Port Vila

Port Vila

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Port Vila is the capital of Vanuatu and often shortened to 'Vila'. It is located around Vila Bay on Éfaté, the island that was named 'Sandwich' by explorer Cook, after Lord Sandwich. Port Vila is an excellent place to stay if you want to make trips to Vanuatu's outer isles. Parts of the city are built on steep hillsides, but the central commercial district is formed by a small block that measures about 1 km by 250 m (0.5 miles by 820 feet) in between the hills and the harbor.

Port Vila's main thoroughfare is Kumul Highway. It straddles the waterfront and leads you past most of Vila's sights, some of which include the Cultural Center, the Constitution Building, the GPO, the fish market and the covered market.

Immediately north of the city center is the French Quarter (Quartier Français), where you can see several beautiful colonial-style houses with French louvered windows. For good views over the harbor, one should walk through Rue Emile Mercet.
Port Vila's China Town is concentrated on rue Carnot in the center of town. It is often referred to as Hong Kong Street. The waterfront markets, not far from the posh suburb of Nambatu, are good places to find nice and cheap food. In Anabrou is a cemetery that boasts numerous wildly decorated Chinese and Vietnamese tombstones. It is an interesting place to go if you want to learn more about the background of Vila's population.

In 1906, the Condominium was proclaimed in Independence Park, not far uphill from the Post Office. The French and the British were bitter enemies during that time, but they ruled Vanuatu together. This joint mandate was known as the 'Condominium' and is sometimes referred to as the 'Pandemonium'. It established equal influence for both powers. While the French and Chinese quarters are in the center of town, the area around Independence Park has a distinctive, British atmosphere. It boasts quaint little houses, an English church and a village green, where, on Saturday afternoons, cricket is often played.

There are numerous hotels in Port Vila, but many of them are quite expensive. There are several cheap hostels and lodges, but most private rooms and hotels are more focused on business travelers with a buck to spend. On the grounds of the Vanuatu National Women's Council Guesthouse in Anabrou, you might be allowed to pitch a tent, although camping is generally not allowed. Vila offers some of the best and most varied dining in the Pacific. Several tour operators have offices in Port Vila.


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