Stretching roughly from the former DMZ at the Ben Hai river in the north down to include Quang Nam province, Central Vietnam offers the visitor perhaps the richest range of historical sights, from recent to ancient. What's more, there are ample natural distractions as well.
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The Sights of Central Vietnam
Working from north to south, here's a sampling of the highlights of a visit to central Vietnam:
The old imperial capital of Hue requires three or four days to see. In addition to the citadel, a smaller version of China's forbidden city, visitors will want to take in the Thien Mu pagoda and the royal tombs of the emperors.
Hai Van Pass
The drive by bus, van or private car from Hue to Danang by the Hai Van Pass has to be one of the most scenic drives in Southeast Asia. The drive takes you through rice fields dotted with guard towers from the war, up through many beautiful hills and bays until reaching the summit of the pass, from which you descend into Danang.
You can, of course, make the trip in either direction.
Although rather unremarkable itself, there are several sights in and around Danang that make it a good base to explore from. The Cham Museum on the city's waterfront contains many important artifacts from the Cham empire which ruled central Vietnam from a kingdom pre-dating Angkor Wat. There's also a war museum in Danang, as well as the long beach made famous by American television.
Other nearby attractions include Marble Mountain, a large limestone outcrop riddled with caves variously used as Buddhist temples and VC hideouts.
The kingdom of Champa flourished from the second to the fifteenth century. What remains of this kingdom can mainly by found at My Son, which is a day trip from Danang or Hoi An.
This very picturesque village seems at first glance to have been lost in time for a few hundred years. Of course, it is now very heavily touristed but it is definitely worth the trip. Hoi An is our choice for the best place to end a Vietnam tour as it affords the best shopping as well as being a very relaxed place.