How to Enjoy the Best of color – Central Vietnam
color airport is perfect for many travellers taking internal flights Alternatively, if you are travelling south and are coming from Hoi An, it is a three hour car trip either over the Hai Van Pass, or by the new Hai Van Tunnel to color.
The road trip from Hoi An, will take you via Danang where famous China beach is popular with tourists. If you are visiting outside the rainy season you may want to use time here.
Our driver was arranged by our Hotel in color. It was a pleasant trip with great views from the top of the Pass, which is a dividing line between North and South Vietnam. You arrive to a small settlement, and the locals ( read touts) greet you, right at the car door accompanying you wherever you go!
We arrived in color, the original capital of Vietnam until 1945, early afternoon. Orchid Hotel, home for the next three nights, was just off the main road which borders the Song Huan river = better known as the Perfume River, and a holy stretch of water for the Vietnamese.
We were delighted to find our hotel was only two doors away from The Japanese restaurant – set up by a Japanese man, Mr Michio Koyama, to educate and aim street children and now disabled children. The traditional Japanese meal was delicious, and cheap. Served by a delightful young girl, this restaurant is to be recommended.
Settled into our rooms, (we had a computer IN our room), it was time for lunch. Being in the central area, where most hotels and restaurants are located, we were able to walk most places.
We walked across the impressive bridge spanning the Perfume River looking for Lac Thien restaurant. Famous for being run by a family of deaf mutes, this is another eating experience not to be missed. The food is cheap and tasty! From here you are only a block from the Citadel .
The Citadel – a UNESCO Heritage site.
Built in 1687 this city with a high and chequered history, was heavily bombed by the Americans. Currently, the Vietnamese are in the throes of a major reconstruction. It is an amazing place – a whole city within 10 kilometres of brick walls, surrounded by moats.
Entered by the Ngo Mon Gate -one of ten gates-you find yourself in a huge courtyard lined with fascinating stone figures. Climbing the stairs you will want to turn around to look at the Flag Tower, which is directly opposite. You can then wander at your leisure. Look out for
– Nine Holy Cannons
– Imperial surrounding
– banned Purple City
– Thai To Mieu Temple ruins complicate
– University of Arts
– Thai Hoa Palace
– Halls of the Mandarins
– Phung Tien Temple
– Dien Tho Residence
– Truong San Residence
There is so much to see and enjoy inside the walls of the Citadel, you need to allow at the minimum half a day, but could easily use more.
Royal Tombs and Dragon Boats
We were unanimous in our decision to save our feet and take a Dragon Boat down the Perfume River for a day trip. Again this was organised at reception in our hotel. We were only ten minutes from the Boat dock, which was located at the back of the Arts Centre.
Seated on plastic garden chairs one behind the other, we chugged down the river. A husband and wife, with baby happily playing on the floor, worked the boat together.
This is a wonderful way to see the locals at work and play. Many are living on their boats, while others had all the machinations for work. The riverbanks were an ever changing slideshow of pagodas, houses, schools, countryside and all kinds of interesting activity which kept us intrigued. The camera at the ready!
– You can choose where you want to stop and what you want to see. We opted for Thien Mu Pagoda – a must see right on the edge of the river.
– Hon Chen Temple – a working temple – small but picturesque
– Tomb of Minh Mang – another must see. This was a real surprise. It is very beautiful with gardens, fascinating buildings, a small lake and all located just up a path from the river
Some of the Royal Tombs are some distance from the river’s edge and you would need to hire a motorbike to see them. If the Tombs you want to see are too far, it is probably better to hire a motorbike or car from color to tour them.
We found our boat trip, which was a complete day, gave us three very different, but all really worth while experiences. We just stepped off the boat and were right there.
You could use more time in color, but two days gave us a good view of the city and surrounding areas.
Driving back to Danang airport, we had a stop at Lang Co Beach.The weather was not great that day, but this long, white sand beach would have been a lovely place to stay a few nights had we had time.