Travel Guide

Vietnam – Story of destinations

For several decades, the word Vietnam has been mentioned with a word “War” added up to. But ever since the beginning of the 90s, when the country embarked on a quest for wealth, it opened up and has been viewed and mentioned differently. Vienam is now no longer a war, but beautiful mountains and peaceful green vallies, colorful hill tribes and rich cultures dating back to thousand of years, pristine and remote beaches. This country is still very much remains undiscovered by tourists. Here are some suggestions that you can add up to your itinerary when traveling to the region.

North of Vietnam

This is the cradle of the Vietnamese culture, originated the dawn of Vietnamese history. The region has a variety of natural terrain, distinctive local cultures resides in traditional villages, thousand of ancient temples and pagodas aromatic with burning incense…What North of Vietnam is famous for are: Handicraft villages and villages in general, mountain and plain scenery. Thus, your place of visit should be:

1. Halong bay :

Located in the Gulf of Tonkin, this unrivaled bay has thousands of green karst formations jutting out of the sea. This is one of a must-to-visit place in North of Vietnam. Best to take a 2days/1night trip, which offers an overnight stay on a wooden boat.

If you like to spend more time here, you can combine with a visit to Cat Ba island, a big one with inhabitants on it. This island is home to resorts, quiet beaches and a national park, which is good for hiking.

2. Tam Coc:

This is the name of a site where you can enjoy a ride on a little sampan boat (well, made of iron) for 2 hours rowing in the middle of rice paddies (if you come in the rice season). The highlight of the boat ride is the stunning view of the karst formations around. In summer time, Tam Coc should be toured in the morning than in the afternoon, to reduce the heat that you might have when you’re on the boat ride.

3. Handicraft villages and traditional villages:

Hanoi is surrounded by many old villages with distinguished characteristics or have involved in making crafts for hundreds of years. These are good for people who love to cycle or keen on cultural lives of the local.

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4. Sapa

Located 1.600m above sea-level. This is a small city on the mountain offering cool weather and a good center to visit local hill tribes around it. The scenery is totally sublime. The weather is cool most of the time. The place is good for trekking and sight-seeing to the hill tribes. Sapa is a must for mountain lovers. If you do like climbing, you should not miss mount Fansipan – “the roof of Indochina”

5. North East and North West of Vietnam:

In general, these places are good for mountain lovers and cultural seekers. Visit some mountain cities, stay overnight in tribal groups, enjoy the scenery. This is best for those who love mountain motorbiking. A professional tour operator must be required. Since tours like these are different from classical ones.

6. Of course, North of Vietnam has Hanoi as the capital city .

This 1000 years old city has a lot to see, especially to learn that it has lots of French buildings remain from the French colonial time.

Center of Vietnam

This place used to be the meeting point of many cultures, since its sea once was home to some famous ports, where Japanese, Dutch, Chinese…vessels met and exchanged goods or stopped in the middle of their trade routes. This is where the last dynasty in Vietnam built up their royal structures which still remain till today.

This is where you can be lazy on the most beautiful beaches in Vietnam (and some are among the World’s top). This is where the Central Highland, with lots of rudimentary tribal groups settle in. There are so much to be addicted to this place.The places of visit should be:

1. Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park:

This is an amazing complex of Karst scenery with over 300 caves and grottos, which hold some world cave records. This is where you have the moutain, forest, the longest underground river, fine sand beaches inside the caves, beautiful stalagmites and stalactites, waterfalls and so on.

It’s 500 km South of Hanoi and can be accessed by train or car. This site was listed on the  World Heritage Sites in 2003. Compare to the other world heritage sites in Vietnam, this is the least touristy.

2. Hue Imperial City:

This is heartland of Central Vietnam. Hue was the capital city of Vietnam from 1802-1945. Lots of the royal buildings can now be seen in Hue. The highlights among these are: The Imperial Citadel, the Kings’ tombs – final resting places of the last kings in Vietnam. Hue is a nice and calm city with friendly people.

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The city is bisected by the famous and scenic Perfume River and a cruise on the River would add up to your trip experience. Hue was the first place in Vietnam to be listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Sites, in 1993.

3. The Old Town of Hoi An:

This is the best place in Vietnam in term of a real “Old Town”. Hoi An used to be one of Asia most important trading ports in the period of 15th – 19th century. For that reason, the town’s architecture reflex a combination of local and foreign influence, with century-old houses.

This laid-back town became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1998 and now attracts quite a number of tourists. The town is considered one of the best in Vietnam in term of tailored-made clothes with cheap price. 20-minute cycling out of the town will bring you to Cua Dai beach, with clear water, fine sand shaded by coconut trees.

Once when you’re here, don’t forget the word “My Son Sanctuary”, where a story about the once-mighty empire would be told through the ruins of the ancient temples.

4. Central Highlands:

This is home to many tribal groups in Vietnam. Where you see elephants walking on the roads and loaded with cargoes or tourists. This is also among the least developed places in the country with only 3 main cities bu once when you’re here, you’re be offered a lot of chances to go sightseeing to many scenic places and see many culturally rich people. This place seems to best suite those who loves motorcycles since lots of scenic places are not approachable by local bus. So, let’s get ride, the place has a lot for you to explore.

5. Nha Trang :

This coastal city offers some best beaches in Vietnam. The bay of Nha Trang is one of the World’s most beautiful ones. Recently, money has been poured into this place to build up luxurious resorts that cater to more the need of affluent people. The domestic travelers fancy the beach in the city, so you may consider enjoying your stay in a resort on an island away from the mass. Last but not least, this is the best place in Vietnam to do scuba diving.

6. Da Lat:

A city of the same elevation as Sapa, Da Lat was developed by the French under the requirements of building up the city into a summer resort to escape the heat of Sai Gon. Thus, the architecture of the city reflexs the colonial one. Traveling from Sai Gon up north, you should drop by here for a couple of days. The avarage temperature in this city is around 16 -18 all year round. It’s a romantic city with beautiful waterfalls and hilly scenery surrounds. But watch out, because everything is so romantic and poetic, you may regret to have been there alone.

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South of Vietnam

Unlike the North and the Center, the South of Vietnam is much younger than its two brothers in term of history. Nevertheless, it boots an unparalleled charm compare to other regions.

This holds the most fertile land of the country, the biggest river system with distinguished everyday river lives. Moreover, everyone seems to have heard of the Vietnam War as much as they heard of Sai Gon, the biggest city of South Vietnam. Well, having to describe it all in one word, it would be “alluring”.

1. Ho Chi Minh city :

The biggest city in South Vietnam, the most populated, the economic muscle of Vietnam. And that’s not everything. The city was the capital of Cocochina, thus it present a fine colonial architecture that you can see in the center of the city. Sai Gon was the brain of the South during the Vietnam War, and, hence, it is the most Americanized one.

2. Cu Chi tunnel system + Cao Dai Temple:

This was a famous name during the Vietnam War. It shows up how resistant the local was in the war. Come and witness a system of 250 km long tunnel digging deep in the ground. It’s only 75 km from Sai Gon and this place should not be missed.

Watch out before you make your decision of getting though the tunnels, you’re not gonna lose your way but it’s easy for you to get stuck. The trip can be combined with a visit to Cao Dai temple, a colorful one where the local practice their unique cult.

3. The Mekong Delta River .

The South of Vietnam is where the Mekong river system flows into the sea. And this makes a special part of Vietnam’s picture. A trip or several days will bring you on a row along the matrix system of canal fensed with fruitful coconut trees, and then be in the middle of the famous floating market where hundreds of vessels heavily loaded with fruits and vegetables meet and exchange.

Get yourselves lost in the local orchard where you can be lazy sleeping on the hammock or taste fruits hanging lowly from the trees above.

4. Phu Quoc Island and Con Dao Archipelago:

The more touristic the country is turning, the more tourists seek privacy from their travel mates, of course, that doesn’t mean the new places are of any less beautiful.

Phu Quoc and Con Dao are heavens for that purpose. These are both one hour fly from Sai Gon, they offer ideal sunny quiet beaches, with fine sand, coconut trees.

Lots of travelers have highly recommended these places to possess top beaches in the world. Phu Quoc is slightly more touristic than Con Dao.

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