Venture out to the southern tip of South East Asia to discover the exciting history of beautiful Vietnam. The country is scattered with ancient monuments and significant places of interest, preserving the memory of its colourful past of prosperity and conflict. Experience local life during its many conflicts, discover imperial ruins and marvel at architecture through the ages. Vietnam is a country of wonder for all history lovers. With a choice ranging from luxury Hoi An Villas or budget hostels, Hoi An can accommodate anyone interested in the beauty it offers.
Discover a foreign past
Preserved in the Hoan Kiem District of Hanoi is an old quarter of influenced architecture and trading legacy, revealing how French colonialism shaped Vietnam’s economy. Hanoi Old Quarter was erected in the 11th century as a workshop village, surrounding the royal palace of King Ly Thai To. When the French colonised Vietnam, the quarter became a central marketplace for trade to China, India and France. Streets were named after their trade and the surrounding maze of streets were shaped by tall, and tubular houses, fashioned to make the most of selling space. The Old Quarter recently celebrated its 1000th anniversary and is now Hanoi’s major commercial district. Look out for the hidden entrances of Buddhist temples, pagodas and communal houses amidst the French architecture, honouring local gods.
An underground war
Hidden underground on the outskirts of Ho Chi Minh City lie the elaborate tunnels of Cu Chi. When the Americans invaded in 1959, the communist Viet Cong used the passages as a safe base, where they housed troops, transported supplies and devised tactical attacks against enemy fighters. During the war, numerous tunnels spanned tens of thousands of miles across the country. The remains of the original Cu Chi stretch are now open for public exploration, where a guide describes the harsh conditions and tactics of the guerilla fighters and leads you through the maze to discover hidden doorways, bomb craters and booby traps.
Holy land history
Tucked between towering mountains, 30km from the ancient Cham capital Tra Kieu, rests the former imperial city of the Cham dynasty, My Son Holy Land. Also named ‘Valley of the Kings’ by French historians, this ancient landmark was the Hindu centre of Champa Kingdom between the 4th and 14th centuries and houses a complex of over 70 religious architectural works. Temples and towers, joined by intricate red brick designs, bring character to the sanctuary which was once used to celebrate the arrival of important visitors and host holy rituals.
Climb to the top of Vong Canh Hill on the outskirts of the famous Imperial City of Hue, to witness awe inspiring panoramic views of the magnificent Perfume River. On the banks of the river, named because of its perfume scent from the fallen flowers of autumn, lay royal tombs of former Kings and Queens of Hue, each reflecting its owner’s character and life achievements. Along the northern bank you’ll find majestic ancient architecture, highlighting the power of the Nguyen Dynasty from 1802 to 1945. Buildings include the Imperial City and the Forbidden Citadel, built within each other between fortress walls, and each containing hundreds of palaces, temples and gardens.