Hue is perhaps the most evocative and poetic city to be visited on a Vietnam holiday: poised on the banks of the Perfume River, and home to the ‘Forbidden Purple City’. A visit to Hue will revolve around the fascinating Imperial walled City which you can cycle to and imbibe the eerie but elegant feel amongst the stone statues, softly trickling lotus ponds, and tombs of emperors including the most famous, Tu Doc. After this, a boat-trip down the Perfume River is highly recommended: drifting past the imposing royal mausoleums and seven storey Thien Mu pagoda, before indulging in the refined, often vegetarian, and spicy cuisine that’s unique to Hue.
Area Highlights: Imperial City, Thien Mu Pagoda, Mieu Temple, Thanh Toan Bridge, Perfume River, Bach Ma National Park
Area Activities: Golf
Not far from Hoi An in central Vietnam, the beach city of Da Nang lies alongside the Han River and was one of the first major ports to be colonised by the French in the 19th century. With its picturesque white sand beaches, and sophisticated café culture, Da Nang offers the perfect breather whilst exploring the tourist trail on a Vietnam holiday. As well as relaxing on Da Nang’s famous China Beach with the Marble Mountains in the background, visitors can stroll along the elegant tree-lined boulevards beside the Han riverfront; sit back with iced coffees, pastries, and gelato whilst watching life on the river.
Area Highlights: Beaches, Golf, Dragon Bridge, Son Tra (Monkey) Mountain
Area Activities: Golf
The prettiest of all Vietnam’s towns, world heritage Hoi An was a major harbour for merchants in the 16th century, and now lolls sleepily beside the Thu Bon River with its Chinese-style wooden shop-houses, narrow streets lined with lanterns, and some of the most exciting cuisine to be sampled on a Vietnam holiday. Wandering this chocolate box town is a dream for photographers, and the first stop for many will be the dragon adorned medieval bridge. Visitors can cycle along the waterfront and stop off for a Saigon beer at the laid-back cafes; pop into some of the world’s best tailors or take a relaxed river cruise down the Thu Bon River. By night things are particularly peaceful, with the tantalising aroma of freshly made pancakes, bubbling pork broth, shrimp dumplings, and sumptuous pastries luring the visitor in at every turn.
Area Highlights: Photography, Cycling, History, Tailors, Nostalgia
Area Activities: Authentic Hoi An City Tour, Escape Hoi An Bike Tour, Escape Hoi An Bike Tour, Food & Cooking Tour in Hoi An, Hoi An Fishing Adventure, Hoi An Photography Tours, Vietnam Life Cycling Tour,
Around an hour from Hoi An in central Vietnam, the UNESCO world heritage site of My Son is sometimes compared to Cambodia’s Angkor Wat temple complex. Dating from between the 4th and 13th centuries, My Son was the capital of the Champa Kingdom, and its origins in Indian Hinduism are present in the remaining red sandstone temples which honour Krishna, Visnu, and Shiva. It’s also interesting to see the temples which were used as bases by the Viet Cong, and generally enjoy this peaceful setting beneath the Marble Mountains which is visited only by a select view.
Area Highlights: History, Architecture
Area Activities: My Son Sanctuary Tour
The Vietnamese Demilitarized Zone is the strip of land which from 1954 to 1975 provided the border between Communist North and the US-backed South. Having endured some of the most intense fighting in the world, the DMZ forms a sobering but fascinating part of a Vietnam holiday, and whether the visitor is an avid military historian, or simply wants to experience the region on a visceral level, it’s a must for most travellers. The DMZ can be explored on a day-trip from Hue, or – for those wanting a more in depth understanding – by spending a night in Dong Ha. It is vital to have a good guide in the DMZ, preferably one who experienced the conflict first-hand, as he or she can provide a context to the largely fragmentary sites, and also steer you well away from the extremely rare but still evident ordnance remnants.
Area Highlights: History, Conflict