June 8, 2023

Explore the best of Vietnam’s up-and-coming central coastal region

August to November is typhoon season in Vietnam\’s Central Coast, but shoestring travelers can find amazing deals during this time.
Perhaps best known as the site where US combat troops first landed in Vietnam on March 8, 1965, Danang, Vietnam’s third-largest city, may not be especially charming, but it is changing at a rapid pace. With restaurants and over-the-top luxury resorts cropping up (in 2013, the InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula, and in 2012, the Fusion Maia spa resort), it is quickly becoming the ideal jumping-off point for exploring the Central Coast.

My Khe Beach (aka China Beach) is one of Danang’s top attractions. Clean and not overrun, My Khe is a wide, attractive beach with white sand and warm water, set with thatch umbrellas.

Just south of Danang, the five marble-and-limestone Marble Mountains rise above China Beach. Each has fascinating historic caves and grottoes to explore, with elaborate carvings and Hindu and Buddhist sculptures, shrines, and pagodas.

An important trading center for Japanese and Chinese merchants in the 15th through 19th centuries, Hoi An has a well-preserved historic district with fine examples of old merchant houses. Silting closed off the harbor long ago, and today this pretty riverside town retains an old-world serenity, with narrow streets built for bikes and foot traffic and (still) expert tailors. Visit during a monthly full moon festival for the candlelit lantern procession.

Inland from Hoi An, My Son is the largest ruins site from the Champa Kingdom (4th–13th centuries) in Vietnam today. Unfortunately, fewer than a third of the original 71 Hindu monuments are intact, as many of them were destroyed by US bombing in the 70s.

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