Central Vietnam is the country’s historical and cultural heartland. At the epicenter of this intriguing heritage is Banyan Tree Lăng Cô, perfectly positioned to discover the region’s sights, sounds and tastes. Visit the charming ancient trading town of Hoi An, known for its colourful lanterns and skilled tailors, or go back in time to the imperial city of Hue and enter the Forbidden City and its beautiful cemeteries and temples. South of the resort travellers can also explore the temple complex My Son, regarded as one of the foremost Hindu temple complexes in Southeast Asia.
Central Vietnam offers a mix of warm, sunshine-filled days, rich culture, friendly people and exciting culinary experiences. At the centre of this cultural paradise, tucked behind the Truong Son mountain range and overlooking the East Sea, is the luxury resort Banyan Tree Lăng Cô. Facing a three kilometre sandy beach, the boutique resort has been designed in the style of a traditional Vietnamese village with villas dotted along the beach or facing the hillside – each their own private pool. The resort is also home to an 18-hole golf course designed by Sir Nick Faldo; as well as the world-renowned Banyan Tree Spa, sumptuous cuisine options and plenty of opportunities for water sports.
Not far from this eco-friendly resort (built from local wood, stone, bamboo and rattan), some of Vietnam’s most important historical and cultural experiences can be discovered. Not one but three UNESCO World Heritage sites call this region their home.
Hoi An offers quintessential Vietnamese charm. The town is known for its colorful, handmade lanterns and tailors, who in a few days can conjure up a complete suit, a dream dress or copy a favourite shirt. This captivating town can be traced back 2,000 years, serving as a key trading hub for almost as long.
Today, Hoi An is a popular favourite with visitors who shop for lanterns, clothing and leather products in the small car-free streets; eat street food at the night market or take part in the country’s largest full moon festivals. The full moon is celebrated in Hoi An twice per month, with the biggest celebrations in 2016 taking place on May 20, August 16 and September 14.
Visitors cannot leave Hoi An without visiting the ‘Reaching Out Handicrafts’ shop, selling ceramics and toys made by disabled artisans, who can be met in the store’s workshop. This organisation also hosts a cozy tea salon nearby where the waitresses are deaf. Here, orders are taken with special ‘word bricks’, or pen and paper, and the silence creates a very special, relaxing atmosphere in the otherwise busy shopping district.
When the shopping is done, guests can head to the resort’s restaurant Seedlings by the river of Hoi An. Seedlings is a non-profit restaurant, supporting disadvantaged youth across Vietnam, offering a symbolic bridge to a successful profession as they enter into adulthood. Guests can enjoy local Vietnamese food served by the young staff while overlooking the water and enjoying the atmosphere of Hoi An.
Hue, north of Hoi An is a must for history enthusiasts. Home to the Nguyen Dynasty, the imperial family of Vietnam from 1802to 1945, today visitors can see the citadel, even though not all of the buildings survived the Second World War and the Vietnam War. In the middle of the citadel lies the Forbidden City, where only the emperor and his immediate family were allowed. With its many temples, walls and paths, visitors can easily spend a full day here.
In respect to the region and reverence to Hue, several great emperors of Vietnam are buried around Hue. Often the emperors themselves shaped and design their graves while they were alive, and many are the size of large parks, complete with walkways, forests and lakes, offering a perfect respite on a hot day.
In addition to the many tombs, Hue also features several temples. The most popular is the Thien Mu Pagoda, built in 1601 at the edge of the Perfume River.
Central Vietnam is also where the temple complex of My Son can be found. It is regarded as one of the foremost Hindu temple complexes in Southeast Asia. My Son was constructed between the 4th and 14th century, however several of the buildings were ruined during the Vietnam War. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is worth a visit for its impressive temple buildings, set in a lush jungle valley.