Hue was the seat of power of the Nguyen dynasty – feudal lords of much of Vietnam in the 17th to 19th centuries. Here they built a forbidden city, designed along the lines of the one in Beijing, with a fortified citadel and monumental entry gates. In contrast is the charming small town of Hoi An, its old quarter filled with two-story shop houses, their elaborately carved wooden facades and tile roofs reminders of a once flourishing international marketplace. Da Nang is also a take off point for visits to countryside villages, surrounded by the brilliant green of rice fields, and best reached by bicycle.
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