Built in 1070, the Temple of Literature was Vietnam’s first university, where the country’s brightest scholars aspired to the role of mandarin, or court official. The temple is dedicated to Confucius, and is one of Hanoi’s most historic sights.
During the 10th and 11th century, Hoa Lư was the capital of Vietnam. Located in the karst hills southwest of present-day Ninh Binh, the site is today home to temples and tombs, and is a popular tourism destination, especially for locals.
Who would win between a gorilla and a cheetah? A cheetah and a giraffe? A giraffe and an elephant? An elephant and a tiger? Well, if you had been alive during Hue’s golden age, you’d know the answer to that last one, at least. We visited the arena where Tiger-Elephant death matches were a semi-regular occurrence.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Hue’s Imperial City was the seat of Vietnamese power for 143 years. Emperor Gia Long, first of the Nguyen Dynasty, decided to move the capital from Hanoi into the center of the country, and built its massive citadel along the banks of the Perfume River. Today, the Imperial City is mostly in ruins. But what fascinating ruins they are.
Until the end of the 18th century, Hoi An was Vietnam’s main port-of-call, and home to a large number of foreign traders. Above all, the city was popular with the Chinese, many of whom established a permanent presence among the Vietnamese. Communities from the various regions of China built Assembly Halls: social and religious buildings in which they could congregate and worship their ancestral gods.
The small city of Hoi An, just south of Danang, was once Vietnam’s principal port of trade, and one of the most important in all Asia. Those days are long past, but the town’s rich history is kept alive in the ancient quarter. Houses, communal halls, temples and bridges have remained in miraculous condition, and today, Hoi An is regularly hailed as the most beautiful city in Vietnam. We’d be spending a week here.