If you are a foreigner who stays long term in Vietnam, you are probably aware of the main attractions in and around the country’s capital Ho Chi Minh. But what about further afield? There may be times when you wish to take a short break from the hustle and bustle of the city life and go off and explore.
There are 8 UNESCO world heritage sites throughout the country and all of them are definitely worth a visit.
Below we will take a look at the top 4.
The first of the heritage sites is HaLong Bay, located in the gulf of Tonkin, 165km from the capital. It is home to no fewer than 1,600 islands and inlets, all forming a spectacular seascape of limestone pillars.
Due to their precipitous nature, the majority of the islands are uninhabited and completely untouched by human presence. There is great biological interest in the area and many tourists visit purely for the outstanding scenic beauty.
In addition to “island watching” there are a number of water sports you can try such as kayaking. Alternatively, a trek on one of the larger islands is a great way to fill your camera album.
Be sure to plan your day so you can take advantage of both the sunrise and sunset over Halong Bay.
Hue Ancient Capital
The ancient capital city of Hue is located on the Northern Bank of the Perfume River and was the first world heritage site in the country. The capital is not a heritage site itself, it is the Complex of Hue Monuments which have been given the title.
In addition to its cultural and religious views, it is also known for its architecture and structure which represents the five cardinal points of earth, metal, wood, water and fire.
The Complex of Hue Monuments covers an area of over 500 hectares comprising of four citadels: Capital City, Imperial City, Forbidden Purple City and Inner City.
Tourists flock here to visit the tombs of former emperors as well as taste the world-renowned local cuisine.
Hoi An Ancient Town
It was back in 1999 when this peaceful town was declared a world heritage site by UNESCO. The ancient town was a major trading port during the 15th to 19th centuries, leaving many historical buildings that tourists flock to see. In early 2013 the town was named the world’s best tourism city by the UK tourism magazine.
On the UNESCO website the town is introduced as a special example of a traditional Asian trading port and an excellent place to see the blending of cultures over time.
Hoi An has been influenced over time by the Chinese, Japanese, Dutch, Portuguese, French and Spanish.
My Son Sanctuary
The sanctuary is located in Quang Nam Province and was also recognised by UNESCO in 1999. The My Son relic dates from the 4th to the 13th centuries. The tower was constructed over 10 centuries during the time of the Champa kingdom.
The architectural designs are stunning, constructed in fired brick and decorated with sandstone. The sanctuary represents the spiritual faith of the Champa ruling.
There are a number of organized tours to the area. It can also be reached by Hoi An by river boat.
A must see for all historians.