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The central area divides into two – the narrow coastal strip, and the Truong Son (Annamite) mountain range backing on to the borders with Laos and Cambodia to the west. It's by far the longest region (about 1,400km from Phat Diem in the north to Phan Thiet in the south) and the least populated.
Vietnam's Central Coast is the most awkward area in Indochina as far as weather is concerned – it's complicated topography creates a range of micro-climates.
Hue, for example, has a deserved reputation for miserable weather, but a short drive south crossing the Hai Van Pass to Danang usually sees the clouds clear and the mercury rise.
Hundreds of miles of soft white sand beachesMost of the coastal strip is one long beach backed by a ribbon of land carrying Highway 1 and the railway. Where the strip widens, towns have developed.
The Central Coast of Vietnam is an obvious choice for anyone looking for a beach holiday. Almost the total length of the Central Coast is lined with deserted soft sand beaches.
However, the Central Area has much more to attract visitors.
Bomb craters in Quang TriOn the coast, Hue is a centre for three World Heritage areas, and Quang Tri province, where most of the fiercest battles took place during the American War. Further south, Qui Nhon and Nha Trang are resort areas. The later is well established and commercialised, while Qui Nhon is in its infancy.
The Central Coast can also boast two of Vietnam's best National Parks – Bach Ma, near Hue, and Phong Nha, now Vietnam's fifth World Heritage Area, in the northern section.
A street in the ancient town of Hoi AnIn the main centres of Hue, Hoi An, Nha Trang and Phan Thiet, tourism infrastructure is well developed and cultural and beach holidays are fully established.
In the long stretches between them, there are plenty of deserted beaches, but few restaurants or places to stay. Access is either by road or rail.
The majority of the many beaches and villages along the coast are little affected by tourism – if you can put up with basic accommodation and local food, you could spend a leisurely week or two wandering from place to place as you wish.
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