White Sand and Marble Mountains

In the little riverside hamlet of Hoi An, time has stood still. You will find yourself strolling past houses the colours of after-dinner mints - lavender, canary yellow, pink. You'll pass galleries, tailors' shops and pagodas with clay-tiled roofs. Peer into the windows of an old shop-house and the scene is straight out of the 19th century: round Chinese cloth lanterns, dark wooden beams, intricately carved teak furniture, lacquer screens, an ornate, gilded altar.

Three centuries ago, this little town in central Vietnam was a bustling port, full of traders from Japan, China and beyond. Today, this World Heritage Site is a living museum. A 40-minute drive from ancient Chinese, Japanese and Vietnamese architecture and traditional Vietnamese hospitality.

Hoi An reveals but one layer of the region's history. From the 2nd to 15th centuries, the land around Danang was ruled by the Chams, an Indianised people who built brick temple towers in honour of Hindu gods. The ruined temple complex of My Son, a World Heritage Site just 60km from Danang, provides visitors with a fascinating glimpse into this ancient culture. Cham statues of graceful dancing girls and awesome deities create a lasting impression. In Danang itself, a gracious, French-built museum houses the world's finest collection of ancient Cham stone carvings.