Imagine an area where the luring history of Vietnam combines with the backdrop of cool highland mountains and even the bright blue oceans of the China Sea. Imagine no more because Central Vietnam is about to become a reality!
You’ll probably be wondering, isn’t Central Vietnam a vast region, compromising the North Central Coast, South Central Coast and the Central Highlands? Yes, it is. But a lot of the sites, towns and cities that will make you Central Vietnam experience one to remember are all within easy reach of each other, thanks to some of the sites very close proximity to each other and good travel connections.
It is always nice to start your Central Vietnam experience with a bit of UNESCO flavor. If there’s one (or three) things Central Vietnam is known for, it is for its Hue-Hoi An-My Son collection of various heritage sites. Each one presents different aspects and eras of historical Vietnam and absorbing the country’s heritage from these places is a great way to begin your Central Vietnam experience.
Most entries into Central Vietnam will start off from the port city of Danang. Vietnam’s fifth most populous; it is conveniently located to the previous mentioned UNESCO sites, being only about 100 kilometers or less from all three. The city is also a preview of what to expect in terms of geography, flanked by mountains on one side and the South China Sea on the other.
The tourism sector is a vital component of Da Nang’s economy. As mentioned before, people will make a stop here to visit those three places. However, this doesn’t take away from the port city itself. There are still things to see and do here.
- Marble Mountains – These are five limestone formations just outside of the city itself. You can very well climb one of these summits and enjoy the scenic views from top (imagine a bird’s eye view of the sea, mountain and the city). Some pagodas and temples exist in these hills. They are also home to various artisans producing sculpture and artwork at its base.
- Cham Museum – This could very well be your preview of My Son. The Champa may not be your prototypical ancient Vietnamese civilization, but they are integral to the country’s history. Relive those moments here.
- Ba Na Hills – This is another preview of what’s to come. Sometimes called the Dalat of Danang, you’ll surely enjoy the views from up here, 1487 meters above sea level. The place is also much cooler than the resort of the area, so head on up if you need some relief!
Next stop Hoi An, the first of three UNESCO Heritage sites we’ll cover. The town’s extra appeal is its position on the beach, making it an ideal end to an itinerary of Chinese shop houses exploration. If you want to head back in time and get a feel of how life was back then, this is it. In fact the area has been largely preserved and is almost absent of modern concrete buildings and structures. Afterwards, feel free to sample some nice seafood at either Cua Dai or An Bang Beach and relax in the quiet beach atmosphere. These experiences are the main draw for Hoi An.
Continuing with the historical theme we’ve put together here, Hue naturally makes it the next stop on this Central Vietnam expedition. This is the former capital of the Nguyen Dynasty, an area rich in Imperial character. The main draw(s) here? Flowing down the Perfume River and visiting these emperors firsthand! That’s right, their tombs and mausoleums are attractions, and impressed by them you will be! Also included in the Hue experience is a stop at the Citadel, the former stronghold of the dynasty and an impressive piece of architecture as well. Just one more note; the Perfume River is perfume by nature too! In autumn, leaves drop down to the water, giving the river a nice and pleasant aroma.
Last but not least in your UNESCO Heritage discovery is My Son. These are the famous Champa ruins developed between the 4th and 13th centuries. Along with Angkor in Cambodia, Borobudur in Indonesia and Ayutthaya in Thailand, these set of ruins spices up the imagination of what life was like back in the old days, as well as providing an atmospheric ruined site today amidst a tropical fauna.
Let’s head over to our next destination in Central Vietnam, Dalat. If you want Europe in Asia, this place sure is it. It is sometimes referred to as the French Alps in Vietnam, and you’d surely agree upon stepping foot here. A lot of the structures are built along the veins of colonial France, all set in a wonderful environment of pine trees, lakes and hills in the background. Temperatures are also much cooler up here, pleasantly warm by day, and a bit chilly at night, down to perhaps 10 degrees Celsius. And yes, the French fled up here for these very reasons, they missed home.
Who would fancy a trip to Dalat? Romantics would sure love it here. The lakes, the pine trees, the cool weather, the street lining cafes, the colonial décor, well, you get the picture. Golfers, prepare for some world-class experiences. Swing for the cup at the renowned Dalat Palace Golf Club.
What is a trip without a pure beach break to cap things off? Central Vietnam also includes Nha Trang, the country’s main hub for everything beach and ocean. To further add to the city’s appeal, several waterfalls are just outside the city.
Now that you’re in the central parts of the country, why not soak up the entire country and go for the Absolute Vietnam experience? Starting in the south, you’ll make your way up north, experiencing the Central wonders along the way. At the end of the tour, you may think that 20 days does not do justice to fully experience the country. If so, then combine it with one of our Vietnam tours.
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