Vietnam Travel - The welcome you can expect in Vietnam is indicative of the natural hospitality of the people. It is a nation that has been occupied, colonised and which has fought wars for its freedom. The most recent war between North and South and the presence of the might of the USA, might have led to an insular attitude and a reluctance to welcome ‘strangers.’ The reality is totally different and the growth of international travel, especially to previously inaccessible countries has resulted in countries like Vietnam being able to show itself to the world. It is almost as though the Vietnamese don’t want to keep their wonderful country to themselves; ‘come and see us’ is the cry and the welcome, and few who have done so regret it.
Vietnam is one of the countries that make up the region of Indo China and Vietnam travel holidays provide the chance to experience just part, and certainly the most important part, of the Region. If you want a Vietnam Travel Package, there is plenty of ways to do so. Overseas visitors will fly into Hanoi in the north or Ho Chi Minh City in the south. There are plenty of internal flights between the two as well as tours concentrating in the northern part of the Country or the southern part of the Country. Once you are there it would be a shame not to experience both as well as some of the beautiful coastline in the Central region. If you are planning a Vietnam Travel itinerary then you should try to find enough holiday time to see as much of the country as possible.
Hanoi is arguably the most beautiful city in Asia, a city that has been a settlement for many centuries and which possesses beautiful tree-lined avenues and a host of lakes. Hoan Kiem Lake for example is in the historic centre of Hanoi and is popular with locals and visitors alike. The name means ‘’returned sword’’ and tells of the legend of King Le Loi’s receipt of a magic sword from the gods which he used to repel Chinese invaders before subsequently returning it to the Golden Turtle God in the Lake. Ngoc Son Temple is at the north end of the Lake with parts of the complex dating back to the 13th Century.
There is 21st Century development side by side with farmers in the fields no distance away as the city becomes rural countryside. The most interesting part of the city is north of Huan Kiem Lake, a very compact area though why rush to see it all if you have time on your Vietnam Travel itinerary? You should make time to breathe in the atmosphere.
Hi Chi Minh’s Mausoleum on the edge of Ba Dinh Square is a notable landmark while the Ho Chi Minh Museum is another thing that should be on any itinerary for those who decide to travel to Vietnam.
Ho Chi Minh City
The former Saigon is comfortably Vietnam’s largest city. There are many modern skyscrapers mixed with ancient pagoda and the bustle created by food vendors and their stalls. There is a real mix. Some may feel at times they are in China, others in America if they look up to the skies. As in Hanoi the French influence shines through; green tree-lined boulevards.
Reunification Palace is a landmark of some significance while there are several museums, Ho Chi Minh, Revolutionary and Vietnam History which can occupy your time for hours. There is no need to worry if there is rain around because there is plenty to do on the Ho Chi Minh City leg of a Vietnam Travel holiday.
Cho Lon, the City’s Chinatown, is one of the oldest parts of the City and part of the great shopping adventure that visitors will experience. Nghia An Hoi Quan is probably the pick of the pagodas on view.
Beyond the Cities
There are many highlights in Vietnam and exploring its two most famous cities, Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City is the minimum any tourist should do. It is certainly worth looking more closely at some of Vietnam’s other highlights, natural or historical, to whet your appetite further:
Ha Long Bay
Arguably Ha Long Bay in the North of Vietnam is the first destination that many travellers have on their list once they have seen the two cities. The coastline is over 100 km and the Bay includes numerous small islands some of which are hollow. There are spectacular caves, lakes, limestone pillars and lush vegetation. There are small fishing villages dotted throughout the area which has become a UNESCO World Heritage site. The Bay is about 3 hours away from Hanoi and cruising is certainly the best way to enjoy this wonderful setting.Indeed one body has included the Bay as one of today’s ‘’Seven Natural Wonders of the World.’’
Thien Mu Pagoda
Vietnam is a largely Buddhist country and there is plenty of evidence of the fact. The best example is perhaps the seven storey high Thien Mu Pagoda in Hue, the ancient capital of the country. It is Vietnam’s tallest pagoda and sits on the banks of the Perfume River. It dates back to the beginning of the 17th Century and the rule of the Nguyễn Lords. The first temple was a very simple affair but through time there have been additions and redevelopments to create what you will see today if a visit is one of your Vietnam travel plans.
Hue itself is 700 km south of Hanoi in Central Vietnam. There are monuments and tombs from the Imperial era as well as pagodas while nearby there are stunning beaches ideal for relaxation.
Hoi An on the coast of the South China Sea was a trading port as far back as the 16th Century before the emergence of Da Nang. It became little more than a fishing village until the growth of tourism which has seen the numbers of visitors rise significantly. The Old Town is very interesting with the influence of the Chinese evident at every turn. There are narrow canals throughout the town earning it the nickname of the ‘’Venice of Vietnam’’.
This island is positioned off the Cambodian Coast, the largest of Vietnam’s islands. It has yet to be developed as many other islands in South East Asia and therein lies its charm. There is still a natural environment of forests, coral reefs and beautiful beaches and long may that remain the case.
Bai Dai (Long Beach) has been picked out as a particularlybeautiful and clean beach. The Island is also famous for producing what is often claimed to be the best nuoc mam (fermented fish sauce) in the world. The sauce is made from anchovies while the island is also known for its peppercorn and more recently pearls.
The Government is keen for overseas travellers to include this island in their Vietnam Travel plans and to encourage them there are no visa requirements for a period of up to 30 days.
Sa Pa Terraces
Sa Pa is in North West Vietnam close to the Chinese border. The rice terraces are situated in the Muong Hoa Valley between the town and the Fansipan Mountain. This is a chance to see the local people growing corn, rice and vegetables on the terraces against a backdrop of bamboo woods. Despite the increasing numbers of people now travelling to Sa Pa this remains a relatively poor part of Vietnam.
This is a lovely area for walking with many trails to choose from. There is a sharp contrast between here and the coastal areas and Vietnam Travel itineraries which include both help visitors to better understand the Country as a whole.
It is difficult to stop development as more tourist numbers arrive and this beach in what used to be simply a fishing village has seen such growth in the last decade and a half. The sea breeze makes this a great centre for wind and kite surfing. There are some great sand dunes just to the north of the village and the views at sunset are especially spectacular. Mui Ne is on the coast due east of Ho Chi Minh City and was a wonderful place to watch the solar eclipse of 1995 and word got out about the area as a result.
This is the agricultural centre of Vietnam providing perhaps half of the Country’s production. Life revolves around the river with many settlements only accessible by water. The size of the delta varies with the season and it is a location that has been important through time and it remains extremely important environmentally.
The Delta is in the South West corner of Vietnam, due west of Ho Chi Minh City. It is susceptible to flooding because of the low lying terrain and any rise in sea level would permanently flood large areas. Indeed there is an increasing salinity which clearly may impact on the fertility of the Region.
Every tourist with Vietnam travel plan has to include the Mekong and cruising is certainly the way to enjoy it. Fishermen head for the Delta, many hoping to catch the large catfish for which the river has become famous. It is fairly easy for visitors to arrange to rent equipment to try their luck.
Cu Chi Tunnels
These connecting tunnels to the North West of Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) were the means by which the Viet Cong were able to move around and avoid detection during the War. Many military campaigns revolved around these tunnels which certainly were no secret. The USA knew all about them and the fact that the Viet Cong lived in them with supply stores, food and even hospitals underground. Life was certainly not easy in the tunnels but they were where Viet Cong lived by day before emerging at night. The entrances obviously had to be disguised as far as possible.
When bombing was particularly intense people had to stay underground, often for days on end.
American attempts to destroy the tunnels failed despite their recognition of how important success would be to the overall success of their campaign. They tried grenades where entrances were found as well as gas but to little effect because of the tunnel design and air filtration systems. There was significant damage inflicted upon them towards the end of the War but by that time they had more than proved their worth.
Visitors can crawl around within the safe part of the network though they need to be conscious that they are neither wide nor high. There are 120 kms of tunnels in all and to help tourists a section has been enlarged and lit so that more people can ‘’enjoy’’ the experience of the tunnels.
This is one of Vietnam’s top seaside resorts with its beautiful clean beaches and clear blue water. The population of the city has reached 300,000 so it is fairly lively day and night. Scuba diving is particularly good in Nha Trang. It was the French who first recognised the potential of this beautiful bay and the Americans in South Vietnam during the War agreed. The city is geared towards tourism and for those that can drag themselves away from the beaches there are plenty of other things to see and do.
South East Asia
Tourists are becoming more adventurous. They are spreading their horizons when it comes to the places they want to visit. South East Asia is certainly benefitting from that and the first country that many are considering is quite rightly Vietnam. There are many reasons for that ranging from the rich history and culture of the country to the great beaches, beautiful natural environment, the cuisine and the people themselves, extremely friendly despite the problems they and their parents and grandparents may have suffered during war. It is perhaps time that you looked at the Country a little more closely; you will not regret arranging a Vietnam travel package.
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