Central Vietnam is home to three of Vietnam’s four World Heritage sites – My Son Sanctuary, Hoi An Old Town and Phong Nha- Khe Bang National Park. But, if the truth be known, these jewels in the crown are merely symptomatic of the overall majesty of the area. Hai Van pass, between Hue and Da Nang will simply take your breath away, Jungle Beach, to the far south throws up a Robinson Crusoe experience that can’t be beat and at Bach Ma National Park, untamed wilderness thrives in all its splendor. From its mountainous jungles near the Laos border to its massive, sparkling lagoons and deserted, pristine beaches, central Vietnam has few peers when it comes to natural wonder.
Da Nang is Vietnam’s third busiest airport and the key transportation hub and economic centre for central Vietnam. Once considered just a stepping stone to Lang Co and Hoi An for travelers, Da Nang these days is attracting scores of visitors in its own right. It’s a city going places, and it’s going quickly with one of the fastest growth rates in SE Asia.
Da Nang’s beaches are some of the finest in the world. The city is better equipped for shoppers than anywhere in central Vietnam, especially for Western goods, and its nightlife and international restaurants reveal a city with an eye to the future, a city increasingly expressing the new cosmopolitan Vietnam.
Unassuming Hue may take your heart. Hue is a must-see walk back in time. It feels as if it has been appointed custodian of the timeworn traditions that may be vanishing elsewhere in Vietnam. And, because it possesses a singular, innocent spirit, unassuming Hue may well be the place that takes your heart.
Outside the small tourist strip few people speak English. Unspoilt by too much exposure to the West, family values are paramount, open smiles the norm, and an invasive curiosity (or so it seems initially) eventually wins you over with its innocence and warmth. Linger longer than the standard two-day visit and wander further than the tourist area and these subtle rewards may live with you for the rest of your days.