Danang / Hoi An
From Quảng Ngãi I continued heading north to another popular seaside city; Danang.
With a travel time of only two and a half hours this was an easy and inexpensive leg; the ticket was purchased at the train station the day before for around $6 USD. I had read on some travel forums that buying tickets at stations could be difficult as the sales people do not speak English. I didn’t find this to be true at all; first of all the railway staff certainly speak English well enough to complete a simple ticket sale. Secondly, there is usually an enormous sign next to the ticket window with the train schedule in Vietnamese and English; simply point at the train number on the sign. Compared to Sri Lanka train travel in Vietnam is a breeze!
Danang is well known for its beautiful beaches and boasts several popular sites such as Marble Mountain and the Museum of Cham Sculpture. However, Danang is probably mostly visited by travelers because of its close proximity to the city of Hội An.
Situated on the Thu Bồn River, 18 miles (29 km) south of Danang, Hội An is an extremely popular destination for Vietnamese as well as foreign visitors. The “Old Town” portion of the city has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage site due to its long history as a trading port. This charming area, which consists of a mixture of Chinese shop houses and buildings from the French colonial period, has changed very little in the last 200 years. Although the Old Town area is very touristy, it is adjacent to a very authentic market area which caters more to locals than travelers. The people of Hội An are extremely friendly and more than happy to pose for photographs providing, in the case of street vendors, that you make a purchase. The town provides perfect backgrounds to create wonderful pictures and it is very common to see photographers working with their models along the river front.
In addition to the Old Town, there are a number of popular attractions in the surrounding area. Mỹ Sơn is the ruins of a number of temple complexes built by the Cham people between the fourth century B.C. and fourteenth century A.D. The Cham arrived in central Vietnam from Indonesia sometime in the third to fourth century B.C. The kingdom of Champa would eventually cover a large portion of present day Vietnam. They were contemporaries and rivals of the Khmer until 1203 when they were defeated in battle by King Jayavarman VII. The Kingdom of Champa was essentially annexed by the Khmer for the next 17 years. This UNESCO World Heritage site, is located 23 miles (37 km) from Hội An and can be reached by taxi or private car in about one hour. A number of operators run bus tours to Mỹ Sơn, and although I am not a fan of organized tourism, the price is just too good to pass up. A round-trip tour bus ticket to the site can be purchased for 150,000 VND, less than $7 USD
Until next time,
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