Central Vietnam: Top 15 Must See & Do
For its well-preserved historical places, laughing locals, and calming natural beauty, Central Vietnam is renowned. With the promise of enriching encounters and sun-kissed days by the sea, the central coast will beckon you. Here are some of the best destinations & things to do in the Central area to add to your bucket list in Vietnam.
- Where is Central Vietnam?
- Must-see attractions in Central Vietnam
- Vietnam Central's must-do activities
- Recommended central Vietnam Itinerary
Where is Central Vietnam?
Central Vietnam's topographic offers mainly hills and mountains, narrow plains, and long coastlines. This area's weather is often harsher than the other two regions. Inside central also divided into three smaller regions, North Central, South Central, and Central Highlands, you can find detail below:
|Ha Tinh, Nghe An, Quang Binh, Quang Tri, Thanh Hoa, Hue
|Mainly war and historical attractions like DMZ, Khe Sanh, Hue Citadel, Hue King's Tombs... and wonderful Phong Nha Cave, Thien Duong Cave
|Binh Dinh, Binh Thuan (Mui Ne), Da Nang, Khanh Hoa (Nha Trang), Ninh Thuan, Phu Yen, Quang Nam (Hoi An), Quang Ngai
|Best area for beach relaxation with some famous beaches name Nha Trang Beach, My Khe Beach, Cua Dai Beach, Mui Ne Beach, Quy Nhon Beach...
|Daklak, Dak Nong, Gia Lai, Kon Tum, Lam Dong (Da Lat)
|Significant ethnic minorities group are located in this region and famous traditional music named "Cong Chieng" or "Gong" is recognized by UNESCO since Nov 2005
Central Vietnam region maps
Must-see attractions in Central Vietnam
1. Ba Na Hills & Golden Bridge
Golden Bridge, which has been a recent addition to Bana Hills complex since the middle of 2018, has drawn attention of international media. The architecture is incredibly spectacular, with a giant pair of hands falling out of the mountain to grab golden silk suspended in the sky, which needs to be included in the list of must-go places when traveling in Da Nang. With a length of 150 meters and an altitude of 1414 meters above sea level, Golden Bridge has constructed a pedestrian walkway high above clifftop. Visitors will enjoy pristine forests and the magnificent city view of Da Nang.
In addition, Sun World Ba Na Hills has become a major tourist attraction in Da Nang, drawing visitors with a series of activities and unique ventures such as Ba Na cable car, French community, Love Garden, Wax Museum...
- Best time to visit: Dry season between Jan to Jul and should start before 8:00 AM to see & do all things.
- Ticket fare: 750,000 VND/adult. 600,000 VND/child (height of 1m -1.4m). And ticket fare is excluded for children below 1m height.
- Tips: Ba Na Hills is crowded so you need to book your ticket in advance via web, hotel, or travel agency. It is best to book Bana Hills tour so you don't need to worry about transfer, tickets...
Golden Bridge in Bana Hills
2. Hoi An Ancient Town
Hoi An Ancient Town, one of UNESCO World Heritage Centres, is situated along Thu Bon River, coastal plain of Quang Nam province. Thanks to its significant role in the region's maritime trade, Hoi An is said to be a meeting place of many civilizations, resulting in a wonderful variety of Chinese, Japanese and Vietnamese architecture. The landscape of Hoi An has colour of moss and antiquity as a vibrant image. In addition to cultural traditions by diverse architecture, Hoi An also holds the platform of a grandiose intangible society. The social life of citizens with rituals, worship events, folk arts and cultural festivals continues to be preserved and promoted.
- What to see: Japanese Covered Bridge – Holy Beauty in the middle of Old Town, Tan Ky Old House – An old house over 200 years, Folk Culture Museum- An excellent stop for a great Hoi An trip, Discover local lifestyle of a vegetable village- Tra Que Village (about 3km from Hoi An).
- Ways to get from Da Nang: Take a taxi or a Grab car- ranges from $15-20, local bus- costs about $1 for one-way ticket or hire a scooter and ride it on your own and scooter rental price varies from $5-8/day depending on the scooter model.
Hoi An Ancient Town
3. Cam Thanh Coconut Village
Located next to Hoi An World Heritage and Cham Islands International Biosphere Reserve, Cam Thanh Coconut Village is a popular tourist destination, hosting thousands of international tourists every summer. About 3 kilometres from Hoi An, massive coconut forest of Cam Thanh, called the green lung of Hoi An, is almost a miniature of Mekong River Delta. Perhaps the only distinction between them is means of transport used. In Mekong Delta, one of the sails on three-plank wooden vessels, while in Cam Thanh, tourists use basket boats to go to coconut forest.
Joy of sitting in a basket boat weaving under coconut trees and seeing magnificent scenery of a rural water area makes tourists stay close to this region. Coconut forest has been rising for over 200 years. The variety of coconut developed by southwestern immigrants is ideally suited to favourable soil and water conditions of the central region. Coconut trees have naturally expanded from a few hectares to a forest with a gross area of over 100 hectares.
- Best seasons to go: January to June - At that time, the weather is cool, mildly chilly. Extremely suitable for some discovery and tourism activity in this river area.
- Fees: 150,000 VND (approximately USD 7), a basket boat can be rented for two tourists with a friendly boatman to explore wild beauty of coconut jungle.
- Amazing Things to do: Listen to sweet folk songs sung by a boat rower, discover locals catching fish and crab, enjoy the adventure of sitting in a continually swinging and shaking basket boat skilfully rowed by a boatman, try coconut milk, and watch entire vast water field with lush coconut forests.
- Note: Visitors would have to hang on to boat to prevent slipping out of it, which gives you fear and excitement.
Coconut Forest in Cam Thanh Village
4. My Son Holy Land
My Son Holy Land is a former capital of ancient Cham civilization that dominated Central Vietnam, located 60 km from Da Nang, 150 km from Hue and 75km from Hoi An. It is situated in a narrow valley, surrounded by springs, mountains, and lush, dense jungles. This area is considered to be one of Vietnam's best-preserved Cham systems. The complex is composed of seventy Hindu-like towers and temples dated from the second century. That site is a must-see for those interested in architecture and ancient cultures and is now one of five UNESCO World Heritage sites in Vietnam.
- Entrance fee: 150,000 VND/adult, children under 15 years old: free ticket and parking cost 10,000 VND for a scooter.
- Best things to do: Take a stroll around mecca, experience a sense of beauty combined with grandeur of nature and earth, and take a camera to preserve amazing architectural imprints of ancient people.
- Well-known places in the surrounding area: Tra Kieu Church, Our Lady of Tra Kieu, Sa Huynh – Champa Cultural Museum,...
My Son Sanctuary
5. Hue Citadel
Citadel of Hue is built on Perfume River's Northern Side. With an area of 500 ha and a structure of three rings of ramparts, namely Kinh Thanh Hue (Hue Capital Citadel), Hoang Thanh (Royal Citadel), and Tu Cam Thanh Hue (Tu Cam Thanh Citadel) from outside to inside (Forbidden Citadel). It was also selected by all Lords Nguyen to be a capital city of the Southern Kingdom and formally became a capital under the dynasty of Tay Son. This property has been a wonderful landscape and architecture place for roughly 400 years. In addition, Hue Royal Complex has been internationally listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO since 1993. Furthermore, Ngu Binh Mountain in the south is used as a front height screening. Two sand dunes of Con Hen and Con Da Vien on Perfume River are selected as "dragon on the left, tiger on the right'' geometry to defend the capital city.
- Entrance fees: Adult: 200,000 VND (~ $9USD), children from 7 to 12 year- old: 40,000 VND (~ $1.8USD)
- Highlights of Hue Citadel: Ngo Mon Gate- main gate of Imperial City, located south of Hue, Thai Hoa Palace- core of region, emblem of Nguyen Dynasty, Duyet Thi Duong- a royal theater to watch traditional Tuong plays
6. Thien Mu Pagoda
Situated next to the picturesque Huong River, Thien Mu Pagoda is worth one of the most beautiful landscapes in Hue. Not only do romantic poems or Hue's characteristic lyrics exist, but Thien Mu is also considered a sacred pagoda and a sight not to be missed by any tourist when you set foot in an ancient capital. Within Thien Mu Pagoda, it will be easy to feel inspiration of a dreamy and romantic Hue. Over the course of hundreds of years, every architectural work, as well as arrangement, has articulated its belief in solemn and harmonious combination of magnificent natural landscapes. As a result, taking part in Hue tourism in general, and Thien Mu Pagoda in particular, visitors can happily immerse their minds in drifting Perfume River downstream to feel another life in a quiet Hue.
- Ticket price: Free
- Opening hours: 6 am to 8 am
Thien Mu Pagoda
7. Hue Tomb (Tu Duc or Khai Đinh)
From moss-covered towers hidden in hills to faded stone warriors proudly protecting the dead, the tombs of Hue evoke a feeling of a forgotten, almost mythological world. Kings of the Nguyen Dynasty designed their own tombs, reflecting different temperaments, philosophies, and priorities. They also recount stories of one of the most engrossing historical times in Vietnam, including national unity, military occupation, and French colonialism's cultural effects.
Needless to say, Tu Duc Tomb is a masterpiece poem, a romantic image of harmony in transcendent architecture of tomb building art. It deserves to be one of the most spectacular destinations for visitors seeking quiet experience of nature and discovering unusual architecture. On the other hand, as the last great tomb of the Nguyen dynasty, the mausoleum of Emperor Khai Dinh shines with a combination of Asian and European styles that visitors will hardly miss while visiting Hue. It's undoubtedly the height of porcelain and glass decorative art, and also a valuable piece of architecture.
Khai Dinh Tomb in Hue
8. Thien Duong Cave in Phong Nha
Paradise Cave, called "underground palace" of Heaven, is one of wonders of the most majestic and mystical planet nestled deep in Phong Nha Ke Bang World Natural Heritage National Park, which is now around 350 to 400 million years old. So, not surprisingly, this cave is known to be a beautiful, majestic and mystical structure that discoverers can easily conceive of as a divine palace on earth. Especially, the system of stalagmites and stalactites here maintains a shimmering, fanciful beauty beyond imagination of man.
- Entrance fee: 250,000VND/person and ~ 40,000VND for a buggy (electric car) transfer to and from the cave entrance.
Paradise Cave in Phong Nha
Vietnam Central's must-do activities
9. Biking in Hoi An
Hoi An is definitely at the top of the best locations for a cycle ride in Vietnam. Hiking your bike along a tiny lane full of gorgeous flowers, from Thu Bon River down to Cua Dai Beach, head to surrounding villages across green paddy fields, all recommended in our must-stop list during your bike day. The countryside of Hoi An is beautiful: lush rice fields, pretty lotus ponds, quiet villages, poetic rivers, pleasant beaches, and much more.
Biking in Hoi An
10. Hoi An Cooking Class
The secrets of Hoi An's long-established, long-cherished cuisine are discovered in Hoi An Cooking Class, which show you the deep-rooted origins of central Vietnamese food. Walk around Hoi An Old Town and the backstreet labyrinth and you'll see a devoted Hoi An cooking class on sale at every corner. Even come from purpose-built cookery schools in nearby restaurants.
- Best cooking classes: Red Bridge Cooking School, Hoi An Eco Cooking Class, Tra Que Water Wheel Organic Farm Cooking Class,...
Cooking Class in Hoi An
11. Bamboo boat ride in Cam Thanh Village
Rowing special Vietnamese bamboo basket boats along these tiny and stunning canals, visitors come inside of coconut palm forest, see coconut trees rising, and get some water coconut fruit. In specific, visitors will watch an entertaining show of actors dancing on a boat- the rider will use a paddle to rock the boat skilfully.
Bamboo Boat Ride in Cam Thanh Village
12. Swimming at Danang Beach
Da Nang is famous for its long and brilliant beach, which is sparkling blue all year round. It is also a completely ideal spot for you to plunge yourself into nature and listen to the whisper of waves. Moreover, nothing is better than imprinting your bare feet on a flat sandy beach and immersing it in the cold, crystal-clear sea.
- Attractive beaches: My Khe Beach, Thanh Binh Beach, Non Nuoc Beach,...
My Khe Beach Da Nang
13. Watch Hoi An Memories show
Nowadays, the centerpiece – Hoi An Memories Show – is an open-air dramatic extravagance showcasing a 500-piece ensemble in a 3,000-seat stadium. The scenery is sprawling and majestic, magnificently reflecting surrounding mountains, Vietnam-type sodden river flood plains, and the old port of Hoi An. The music is exquisite, high-tech staging and choreography are excellent. After that, the Hoi An Memories show will stay with you as an enthralling experience that takes one closer to Vietnam's special spirit and time-honored customs.
- Venue: Hoi An Impression Theme Park, Luong Nhu Bich Street, Hoi An, Quang Nam
- Ticket price: 3 fare classes based on seat location: 300,000 VND to 450,000 VND (from 13 USD) for children and 600,000 VND to 900,000 VND for adult tickets (from 24 USD)
- How to book: You should book Hoi An Memories Show Ticket at BestPrice Travel in advance to save time and budget compared to buying tickets offline
Hoi An Memories Show
14. Cruising in perfume river Hue & listen to Hue traditional music
Going by boat to enjoy Hue's music, listening to Hue's folk songs at night is a long time of entertainment for tourists here. Stunning scenery of Perfume River embraces all pictures of the city, streets, gardens, and buildings... under shimmering brightness, establishing the special romantic beauty of this area.
Cruising in Perfume River Hue
15. Taste Hue local & royal cuisine
Hue is one of Vietnam's most valuable culinary destinations. The fine-dining province of Central Vietnam attracts foodies from all over the world to evaluate royal cuisine as well as local specialities that remain popular. If you've been admiring Hue Imperial City for its majestic architecture and beautiful Hue girls wearing charming "ao dai" and romantic conical hats, this time you might love this city more thanks to delicious food and well-preserved royal cuisine. Moreover, the royal cuisine of Hue has long been admired for its way of cooking, decorative patterns and esthetic showing, which establish a unique value that nowhere else has.
Best Hue speciality food: Hue Beef Noodle, Steamed Rice Cake, Hue crispy pancake,...
Hue Royal Meals
You might also want to know more things to do in Center Vietnam
Recommended central Vietnam Itinerary
Bestprice Team recommends a 5- day trip which offers the World Cultural Heritage Sites of Hoi An Ancient City, Hue Imperial City paired with a refreshing break at Da Nang Beach and a visit to the Marble Mountains, Son Tra Peninsula, Hai Van Pass, Linh Ung Pagoda,...
Day 1: Da Nang Arrival
Our guide and driver welcome you to Danang International Airport.
Day 2: Discover Ba Na Hill Before Moving to Hue
Transfer to Ba Na Hill – 25 km southwest of Da Nang City, visit old French villas at an altitude of 1138 metres, take mountain climbing train to visit Flower Garden, Great Buddha statue, Linh Ung Pagoda, Wine Tunnel, play games at Fantasy Theme Amusement (almost normal games and 4D Movie already included in your tour package but only some games you will pay fee by yourself).
Day 3: Visit Imperial City Of Hue
Free go shopping at Dong Ba Market, take a boat ride on Perfume River and stop to see Thien Mu Pagoda – one of the oldest and most magnificent religious structures, then visit Imperial Capital.
Day 4: Visit the Son Tra Peninsula before shopping in Hoian
Discover some common but unique locations such as Cau Hai Lagoon, a fishing village, Lang Co Beach and Hai Van Pass for a wonderful sightseeing trip. Next, go to Son Tra Peninsula, visit Linh Ung Pagoda, where the largest Buddha statue in Vietnam is situated, and enjoy the cool climate here. When in Hoi An, buy paper lanterns with tiny candles inside twinkle and place them on Hoai River, then make a wish in the evenings.
Day 5: Hoi An Discovery - Departure
Visit green Bay Mau water coconut forest – get a chance to row a basket boat, take a boat ride to Kim Bong Carpentry Village – a popular woodwork brand and finally explore Hoi An Ancient Town, including Japanese Covered Bridge, beautiful Chinese Assembly Halls, Chinese Assembly Halls, Sa Huynh Museum,...
Walk around the local market to buy some homemade souvenirs for your friends and family. After all, our guide and driver will lead you back to Da Nang International Airport.
If you are looking for more itineraries please do not hesitate to visit our Central Vietnam Tours page which provides you with many options & prices. Don't be hesitant. Please give BestPrice a quick inquiry so that we can give you a priced itinerary for your information.
You might also want to know about Southern Vietnam
Image source: BestPrice & Canvas