Viet Nam Picture
Vietnam is a thin slice of a country with attractions inconveniently scattered along its length, with Ha Noi over 1,000 miles from Ho Chi Minh City, whereas for example, neighbouring Cambodia hosts a group of magnificent old buildings in one compact area, Angkor.
However, though travel in Vietnam requires a little more time and effort, this will be rewarded by good standards of accommodation, great cuisine, some pretty good cultural offerings, impressive beaches and the usual friendly Asiatic people. American and French failed imperialist warmongers welcome!
One Pillar Pagoda; Hanoi Pictures.
Hanoi, Vietnam’s capital city, is set in a beautiful lake-scattered landscape with a relaxed, old fashioned atmosphere, some impressive Colonial and Vietnamese architecture, plenty of fine culture and cuisine, all in a sticky sub-tropical climate.
Rural women heading for market in Vietnam’s prettiest town; Hoi An Pictures.
Kai Dinh’s brilliant tomb in Hue Pictures.
These pictures start in North Vietnam at Hanoi and works south past Saigon [Ho Chi Minh City], covering Hue,Da Nang, Hoi An and other interesting tourist attractions en route and ending on Mui Ne beaches.
Students in aodai cycling to school. See Saigon pictures.
Vietnam weather is best November-April.
Relatively cool and dry in most areas, Vietnam can be cold, damp and foggy from February-April in the north, e.g. Hanoi or Sapa.
Worst: May-September when it’s hot, humid and invaded by mosquitoes and typhoons [violent rain storms]. Beware of floods in Mekong Delta in September.
Plan ahead if you wish to holiday during the Tet New Year Festival [late Jan – early February] as it can be a problem getting accommodation and transport.
Mui Ne beaches, not perfect but cheap, cheerful, very popular with kite boarders and three hours from Ho Chi Minh City.
Vietnam’s Main Attractions:
Hanoi, the 1,000-year-old capital city is set in a beautiful lake-scattered landscape with a relaxed, old fashioned atmosphere and a sticky sub-tropical climate. It features many striking French colonial buildings from its time as centre of the French Indochina empire, as well as fine Chinese-influenced Vietnamese architecture including many temples. The city is now being modernized with some speed.
Halong Bay, the panoramic view of the bay with more than 3,000 limestone islets [karsts] is one of the world’s must-see natural wonders. A one day trip from Hanoi is possible, although it is better to stay overnight at nearby Haiphong, or on board, in order to sail further for much more scenic views or for wildlife. e.g. Cat Ba island.
Hue, the ancient imperial city, beautifully located with a tranquil atmosphere, has a Citadel and a fortified palace which is one of the country’s most important historic sites.
The prime sights are: The Citadel, including the Imperial City; Tien Mu Temple [Pagoda]; Royal Tombs including Tombs of Minh Mang and Khai Dinh; the road to Da Nang – aka ‘the Mandarin Road’ – through Truong Son Mountains is a superbly picturesque driving route, with the highest point known as ‘the Pass of Clouds’.
Da Nang, Vietnam’s 4th biggest city, has not much to see, apart from Cham Museum, but head a few miles out and there are limestone caves of Marble Mountains and the endless white sands of China Beach where American troops landed during the War.
Hoi An, a medieval trading port, has a unique historic background of mixed Chinese, Japanese and European influences.
The whole town is like a an open-air museum – a local guide would be useful here.
Not to be missed are old Chinese houses, the Fujian Congregation Hall [Phuc Kien Pagoda] and the Japanese bridge-pagoda.
Ho Chi Minh City [Saigon], a vibrant commercial centre with bustling street life where tourists can get a glimpse of ancient culture, though it doesn’t measure up to Hanoi for tourist-oriented attractions.
The prime sights are: Reunification Palace; the Giac Lam Pagoda; Notre Dame Cathedral; Ho Chi Minh City Museum; Ben Thanh market; China Town; the War Remnants Museum; the Cu Chi Tunnels and other war relics nearby built by the Viet Cong during the America-Vietnam war.
This is fantastic place for eating, varied shopping and spa treatments.
Mekong Delta offers a good example of local agriculture lifestyle.
The best places to see are Vinh Long or Can Tho for the boat trip, Cai Rang for the floating market, Chau Doc for the boat houses or Soc Trang and Tra Vinh for Khmer pagodas. There are also bird sanctuaries at Cao Lanh and Long Xuyen.
Vietnam Beaches. Vietnam has nearly 3500 km of coastline, with many newly built resorts. The beaches are not as impressive as those in Thailand nor Malaysia, but less commercial and with far less visitors.
Try Mui Ne, Na Trang, Ha tien, Dao Phu Quoc Island.