Danang, Hue, and Hoi An
We arrived in Danang airport at night and were met by our new guide, Huan. Huan was friendly and overflowed with exuberance and enthusiasm. Together with the driver we took the windy mountain road to Hue arriving at our hotel at 10:30 p.m.
We stayed in the beautiful La Residence Hotel & Spa in Hue. From the moment I stepped into the lobby I felt I was transported back to the 1930’s Art Deco Hollywood era.
The hotel was originally built during the French colonial period and has been enhanced with two additions that match the Art Deco design. The hotel sits on the banks of the Perfume River across from the Hue Citadel Imperial City.
Hue was once the Imperial City and was a very important cultural and historical center. Our first stop was the Hue Citadel.
Emperor Gia Long who ruled between 1802 and 1820 established The Citadel in 1805. It is an immense fortress made up of three concentric sections, the Civic, the Imperial, and the Forbidden Purple Cities. The architecture of the Citadel was influenced by both Chinese and French design. Although it endured heavy damage during the war you can still appreciate its grandeur. It is currently undergoing restoration and will be even more amazing to visit in the future.
The countryside of Hue is dotted with tombs of many emperors. Our schedule allowed us to visit the most magnificent one, the Tomb of Khai Dinh. Khai Dinh ruled between 1916 and 1925, and was the penultimate Nguyen Emperor. He was also the last to be buried in Hue. He started construction of his tomb while he was still alive.
Huan stopped at one of the local bakeries and bought us delicious Vietnamese pastries to try.
From Hue we took the scenic route to Danang. Today, Danang is one of the country’s most important ports and is the country’s third largest city. Danang served as a major American military base during the war. Danang felt very modern, clean, and progressive as we drove through it. We went over the newly constructed bridge shaped like a dragon.
We also stopped to visit Da Nang beach nicknamed “China Beach” by the American soldiers during the Vietnam War.
Huan brought a wonderful perspective to our trip. Huan was very versed in many world topics. As a practicing Buddhist he was the personification of positive thinking, optimism, and kindness. He is very enthusiastic and positive about Vietnam’s economic future.
Huan taught us about ancestor worshipping and how people set up small altars with offerings for the ancestors. Many Vietnamese are also very superstitious so they set up offerings for the ghosts and demons to help keep them away.
On our way to Hoi An we stopped to visit an amazing collection of pagodas built into Marble Mountains.
We arrived in Hoi An in the afternoon and checked into the lovely hotel the Life Heritage Hotel located on the banks of the Thu Bon River. The Old Quarter in Hoi An is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
We were walking distance into the Old Quarter and minutes by car to the beaches. Hoi An was quaint and peaceful. Our family was able to enjoy bicycle riding in the village.
One of the first orders of business was to visit one of the 24-hour tailors that Hoi An is famous for. First they took my husband and son’s measurements. Then we selected fabric and styles. The next day we went back for the boys’ fittings. And about 2 hours later the goods were delivered at our hotel. Pretty Amazing!
We started the next day with a half day tour of the Old Quarter of Hoi An. We also visited the Japanese Covered bridge built in 1593 by the Japanese trading community.
The highlight of the morning was visiting the market. We were surrounded with fascinating colors, smells, and foods.
Later in the day we enjoyed a relaxing afternoon at the beach.
After three wonderful days in central Vietnam it was time for us to continue on to South Vietnam. I left this region with hopes of returning someday to further explore and enjoy its beautiful beaches and villages.