Though the narrowest stretch of the country, Central Vietnam is packed with plenty of historical, cultural and natural wonders. Traditionally overshadowed by the more well-known northern and southern regions of the beautiful country, Central Vietnam has grown into a firm tourist favorite in recent years.
From the mesmerizing former imperial capital of Hue, to the historical old shipping town of Hoi An, and the scenic coastal city of Da Nang, Central Vietnam offers much for the adventurous visitor looking for an all-rounded experience. Visiting this region of the country has never been easier, with daily high frequency low cost flights (see VietJet) serving multiple airports in this region.
For those planning on a visit to Central Vietnam, we’ve designed a 4-days itinerary that will enable you to explore the best that this region has to offer. How do we know this is the perfect itinerary? Simply because this is the actual schedule of our Apr-2016 Central Vietnam trip!
Trust us. We wouldn’t have written this blog if we haven’t explored the area ourselves.
Best of Central Vietnam: 4-Days Itinerary
Day#0: Arrival at Hue
- Most international flights into Vietnam lands at Ho Chi Minh (Saigon) or Hanoi, both of which has multiple daily flights to Hue.
- Bookings for tomorrow: Once at Hue, proceed to any of the numerous local tour agents and book a next day tour package to Hue Citadel (Imperial City), Thiên Mụ Pagoda and the 3 imperial tombs (Minh Mang, Khai Dinh & Tu Duc).
- Reference: For our Apr-2016 trip, we paid VND600,000 for a 3-pax (VND200,000 x3) full day tour. Includes 5 attractions (Citadel + Pagoda + 3x tombs), driver only (not guide), in a good condition Toyota Vios. Entry fees to the attractions are NOT included.
- Entry fees Top Tip: The Citadel and the 3 imperial tombs require entry fees. Combo tickets (with saving of ~10%) of these 4 sites can be purchased at any of these sites. Be sure to purchase the combo tickets at the FIRST site that you visit.
Day#1: Hue (day tour; 8am to 5pm)
- Hue Citadel: The former Imperial City of the Nguyễn Dynasties. [Images]
- Thiên Mụ Pagoda: The tallest religious building in Vietnam. [Images]
- Imperial Tomb of Emperor Minh Mang: Tomb of the second emperor of the Nguyễn dynasty. [Images]
- Imperial Tomb of Emperor Khai Dinh (12th emperor of the Nguyễn Dynasty) [Images]
- Imperial Tomb of Emperor Tu Duc (4th emperor of the Nguyễn Dynasty) [Images]
Day#1: Hue (evening)
- Hue Walking Street [Images]:
- Spend the evening at Hue’s popular night market along the Perfume River (opposite Hue Citadel).
- Bookings for tomorrow: Make arrangements for tomorrow’s transportation from Hue to Hoi An. Depending on the number of pax in your entourage, it might be worthwhile to book a private transport (e.g. car/van) with a travel agent. Most travel agents will bundle the trip with stopovers at several attractions along the route (e.g. Lang Co Beach, Hai Van Pass, Marble Mountains, My Khe Beach). This is a good way to save on some time/expenses in visiting these attractions as compared to on your own.
Hue details: Click here for our detailed travel blog and visitor tips on Hue (including where to stay and the most convenient way to visit the attractions)
Day#2: Journey from Hue to Hoi An (using private transport)
- Lang Co Beach [Images]
- Hai Van Pass [Images]:
- Scenic mountain pass separating north/south Vietnam. Shot to fame after being featured in BBC’s motoring show, Top Gear.
- Marble Mountains [Images]:
- A cluster of five marble and limestone hills in Da Nang with numerous grottoes housing Buddhist and Hindu sanctuaries. Most tourist will only visit the largest of the five hills; Water Mountain.
- Hoi An Ancient Town [Images]:
- Well-preserved ancient shipping town and UNESCO World Heritage Site. Reach Hoi An by mid afternoon and spend the rest of the day/evening exploring this gem.
- Stay over at one of the numerous hotels/B&B in the town.
Day#3: Journey from Hoi An to Da Nang
- Hoi An Ancient Town: Start the day visiting yesterday’s unexplored parts of the town.
- Journey from Hoi An to Da Nang by noon (30 minutes by car).
- Da Nang: Check-in to one of the numerous hotels along Da Nang’s coastline. Then spend the rest of the afternoon by the sea at My Khe Beach.
- My Khe Beach (China Beach) [Images]: Widely considered Vietnam’s most famous and picturesque beach.
Day#4: Da Nang
- Lady Buddha [Images]:
- The highest Lady Buddha statue in Vietnam, overlooking the South China Sea.
- The easiest way to reach Lady Buddha is via taxi. Get your hotel reception to make a booking and provide an estimate quote. Normally, the taxi driver will fetch you to Lady Buddha and wait while you tour the grounds; sending you back once you’re done. The rates are reasonable as you’ll only pay for the metered fare of the to/fro journey. (Do have a confirmation of this fare arrangement before the trip.)
- Han Market:
- Ones of the largest and cheapest market in Da Nang.
- Da Nang Cathedral:
- The only church in Da Nang.
- Han Market and Da Nang Cathedral are both located on the banks of the River Han and within walking distance to the Dragon Bridge.
- Dragon Bridge (River Han) [Images]:
- Dragon shaped bridge that will spit out fire! Undisputed icon of Da Nang.
- The “fire breathing” only occurs on Saturdays and Sundays at 9pm, with the dragon head on the eastern end of the bridge.
- End of Itinerary
Hoi An/Da Nang details: Click here for our detailed travel blog and visitor tips on Da Nang (including where to stay and the most convenient way of getting around city)
2016 Vietnam VLOG (Hue, Hoi An, Da Nang)
Below is the VLOG on our Apr-2016 Central Vietnam adventure.
- 6 Must-See Places in Da Nang (Central Vietnam)
- 6 Must-See Places in Hue (Central Vietnam)
- Best of Hanoi and Ha Long Bay: 6 Days Itinerary
- Places to see in Hanoi, Vietnam
- Guide to Ha Long Bay and Cat Ba Island, Vietnam
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