Middle of Vietnam

HUE – DA NANG – HOI AN

I. HUE

Area: 70.99 sq. km

Population: 1,090,000 (2011)

Administrative Division:

– Wards: Phu Nhuan, An Cuu, Truong An, Phuoc Vinh, Vinh Ninh, Phu Hoi, Xuan Phu, Vy Da, Tay Loc, Thuan Loc, Thuan Thanh, Thuan Hoa, Kim Long, Phu Hoa, Phu Cat, Phu Hiep, Phu Hau, Phu Binh, Phu Thuan, Phuong Duc, Huong So, An Hoa, An Dong, An Tay, Huong Long, Thuy Xuan, Thuy Bieu.

– Ethnic groups: Viet (Kinh)

The city of Hue covers an area of 70.99 sq. km with the population of nearly 1,010,000 people (2011). There are totally 27 wards in the city: Phu Nhuan, An Cuu, Truong An, Phuoc Vinh, Vinh Ninh, Phu Hoi, Xuan Phu, Vy Da, Tay Loc, Thuan Loc, Thuan Thanh, Thuan Hoa, Kim Long, Phu Hoa, Phu Cat, Phu Hiep, Phu Hau, Phu Binh, Phu Thuan, Phuong Duc, Huong So, An Hoa, An Dong, An Tay, Huong Long, Thuy Xuan, and Thuy Bieu. Most of the citizens are the Kinh people.

Hue used to be the capital of Vietnam during the Nguyen Dynasty, from 1802 to 1945. The vestiges of the past still remains today. Coming to the city alongside the Perfume River, visitors will be amazed by the spectacular beauty and high cultural value of the monuments, tombs, and pagodas.

Thanks to the significant value, the complex monuments of the Imperial Citadel of Hue and the Imperial Court Music have been designated as UNESCO World Cultural Heritage. The city then gains its reputation as a cultural and religious center of Vietnam in particular and Southeast Asian in general.

HIGHLIGHTS OF HUE

The Imperial Citadel of Hue

It is a complex monument which was built during the 19th century. The Citadel of Hue is actually a walled fortress and palace with impressive architecture. The construction of that massive monument involved in more than a thousand of workers and huge volume of burden workload. With the well-preserved architecture, that site was made a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage in 2003 and have attracted a large amount of tourists since then.

The Imperial City of Hue contains of two main parts: the Citadel and the Forbidden City. The Forbidden City is where emperors and the loyal family lived and worked whereas the Citadel is to protect it.

Address: Thuan Hanh Ward

Opening hour: Everyday, 7:30 a.m – 5:30 p.m

Entrance fee: VND 150,000/person

Emperor tombs

Another worth-visiting place is the complex of Emperor Tombs, including Gia Long Tomb, Minh Mang Tomb, Khai Dinh Tomb, and Tu Duc Tomb. Each tomb represents different viewpoints of the Nguyen Emperors. Visiting the tombs, history lovers will have a chance to explore the life and viewpoints of the Emperors. These relics are also parts of the Citadel – a World Cultural Heritage.

Opening hour: Everyday, 7:30 a.m – 5:30 p.m

Entrance fee: VND 55,000/person

Thien Mu Pagoda

As a religious center of Central Vietnam, Hue has a lot of temples and pagodas. The most famous among them is Thien Mu Pagoda on the Northern bank of Perfume River. Its alluring beauty is a huge attraction to visitors.

Located in the foot of Ha Khe Hill, Thien Mu Pagoda (Linh Mu Pagoda) is just about 5km from the city center of Hue. Built in the 17th century, it is considered the oldest pagoda in Thua Thien Hue province. Though having been restored many times, the pagoda still remains its ancient look. There are some notable architectural works such as Phuoc Duyen Tower, Dai Hung Shrine and Dia Tang Shrine. Visiting Thien Mu Pagoda, tourists will immerse their souls in pagoda sightseeing and go into the pure and majestic space, which cannot be seen in bustling cities.

Address: Kim Long Road, Huong Long Ward, Perfume River

Opening hour: Everyday, 7.30 am – 5.30 pm

Entrance fee: Free

Tha Om Garden House

On the way to Thien Mu pagoda, Tha Om Garden House is a worth-visiting destination where visitors can not only hear the stories about the history of Vietnam but also try the finest Hue dishes. It is a sophisticated garden with lotus ponds and pavilions, creating an unforgettable memory for travelers of the traditional Hue residence harmonizing with an extraordinarily delicious Vietnamese dinner.

Address: 12/12 Nguyen Phuc Nguyen Street

Entrance fee: From VND 100.000 – VND 300.000

Opening hour: everyday, 8.00 am – 10.00 pm

Thanh Toan Village

Located in Thuy Thanh Commune, Thanh Toan Village is among the most beautiful villages in Hue. Visitors love to ride bicycle around the village to watch the tranquil scenery of a Vietnamese village as well as visit some interesting destinations. Thanh Toan tile-roofed bridge, the communal houses, and clan worshipping houses are great to pay a visit. Also, traditional festivals are perfect to join in.

Address: Thuy Thanh Commune, Huong Thuy Ward

Opening hour: Everyday

Entrance fee: Free

Lang Co Beach

After discovering the history and culture of Hue, here comes the time for relaxing. Lang Co Beach is regarded one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. With more than 10 kilometers of coastline, Lang Co has soft white sand-bank and turquoise sea water, which is a huge appeal to travelers. It is wonderful to dive into the cool water there.

The beach is even more attractive when it is located closely to some sightseeing spots and cultural sites, namely Bach Ma National Park, Hue Citadel and Da Nang City. It is a perfect stop during your travel.

Address: Thuy Thanh Commune, Huong Thuy Ward

Opening Hour: Everyday

Entrance Fee: Free

II. DA NANG

Area: 1,283.4 sq. km

Population: 926,000 (2010)

Administrative divisions:

– Urban districts: Hai Chau, Thanh Khe, Son Tra, Ngu Hanh Son, Lien Chieu, Cam Le.

– Rural districts: Hoa Vang, Hoang Sa.

Ethnic groups: Viet (Kinh), Hoa, Co Tu, Tay…

Da Nang has an area of 1,283.4 sq.km with more than 926,000 citizens (2010). It consists of 6 urban districts (Hai Chau, Thanh Khe, Son Tra, Ngu Hanh Son, Lien Chieu, and Cam Le), 1 rural districts (Hoa Vang), and 1 island district (Hoang Sa). The majority of population is Kinh people; additionally, there are some ethnic groups such as Hoa, Co Tu, and Tay.

The history of Da Nang dates back to the ancient Champa Kingdom, which was established by Indonesian settlers in 192 AD. Champa Kingdom used to be a prosperous nation, but due to the expansion of the Chinese, Vietnamese, and Khmer led to the fall of the Kingdom in the 15th century.

Da Nang is now a major economic and service center of Vietnam. Surrounded by the marvelous Truong Son Mountain Range and the East Coast, the city possesses several tourist attractions.

HIGHLIGHTS OF DA NANG

Marble Mountains

Marble Mountains is a should-see in Da Nang. Also known as “Ngu Hanh Son”, these mountains are a cluster of five marble and limestone hills located just about 7km to the south of Da Nang city center. The mountains are named after five elements of the ancient oriental philosophy, which are metal, wood, water, fire, and earth. There are plenty of marvelous tunnels, caves, and Buddhist sanctuaries to explore. Also, the caves were formerly the hiding places and important bases of Vietnamese army during the Vietnam War. Marble Mountains is perfect for those wanting to climb up high to take a bird’s eye view of the bustling yet beautiful Da Nang city.

Address: Hoa Hai Ward, Ngu Hanh Son District

Opening hour: Everyday

Entrance fee: Around VND 15,000/guest

Champa Sculpture Art Museum

The Museum was built in 1915 and is the world’s largest collection of Cham sculpture. Regardless of its significant value in culture and history, that museum is recommended in lists of where to see in Da Nang.

Cham Sculpture Art Museum displays an extensive sculpture collection of Champa nation, which was a matriarchal society in the Middle of Vietnam dating from the 7th to the 15th centuries. Nowadays, the museum consists of around 300 sandstone and terra-cotta sculptures standing for Cham culture. The sculptures are collected from Champa temples all over Vietnam and are displayed in distinguished showrooms of different localities. Visiting the museum, visitors have a chance to learn about the glorious past of a nation which passion for art and creativities reached the peak. The distinctive value cannot be found anywhere else in the world.

Address: 01 Trung Nu Vuong Street, Da Nang Province

Opening hour: Everyday, 7.00 am – 5.30 pm

Entrance fee: Around VND 30,000/guest, complimentary for children under 16 years old

Ba Na Hills

Nestled in the spectacular Truong Son Mountain Range to the west of Da Nang, Ba Na Hills is a huge entertainment complex which welcomes a large number of tourists from different parts of the world. Ba Na used to be a resort founded by French since early 20th century with more than 200 Western-style villas, but only a few of them remain today. Ba Na attracts travelers with dense rainforests, waterfalls, and its bio-ecological diversity.

Another notable attraction in Ba Na is the Southeast Asian’s biggest indoor amusement center. Fantasy Park opens a lively and attractive entertainment world with many fascinating games for all ages. Also, Ba Na also consists of many alluring places such as Le Jardin D’Amour Flower Garden, Debay Wine Cellar, Linh Ung Pagoda, and French Village.

The cable car, Alpine Coaster, and Funicular will take you through the picturesque landscapes as well as the interesting tourist attractions in Ba Na Hills.

Address: Hoa Vinh, Hoa Vang District

Opening hour: Everyday

Entrance Fee: VND 650,000/person

Non Nuoc Beach

Regarded as one of the most beautiful seashores in the world, Non Nuoc Beach attracts tourists with soft white sandbank which gently slopes towards the unpolluted blue sea waters. Thanks to its poetic beauty, Non Nuoc Beach always appears in lists of best place to see in Da Nang.

Nestled only about 20 km from the city center of Da Nang, the sandy beach with sunshine and mild waves all year round is the ideal destination for those who want to run away from the hustle and bustle of cities. Non Nuoc Beach is not only a swimming spot but also a place for outdoor activities like skydiving and surfing. It is also a great place to eat fresh seafood.

Non Nuoc Beach is suitable for both single-day tours and long trips. There are several hotels, hostels, and even luxury resorts available for any types of trips.

Address: Hoa Hai Ward, Ngu Hanh Son District

Opening hour: Everyday

Entrance fee: Free

My Son

Located in Quang Nam Province, just 70km from Da Nang, My Son Sanctuary is an important vestige of Champa civilization. Champa was a dependent country in Central Vietnam from the 4th to the 13th century. Influenced by comprised of a series of impressive tower-temples located in a dramatic site that presents a vivid picture of spiritual and political life in an important phase of the history of South-East Asia.

Address: Duy Xuyen District, Quang Nam Province

Opening hour: Everyday, 6.30 am – 5.00 pm

Entrance fee: Around VND 100,000/guest

III. HOI AN

Location: Quang Nam Province, 30km from Da Nang

Population: around 90,000 people

Ethnic groups: Kinh, Hoa (Chinese)

Administrative divisions: 13 communes and wards

Nestled in Quang Nam Province, Hoi An is a small town at the lower section of Thu Bon River, just 30 km to the south of Da Nang. The town used to be the major trading port of Vietnam in particular and Asia in general between the 15th and 17th century.

The town consists of 13 communes and wards (3 mainland communes, 1 island commune, and 9 wards). The population of Hoi An is approximately 90,000 people. Most of them are the Kinh and Hoa (Chinese) people.

Hoi An has tropical monsoon climate, with the average temperature of 25⁰C, humidity of 82%, and the annual rainfall of 2,000 mm.

Hoi An is an ancient town with high cultural values. There exists several ancient buildings and houses, which display the influences of foreign cultures, namely Chinese, Japanese, and French. The town is also a poetic land as the Thu Bon River flows through the town. Thanks to its poetic scenery and important cultural value, Hoi An Ancient Town was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999.

HIGHLIGHTS OF HOI AN

Japanese Bridge (Chua Cau)

Japanese Bridges are well-known for their spectacular design, and the one in Hoi An is not an exception. It well represents the impact of Japanese culture on Vietnam.

Legend has it that the bridge was constructed to deter the monster called Mamazu, whose head was in India, tail in Thailand and back in Vietnam, from causing earthquakes and natural disasters. In fact, the Japanese commercial community built it in the 16th century to connect with Chinese people on the other side of the river.

The Japanese Bridge is famous for its unique decoration. Additionally, there is a small temple on the north side of the bridge. Night on the bridge is even more poetic. With its historical background and beautiful architecture, this is considered a must-visit place for any Hoi An tour.

Address : Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Minh An, Hoi An Ancient City, Quang Nam Province

Opening hour: Everyday, 7.00 am – 5.30 pm

Entrance fee: Free

Chinese Assembly Halls

Another interesting thing to do in Hoi An Vietnam is to visit the Assembly Halls of Chinese people. When they immigrated to Hoi An, they decided to build some Assembly Halls to socialize as well as to preserve their traditions.

There are totally 5 Chinese Assembly Halls (Fujian, Chaozhou, Hainan, Cantonese, and Chinese). Though not all of them remain the original look, these halls have become popular Hoi An Tourist Attractions.

All the Halls follow the same formula: a grand gate, a beautiful garden with ornamental plants, a main hall, and a large altar room. These are decorated with lots of statues, murals, and lacquered boards. However, each Hall worships different gods and each Chinese Community has different beliefs.

Address: Tran Phu Street, Hoi An City

Opening hour: Everyday, 8.00 am – 5.00 pm

Entrance free: Free

Old House of Tan Ky

Located at 101 Nguyen Thai Hoc Street in the Old Quarter, Tan Ky Old House is an almost perfect instance of residence of the 18th century in Hoi An. Although it is not the oldest house in town, Tan Ky is the most well-preserved one. The details of this house such as the storage area, the outside structure which was made of bricks and tiles and the floor that is covered with Bat Trang bricks still remain unchanged after centuries.

Tan Ky Old House represents the cluster of Vietnamese, Chinese and Japanese culture. Oriental philosophy features are clearly displayed in the house, such as the triple-beam structure, the five round blocks, and many decorative carvings on the furniture. It is absolutely an ideal place for exploring the cultures of Eastern countries.

Address: 101 Nguyen Thai Hoc Street, Hoi An

Opening hour: Everyday, 8.00 am – 5.00 pm

Entrance fee: Around VND 10.000/guest

The Tran Family Chapel

Among the top Hoi An Attractions stands the Tran Family Chapel – one of the oldest houses in the ancient town.

It was built in the 19th century by Tran Tu Nhac – a highly-respected mandarin under Nguyen Dynasty before he was sent to China as the King’s envoy. The house was originally used as a worshipping place for his family’s ancestors. It is also a reminder about the tradition of his family to the next generations.

As a typical example of Eastern architecture, the house has a main gate, a big garden surrounded with high walls. There are different parts which serve different purposes in the house: one for worshipping, one for housing the family leader and his guests, and one drawing room.

Members of Tran Family still gather in the house every year to worship their ancestors. It is also a chance to educate the future generations about the traditions of their family.

Tra Que Village

Located in the rural area of Hoi An and surrounded by fields of vegetables and crops, Tra Que village is dedicated to the growing of traditional vegetables and supplies Hoi An and its neighbors with most of the fresh products which are used to make distinctive central Vietnamese dishes such as Cao Lau and Quang noodle. The village has more than a hundred years of history.

Address: 3 km North of Hoi An

Opening hour: Everyday

Entrance fee: Free

Thu Bon River

It is a river flowing alongside Hoi An ancient town. Travelers can take a boat tour along the river to watch the beautiful scenery and visit some craft villages.

Thu Bon River is incredibly beautiful at dawn and by night. It is a lot of fun to spend your time watching the romantic scenery of the river filled with lanterns by night.

Not only do travelers visit Hoi An to explore the stunning scenery but also to sample Hoi An Cuisine, which is renowned for delicious dishes. While travelling around the town, you can drop by some street vendors to try Hoi An specialties such as “Cao Lau”, “Mi Quang”, and “Banh Mi Hoi An”. All these tasty dishes will make your trip even more wonderful.

Cua Dai Beach

Just 5 km from Hoi An stands Cua Dai Beach – a tranquil seashore with majestic beauty. Not only is the beach wonderful to visit, the way from Hoi An, through peaceful landscapes of villages and fields, is also fascinating to explore.

Address: 3 km North of Hoi An

Opening hour: Everyday

Entrance fee: Free

Cu Lao Cham

According to archaeologists, Cu Lao was first settled by the Cham people 3,000 years ago and they established business contacts with overseas countries 1,000 years ago. Cu Lao Cham has well preserved many architectural constructions dating back to the 18th and 19th centuries, including the shrine built in 1843 at Bai Huong and Hai Tang Pagoda built in 1753. Cu Lao Cham is also a great destination to watch coral reefs and the marine life.

Address: Cua Dai Beach, Hoi An

Opening hour: Everyday

Entrance fee: Free