When visiting Vietnam, most people will usually think of the capital Hanoi in Northern Vietnam with its easy access to famed Ha Long Bay and Ho Chi Minh (also known as Saigon) in Southern Vietnam for its war-ridden history and culture. While both cities are historical, cultural, and teeming with popular tourist attractions, don’t overlook Central Vietnam either! Cities like Da Nang, Hoi An, and Hue are fast becoming just as alluring with their own picturesque scenery, local delicacies, and—dare I say it—Instagrammable sites. Here are 5 reasons why a trip to Central Vietnam should be on your itinerary:
While Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh’s museums offer many a tale of Vietnam’s sombre past, the once flourishing port city of Hoi An opens your eyes to the trade and day-to-day life and activities of the locals. The extremely well-preserved townhouses museums, temples, assembly halls, old-style shophouses are all within walking distance!
Hoi An’s riverside is also extremely popular with tourists, with many brightly coloured lanterns adorning the shops and restaurants in the area. Don’t forget to snap a photo (or two!) as you stroll along the river!
Hanoi wasn’t always the capital of Vietnam. The imperial city of Hue was once the proud bearer of the title before the revolution. Today, history and architecture buffs flock to Hue to get a glimpse of the many impressive tombs, temples, and colonial buildings that remain standing. It also doesn’t hurt that Hue is just a short drive away from Da Nang, Central Vietnam’s home base. You can definitely make a day trip out of a visit to this once grand city.
Search Ba Na Hills on Google and you’ll probably be raring to go once you see the photos. Ba Na Hills is a resort atop a hill (which you can reach by cable car) that was designed in the old European style. Think castles, spires, and turrets. You can find sites like the famous Golden Bridge, an amusement park complete with a rollercoaster, pagodas, a wine cellar, colourful gardens, and more here.
You can’t miss the popular sites like the Marble Mountains—a group of five mountains that are named after the natural elements. With cavernous temples hidden within the labyrinth of crags, it’s surely one for the books. The impressive views when you climb the mountains are also worth the physical strain.
My Son Sanctuary is Vietnam’s own version of Siem Reap’s Angkor Wat. This collection of temple ruins displays the unique architecture of the Cham people that dates all the way back to the 4th century.
Both sites are approximately an hour and a half away from Da Nang by car and can be visited in one day. While you can always rent a car and drive yourself, it is recommended going with a trusted tour supplier or agency who will be able to handle the logistics for you so you can enjoy yourself sans stress.
Need I say more? Sure, you’ll find the usual staples of phở, bánh mì, bánh xèo, and bún chả in Central Vietnam as well, but you’ll also have access to famous delicacies the area is known for that aren’t quite as plentiful in Hanoi or Saigon. Dishes like mì quảng, cao lầu, and bún thịt nướng are right up the Da Nang and Hoi An street vendors’ alleys. And if you’re looking for some choice eateries, restaurants like Mi Quang Ba Mua, Banh Xeo Ba Duong, Bep Cuon Da Nang, and Thien Ly Danang-Style are famous showstoppers for local cuisine.