History, nature and not to mention some of the most beautiful beaches converge on the central coast of Vietnam for a different side of this magical country.
A riverside Imperial City at a former royal capital and a bustling beachside city with sprawling bridge structures are just some of the places you can find in Central Vietnam. Or get a tan at the many sandy white beaches dotted along the coast that could give the islands of Thailand a run for their money. Follow us as we take the train down to cruise through the central coast of this majestic country.
Go back in time in Hue as this charming town is chock full of history and culture. It was the former capital of Vietnam under the rule of Nguyen Dynasty so expect sprawling palaces and intricately-designed pagodas along the Perfume River.
The four Citadels that make the Imperial City are the main star of the town, a complex of surviving buildings just north of the Perfume River. Immerse in the history and architecture of the Forbidden Royal City where the former royal family resided where the bright walls trim with gold filigree will leave you in awe.
Other sacred structures worth visiting include the octagonal Thien Mu Pagoda or the tombs of ancient emperors like Emperor Minh Mang (the second emperor of the Nguyen Dynasty) where his tomb is next to a pond of lotuses. You can even take a boat ride along the Perfume River to pass these sites and embrace the surrounding nature of Hue.
Hue has its share of beaches and the turquoise lagoon of Lang Co sees visitors flock every April till August for some fun in the sun. It is located at the end of the Hai Van Pass (more on this later) with 10km beachfront and a popular destination to eat shellfish of all kind like mussels, oyster, and clams.
Once you step in Da Nang, you sort of have this surreal experience where you are not sure if you are in Vietnam anymore. The city is a tad modern compared to Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh, a riverside city with gleaming lights and an impressive array of bridges. Driving through the streets will remind you a little bit of Las Vegas with Singapore thrown into the mix. It is a beautiful city lined with even better white sandy beaches.
The bridges in the city cannot be ignored and they do have a couple of majestic structures crossing the Han River. Like the Dragon Bridge that connects the airport to the main roads of the city. The bridge looks like a dragon is slithering through it and can even shoot fire and water at 9pm on weekends.
Despite the contemporary landscape of the city, its surrounding destinations are deeply rooted to Mother Earth featuring panoramic hills and mountains. The Marble Mountains are just 7km away from the city center filled with tunnels for trekkers. There are five mountains altogether and are all named after the five elements; fire, water, metal, earth and wood.
Close to the Marble Mountain is the world famous Non Nuoc beach, a 5km slice of paradise with waters as azure as the sky. It is dotted with high-end resorts and is an awesome spot for waterspouts like surfing.
Traveling to Hue & Da Nang
A little geography lesson, Hue is 700km south of Hanoi with domestic daily flights to Phu Bai International Airport that take roughly an hour. Da Nang is about 60km south of Hue and home to Vietnam’s third busiest airport, Da Nang International Airport.
Though traveling by plane is fast, the best way to experience central Vietnam is through its trains. A train to Hue from Hanoi will run you 12 hours with an additional 2 hours to reach Da Nang. But the interesting part about this is the Hai Van Pass which is a 20km stretch of cliffside road and track overlooking the South China Sea. The stretch begins just after the Hue station down to Da Nang and trust us that it is majestic to say the least.
Good To Know
• The Hai Van Pass has a 6.2km tunnel which is the longest in South East Asia.
• One unique Catholic Church in Vietnam is the Da Nang Cathedral built by French priest Louis Vallet in 1923 where the façade is pink.
• The Perfume River in Hue is said to be named thanks to the flowers that fall into them from the surrounding blossoming trees, giving it a pleasant aroma.
Words by Aishah Azali