The World Heritage Road stretches from Quang Binh Province to Quang Nam Province, around 800km along the coast of Central Vietnam.
It is so called because the route encompasses several outstanding UNESCO-designated World Heritage Sites: the 16th Century silk route trading port of Hoi An, My Son Valley, the sacred remains of the ancient Cham civilization, and the complex surrounding imperial city of Hue.
Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park – is a Natural World Heritage site. It’s the first step on The World Heritage Road from the north of Vietnam.
It’s around 500km from Hanoi or 1,350km from Ho Chi Minh city. You can reach Quang Binh Province by sleeping night bus from Hanoi (6.30pm – 5.30am), by a 50-minute flight from Hanoi, or a 1.5 hour flight from Ho Chi Minh city.
The park was created to protect one of the world’s largest karst regions. Phong Nha-Kẻ Bàng is noted for its cave and grotto systems. There are 300 caves and grottos with a total length of about 70 km, of which only 20 have been surveyed. Phong Nha held several world cave records, as it has the longest underground river, as well as the largest caverns and passageways.
Next stop, it’s Hue Complex of Monuments (including a string of temples, pagodas and other spiritual sites). Hué was the imperial capital of Vietnam between 1802 and 1945. This place is an unique example of a planned and fully defended feudal capital city in southeast Asia. It became a World Heritage of Vietnam in 1994.
The Capital City is a complex enclosed within defensive walls. It holds residences, palaces and gates, with the Forbidden Purple City at its heart. From Hanoi/Ho Chi Minh city, you can take a 1-hour flight or sleeping night bus from Hanoi or train from HCMC.
Hoi An Ancient Town
Not far from Hue, around 160km, you will be in Hoi An, the third of The World Heritage Road sites. Hội An is an exceptionally well-preserved example of a trading port dating from the 15th to the 19th century.
The city possessed the largest harbour in Southeast Asia in the 1st century and was known as Lâm Ấp Phố (Champa City). Between the seventh and 10th centuries, the Cham (people of Champa) controlled the strategic spice trade and with this came tremendous wealth. The former harbour town of the Cham at the estuary of the Thu Bon river was an important Vietnamese trading centre in the 16th and 17th centuries, where Chinese from various provinces as well as Japanese, Dutch and Indians settled. During this period of the China trade, the town was called Hai Pho (Seaside Town) in Vietnamese. Originally, Hai Pho was a divided town with the Japanese settlement across the “Japanese Bridge” (16th-17th century). The bridge (Chùa cầu) is a unique covered structure built by the Japanese, the only known covered bridge with a Buddhist Pagoda attached to one side.
My Son Holy Land
The end of The World Heritage Road is My Son Holy Land. It is 70 km from Da Nang and 45 km from Hoi An.
This World Heritage site is a cluster of abandoned and partially ruined Hindu temples constructed between the 4th and the 14th century.
From the 4th to the 14th century, the valley at Mỹ Sơn was a site of religious ceremony for kings of the ruling dynasties of Champa, as well as a burial place for Cham royalty and national heroes.
The Mỹ Sơn temple complex is regarded one of the foremost Hindu temple complexes in Southeast Asia and is the foremost heritage site of this nature in Vietnam. It is often compared with other historical temple complexes in Southeast Asia, such as Borobudur of Java in Indonesia, Angkor Wat of Cambodia, Bagan of Myanmar and Ayutthaya of Thailand.
Learn more at http://whc.unesco.org/en/statesparties/vn
Some Rainbow Tourism Vietnam tour options tour for these UNESCO World Heritage Sites:
- The World Heritage Road Tour from Da Nang. 3 days/2 nights from US$250 per person
- The World Heritage Road Tour from Hanoi by train/bus. 4 days/3 nights from US$315 pp
- The World Heritage Road Tour from Hanoi. 9 days/8 nights from US$1,095 per person
- Email Rainbow Tourism Vietnam