Hoi An and Hue Holidays: An Overview

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 is a wonderful holiday destination for seeing the Vietnam of a bygone era.

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.

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.

North along the coast from 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.

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Vietnamese War Jeep
If You Do Three Things
Highlands Jeep Tour

Rise early and head into the Truong Son Mountains in a renovated open-air Vietnam War-era jeep. Stop off at a hillside tea plantation where you'll see first-hand the centuries-old techniques used to produce this signature elixir. Visit the friendly Co Tu tribespeople of Ba Hom Village and their charming stilted-houses; share a meal with them and learn all about their traditions and culture.

Kite Flying in the Air
If You Do Three Things
A Kite-Making Lesson

Head to the home of master kite-maker, Mr Cu. Kite-making is an ancient Vietnamese tradition and a significant source of national pride. Explore Mr Cu's house, take a peek at his lovingly-made kaleidoscopic kite collection and enjoy a brief history lesson before heading to his workshop to see the master at work. Then put your new-found skills to the test, painting your very own Hue kite - a truly authentic souvenir.

Cua Dai River
If You Do Three Things
Farming and Fishing in Hoi An

Take a bicycle ride into Hoi An's surrounding countryside. Pass by field after field of shimmering rice paddies, meet friendly locals and catch sight of buffaloes basking in the water. You'll visit a village where you can interact with local fisherman, learn their techniques and then try them out for yourself in a Vietnamese basket boat on the Cua Dai River - a scenic experience amid palm trees and mangroves.

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Hoi An & Hue
Hoi An & Hue
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A Note on Price

Direct flights cost from £700 per person, but once there, Vietnam is pretty good value – a good 10-day itinerary (staying in four star accommodation) costs around £2,000 per person including guides and domestic transport. Those with a bigger budget should expect to easily spend around £5,000 per person.

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