Da Nang, Hoi An - White Sand, Paradise Shops and back in time

Gateway to world Heritages, just a short drive from Danang lay four UNESCO-listed World Heritage Sites: the former imperial city of Hue (2 hours), the ancient ‘Silk Road' trading port of Hoi An (30 minutes away), the spiritual centre of the Champa civilization, My Son (90 minutes) and the mystical Phong Nha Caves in Quang Binh province (3 hours), considered by some an access to the inner earth!

In the little riverside hamlet of Hoi An , time has stood still. You will find yourself strolling past houses the colors of after-dinner mints - lavender, canary yellow, pink. You'll pass galleries, tailor shops and pagodas with clay-tiled roofs. Peer into the windows of an old shop-house and the scene is straight out of the 19 th century: round Chinese cloth lanterns, dark wooden beams, intricately carved teak furniture, lacquer screens, an ornate, gilded altar...

Three centuries ago, this little town in central Vietnam was a bustling port, full of traders from Japan, China and beyond. Today, this World Heritage Site is a living museum. A 40-minute drive from Danang (Vietnam's fourth largest city), Hoi An offers ancient Chinese, Japanese and Vietnamese architecture and traditional Vietnamese hospitality.

Hoi An reveals but one layer of the region's history. From the 2nd to 15th centuries, the land around Danang was ruled by the Chams, an Indianised people who built brick temple towers in honor of Hindu gods. The ruined temple complex of My Son , a World Heritage Site just 60km from Danang, provides visitors with a fascinating glimpse into this ancient culture. Cham statues of graceful dancing girls and awesome deities create a lasting impression. In Danang itself, a gracious, French-built museum houses the world's finest collection of ancient Cham stone carvings.

Stone carvers continue the Cham's legacy at the nearby Marble Mountains , a major pilgrimage site since Cham times. Here, visitors can venture through a fascinating maze of cave temples, hidden within five sacred, marble hillocks.

Following all this cultural exploration, head for Danang's beaches. With its warm, lapis lazuli water, fine white sand and coconut palms, this coastline deserves its reputation as a tropical paradise. Sun - worshippers can explore Nam 0, My Khe and the postcard-perfect Lang Co Beach, which lies across the Hai Van Pass, or "Pass of Ocean Clouds". This zigzagging stretch of road boasts some of the most spectacular ocean views in all of Asia. Whether you wish to explore Vietnamese culture or lounge by the sea, Vietnam's central coast is not to be missed.

  Dien Bien Phu  
  Ha Long Bay - Descending Dragon  
  Ha Noi - One Thousand Years of Culture  
  Ho Chi Minh city - Bright Lights, Big City  
  Hue - A Royal Past, world heritage Site  
  Nha Trang - Paradise City  
  Phan Thiet - New paradise just found  
  Phu Quoc Island - Phu Quocs unspoilt island paradise  
  Sapa - Above the clouds  
  The Central Highlands - Mysterious lands with numerous tribes  
  The Me Kong Delta