We recently received an invitation to visit Central
Vietnam as part of an ambitious government campaign
to promote tourism in the region. With a string
of tempting tours and banquets on the itinerary,
it didn't take much persuasion for me to hop on
a plane and investigate further. After the enjoyable
full moon festival I stayed on to strengthen our
coverage of the area and inspect hotels in Da
Nang, Hue and Vietnam's loveliest town, Hoi An.
Many visitors touch down at Da Nang Airport,
now running flights to Hong Kong. Da Nang itself
is a passable industrial city which although not
unpleasant, isn't really worth seeing as such.
The Marble Mountains make a good diversion for
an hour or two. Parts of nearby China Beach have
real potential, and the stunning Furama Resort
has taken full advantage of it.
A few hours away lies Hue, the historic capital
of Central Vietnam, and a UNESCO heritage site.
At its heart you'll find a fairly grubby and noisy
city buttressed by robust walls. It is easy to
escape to greener and quieter spots like the old
citadel, pagodas and mausoleums - but it can be
tougher to escape the convoys of tour buses.
Da Nang and Hue are nice enough, but it's surely
unique Hoi An that makes a trip out here worthwhile.
Most feel this UNESCO heritage site is more appealing
than any other town in Vietnam, with little streets
full of charming French buildings in all their
flaking and crumbling glory. Dotted around are
examples of Japanese and Chinese influences from
centuries of trade, and of course cosy traditional
Vietnamese wooden houses. At night this graceful
town is gently lit with the warm glow of lanterns.
Overall the choice of hotels in Central Vietnam
isn't that broad, or that inspiring, so it's worth
doing your homework before you go. But asiahotels.com
have recently tracked down some top spots like
the Hoi An Riverside Resort, which gets the thumbs
up from many of our users. You just have to know
where to look!
For a summary of the best of Central Vietnam,
try our recently completed guide. And of course
there are always the traveller's tales - very
handy with up to date info with warnings, directions
and tips. Rummage around and get the best out
of an area slowly opening up to the world.