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Central Vietnam see + do

With a rich history, quirky small museums, handcrafted goods, and a distinctive regional cuisine, central Vietnam has all the ingredients for a memorable, well-rounded vacation—or simply a week of loafing on some of the world's most beautiful beaches. Sun worshippers will want to chill for at least three or four days in the seaside town of Nha Trang, which is also Vietnam's diving center, and then check out an exclusive China Beach resort near Da Nang.

The history is palpable in the gracious old imperial city of Hue; visitors should take the opportunity to rent a bicycle and unwind for two or three days. Try the same strategy in Hoi An, with a little retail therapy—and perhaps a cooking lesson—mixed in. Anyone with an interest in ancient temples will want to combine a morning at My Son with an afternoon at Da Nang's delightful Museum of Cham Sculpture, and then spend a second day roaming the Nguyen dynasty tombs outside Hue. Hiring a car and driver remains the best way to beach-hop and visit remote sites such as My Son or My Lai, but the passenger trains, which traverse some of Vietnam's most dramatic scenery, are ideal for overland journeys between the region's major cities.

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Alexandre Yersin Museum, Nha Trang

There isn't a Frenchman more revered in Vietnam than Alexandre Yersin (1863–1943), the bacteriologist who discovered the cause of bubonic plague. Yersin...more

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Beaches of Central Vietnam

Vietnam's coastline exceeds 2,000 miles, but its finest beaches are almost all found in the 400-mile stretch from Hue to Nha Trang. Alongside a lagoon ten miles...more

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Cooking Schools, Hoi An

Resorts such as Hue's La Residence offer instruction in Vietnamese cooking, but the most hands-on fun may be Hoi An's Red Bridge Cooking School. Classes gather...more

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Hoi An

How exceptional is Hoi An? So special that by tacit agreement among all combatants, it wasn't attacked during the Vietnam War. That neutrality left the town, a...more

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Hue

Still off the standard itinerary for many foreign visitors, Hue served as the capital of unified Vietnam from 1802 until 1945. In addition to being the seat of...more

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Hue Museum of Royal Fine Arts, Hue

The lost splendor of the Nguyen dynasty, which ruled Vietnam from 1802 until 1945, is displayed at the Hue Museum of Royal Fine Arts. Housed inside an all-wood...more

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Military History

This central region, known as I Corps during the Vietnam War, suffered much of the conflict's heaviest fighting. In Hue, bullet holes from the 1968 Tet...more

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Museum of Cham Sculpture, Da Nang

The best reason to explore Da Nang is its Museum of Cham Sculpture, which is devoted to the Angkoresque sandstone carvings of the Cham, who dominated central...more

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My Son Sanctuary, My Son

This UNESCO collection of ancient Cham tower-temples is a more mellow alternative to tourist favorites like Hue and Hoi An. Set in a valley a scenic 30-mile...more

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Reunification Express

Decades of conflict disrupted this French-built rail line, but the 1,070-mile link from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City was finally restored after the Vietnam War...more

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Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

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