Central Vietnam
Invitation to visit Central Vietnam

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.