Central Coast and Caves, Vietnam
The Central Coast doesn’t have the country’s top destinations, but fewer tourists mean a better chance of experiencing authentic Vietnamese culture. This is also where modern-day Vietnam got its start, and there are a few towns where you can get a glimpse of Vietnam’s ancient history.
The land on Vietnam’s Central Coast is made largely of limestone — a malleable material that can be shaped into magnificent caves over time. Visit the vast expanse of Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park to see some of the world’s largest and most striking caves. Son Doong Cave is the largest cave in the world, and the Tu Lan Cave System has a series of caves and an underground river to explore. Both these attractions are worth multi-day treks.
The Central Coast is home to the Marble Mountain range. For years, locals chipped away at it to make fine art. Now, the marble mountains are largely sealed off, although there are still peaks you climb and shops in the area with lots of marble carvings for you to browse.
Visit the rural town of Ninh Binh to see the remains of Hoa Lu, which is Vietnam’s first capital. Hoi An’s Ancient Town is a UNESCO Heritage Site and has streets lined with well-preserved historic homes. Hue served as the capital for Vietnam’s last royal family, the Nguyen dynasty. Today, you can take a tour of the once sealed-off royal citadel.