The towns of Hue and Hoi An are quite close together and are among the most popular tourist destinations in Vietnam. The region itself boasts the relics of a very rich history, as well as long white sand beaches. More and more tourists looking for a holiday that mixes cultural visits and seaside resort activities are choosing to spend a few days here, and the hotel structures, ranging from the guesthouse to the resort, are popping up all over the place. Hue and Hoi An are towns that very quickly stood out by their charm and cultural wealth.
Hue: The cultural capital of Vietnam and a former imperial city; it is a place of astonishing beauty with numerous monuments, such as the tombs of the Kings of the Nguyen Dynasty, which were declared a world heritage site by UNESCO, the citadel and its imperial city, the temples and pagodas. Hue is divided into two parts by a river, with the imperial city on one side and the colonial city on the other. If you are one to get excited over old stone and history, there is a lot for you to visit, and if not, you will still enjoy spending a day or two in the city!
Hoi An: A dynamic trading port between the 17th and 19th century, it is now a quiet and peaceful place to live. There are numerous narrow roads that criss-cross the city, with red-brick houses that were built by the Chinese, and the river separating it into two parts is crossed by the famous Japanese (covered) bridge. You should visit this place before it is completely invaded by tourists (which is already largely the case), as one of the other main attractions of the city is its beach.
Da Nang: Located 20 mi to the north of Hoi An, Da Nang is well worth a visit. You can marvel at its famous marble mountains and its Cham art museum, not to mention its lovely beaches.
Hue: Go on a boat trip down the perfume river. Take your time and stroll around the park of Tuc Duc's tomb or discover the citadel, where you should really linger for a bit and immerse yourself in the past of this historical place.
Hoi An: Rent a bicycle, ride around the city and discover the island of Cam Nam. Go on an adventure to discover the island of Cam Kim, accessible by ferry.
Visit the numerous houses that date from the 18th and 19th century, which are testamony to the presence of the Chinese and Japanese during that period. Among these, we particularly recommend that you visit the residences of Phung Phung and Tan Ky.
You can go on an excursion to the islands of Cu Lao Cham, some 20 mi off the coast of Hoi An. The fauna and flora are simply astounding and the area surrounding the islands makes for a perfect diving spot.
An early morning rise is required if you want to visit the site of My Son.
Hue: The most impressive site is undoubtedly the citadel that houses within its 7 mi perimeter (among other things), the Palace of Supreme Harmony, the Mandarins' room, the throne chamber and the imperial museum where royal garments, furniture, and chinaware are on display.
Another 'must' when you're in Hue is to go on a boat trip down the perfume river: On either side of the river, you will see many imperial tombs including that of Tu Duc, Khai Dinh or Minh Mang.
Hoi An: The (covered) Japanese bridge of Hoi An is something that you cannot miss. Built in 1593 by the Japanese community of Hoi An on Thu Bon river, it hasn't been refurbished since. The two monkeys and two dogs, which can be seen on either side of the bridge, indicate that the construction started in the year of the monkey and ended in the year of the dog. A chapel, pagodas, ancient residences and temples offer a good insight into the history of the place.
Da Nang: On the road from Hoi An to Da Nang, you can admire the marble mountains and the Museum dedicated to the art of the Cham, a Vietnamese ethnic group.
In Hoi An you can buy a ticket that provides access to 5 sites in the city (on sale at the tourist office). You can also be provided with a city map.
Don't forget to take your shoes off before entering a holy place.
If you're not all that into history, try to avoid visiting too many tombs and pagodas, as you will quickly find yourself submerged by the abundance of historical data.
Hue's market is not particularly interesting and not really worth visiting.
The rainy season, as it lasts for 4 months and floods often bring the town to a standstill for several days.
The vu nang and vu xao shellfish are specialties from the islands of Cu Lao Cham, off the coast of Hoi An; we also recommend the vegetable and fish pancakes.
Hoi An: You can have clothes made for you by a tailor (the jackets are nice and modern), so don't forget to bring an item of clothing with you that fits you perfectly and will serve as template. All sorts of shoes, scarves, stoles and other fabrics, as well as textile lanterns, of course, are the specialties of Hoi An. Given the number of shops, there is a very wide choice.
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