in culture and heritage, Hue was the capital of
Vietnam under the Nguyen Emperors from 1802 to
1945 and a centre for both religion and education.
Today it is a UNESCO World Heritage site and one
of the principal cities of interest in Vietnam
for visitors.The Perfume River flows through the
centre of the city and several attractions are
found nearby, including the Citadel and Forbidden
Purple City, modelled on Beijing’s Forbidden
City, and the Thien Mu Pagoda, a symbol of Hue.
Further out of town are the elegant tombs of the
Nguyen Emperors who ruled over Hue in its heyday.
Cruising down the Perfume River in a dragon boat
is a timeless way to visit these historic sites.
Gia Long began construction of the massive, moated
Imperial Citadel in 1804 and even after the devestation
of the Vietnam war, there is much to see today
in the Imperial Enclosure, the centre of the original
citadel. Inside the complex are a number of lively
displays regarding imperial life in Vietnam, but
sadly little remains of the Forbidden City.Just
beyond the walls of the Imperial Enclosure are
several museums, including the excellent Imperial
Museum, housed in a stunning Vietnamese building
from the 19th century
throughout Vietnam, the Thien Mu Pagoda is a classic
seven-storey structure dating from 1844, although
originally a pagoda was first built here in 1601.
A boat trip down the Perfume River to this elegant
structure is a quintessential experience while
of Emperor Ming Mang
the most graceful of the tombs around Hue is of
Ming Mang, an exquisite blend of architecture
and nature. Ming Mang ruled from 1820 to 1840
and this is certainly the most important of the
tombs to visit when in Hue.
of Emperor Tu Duc
tomb of Tu Duc is a beautiful and serence place,
set amid scented pines and flowering trees. Interesting
features here include a number of diminutive statues
of mandarins (they had to be shorter than the
very short king), and a huge stone tablet weighing
20 tonnes. On it is written the history of Tu
Duc’s reign, the good and the bad, all drafted
by the Emperor himself before he died.
in the area include those of Dong Khanh, Thieu Tri,
Khai Dinh and Gia Long.
is one of Vietnam’s most dynamic cities
and the economic hub of central Vietnam. Hue to
the north and Hoi An to the south tend to overshadow
Danang as far as tourists are concerned, but with
new international links to neighbouring countries
such as Cambodia (Angkor), Laos (Luang Prabang)
and Thailand, it looks set to emerge as the undisputed
gateway to this popular part of Vietnam.The most
important attraction in the city itself is the
Cham Museum, housing the most important collection
of Cham sculpture and stelae found anywhere in
the world. A visit here is a fantastic introduction
to the legacy of the Cham civilisation as many
of their temples dot the region, including the
most impressive of all My Son, which can be visited
as a day trip from Hoi An.
Beach is justly famous as one of the most beautiful
stretches of coast in Vietnam. Popular with US soldiers
during the American war in Vietnam, today it welcomes
huge numbers of sunseekers and surfers. It is also
home to Vietnam’s first 5-star resort, the
Furama. The beach stretches southwards all the way
to Hoi An and is set to develop rapidly.
An is Vietnam’s most enchanting town, an
ancient trading port of narrow streets, historic
buildings, fine food and abundant shops. The influence
of many countries can be seen as you wander the
streets at leisure, including the Chinese, Japanese,
French, Portuguese and, of course, the Vietnamese.
Great efforts are being made to preserve the town
for future generations and cars have been banned
from the most popular streets, a pleasant shock
for those on foot.There are many important sights
in compact Hoi An and all can be explored on foot.
The most popular destinations include the Japanese
Covered bridge, dating from 1593, a number of
historic Chinese merchant houses preserved in
their original 19th century state, such as Tan
Ky House and 77 Tran Phu, and several important
congregation halls originally established by Chinese
immigrants to the port of Faifo as it was then
known. However, while its sights are wonderful
and its charm undeniable, for many the real highlights
of Hoi An are its tastes and its bargains. There
are many regional specialities from Central Vietnam
that can be sampled cheaply in Hoi An, including
fresh seafood dishes at lively riverside restaurants.
But shopping tops most people’s lists and
items for sale include original paintings, fake
antiques and painted lacquerware. Even more popular
than these items are tailor-made clothes, sewn
up with skill by the huge number of tailors that
operate in the town. Most have extensive catalogues
of leading fashion designers and can prepare an
Armani suit or Gucci two-piece in less than 24
tropical beach stretches from the coast at Hoi An
northwards to Danang and is the perfect place to
relax after a long day shopping or sightseeing.
It can be reached easily by bicycle from Hoi An,
or for those who prefer life near the water, there
are now three major resorts here to help you unwind.
Mountains, a cluster of limestone hills north
of Hoi An, are said to represent the five elements
of water, wood, earth, metal and fire. There are
many legends associated with these mountains and
they have become a holy place of pilgrimage for
Vietnamese. There are several large caves in the
largest mountain of Thuy Son, each containing
Buddhist shrines and sanctuaries where once before
they contained Hindu idols from Cham devotees.
This area has become a centre for marble production
in Vietnam and marble carvings of every shape
and size can be purchased in nearby villages.
under the shadow of Cat’s Tooth Mountain
are the remains of the ancient Cham temples of
My Son, dating from the 4th to 13th centuries.
There are several important sanctuaries here labelled
rather unexcitingly as A, B, C and so on. There
is, however, a certain magic to the site with
the rolling mountains all around and the small
streams flowing between these fine buildings.
This city is considered the Cham counterpart to
Angkor in Cambodia and Bagan in Burma.
interesting destinations around central Vietnam
that make great excursions from either Hue or
Hoi An, include include the redeveloped hill stations
of Bach Ma near Hue and Ba Na near Danang. Both
offer fresh air, crumbling buildings and fine
views. For those with a keen interest in the American
War in Vietnam, there are several interesting
places in the old Demilitarised Zone to the north-west
of Hue, including former US base Khe Sanh, the
so-called Hamburger Hill and the Ho Chi Minh Trail.