Central Vietnam Attractions

Central Vietnam offers visitors a fascinating look into the country's cultural heritage with a huge choice of sights and attractions.


Hue

Hue is renowned for its historical buildings. The old Imperial City is home to the famous Citadel, complete with evocative temples, majestic gardens and the royal palaces of the Forbidden Purple City, some now restored to their former magnificence.

Cruise the Perfumed River (Huong River) or hire a bike and cycle through pretty gardens, past tranquil lakes, exploring the often architecturally elaborate and unique tombs of the Nguyen Kings – the last of Vietnam's dynastic rulers.

Don’t miss the magnificent tombs of Tu Duc and Khai Dinh or the striking Thien Mu Pagoda. Browse the Dong Xuan Market and take a day trip to the remarkable multi-level Vinh Moc tunnels, which lie 20m below the ground.

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Hoi An

Be captivated by this charming town, with its rich cultural heritage, beautifully preserved merchants’ houses, pagodas, ancient wells, tombs and slow pace of life. Savour Hoi An’s mouthwatering specialty dishes of shrimp pancake and cao lu, a dish of rice noodles topped with slices of roast pork.

Soak up the atmosphere in the Chinese-influenced Old Quarter, a World Heritage Site, take a a day trip to nearby My Son and view the atmospheric Cham ruins, examine carvings at Marble Mountain.

Or relax on Cua Dai Beach, a 30km crescent of pristine white sand that stretches all the way up the coast to Danang or surf off Non Nuoc beach, known as China Beach by US GIs who surfed there while on R&R during the Vietnam War.

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Nha Trang

Meander along this 6km-long beach, with its fabulous views of the South China Sea. Swim in the turquoise waters or take a day trip offshore and snorkel or scuba dive the emerald waters of the outlying islands, teeming with coral and colourful shoals of fish.

Or pamper your body with a soothing mud bath at the nearby Thap Ba Hot Springs, explore the charming town on a cycle and later savour a culinary treat at one of many seafood restaurants.

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Dalat

Known as ‘The City of Eternal Spring’, Dalat is a popular hillside retreat in the Central Highlands, renowned for its year-round temperate climate.

The city (also spelt Dalat) was originally conceived as a resort in the 1890s by the Swiss bacteriologist Alexandre Yerson when Vietnam was part of the the French territory of Cochinchina.

Today, the town still resembles a European alpine resort sprawling across a series of pine-covered hills, with a small lake at its centre.

Drive past crumbling French colonial mansions on Tran Hung Dao, admire Art Deco architecture at the Dalat Railway Station, wander through meditation halls in the Truc Lam (Bamboo Forest) Zen Monastery and browse the bustling Dalat Market (Cho Da Lat).

Visit the Emperor Bao Dai's Summer Palace, stroll around the pretty Xuan Huong Lake and spot happy newlyweds in the ‘Valley of Love’.

Have fun clambering around the concrete ladders and exploring the tunnels and unique themed rooms of the bizarre Hang Nga Guest House – essentially a giant treehouse.

The surrounding countryside of Dalat comprises mountains, lakes, waterfalls and forest providing some of the best mountain biking, hiking, horseback riding and canyoning in Vietnam.

Trek to the nearby ethnic villages of the Lat and the Koho people. Get wet at the impressive Dambri waterfalls or go canyoning, kayaking, rock climbing and rappelling in the nearby mountains.

Dalat is located at 1500m above sea level on the Langbiang Plateau in the southern part of the Central Highlands.

Da Lat is best visited during the dry season from December to March. Temperatures hover between an average low of 15°C (59°F) to an average daily maximum of 25°C (77°F). The wet season lasts from April to November, but the mornings usually remain dry.


Buon Me Thuot

Visit the largest town in the western highlands and home to ethnic minorities including the Ede, M'nong, Rhade and Jarai people. The town makes a great base for exploring ethnic villages and discovering the region’s scenic beauty. Hike to villages such as Tua and Ya Liao and enjoy a homestay with the M'nong.

Ride elephants through the forest of Yok Don National Park to see impressive waterfalls at Dray Sap and caves at Dak Tua or paddle a dugout canoe across Lac Lake to visit other minority villages.


Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park

Take a guided eco-tour into this UNESCO World Heritage Site, a 280,000ha park of lush forest, dramatic limestone formations,river caverns and underground passageways filled with stalactites and stalagmites.

The park’s complex karst formations were formed nearly 400 million years ago, making them the oldest formations in Asia. The system is home to more than 300 caves and grottos stretching about 126km underground; to date only a small number of the caves have been fully surveyed by British and Vietnamese scientists.

Take a guided eco-tour through the lush Ke Bang forest and admire spectacular shaped stalactites and stalagmites in several dramatic cave systems, including Tien Son Cave and Phong Nha Cave, which features a 8km-long main cavern connected by an underground river to a further 14 grottos.

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Best time to visit Central Vietnam

Hue, Da Nang, Hoi An and Nha Trang are best in spring from February to April.

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How to get to Hue

Hue is located on the banks of the Perfume River in central Vietnam about 700km (430mi) south of Hanoi and about 1100km (680mi) north of Ho Chi Minh City.

The most convenient route to Hue is by air to Tan Son Nhat International Airport (SGN), located 6km (3.7mi) north of Ho Chi Minh City, followed by a domestic flight to Phu Bai International Airport (HUI), located 24km (15mi) south of Hue city centre.

An alternative route is by air to Da Nang International Airport (DAD) located about 107km (66mi) south of Hue. Da Nang is the largest city in central Vietnam.

By taxi, Hue is 1 hr 40 minutes from Da Nang International Airport; and by bus, around 3 hours 30 minutes, including 1 hour transfer between buses.

Or you may fly into Noi Bai International Airport (HAN), located about 28km (17mi) northeast of central Hanoi, then connect with a domestic flight to Hue.

By rail, the Reunification Express from Ho Chi Minh City, takes around 18 hours 24 minutes, five times daily.

More information on how to get to Hue


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Latest update: Central Vietnam sights & attractions: 14 October, 2023



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