Blessed with amazing natural wonders and historic spots, Vietnam is a destination you should definitely not miss out on when you travel to the Southeast Asian region. UNESCO Heritage Sites in Vietnam welcome you with truly exotic experiences.
When you come to visit Vietnam, it is natural not to know which sites to visit first. After all, there are so many places to visit in the country! If you want to feel the true beauty of this country, we would definitely recommend you to visit heritage sites in Vietnam. These sites have been chosen by the UNESCO either for their exquisite natural beauty or cultural values. When you are in Vietnam, don’t miss out on the following world heritage sites in your Vietnam bucket list. Your trip to these sites will be a satisfying and fulfilling experience which you will cherish for years to come!
1. Ha Long Bay – Natural Heritage Site in Vietnam
A shining pearl of Vietnam’s tourism industry, Ha Long Bay is probably the country’s most famous Natural Heritage Site. Situated in the Northern region of the country, Ha Long Bay has been listed as a World Heritage Site since 1994. In 2000, the site was listed again as a World Heritage Site according to another criterion.
Ha Long Bay boasts as many as 1,600 limestone islands which dot its emerald water. These islands themselves include limestone caves with numerous natural limestone statues and carvings made by the world’s finest sculptor: Nature itself. That may be the reason why Ha Long Bay appears in many movies filmed in Vietnam.
While you are visiting Ha Long Bay, we would recommend you to get on a cruise around the bay for a close-up view on the most beautiful corners around. You will, for most cruises, get to see the major ones with limestone caves, along with beaches and observation posts if you want to see a panoramic view of the island. There are also some floating markets which sell fresh seafood for those who look for a delightful gastronomic experience.
» Find out more on Halong Bay Cruise – Shore Excursion
2. Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park
Situated in the northern part of Central Vietnam, in Quang Binh Province, Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park is a complex of spectacular natural limestone caves and amazing ecosystems. This world heritage site in Vietnam covers a wide area of 123,326 hectares and borders the Hin Namno Nature Reserve in Laos.
The principal landscapes are limestone plateaus and tropical forests, creating a diverse ecosystem which features impressive landscapes such as caves and underground rivers. Because of its amazing universal values in terms of biodiversity and geological diversity, the entire complex was included in UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites in 2003.
Most trips to the Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park will feature a round trip along the Son River, which runs right through the Phong Nha Cave, the most famous of the local limestone caves. At the dock, you will then disembark into a small boat, which slowly sails along the river so as to let you witness how life flows by gently and slowly in rural Vietnam as well as the amazing scenery. As the boats enter Phong Nha Cave, you will be treated with magnificent stalactites and stalagmites in unique shapes and sizes. With these amazing experiences, a trip to this world heritage site will definitely give you an enjoyable trip with plenty of good memories.
If you are an adventurous type, there is also the option of exploring the Son Doong Cave, which was recently explored in 2009. It is believed to be the largest cave passage in the world in terms of diameter and continuity. It is also a rather treacherous climb which requires exceptional spelunking skills as well as equipment, so you will need to be physically fit yourself and accompanied by experts.
3. Hoi An Ancient Town – Cultural Heritage Site in Vietnam
For those looking to take a step back into time and let the flow of time run right past, Hoi An Ancient Town is the perfect destination. Located in Central Vietnam, in Quang Nam Province, this town is an exceptionally well-preserved trading post dating back to the 15th century.
In its heyday, this trading post was important commerce and cultural hub, with traders from as far as Japan settling in the area. This explains the town’s unique architectural history, which features a mix of Vietnamese, Japanese, and even Western influences. Because it is an outstanding demonstration of cultural fusion, and a well-preserved East-Asian trading post, the town has been declared a Cultural Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1999.
This world heritage site in Vietnam nowadays is much larger than the boundary of the old town, but the old quarter is still there, along with as many as 1,107 timber-frame buildings. As you stroll around this ancient quarter, take the time to explore the local amazing buildings. If you are lucky, there could be a festival or traditional games which you can jump into for a truly immersive travel experience. While you are here, don’t hesitate to try local dishes such as Cao lau or Mi quang. Hoi An’s food scene is well-known to both domestic and international foodies, so you will not want to miss that!
4. Complex of Hue Monuments
As the heritage heartland, Hue was the cultural and administrative center of the country during the reign of the Nguyen Dynasty, known as the previous capital of Vietnam. Over the reign of Nguyen kings, Hue expanded exponentially, and so did the Complex of Hue Monuments.
Situated at the center section of the city, this cultural heritage site in Vietnam is a palace complex where the palace of the Nguyen kings, as well as most administrative institutions, located. It is here that the kings convened their court and resided. The complex was built in accordance with Eastern philosophy and the buildings were arranged specifically in harmony with the Five Cardinal Points, Five Elements, and Five Colors. Thus, it is one of the rare well-preserved examples of Eastern feudal capital. The entire complex was included in UNESCO’s list in 1993.
If you are a fan of history, check out Hue City Tour and River Cruise. You will get to tour around royal chambers, where kings and queens of the Nguyen Dynasty used to reside. Don’t forget to take a moment to appreciate the carvings on the roofs as well as on the walls. They are at least centuries old and represent some of the finest masterpieces of Nguyen-era’s art. Some buildings could not be restored to their former glory, but the government has worked hard to restore most of the monuments using traditional techniques and materials, thus preserving the authenticity of the site.
Viet Nguyen written for Maika Tours
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