Ha Long Bay, Hoi An Ancient Town and Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park of Vietnam are chosen by UK’s Wanderlust travel magazine as the top 16 UNESCO World Heritage wonders in Southeast Asia.
In Southeast Asia, there are 41 UNESCO World Heritage Sites and it’s so amazing that the region is packed with wild parks, natural wonders and ancient temples that are worth a try.
Ha Long Bay
Only a 2 hour-drive from Ha Noi, Ha Long Bay - an UNESCO World Heritage Site - famous limestone islets rearing dramatically from the sea. With 1,969 islands and islets of hulking limestone and deep, green waters that are home to myriad floating villages, this is a place where time slows to a standstill. One of the best ways to enjoy the trip to the bay is lying prostrate aboard an old wooden junker, peering out across the emerald waters as jungle-covered precipices rear out of nowhere.
Challenging yourself with tons of outdoor activities including kayak out for a more intimate look at the likes of Thien Cung, famed for its impressive stalagmites and stalactites; or drift past oysters farms and floating villages – ramshackle constructions linked by trembling walkways – to seek out secret beaches away from the boat-going hordes.
Hoi An Ancient Town
Hoi An was inscribed into the list in 1999 as a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in the Quang Nam Province of Vietnam. The Ancient Town is a quiet, sculpted riposte to the pace of modern Vietnamese life. The city was once a thriving port town and home to merchants from across Asia until the Thu Bon River silted up some 200 years ago.
The gorgeous coastal town of Vietnam is famous for its handcrafted lanterns, French-style yellow hue households which are rich in cultural experiences, with Chinese Quarter and dainty Japanese-style covered bridge.
Wander around Tran Phu, the city’s oldest commercial street to admire traditional wooden-fronted stores, during the monthly Full Moon Festival the glow of lanterns bathes their frontages a hazy, atmospheric red. The faded pastel facades, collonaded balconies, cafés, markets, tailors and boutiques that cluster the Old Town.
Flights connect Ha Noi and Ho Chi Minh City to Da Nang (both one and a half hours). From there, Hoi An is a 45-minute taxi ride away.
Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park
Phong Nha - Ke Bang National Park was recognized by UNESCO in 2003. In 2009, the British Royal Cave Association delegation officially announced the discovery of Son Doong Cave with a magnificent scale. Since then, more giant caves have been found, hidden behind the sparkling stalagmites and stalactites.
Visitors can visit the neighbour cave - Paradise, with buggies shepherding crowds from the nearby village of Son Trach – a good base for visiting the park. Inside, enormous stalactites bear down from a ceiling that extends for 31km.
Alternatively, head to the Dark Cave, which requires a kayak trip upriver. Enjoy a quick mud bathe before cleaning off with a swim in an underground lake.
Flights connect Ha Noi (one hour, 10 minutes) and Ho Chi Minh (one hour 40 minutes) to Dong Hoi. From there, buses go to Son Trach (one and a half hours).
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