Exploring Central Vietnam: Off the Beaten Track

Central Vietnam has some of the most beautiful places in the entire country. There’s Hue, Hoi An, Da Nang, and much more. But since these places are very well known, it can sometimes be difficult to find a quiet spot. Then it’s nice to get off the beaten track and explore other parts of Central Vietnam that are a little less known.

Cycle Around Hoi An

While it’s definitely worth exploring the Ancient Town by foot in Hoi An, you can also rent a bike and get a bit outside the most touristic spots. There’s a lot more to Hoi An then just the Ancient Town. As soon as you start cycling out of town, you’ll notice the rice paddies, water buffalos, vegetable farms and you can even cycle to the beach! Hoi An is filled with things to do and it would be a shame to only stay inside the town.

If you feel very adventurous, cycle to the nearby city of Da Nang and make your way to the Marble Mountains. It takes about 1 hour – 1 hour and a half, depending on how quickly you cycle. Just remember to put on a lot of sunscreen and bring lots of water. There’ll be a few shops along the way, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

The Marble Mountains is where you’ll get the best view of Da Nang. But it’s also a holy site with a stunning mosaic pagoda, Buddhist and Hindu shrines, and an underground cave depicting the levels of hell. It might sound a bit spooky, but it’s in fact one of the most stunning places in Da Nang. It takes an hour or two to walk around there, and there’s plenty of shops where you can stop for a cold drink when the sun gets scorching hot.

On your way back, swing by one of the beaches in Hoi An. An Bang is one of the most popular ones and is the perfect beach to go to when you want to relax and swim. The beaches in Hoi An are clean, quiet with silky sand and turquoise water. If you want to get away from the crowd, head to Hidden Beach, located just south of An Bang Beach.

Join a Cooking Class in Hoi An

The food in Vietnam is known worldwide for being healthy and absolutely delicious. If you want to test your cooking skills then there’s no better place to do in than at a local cooking class. Whether you’re a vegetarian or not, there’s a family-run restaurant called Minh Hien where you can participate in a vegetarian cooking class. It’s a favorite amongst travelers because not only do you get to cook the food, you also get to bike together to the Tra Que vegetable village to learn about local agriculture, visit a local market to hand select vegetables, and you get to cook real, authentic Vietnamese food that happens to be plant based. Doesn’t that sound awesome?

Visit An Bang Ghost Town

Just 30 minutes before you reach the Imperial Citadel in Hue, make sure to stop at An Bang, a 7 km long cemetery of adorned mausoleums that’s been erected. The individual tombs each has incredible mosaic artwork that will leave you speechless. The cemetery is usually empty since it’s well off the tourist trail, so you’ll have the place just for yourself.

The Hai Van Pass

Although this may not be on the off the beaten track list, since so many backpackers has found their way here now, it’s still worth mentioning. It’s perhaps the most memorable adventure you’ll have in central Vietnam! The word Hai Van means “the pass of rising sea” because of its daily phenomena of clouds filling a gap between the hills. You can either drive through this pass by yourself, hop in a taxi or go with Easy Rider. They’re very experienced motorbike drivers so you’ll be in good hands.

Most travelers make sure to stop by the Elephant Springs and other waterfalls in the area, Dam Cau Hai, which is the largest saltwater lagoon in Vietnam and the unspoilt Chan May Bay, an empty local beach that will take your breath away. No visit to Central Vietnam is complete without having done the Hai Van Pass.

Phu Yen

Have you ever heard of Phu Yen? If not, it’s no surprise. In fact, most travelers have never heard of this place because it hasn’t made it yet to the tourist trail. That doesn’t mean that it’s not worth visiting – quite the opposite! Now is the best time to visit Phu Yen because there’s no tourists there. It’s located about 120 kilometres away to the south of popular beach resort town Nha Trang and has a stunning landscape of rivers, lagoons, mountains, fertile plains and beaches. Start in the capital city Tuy Hoa where you can explore the bays, offshore islands and unspoilt beaches while enjoying some seriously incredible local food. Life here moves in a slower pace, which is perfect for the ones who really wants to unwind and relax on their vacation. Phu Yen is bound to become the next place to visit so make sure you get there before everyone else.

Remember to apply for a Vietnam visa before you enter the country. There are three ways you can obtain a visa. You can apply for a Visa on Arrival, E-Visa or go to the Vietnamese Embassy or Consulate and apply with them. The two first options are online visas so you can apply for them wherever you are in the world. The E-Visa is a single-entry, 30 days visa, so if you wish to stay in Vietnam for a longer period, you must apply for another type of visa. The Visa on Arrival is an excellent choice then, however, you can only arrive to Vietnam by air. If you intend on arriving by land, you must get a visa through the Vietnamese Embassy or Consulate.

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