#1. Ba Na Hills Resort

First established in 1919, Ba Na was built as a hill resort for the colonial French to escape the summer heat of central Vietnam’s coast. From the original ruins, Ba Na was rebuilt into an eco-resort and fantasy theme park starting 1998. It is still evolving today and for the second year running, Ba Na Hills has been awarded the title of ‘Vietnam’s Leading Resort.’

Lush ‘Sun World Ba Na Hills’ is located in the mountain ranges about 45 minutes west of the city of Da Nang centre. Its 1487m above sea level and offers refreshingly cool weather and stunning views in good weather

You’ll experience a stunning 20-minute ride above spectacular jungle and waterfalls on one of the world’s longest cable car systems – travelling about 5.7km. Remember to bring comfortable walking shoes and maybe an extra layer of clothes, when 36C in Da Nang it can be 15C on the mountain!

At the mountaintop station you’ll discover a replica medieval French provincial town, a funicular railway to take you even higher and an exciting downhill alpine luge. There are gardens and lots to see, often singers & dancers perform. Mountain tracks lead to waterfalls and viewing points. Near the mountaintop is Linh Ung Pagoda built 2004 with its giant 27m high white seated Shakyamuni Buddha statue – visible for miles around!

And check-out Ba Na Hill’s newest attraction – The stunning GOLDEN BRIDGE with views to die for!

#2. Hai Van Pass & Lang Co Bay

The Hai Van Pass is a 21Km mountain pass on our National route 1a, connecting Da Nang with the town & bay of Lang Co in Hue Province. Its Vietnamese name of Ðèo Hai Vân means ‘Ocean Cloud Pass’ and refers to the mists that rise from the East Sea – there are wonderful views of the sea from many parts of the pass which make great photo-stops.

Until the Hai Van tunnel opened in 2005, Hai Van Pass was the only route vehicles could take to go north or south in this region. Reaching up nearly 500 metres this was a difficult route for the largest buses and trucks. But with the tunnel (6.2 kilometres long, the longest in South East Asia), most traffic now bypass the pass.

Locally it is still know as ‘Top Gear’ pass after a famous BBC motoring programme visited Vietnam in 2008 – they described the pass as ‘a deserted ribbon of perfection, one of the best coast roads in the world.’

This must-see drive is included in my Hue day tour, and driving to the top we see reminders of my country’s recent past, Red Beach 2 in the distance where in 1965 the US Marine Corps made its famous landing and at the summit a bullet-scarred French Fort

#3. My Son Sanctuary

Located in a hidden valley some 60 minutes West of Hoi An and recognised by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in the late 1990’s, this sumptuous jungle setting is overlooked by Cat’s Tooth Mountain (My Son in Vietnamese is ‘beautiful mountain’).

The holy place of My Son is Vietnam’s most extensive Champa kingdom’s architectural remains, dating from the 4th to 13th centuries – although recent investigation suggests the site may have been active even earlier. The Champa ruled central & southern Vietnam from around the 2nd century until the first conquest by the Dai Viet emperor in 1471 and their final absorption into the Vietnamese state in 1832. My Son went into steady decline until rediscovery by the French in the late 1800’s who for many years restored parts of the complex.

In addition to its natural decline, Indo-China Wars and WW2 saw damage to the site, but it was 3 days in August 1968 that saw substantial destruction of the site and its jungle surrounds by carpet bombing which reduced the number of upright tower-temples to around 23 and this is the evocative site you see today.

After the unification of Vietnam in 1975, conservation work began again in earnest and now the conservation of the property is of a high standard with both national and international teams working on site

#4. Cam Thanh Fishing Village + Bamboo Basket Boat Rides

Cam Thanh is a picturesque fishing village situated on the Cua Dai river about 5km drive from Hoi An. So nothing remarkable about that you say?

But add-in our fisherman’s “Thung Chai” and Cam Thanh village becomes a great experience for all ages!

Thung Chai is the circular Vietnamese basket boat, made locally from bamboo and still used today by central Vietnam’s fishermen both at sea and on our rivers. And Cam Thanh village really shows the resilience and resourcefulness of the Vietnamese people, who have taken an everyday working item and made it into a show for our international visitors.

As well as trying your hand at fishing for river crabs, here you can explore the wetland ecology system through the Nipa Palms planted to protect the village from Thu Bon river floods, as well as witnessing an amazing boat handling exhibition by the fishermen themselves!

#5. Tra Que Herb & Vegetable ECO Village + Local Farmers

Tra Que is a small village located about 2 km north-east of Hoi An and has existed for at least 300 years.  It is located between the Tra Que algae ponds and De Vong River, which provide a really rich soil ideal for communal farming.

About 150 farmers live here and cultivate some 20 types of vegetables and herbs including mint, lettuce, basil, cilantro and broccoli amongst others. Situated on almost 100-acres (40-hectares) the village and its farming community produce the highest quality fragrant herbs and vegetables which are supplied fresh each day to local Hoi An residents, restaurants and markets. But unique in Vietnam, Tra Que products are truly organic as the growers use no pesticides or GMOs, relying instead on a seaweed found in the De Vong river and harvested by boat every morning

The growers and families of Tra Que provide a friendly ECO experience that no other in a tranquil and peaceful location, where you help with farming activities even to checking out Vietnam’s famous BMW – the farmer’s buffalo!