and many more. Kids enjoy more downstairs because of the smashing, mask painting and pottery making activities. They can keep their favorites. The activity prices are as low as 2 USD so everyone can easily enjoy that.
The museum has many precious pottery pieces as well like the Ceramics of ancient Vietnamese culture, paintings and a variety of sculptures. There are different architectural things also displayed like small bridges, buildings, open air, crannies and more. The workshops and the kilns also have the sculptured heads of the pottery founders who faced plaques and other conditions but kept their heritage alive. This is like a living story place where you can learn about the history of the village.
Free Pottery Lessons
Apart from making pottery the people has many other professions which are needed for the society. However, some of them learn to teach the pottery. When you get to a workshop you can ask them to teach you some pottery techniques and they do that and ask you to buy something from them instead of paying for the course. You will find something amazing everywhere in the village in very low price so it is not a big deal to get a, incense burner, terracotta ash tray, pot, jar or a piggy bank.
There is a G.O.M café at the end of the village where you can sit and enjoy some snack alongside the river. They give you a complimentary clay whistle when you buy from them.