Central Vietnam Sights & Attractions

Central Vietnam offers visitors a fascinating look into the country's cultural heritage.


Hoi An Old Town

Hoi An's Old Town – Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Central Vietnam Sightseeing

Central Vietnam offers a wide choice of sights and attractions for inquisitive couples celebrating a honeymoon or romantic getaway, including the following…


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.

Major attractions in Hue, including the following…

The Citadel

Constructed over several years from 1804 on a site chosen by Emperor Gia Long’s geomancers, the Citadel was built for the exclusive use of the emperor and his household, much like Beijing's Forbidden City.

Surrounded by a 2.5km-long and 6m-high wall flanked on the exterior by a moat filled with water from the Perfume River, the Citadel comprises three areas: the outer area, known as the Citadel, an inner area, known as the Imperial City, and at the very centre, the Forbidden Purple City, where the emperor and his family lived.

Much of the original city was destroyed during fighting between the French and Viet Minh in 1947, and again during the Tet Offensive in 1968. Only a few buildings survive, such as the Thai Hoa and Can Thanh temples, The Mieu, and Hien Lam Cac.

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The Noon Gate

(Cua Ngo Mon) – Walk in the footsteps of emperors through the main entrance to the city, which was built in 1833 by Minh Mang. The central walkway with its yellow doors, and the connecting bridge across the lotus pond, were reserved exclusively for the emperor.

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Forbidden Purple City

The Forbidden Purple City sits at the very centre of the Imperial City and was the former home of the emperor and his concubines. See ancient gateways overgrown with vegetation sitting side-by-side with magnificent restored buildings.

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The Flag Tower

See Vietnam’s tallest flagpole at 37m-high, which sits atop a large three-story rampart to the south of the Noon Gate. The tower was built in 1807 during Gia Long's reign and first hoisted the yellow flag of royalty, which was later exchanged by many others during Vietnam's turbulent history.

More about Hue

Side trips from Hue

Interesting side trips from Hue, including the following…

Thien Mu Pagoda

This iconic seven-story pagoda is regarded as the unofficial symbol of the former imperial city. Built in 1601, then later expanded and refurbished, the Thien Mu Pagoda is one of the oldest religious structures in Vietnam.

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Tomb of Khai Dinh

Climb up 127 steep steps to ponder the tomb of Emperor Khai Dinh – a unique mix of Gothic, Baroque, Hindu and Chinese Qing dynasty architecture. The tomb took 11 years to build, from 1920 to 1931. Outside, twelve stone statues representing bodyguards stand guard.

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Tomb of Tu Duc

Stroll around this vast sprawling tomb complex positioned around a lotus-filled lake featuring wooden pavilions, tombs and temples dedicated to wives and favoured courtesans. While some buildings are nothing more than crumbling ruins others are remarkably well preserved.

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Vinh Moc Tunnels

Get an insight into how the villagers of Vinh Moc successfully escaped US bombing by venturing inside this 2km-long tunnel complex. Constructed in several stages beginning in early 1966 until early 1972, the tunnel complex sheltered around 60 families.

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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.

More about about Hoi An

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

Browse the bustling Da Lat Market (Cho Da Lat), drive past crumbling colonial mansions in the French Quarter, wander through meditation halls in the Truc Lam (Bamboo Forest) Zen Monastery, stroll around the pretty Xuan Huong Lake, visit the Emperor Bao Dai's Summer Palace and spot happy honeymooners in the ‘Valley of Love’.

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.

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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.

Find the best deal, compare prices and read what other travellers have to say about these hotels in Buon Ma Thuot at TripAdvisor.

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.

More about Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park

Best time to visit Central Vietnam

Expect warm weather from June to August and wet weather from September to November. Hue, Da Nang and Nha Trang are best in spring from February to April.

More about Vietnam Weather

Latest update What to see in Central Vietnam: 13 October, 2019

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