When it comes to Vietnam, both Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City get a lot of attention, while the cities up and down Central Vietnam are often left as a secondary thought. Even we can admit even our content revolves around the two major cities – and while that’s not a bad thing (some of the best things Vietnam has to offer starts in them) we forget the amazing qualities of the cities often forgotten, or simply passed by along the tourist trail. What’s worse is that some of these coastal towns and cities have some amazing things to do and see, from ancient cities to booming seaside resorts. At Wink, we relish the alternative and are inspired by tradition, so check out our list of our favorite Central Vietnam hotspots that you’ve just gotta see.
The Mecca of beach holidays in Vietnam, this is the biggest city on our list and although very much on the tourist trail, it deserves its place on our list. It’s fast developing, digitized and full of culture. The white sands of My Khe beach are best enjoyed with the locals at dawn or take an alternative view from the seat of a jet ski out to sea. In town, the Con Market is a cool place for inspiration, and the city is packed with temples and pagodas, each with its own manicured garden. The Cao Dai Temple is the largest of its kind in Vietnam and can be seen from the top of the Marble Mountains a few kilometers from the city center.
Top Tip: Grab a beer at one of the many riverside bars. Make sure they have a view of the Dragon Bridge that gets fabulously lit up at night. Or if you have the time, go check out the internet-famous Golden Bridge that looks like something out of Lord of the Rings.
Just south of Da Nang is the Ancient City of Hoi An. Although an easy stop on a coastline journey, the mustard-yellow town has a lot more to offer than museums and photogenic city streets. With a slower way of life, this city is all about the food and the views. Freshness is on the menu here (something we at Wink love!) with much of what you eat originating from a small farming village nearby called Tra Que. Wash down some classic Vietnamese meals with a drink in true Indochine style = Plastic chair, river on the left, road on your right. For something a little more secret, check out the hidden whiskey bars in the French Quarter for some hard sophistication.
Top Tip: Make sure to try cao lầu – a noodle specialty of the region hard to find in other cities.
Head 100km north from Hoi An and you’ll come across the Ancient Imperial Capital. Home to past Vietnamese Emperors, it is a city that personifies history. Wink’s passion revolves around seamless transitions between old and new and Hue is the perfect starting place to see where it all began. Learn about the early history of Vietnam by strolling through the Imperial Citadel (half destroyed in the American War – you can still see American tanks and artillery left to rot outside the city walls) or take a seat at the still-active theatre that offers up traditional Vietnamese music for enjoyment most evenings. Don’t forget to try the local Hue Beer too, it’s not quite craft, but we like it.
Top Tip: If you like being alone, this is a great place to spend time working out-of-office.
Back to the beach! After that much history, a bit of fun is just what is needed to fall in love with the modern side of Vietnam. Qui Nhon is the quintessential seaside town – complete with litter-free streets, cute architecture and all the fresh seafood you could imagine. The town is seeing a boom of rich retirees which means there’s a lot more to do here than ever before and why we think it’s one of the fastest growing beach destinations in Vietnam that nobody knows about yet! Do some work in a café, take a night off and sample the bars or just lay out a towel and soak in the sun in the cove beach. This city is upcoming so take the time to talk with those who have managed to find it too, they’ll be the type of travelers Wink loves – the ones in the know!
Top Tip: Check out Qui Hoa beach 8km from Qui Nhon – it’s much better and often deserted!