An ancient land of thick, biodiverse forests, soft sand beaches, stretching rice paddy plains and historic, crumbling towns, the central Vietnamese province of Quang Nam is bordered by Laos to the west and the South China Sea to the east. While it's best known for Hoi An, a preserved 15th-century port town (and Unesco World Heritage site), visitors who venture beyond the banh mi capital will be richly rewarded.
Know where to go in Quang Nam and you'll find crumbling Hindu temples, hidden war-era tunnels and fishing villages untouched by time. Jump on a scooter (or bicycle, or bamboo basket boat) to explore its verdant islands, discover towns with sizzling food scenes (and yes, the brilliant banh mi offering in Hoi An) and villages packed with artisan potteries and bamboo workshops that will have you frantically adding kilos to your luggage allowance. Make tracks to the plains, and you'll discover fields of rice, maize and cassava that extend as far as the eye can see, while higher up, in the highlands, the scent of cinnamon and ginseng fills the air. Find your way to the province's more densely forested areas - more than half of it is covered in jungle - and you'll double your chances of an encounter with a rare red-shanked douc langur, an endangered arboreal monkey beloved for its fluffy red and grey face.
Hoi An, left, and Quang Nam forests
A far cry from Vietnam's textbook tour destinations, Quang Nam invites travellers to slow down, immerse themselves and adjust their perspective. Forget whistle-stop tours on overloaded buses; this region is all about taking it easy. A week's adventuring across the central province is sufficient, but you're sure to want to linger for longer.
Paradise found: a guide to Quang Nam, Vietnam
From homespun eco-lodges to all-singing, all-dancing beach resorts, Quang Nam has accommodation to suit all travellers. Here are three of our favourites.
Victoria Hoi An Beach Resort & Spa
Victoria Hoi An Beach Resort & Spa
After a few days of meandering around the well-preserved streets of Hoi An, this beachside bolthole is a great place to kick back and relax. You name it, the hotel has it: modern elegant rooms, a heavenly infinity pool, a shack-style cocktail bar, tennis court, gym... It's also the perfect jumping off point for exploring Quang Nam's sparkling coastline.
La Siesta Hoi An Resort & Spa
Set in the heart of things, just outside the old centre of Hoi An, this smart boutique hotel pairs traditional wooden ceiling fans and patterned floor tiles with contemporary luxury. It's equal parts swagger and swoon. Head to the pool for a refreshing dip or shake off the jet lag with a pummelling in the hotel's palm-flanked spa.
TUI Blue Nam Hoi An
TUI Blue Nam Hoi An
Located on Tam Tien beach, a yawning arc of golden sand just one hour's drive from Hoi An, this coastal wonder proves that big is beautiful. An excellent choice for families, the hotel has more than 300 rooms, three restaurants and a first-class entertainment and activity programme (including affordable local excursions). You can even learn Vietnamese.
Prepare to get your spice on. Whether you're looking for finger-licking street food or sumptuous seafood feasts, Quang Nam delivers. Here are our top spots for dining out.
A local institution, this lantern-lit refuge is famous for its regional dishes stripped back to their essential components. Try the white rose dumplings or cao lau (noodles with marinated pork) - both done the traditional way. There are masses of veggie options, too. Want to have a go at cooking? You can. Ms Vy, the restaurant's delightful owner, offers culinary classes.
It doesn't come any more rustic or ravishing than this al fresco out-of-towner. Hewn from bamboo, it might be modest in size but it's massive in ambition. Like its name suggests, the restaurant is located in a field (well, a rice paddy) and the green vibes don't end there: it's zero waste, fully sustainable and organic. Trust us, the food is just as good as the views.
If you relish a slice of innovation with your main, this buzzing Asian-fusion restaurant is the place to go. Expect a scene. There's a DJ on weekends, a smoker on the premises (try the smoked duck), fermented dragon fruit and champagne cocktails. Chef Duc, the surf- and sushi-loving bon viveur who runs it, will ensure you have a memorable visit.
Keep some cash handy. Artfully crafted souvenirs can be found in every corner of this province. These are the must-visit stores we're making tracks to.
Thanks to Hoi An's long history of weaving and tailoring, it's possible to have a suit made to measure in the blink of an eye. But for something floaty and off the rail, head to Metiseko. Its organic cotton and mulberry silk dresses in an array of eye-catching prints are as bright and breezy as they come.
Look no further than this high-end boutique for bamboo handicrafts, vivid ceramics, wispy woven basket bags and palm-leaf placemats made by skilled artisans. Alternatively, for something more hands-on, swing by the Thanh Ha pottery village, just a 10-minute drive away.
Hoi An market seller, left, and a city street. Photo credit: Efired / Shutterstock
Hoi An Market
A few packets of fragrant Vietnamese tea or spices such as turmeric, chilli and cardamom are fantastic souvenirs to take home and certain to elevate your dinner party game. All manner of savoury delights, souvenirs and trinkets can be found among the 150 stalls at Hoi An's bustling street market. It's open daily.
19 Trần Phú, Cẩm Châu, Hoi An
Whether you're more of a flop down on a white-sand beach and only move for fresh-caught seafood kind of traveller, or more inclined to spend afternoons exploring ancient temple ruins, one thing is certain: you'll have plenty to keep you entertained in Quang Nam.
Cham Islands beach, left, and a fisherman | Photo credit: Oleg D / Shutterstock
The Cham Islands
Hidden sandy coves, fresh seafood and sensational snorkelling is what you can expect on the Cham Islands. There are eight islands to choose from, all just a 30 minute speed boat ride away from the mainland. Set within a protected marine biosphere, the coral, clear waters and sea life here is like nowhere else. There aren't any hotels to speak of, but you can bed down in a guesthouse or homestay for as little as £10 a night.
Ky Anh Tunnels
For a sobering glimpse into the harsh realities of the Vietnamese war, this underground network of tunnels (the third largest in the country) is well worth a detour. No one knows them better than Mr Ta, local guide and gatekeeper of the tunnels. A natural storyteller, his tales of courage over adversity will stay with you for years.
My Son sanctuary
My Son Sanctuary
Expect the hairs on your arms to stand on end when you set foot among these ancient temple ruins. Enshrouded in thick jungle an hour west of Hoi An, this UNESCO World Heritage site is often referred to as the Angkor Wat of Vietnam. There are more than 20 buildings to explore, with masses to learn and unearth among the crumbling shrines, tombs and inner sanctums, all slowly being reclaimed by nature.
How to get there
Fly to Da Nang International Airport (with stop-offs in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh, Bangkok, Hong Kong, Singapore or Seoul), from where it's a 40-minute drive to Hoi An.
When to go
Visit between February and August for warm temperatures and sunshine.
With over 45 years of experience creating luxury holidays to the world's most desirable destinations, Kenwood Travel have truly mastered the art of escape. Choose to book your Quang Nam holiday directly online, or talk to one of their Vietnam Specialists on 020 7749 9278 to start planning the trip of a lifetime.