Vietnam is a natural scenic beauty with hills, pristine seashore, and gorgeous islands. A visit to Vietnam wouldn't be complete without visiting important historical sites that reflect the cultural side of the country profoundly affected by the war. Here are 10 historical places you must not miss during your Vietnam tour as these spots are the soul of Vietnam.
Hoa Lo Prison or Hilton Prison in Hanoi
Built in 1896 by French colonist to imprison Vietnamese communists. In American war time, the prison used to keep American pilots and the name " Hilton Prison" was born at that time. Today, Hoa Lo prison is an nice place to visit on a city tour of Hanoi. Tourists can see objects that tell interesting stories.
Dien Bien Phu
A famous name in the first Indochina war where the French army used as the base to fight against Viet Minh (Vietnamese army). Tourists on a Northwest Vietnam tour will have chance to visit the many historical sites, but if you do not want to travel that far, just visit the Vietnam Military History Museum in Hanoi, you will get all facts of the war.
War remnants museum
Formerly the Museum of American and Chinese war crimes, the war remnants museum is quite popular with tourists all around the world. Your Vietnam 2 weeks tourwill be incomplete if you don't visit the war remnant museum in Ho Cho Minh City that reflects the tales on the effects of war in Vietnam. You can explore the display of artillery pieces, US armored vehicles, infantry weapons, and bombs. The museum also has a diverse collection of pictures and posters which show the support for anti-war Vietnam internationally. The entry fee to the war remnants museum is VND 15,000 or $ 0.64 per visitor.
Long Tan Cross memorial
Commemorating the battle of Long Tan, Vietnam war, during which over 500 Australian soldiers died. Australia's war presence in the country marked its most prolonged and deadliest war and a decisive victory over Viet Kong soldiers and communist leaders. The cross was initially designed and constructed by 6RAR-NZ Anzac Battalion's Assault Pioneer Platoon. Sometime after the end of the Vietnam war, the original cross was removed and is now displayed in the Dong Nai museum. Presently, you can find a replica of the Long Tan cross at the original site. If you are booking a Vietnam 2 weeks tour, the package will cover the entrance fee also.
My Son Cham ruins
My Son is a cluster of partially destroyed and abandoned Hindu temples constructed by Chasm Kings during the 4th to 13th centuries. The monuments of My Son sanctuary are the most significant construction of My Son civilization.
The temple towers have a wide variety of architectural designs symbolizing the greatness of Mount Meru and Hindu gods. Declared as a UNESCO world heritage site due to its historical and cultural importance, you can find elements of spiritual designs stemming from Indian Hinduism. On your Vietnam 2 weeks touror a 3 weeks tour, from Hoi An, you can rent a motorbike for less than $5 or take a taxi for around $30-$50.The entrance fee to My Son, including entry to Champa museum costs about 100,000 or $4.27 per head.
Cu Chi Tunnels
Situated about 60 km northwest to Ho Chi Minh City, the Cu Chi Chi tunnels is an extensive network of underground tunnels stretching their way to the Cambodian border. These tunnels were built during the 1940s by the Viet Minh to fight against the French. During the same time, these tunnels were used as communication between villages and had several facilities, including living spaces, storage facilities, weapon factories, field hospitals, command centers, kitchen, etc. Later, the Viet Kong soldiers extensively used during the American war.
It was not just a shelter for thousands of Viet Kong guerrillas; it was also a complete structure comprising of several bomb shelters, trenches, bunkers, with a quite well-designed air ventilation system and many facilities. Now, only two sets of the tunnels, the Ben Duoc and the Ben Dinh are open for public.
If you are booking a Vietnam 3 weeks tour that will include a visit to the Cu Chi tunnels, with optional bike or car transportation service. Even if you have both these in a single package, you need to pay separate entrance fees. You have to pay around $5 for Ben Dinh tunnel and VND 90,000 or less than $4 for Ben Duoc tunnels.
Hue Imperial Citadel
Like a majority of countries in Asia, Vietnam too was under the rule of dynasties, emperors and feudal lords. The Imperial Citadel is a sprawling complex in Hue, built by emperors who used it as a business area. However, the Imperial Citadel today is just a shadow of its old form.
The pavilions, walls, temples, and the gates were damaged initially during the battles with the French, and then most of the remaining were destroyed by the American military during the American-Vietnam war. Now just around 160 buildings exist. But still, the Imperial Citadel is well worth a visit.
To reach there, you can either fly from Ho Chi Minh City or Hanoi to Hue. Alternatively, you can also take an overnight journey from the same cities or reach there via taxi. The entry fee to the Hue citadel is around VND 55,000 or less about $3.
Khai Dinh Tomb
Khai Dinh Tomb is the grave of the 12th king of Nguyen dynasty, Emperor Khai Dinh, located in Thua Thien in Hue, a UNESCO world heritage site. The architecture of the tomb is a display of Vietnam's classical characteristics and European modernity. Most of the grandiose exterior is covered in blackened concrete, creating a gothic look while the colorful mosaic interior gives it a luxurious appeal.
The entry fee to the tomb Khai Dinh, along with Minh Mang and Tu Duc costs around VND 100per person. You can purchase the ticket as a group of 3 or 4 sites which would cost your around VND 280-360 for adults and around VND 55-75for children of age 7-12.
Thien Mu Pagoda
Situated in Thua Thien, Hue, The Thien Mu Pagoda is one of the oldest religious sites with the most beautiful landscapes and architectural structures. The Pagoda is located in the north bank of the Perfume River in Ha Khe hill and was built during 1601.
It is also one among the most 20 scenic spots in Hue and while planning a Vietnam 2 weeks tour, make sure to add these destinations. It is worth visiting. Having undergone many renovations and expansion, it is home to some of the most precious antique collections in both art and history. Thein Mu pagoda can reach by the dragon boat or by a tour bus, rented bicycle.
Your tour operator can organize individual boat rides, which will take an hour to reach the Pagoda, and the trip will cost you $15 per head. The entry to the Pagoda is free.
Con Dao Prison Complex
Con Dao Prison located in Con Son island offshore Ba Ria - Vung Tau province in southern Vietnam. The French colonialists built the complex of prison systems to torture political prisoners who fought against the French colonial regime. The prison used to retain around 2,000 revolutionary fighters, mainly communists who were subjected to brutal torture by the jail officers.
Listed as one of the unique national monuments of Vietnam, the prison has 120 cells and remain as the remnant of the colonist government rule. To get a bone-chilling prison experience, you must definitely include this site in your Vietnam one-week tour. The tour would cost you VND 20,000or less than a dollar on an average.
Located in the scenic Cat Ba island in Ha Long Bay, the cannon fort is a tourist port of historical significance. During World War II, the Japanese have built gun posts and tunnels at the place. The French troops later utilized it during the Indo China war and by the Viet Kong during the Yankee-Vietnam war. If you can opt for aVietnam 3 weeks tour, then you will have enough time to explore the caves, underground tunnels, narrow passages and the museum that is a part of cannon fort. The entry fee to the fort is around VND 40,000.
Hoi An town is Vietnam's well-preserved trading port dating back to the 15th century and was an important seaport of the country. Ho An's street and buildings reflect both foreign and native grand architectural influences. It is calm & quiet, the most atmospheric and charming town with less pollution. Hoi An has no airport and train station, the only way to reach the town is via road. You can take a taxi ride from Da Nang, which has an airport with daily flight services. You can also catch buses from Da Nang as bus services run regularly.
After completing a Vietnam 3 weeks tour in the country, you will conclude that Vietnam is the favorite country you ever had visited in the past. You will fall in love with the culture of Vietnam, hospitable locals, the hustle and bustle of each city, delicious cuisine and most beautiful countryside.
With a beautiful fusion of Cantonese and Chinese culture and religion, Vietnam is a fascinating mixture of traditional and modern country. Whatever be your preference for your next vacation, Vietnam is going to be the most exciting and unique place you would ever visit.
You can plan your stay choosing Vietnam one-week tour, or Vietnam 2 weeks tour or Vietnam 3 weeks tour. If you are short of time, then you can stick to one-week tour program and if you are planning to stay for an extended period, then it would worth enough to go for 3 weeks tour program. Those who are preparing for a short family trip, then a 2 weeks tour program will be satiate most of your requirements.