Nha Trang (May 21 & 22)

Nha Trang is another beach resort built to encourage foreign tourism and to take advantage of the spectacular beaches which line the coast along this part of Vietnam.

View of Nha Trang beach from our hotel the Novotel  where we stayed two nights

 On the first morning we took a boat ride around the main islands that ring the city, stopping for a seafood lunch on Hon Tam island.

After lunch we visited the Cham Towers of Po Nagar

Dancers at the Cham Towers 

A view of the fishing port

The white Buddha at Long Son Pagoda

Paul sitting inside the bell at the Cham Towers
Making a wish as the bell chimes is said to be lucky!! It's  always lucky for the priest who expects (and gets)  a small tip every time he rings the bell.

The peaceful Hon Chong promontory 

Is it Superman, no its Paul lifting a rock at Hon Chong

Hoi An (May 24)

The next day we flew to Danang where we were met and driven to Hoi An. Our hotel for the next 3 nights was the VinhHung Emerald Resort which was a short walk from the old town of Hoi An.

VinhHung Emerald Resort from the river

Hotel Pool

In the seventeenth century Hoi An was one of the busiest ports in South East Asia with Chinese, Portuguese, Japanese, Dutch, French and English merchants visiting the town in search of spices, lacquer ware and ceramics. Enriched by the proceeds of this trade many merchants built beautiful homes. Today this atmospheric old town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The old town is a short walk from the hotel and in the evening we went out to explore. These pictures do not truly capture just how atmospheric the town is especially at night. 

The river front at night

Shops and restuarants

Paper lanterns for sale

Selling candles to float on the Thu Bon River

Next day, we explored the town again in daylight.

The Japanese covered bridge built in 1719 is also a temple to the genie of the river

The Fujian Temple

Interior of a Phung Hung House built for a Chinese trader in the 17th century

Ferries on the Thu Bon River

MySon, the site of Cham temples, shrines and  towers is located 60 km south of DaNang
 This ancient capital of a powerful Cham kingdom held sway over Central Vietnam between the 2nd and 13th centuries.

Hue (May 26)

Hue, the capital of Vietnam from 1802 to 1945 is an two and a half hour drive from Hoi An. Our first stop en route was at a stone carvers village at the foot of the Marble Mountain.  The showroom was full of fabulous marble sculptures which are shipped all over the world (or so they told us).

The Marble Mountains are five large outcrops of rock which were until recently quarried for their marble. This practice has now been stopped. There are tunnels and caves in all the mountains and one of the largest has an elevator to the top - the one we visited. During the Vietnam War, they were used for storage and as a hospital. They were bombed by the Americans and considerable damage to many of the shrines.

During the Vietnam War this cave in the Marble Mountains was used as a secret hospital

The cave was dotted with shrines and Buddhist figures.

In Hue we stayed at the nondescript Moonlight Hotel (not shown)

Our tour of Hue began with a sampan ride on the Perfume River (the river was not nearly as nice as its name suggests) to the Thien Mu Pagoda

The Thien Mu Pagoda, or Pagoda of the Heavenly Lady, a Buddhist shrine dating from the mid seventeenth century.

The car that carried the Buddhist monk Thich Quang Duc to the Cambodian Embassy in Hue  was on display in the grounds of the Thien Mu Pagoda.  
He set himself on fire to protest against the American supported government of South Vietnam. You can see the car in the background of the photo.

The Citadel, seat of the Nguyen Dynasty emperors. Construction began in 1804 and is composed of three sections: the capital city (Thanh Kinh), the Imperial city (Hoang Thanh) and the Forbidden city (Cam Thanh). 

The Citadel was largely destroyed  in 1968 during the fighting that engulfed Hue after the Tet Offensive.

Today efforts are being made to restore and preserve this unique heritage site but there's a lot of work to do.

 Minh Mang's Royal Tomb, located on the left bank of the Perfume River, represents the perfect harmony between nature and architecture.
Minh Mng was the Emperor of Vietnam from 1820 to his death in 1840. He did everything he could to stop christian missionaries from entering the country
and he sentenced seven missionaries to death, although the sentences were never carried out.

Thanh Toan Tile Roofed Bridge constructed in 1776

On our last night in Hue we treated ourselves to dinner at the Les Jardins de la Carambole.  The French & Vietnamese restaurant is located in a beautiful old French house inside the Citadel and is considered one of the finest in the city. The pianist played  music from the 1940's and  50's, creating an atmosphere reminiscent of the French Colonial era. Excellent food and service all contributed to a very memorable evening.

Dinner at Les Jardins de la Carambole