Vietnam has long been known for its stunning landscapes that attract millions of local and foreign visitors each year.
Here, Tuoi Tre News introduces eight places that have been recognized as world heritage sites.
Complex of Hue Monuments
The Complex of Hue Monuments, which is located in Vietnam’s central city of Hue, became the country’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site in December 1993. Besides its cultural, religious and political values, the complex, which was built during the Nguyen Dynasty from the early 19th to the mid-20th century, is well-known for its sophisticated architecture and structure which represent the five cardinal points: center, west, east, north, and south; the five natural elements: earth, metal, wood, water, and fire; and the five colors yellow, white, blue, black, and red.
The Complex of Hue Monuments, which occupies a total area of over 500 hectares, comprises four citadels including Kinh Thanh (Capital City), Hoang Thanh (Imperial City), Tu Cam Thanh (Forbidden Purple City), and Dai Noi (Inner City).
Ha Long Bay
Ha Long Bay, located in the Gulf of Tonkin within the northern province of Quang Ninh, has received a slew of awards and honors, including the World Heritage Site title given by UNESCO in 1994 and 2000. It comprises around 1,600 islands and islets on a total area of 43,400 hectares, in which more than 980 islands have been given names. Most of the islands are uninhabited and unaffected by humans.
“The outstanding value of the property is centered around the drowned limestone karst landforms, displaying spectacular pillars with a variety of coastal erosional features such as arches and caves which form majestic natural scenery,” the World Heritage describes the beauty and attractiveness of Ha Long Bay on its website.
Besides UNESCO recognition, the bay has also received other titles.
In February, it was chosen as one of the Top 10 Valentine’s Day Retreats among other romantic destinations around the world by National Geographic’s book “Four Seasons of Travel” and was described as “a vision of astonishing beauty” with more than 1,600 islands.
On June 5, Ha Long Bay ranked fourth among the top eight green spaces and national parks with an average mark of 4.23 out of 5, graded by world-renowned hotel booking website Agoda.com.
In July last year, the Vietnamese bay was also listed in the world's 10 most dramatic coastlines by the well-known American online news site Huffington Post.
Also, on June 18 last year, Ha Long Bay was honored in the TripAdvisor Travellers' Choice: Asia Destination Awards 2013. The bay ranked 25th on their list of the top 25 destinations in Asia while the other Vietnamese tourist destinations Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and Hoi An placed 14th, 15th and 17th, respectively.
It was also selected as a natural wonder of the world by the New 7 Wonders poll in 2012.
Hoi An Ancient Town
In 1999, the peaceful ancient town of Hoi An was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO as a well-preserved example of a Southeast Asian trading port of the 15th to 19th centuries, with buildings that display a unique blend of local and foreign influences.
The old town in the central province of Quang Nam was voted by UK tourism magazine Wanderlust in early 2013 as the world’s best tourism city.
Most of the buildings in Hoi An, which reflect the traditional architectural style of the 19th and 20th centuries, are carefully preserved and have wowed many foreign visitors thanks to their charm.
On its website, the World Heritage introduces Hoi An as a special example of a traditional Asian trading port and an outstanding material manifestation of the fusion of cultures over time in an international maritime commercial center.
My Son sanctuary
My Son relic in central Quang Nam Province, which was recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999, dates from the 4th to the 13th centuries. Its tower clusters were constructed over ten consecutive centuries in what was the heart of the Champa kingdom.
The towers of the My Son sanctuary are the most significant constructions of the My Son civilization. They boast a wide variety of architectural designs and are constructed in fired brick and decorated with sandstone bas-reliefs that depict scenes from the Hindu mythology.
Besides being considered evidence of the Cham’s sophisticated engineering and construction skills, My Son also represents the spiritual faith of the Champa kingdom.
Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park
Phong Nha - Ke Bang National Park is located in the middle of the Annamite Mountain Range in the central Vietnamese province of Quang Binh and shares its boundary with the Hin Namno Nature Reserve in the Lao PDR to the west. It won the UNESCOWorld Heritage Site title in 2003.
The property occupies a total area of 85,754 hectares and contains terrestrial and aquatic habitats, tropical dense forests and large caves, including Son Doong cave, which was recognized as the world’s biggest cave in April 2009.
The cave, which has a large fast-flowing underground river within it, was found by a local resident named Ho Khanh in 1991. The largest chamber of Son Doong is more than five kilometers long, 200 meters high, and 150 meters wide.
Thang Long Imperial Citadel
The Thang Long Imperial Citadel in Hanoi, one of the country’s momentous relics, was initially built during the Ly Dynasty and subsequently expanded by the Tran, Le and Nguyen Dynasties. The central area of the imperial citadel was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2010.
The royal palaces and most of the structures in the complex were in deteriorating condition by the late 19th and 20th centuries. Only in the 21st century did systematic excavations begin on its ruined foundations. The first remains were unearthed on the site of the former Ba Dinh Hall or the old National Assembly Building, which was demolished in 2008 to make room for a new parliament building.
The Ho Dynasty Citadel
The Ho Dynasty Citadel, built according to feng shui principles, was officially recognized as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in June 2012. The citadel, a great work of architecture in the central province of Thanh Hoa, was the capital of Vietnam from 1397 to 1407.
It consists of three sections: a bamboo hedge, a moat and a citadel wall, plus a palace complex with marble roads that connect each palace.
According to the World Heritage website, the Ho Dynasty Citadel bears exceptional testimony to a critical period in Vietnamese and Southeast Asian history when traditional kingship and Buddhist values were giving way to new trends in technology, commerce and centralized administration.
Trang An Landscape Complex
Trang An Landscape Complex in Ninh Binh Province in northern Vietnam was inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage List in late June, the country’s first site to be acknowledged as a mixed natural and cultural property.
Nestled on the southern shore of the Red River Delta, Trang An is a resplendent complex of limestone karst peaks permeated by valleys, including submerged ones, and surrounded by steep, almost vertical cliffs.
Archaeological traces of human activity dating back almost 30,000 years have been found within the complex.
The area is also home to temples, pagodas, paddy fields, villages, and other sacred sites.
It has around 500 species of flora, 73 species of birds and 41 species of other animals, and is renowned for its diverse ecosystem, unique natural beauty and geological characteristics.