7 Days in Central Vietnam: Must-go places & travel guide

Nestled between the rugged mountains and pristine coastlines, Central Vietnam offers an enchanting blend of natural wonders, vibrant cultures, and historical treasures. From the charming ancient towns to the breathtaking beaches, this region promises an unforgettable adventure for every traveler. Join me on a captivating journey through Central Vietnam, where we’ll uncover the best places to visit, immerse ourselves in rich traditions, and savor the flavors of this diverse land.

Phong Nha Cave, Quang Binh
Phong Nha Cave, Quang Binh

Top Things to Do in Central Vietnam in 7 Days

Explore the Imperial City of Hue

Hue, the former imperial capital of Vietnam, is a treasure trove of cultural and historical gems. Step into the grand Imperial City, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that was once the seat of the Nguyen Dynasty. Wander through the awe-inspiring architecture of the Citadel, the Forbidden Purple City, and the harmonious blend of gardens and pavilions.

Uncover the Charm of Hoi An Ancient Town

Hoi An, a UNESCO-listed ancient town, is a true time capsule of Vietnam’s past. Stroll along the picturesque streets lined with yellow-hued buildings, lantern-lit shops, and charming bridges that span the Thu Bon River. Immerse yourself in the town’s rich history, visit the Japanese Covered Bridge, and savor the delectable cuisine.

Embrace Nature’s Wonders at Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park

Venture into the breathtaking Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, home to the world’s largest cave system. Explore the awe-inspiring Son Doong Cave, a vast underground realm with towering caverns and captivating geological formations. For the adventurous, embark on a thrilling cave expedition or indulge in eco-tourism activities.

Exploring the Culture of Central Vietnam in 7 Days

Immerse Yourself in the Imperial Grandeur of Hue

Hue, the former imperial capital, is a living testament to Vietnam’s rich cultural heritage. Explore the magnificent Imperial City, a vast complex that served as the administrative and religious center during the Nguyen Dynasty. Marvel at the intricate architecture, meticulously crafted gardens, and the harmonious blend of Chinese and Vietnamese influences.

  • The Forbidden Purple City: Step into the heart of the Imperial City and discover the Forbidden Purple City, a secluded area reserved exclusively for the emperor and his family. Witness the opulent residences, temples, and courtyards that once hosted lavish ceremonies and royal affairs.
  • Hue’s Vibrant Culinary Traditions: Hue is renowned for its unique and flavorful cuisine, which reflects the city’s prestigious history. Sample the iconic Bún bò Huế, a hearty noodle soup with beef and lemongrass, or indulge in the delicate Bánh khoai, a savory pancake made with rice flour and shrimp. Don’t miss the chance to participate in a traditional cooking class and learn the secrets behind these delectable dishes.

Embrace the Charm of Hoi An Ancient Town

Hoi An, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a captivating blend of Vietnamese, Chinese, and Japanese influences. Stroll through the narrow streets lined with vibrant yellow buildings, where skilled artisans continue to practice traditional crafts.

  • Lantern-Lit Streets and Ancient Architecture: As the sun sets, Hoi An transforms into a magical wonderland, with lanterns illuminating the ancient streets and reflecting off the tranquil Thu Bon River. Admire the iconic Japanese Covered Bridge, a symbol of the town’s rich cultural heritage, and visit the Tan Ky Heritage House to gain insights into the lives of Hoi An’s wealthy merchants.
  • Immersive Cultural Experiences: Immerse yourself in the local traditions by attending a traditional music and dance performance or participating in a hands-on workshop. Learn the art of lantern-making, practice calligraphy, or try your hand at creating intricate embroidery pieces.

Explore the Natural Wonders of Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park

Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a breathtaking realm of towering limestone mountains, lush forests, and otherworldly cave systems. Embark on a journey of discovery and witness the awe-inspiring natural wonders that have captivated explorers and scientists alike.

  • Son Doong Cave: The World’s Largest Cave: Son Doong Cave, a true marvel of nature, is the world’s largest known cave system. Venture into this underground realm and be mesmerized by the colossal caverns, towering stalagmites and stalactites, and the ethereal play of light and shadow. This once-in-a-lifetime experience is sure to leave you awestruck.
  • Paradise Cave and Phong Nha Cave: Explore the enchanting Paradise Cave, where a mesmerizing array of rock formations, underground rivers, and geological wonders await. Follow in the footsteps of adventurers and discover the Phong Nha Cave, renowned for its stunning landscapes and intriguing history.

Must-Try Food and Restaurants in Central Vietnam

Iconic Dishes of Central Vietnam

Central Vietnam boasts a rich culinary heritage, with dishes that showcase the region’s diverse influences and locally sourced ingredients. From the aromatic and flavorful soups to the delicate and artistic presentations, prepare your taste buds for a gastronomic adventure.

  • Bún bò Huế: Originating from the imperial city of Hue, Bún bò Huế is a hearty and aromatic noodle soup that has become a national treasure. Savor the rich broth infused with lemongrass, shrimp paste, and a blend of spices, accompanied by thick rice noodles, tender beef, and a variety of fresh herbs and vegetables.
  • Bánh mì: No visit to Vietnam is complete without indulging in the iconic bánh mì, a delectable fusion of French and Vietnamese culinary traditions. This mouthwatering sandwich features a crispy baguette filled with savory meats, fresh vegetables, herbs, and the perfect balance of flavors and textures.
  • Cơm gà Hội An: Hoi An’s famous chicken rice dish, Cơm gà Hội An, is a true delight for the senses. Succulent chicken is slowly simmered in a fragrant broth, resulting in tender meat and a flavorful sauce, served alongside perfectly cooked rice and an array of fresh herbs and condiments.

Renowned Restaurants in Central Vietnam

  • Lạc Thiện Vegetarian Restaurant (Hue): For an authentic taste of Hue’s vegetarian cuisine, Lạc Thiện Vegetarian Restaurant is amust-visit establishment. Located in the heart of the city, this restaurant offers a wide selection of traditional vegetarian dishes made with fresh, locally sourced ingredients. From flavorful tofu dishes to aromatic vegetable soups, each dish is a culinary masterpiece that showcases the rich flavors of Hue.
  • Morning Glory Restaurant (Hoi An): Morning Glory Restaurant in Hoi An is a culinary gem that celebrates the vibrant flavors of Central Vietnam. Led by renowned chef Ms. Vy, this restaurant offers an extensive menu of authentic dishes that highlight the region’s diverse culinary heritage. Don’t miss the opportunity to try the Cao Lau, a signature Hoi An noodle dish, or the crispy Hoi An pancakes filled with shrimp and bean sprouts.
  • Phong Nha Vegan Restaurant (Phong Nha): For those seeking plant-based dining options, Phong Nha Vegan Restaurant is a top choice in the region. This cozy eatery serves up a variety of creative vegan dishes that are both delicious and nutritious. Indulge in the fresh spring rolls, flavorful stir-fries, and hearty noodle soups, all made with locally sourced organic produce.

Street Food Delights

  • Banh Xeo (Vietnamese Savory Pancake): A popular street food favorite in Central Vietnam, Banh Xeo is a crispy and savory pancake filled with shrimp, pork, bean sprouts, and herbs. Served with fresh lettuce leaves and dipping sauce, this flavorful dish is a must-try for food enthusiasts looking to experience the authentic tastes of the region.
  • Banh Canh Cua (Crab Soup Cake): Banh Canh Cua is a comforting and hearty soup made with thick rice noodles, succulent crab meat, and fragrant broth. This dish is a beloved comfort food in Central Vietnam, perfect for warming the soul on a cool evening. Pair it with fresh herbs, lime wedges, and chili for a burst of flavor.

In conclusion, Central Vietnam offers a diverse and enriching travel experience for visitors seeking to explore the region’s cultural heritage, natural wonders, and culinary delights. From the imperial grandeur of Hue to the charming streets of Hoi An and the breathtaking landscapes of Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, each destination has its own unique charm and allure. By immersing yourself in the local culture, savoring the iconic dishes, and exploring the historical sites, you can create unforgettable memories that will last a lifetime. Whether you’re a history buff, a food enthusiast, or a nature lover, Central Vietnam has something special to offer every traveler. Plan your 7-day itinerary wisely to make the most of your journey through this captivating region.

Best Places to Visit in Central Vietnam

Central Vietnam is a region steeped in history, culture, and natural beauty. From ancient imperial cities to stunning beaches and lush national parks, there is no shortage of incredible destinations to explore. Here are some of the best places to visit during your 7-day trip to Central Vietnam.

Hue: The Imperial City

Hue, the former capital of Vietnam, is a city brimming with historical significance and architectural marvels. Explore the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Imperial City, home to the ancient citadel, royal tombs, and ornate palaces. Immerse yourself in the rich heritage of the Nguyen Dynasty as you wander through the picturesque Perfume River and sample traditional Hue cuisine.

Hoi An: The Ancient Town

Step back in time as you wander the charming streets of Hoi An, a well-preserved ancient town that exudes old-world charm. Admire the iconic Japanese Covered Bridge, browse the vibrant lantern-lit markets, and marvel at the intricate architecture of the historic merchant houses. Don’t miss the opportunity to partake in a lantern-making workshop or sample the delectable local street food.

Da Nang: The Coastal Gem

Da Nang is a coastal city known for its pristine beaches, modern amenities, and vibrant nightlife. Visit the iconic Marble Mountains, a cluster of five limestone hills with hidden caves and pagodas offering panoramic views of the city and coastline. Relax on the sandy shores of My Khe Beach or take a stroll along the famous Dragon Bridge illuminated by colorful lights at night.

Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park: Natural Wonder

Embark on an adventure to Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, home to some of the world’s most spectacular cave systems and karst landscapes. Discover the awe-inspiring Son Doong Cave, Paradise Cave, and Phong Nha Cave, each offering a unique glimpse into the underground wonders of Vietnam. Trek through lush jungles, cruise along the Son River, and marvel at the breathtaking natural scenery.

My Son Sanctuary: Ancient Ruins

Journey to the My Son Sanctuary, a cluster of Hindu temples and ruins dating back to the Champa Kingdom. Explore the mystical archaeological site nestled amidst verdant valleys and surrounded by towering mountains. Marvel at the intricate carvings, red brick towers, and sacred relics that offer a glimpse into Vietnam’s ancient past.

Itinerary for a Week in Central Vietnam

Planning a week-long itinerary for Central Vietnam allows you to experience the region’s diverse attractions, from ancient landmarks and cultural sites to natural wonders and culinary delights. By strategically organizing your days, you can make the most of your time and create lasting memories of your journey through this captivating destination. Here is a suggested itinerary for a week in Central Vietnam.

Day 1: Arrival in Hue

  • Arrive in the imperial city of Hue and check into your accommodation.
  • Explore the Imperial City and Forbidden Purple City, learning about the history of the Nguyen Dynasty.
  • Visit the Thien Mu Pagoda and enjoy a scenic boat ride along the Perfume River.
  • Sample traditional Hue cuisine such as Bún bò Huế (beef noodle soup) for dinner.

Day 2: Hue to Hoi An

  • Travel to Hoi An, stopping at Hai Van Pass for panoramic views of the coastline.
  • Check into your hotel in Hoi An and spend the afternoon exploring the Old Town.
  • Visit the Japanese Covered Bridge, Assembly Hall of the Fujian Chinese Congregation, and Quan Cong Temple.
  • Enjoy a lantern-making workshop or take a cooking class to learn about local cuisine.

Day 3: Hoi An Countryside and Beaches

  • Explore the countryside around Hoi An by bicycle or motorbike, visiting local villages and rice paddies.
  • Relax on An Bang Beach or Cua Dai Beach, soaking up the sun and swimming in the clear waters.
  • Visit Tra Que Vegetable Village to learn about organic farming practices and enjoy a farm-to-table meal.
  • Attend a traditional performance at the Hoi An Impression Theme Park.

Day 4: My Son Sanctuary and Da Nang

  • Take a day trip to the My Son Sanctuary, exploring the ancient Hindu temples and ruins.
  • Continue to Da Nang and visit the Marble Mountains, Linh Ung Pagoda, and Dragon Bridge.
  • Relax at My Khe Beach or explore the vibrant nightlife and dining scene in Da Nang.
  • Enjoy a seafood dinner at a local restaurant overlooking the Han River.

Day 5: Da Nang to Phong Nha

  • Travel to Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, stopping at the Vinh Moc Tunnels along the way.
  • Check into your accommodation in Phong Nha and explore the town’s shops and restaurants.
  • Visit Paradise Cave and Thien Duong Cave, marveling at the stunning stalactites and stalagmites.
  • Enjoy a boat tour along the Son River to Phong Nha Cave, discovering its hidden chambers and rock formations.

Day 6: Adventure in Phong Nha

  • Embark on a caving expedition to Son Doong Cave or explore other caves in the national park.
  • Go hiking or zip-lining through the jungle, taking in the lush landscapes and wildlife.
  • Visit the Botanical Garden, Dark Cave, or Mooc Spring for more outdoor adventures.
  • Relax with a traditional massage or spa treatment to unwind after a day of exploration.

Day 7: Departure from Central Vietnam

  • Enjoy a leisurely morning in Phong Nha before heading back to Hue or Da Nang for your departure.
  • Shop for souvenirs such as local handicrafts, silk products, or traditional artwork.
  • Reflect on your week-long journey through Central Vietnam and savor the memories you’ve created.
  • Depart from the region with a newfound appreciation for its culture, history, and natural beauty.

By following this itinerary, you can experience the best of Central Vietnam in a week, covering a diverse range of attractions and activities that showcase the region’s unique charm and allure. Whether you’re exploring ancient ruins, relaxing on pristine beaches, or indulging in flavorful cuisine, each day offers new opportunities for discovery and adventure in this captivating destination.

Culinary Experiences and Cooking Classes

Immerse yourself in the vibrant food culture of Central Vietnam by participating in culinary experiences and cooking classes that offer a hands-on approach to learning about local ingredients and traditional cooking techniques. Whether you’re exploring a bustling market, preparing dishes with a local chef, or dining with a Vietnamese family, these immersive experiences provide insight into the culinary traditions and cultural significance of Central Vietnamese cuisine.

Market Tour and Cooking Class in Hoi An

Embark on a guided tour of Hoi An’s colorful market to discover the freshest produce, herbs, and spices used in traditional Vietnamese cooking. Learn how to select the best ingredients and interact with local vendors as you shop for your cooking class. Then, head to a local kitchen where a skilled chef will guide you through the preparation of classic dishes such as Cao Lau noodles, fresh spring rolls, and grilled fish in banana leaves. Finally, sit down to enjoy the fruits of your labor and savor the flavors of Central Vietnam.

Street Food Walking Tour in Da Nang

Join a street food walking tour in Da Nang to sample a variety of local delicacies and hidden gems that are beloved by residents but may be off the beaten path for tourists. Follow your knowledgeable guide to bustling food stalls, family-run eateries, and popular street food markets as you taste dishes like Banh Xeo, Mi Quang, and Banh Canh Cua. Gain insight into the history and cultural significance of each dish, and learn about the culinary traditions that have shaped Central Vietnamese cuisine.

Homestay Dining Experience in Hue

Experience the warmth and hospitality of a Vietnamese family by participating in a homestay dining experience in Hue. Sit down to a home-cooked meal prepared with love and care, featuring regional specialties and family recipes that have been passed down through generations. Engage in lively conversations with your hosts, share stories and laughter, and gain a deeper appreciation for the role of food in Vietnamese culture. This intimate dining experience offers a glimpse into the daily life and traditions of Central Vietnam, creating lasting memories of your culinary journey.

In conclusion, Central Vietnam’s culinary scene is a vibrant tapestry of flavors, textures, and aromas that reflect the region’s rich cultural heritage and diverse influences. From iconic dishes to renowned restaurants and street food delights, there are endless opportunities to indulge in the must-try foods of Central Vietnam. By exploring the local cuisine, participating in culinary experiences, and connecting with the community through food, you’ll gain a new perspective on the region’s culinary traditions and create lasting memories of your gastronomic adventure in Central Vietnam. Bon appétit!


In conclusion, a week-long trip to Central Vietnam offers a perfect blend of cultural exploration, culinary delights, historical discoveries, and natural beauty. From the ancient town of Hoi An to the imperial city of Hue, and the stunning beaches of Da Nang, this region has something for every type of traveler.

By following our comprehensive itinerary and recommendations for the best places to visit, things to do, food to try, and tips for traveling around Central Vietnam, you can make the most of your 7-day adventure in this captivating destination. Whether you’re exploring the UNESCO World Heritage sites, sampling street food delights, or relaxing on pristine beaches, Central Vietnam will leave you with unforgettable memories and a deep appreciation for its rich history and vibrant culture.

So pack your bags, prepare your taste buds for an explosion of flavors, and get ready for an incredible journey through the heart of Vietnam. Central Vietnam awaits, ready to enchant you with its charm, warmth, and hospitality. Enjoy every moment of your trip and savor the unique experiences that this remarkable region has to offer. Safe travels and may your week in Central Vietnam be filled with joy, discovery, and moments that will last a lifetime.