Fabulous fresh food is the order of the day – every day – in this ancient riverside town. But explore the temples and beaches by bicycle and all those grilled dishes and pho will have been well-earned
Vietnam’s former imperial capital, Huế, has the sights – temples, tombs and the Purple Forbidden City – but much of it was destroyed during the “American war” (from 1955 to 1975). The ancient town of Hội An, 100km south, down the coast, is a much more beguiling place to spend a few days, with its lazy river lined with mustard-yellow merchants’ houses, and beaches a few kilometres away. It owes its wonderfully well-preserved state to the silting-up of the Thu Bồn river in the 19th century, which put an end to its importance as a trading post, but helped it escape modern development and US bombing. Yes, it’s touristy, but the old town is surprisingly extensive and can absorb a lot of visitors without losing its dreamy atmosphere. And while much of Vietnam, to both north and south, gets a thorough soaking in summer, the central coast is at its driest and sunniest in May, June and July.