The ancient town of Hoi An, 20 miles south of Danang on the coast of central Vietnam, is an enchanting, sleepy riverside town that offers a glimpse of a bygone era. In a country so ravaged by war, Hoi An managed to escape untouched and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Most of the town is extremely well preserved, with traditional wooden houses, bridges and temples surviving in their original form. Hoi An holidays are a wonderful holiday destination for seeing the Vietnam of a bygone era. Along the coast to the north of Hoi An is the old imperial capital of Hue, set on the banks of the Perfume River.
Hue was the country's political, cultural and religious centre from 1802 to 1945 and its citadel is an old palace complex from where the Nguyen emperors ruled Vietnam. Hue is also an important centre of Buddhism, and the city and its surrounding area are dotted with dozens of pagodas and temples. Just downstream, and also worth an excursion, are the tombs of the last emperors of Vietnam. For a spot of relaxation while you’re in either Hoi An or Hue, pop to the coastal city of Da Nang for a mix of culture and history alongside shopping and beach time; or head to An Bang Beach where you can laze the days away from a sunlounger on the white sand as you watch the waves roll in.
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Holy everything! WOW! We adored the Park Hyatt and our suite (which was a massive surprise) was gorgeous. What a lovely, chic and very classy hotel that is. Not over the top and deeply comfortable. We look forward to returning there. Six Senses is also an extraordinarily beautiful place.
What can you find on Hue and Hoi An holidays that you won’t find elsewhere?
In the 16th century, Japanese and Chinese traders built a commercial district at Hoi An, and the town became one of the major trading centres of Southeast Asia. As a result, Hoi An has a distinctly Sino-Japanese flavour, with these cultural influences visible in the elaborately carved wooden facades, narrow streets and tile-roofed houses of the Old Quarter that have survived for centuries. The Japanese Bridge, built in the 17th century, is an outstanding example of Japanese architecture. Hoi An is also somewhere to sample delicious Vietnamese street food.
Next, stay in the ancient royal city of Hue where you can explore the Imperial Citadel, royal tombs, and Pagoda of the Celestial Lady, or take it slow on a boat ride on the Perfume River and enjoy the pretty surroundings.
This part of Vietnam contains four of its eight UNESCO World Heritage sites: the picturesque fishing village of Hoi An and its old quarter that we've already declared our love for; the Imperial Citadel and the ancient monuments of Hue's ancient capital; Ke Bang National Park Phong Nha with its diverse flora and fauna, as well as underground rivers and caves; and the archaeological site of My Son, a complex of 70 Hindu tombs and temples in the heart of the jungle, built as part of the Champa Kingdom between the fourth and the 14th centuries (and perfectly complimented with a visit the Art Cham Museum in Danang which houses the largest exhibition of Cham sculpture in the world).
In addition to all of this, there are also beautiful landscapes, lagoons and beaches. Spend a few days in the mountains at the Marble Mountains and Mount Ba Na, taking the winding Pass of the Clouds road that carves through the steep cliffs, or spend some time getting back to nature in one of the national parks such as Bach Ma or Yok Don.
Who are Hue and Hoi An holidays best for?
Hue and Hoi An are the ideal destination for those who want to experience the culture and history of Vietnam and combine it with plenty of breakaways in nature, with its numerous parks and beaches.
The best ways to discover Hue and Hoi An
For your stay in Hue, choose a centrally located hotel that gives you a good base for exploring the city on foot (as well as providing you with luxury and comfort at the end of a long day’s exploring). Mix it up and keep some lazy days aside to spend on the beaches of Lang Alkyl or Nha Trang.
Special things to do in Central Vietnam
- Hiking in the Nam Cat Tien National Park
- Explore the area by boat: in the region of Hue, sail up the Perfume River until you reach the Pagoda of the Celestial Lady; around Hoi An pop onto the River Thu Bo and then to the sea where you can watch the villagers fish the waters.
- Attend Trung Thu, the full moon festival. Adding to Hoi An's old-fashioned charm, on the 15th of every lunar month, modernity takes a back seat. On these evenings, street lamps, neon signs and televisions are switched off, leaving the Old Quarter bathed in the warm glow of traditional silk and paper lanterns of various colours. Wandering through the old streets in the ensuing quiet is a special experience.
- Plan a day of cycling to discover the Tra Que village, famous for its aromatic herbs. Live alongside local farmers for the day, learn their traditional farming and cooking methods, then finish off by feasting on the specialty of the village Tam Huu - an assortment of shrimp, pork and herbs.