North-Central Vietnam

Introducing North-Central Vietnam

Only a hundred kilometres north of Hué, the tone changes as war-sites litter the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), which cleaved the country in two from 1954 to 1975. More than three decades of peace have done much to heal the scars, but the monuments that pepper these windswept hills bear eloquent witness to a generation that lost their lives in the tragic struggle. The DMZ is most easily tackled as a day-trip from Hué, after which most people hop straight up to Hanoi. And there’s little to detain you on the northward trek, save the glittering limestone caverns of Phong Nha, the entrance to a massive underground river system tunnelling under the Truong Son Mountains, which includes Son Doong cave, discovered in 2009 and now thought to be the largest cave in the world. Then, on the very fringes of the northern Red River Delta, lie the ancient incense-steeped temples of Hoa Lu and, nearby, the mystical landscapes of Tam Coc and Van Long, where paddy fields lap at the feet of limestone hummocks