Duc An old house at 129 Tran Phu st, it isn’t overrun with travellers or souvenir sellers. Its owner, Mr Phan Ngoc Tram – a direct descendant of the founding family – claims that’s because he dislike other historic house owners, he has resisted the temptation to give over his floorspace to souvenir selling.
art of the appeal of Duc An’s House is that it’s the only old house in Hoi An that makes a genuine effort to present some real history. And if you’re fortunate enough to meet the eccentric Mr Tram, he’ll regale you with plenty of tales.
The property has been inhabited by the same family for over 400 years though the present house was built in 1850. It became the most successful bookshop in central Vietnam selling famous Vietnamese and Chinese texts as well as the works of foreign political thinkers like Rousseau and Voltaire. Early Vietnamese non-violent independence advocate Phan Chu Trinh was a regular at the house. A nearby major street is named after him as are streets throughout the country.
In the early twentieth century the house was a Chinese medicine dispensary. Soon after, it became the centre of anti French activity in Hoi An. Previous resident Mr Cao Hong Lanh was later decorated by the Communist government and the house contains many images of the now deceased Mr Lanh’s revolutionary past and visits from Communist Party luminaries including national hero, General Vo Nguyen Giap.