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Vietnam - filled with hidden charm
October 28, 2017, 12:46 pm
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To say that this Southeast Asian country has a lot to offer travelers would be an understatement. Despite its long history of trade and conflicts that resulted in strong foreign influences, the resilient people of Vietnam have managed to retain their own tradition and culture that are worth experiencing on their own. Add to this, the country’s vast geographical landscape of breathtaking mountains, caves, forests, beaches and cities, both ancient and metropolitan, and Vietnam becomes an exotic and compelling destination with a unique heritage that continue to lure visitors from around the world.

Hanoi

Located on the banks of the Red River, Vietnam’s capital city of Hanoi is one of the world’s most ancient capital cities and is a popular destination for travelers, with its well preserved colonial buildings, ancient pagodas and unique museums within the city centre. This one-time French colonial city, with its multi-cultural community made up of Chinese, French and Russian influences, is an ideal touristic haven that offers traditional silks and handicrafts, delectable cuisine and a throbbing, vibrant night life.

Offering a glimpse into the country’s rich history, The Imperial Citadel of Thang Long, a UNESCO world Heritage Site since 2010, is an intriguing relic of Vietnam’s past. Also known as the Hanoi Citadel, the ancient site was the political centre of the country for 13 consecutive centuries and served as the capital of Vietnam for eight centuries. A notable attraction here is the Hanoi Flag Tower, a renovated 40m tall stone fortress offering expansive views of Ba Dinh Square and Hanoi City Centre.

The Ho Chi Minh Mausoluem in Ba Dinh Square is one of the most visited tourist attractions in the city, and is the final resting place of Ho Chi Minh, the most iconic and popular leader of Vietnam. Known to his people as ‘Uncle Ho’, his body is preserved here in a glass case and the extraordinary experience of visiting the mausoleum, also provides a significant look into the country’s unique history.

Ha Long Bay

Located 170km away from Hanoi and accessible from the city by car, minibus or bus, is a vision of unreal beauty, northern Vietnam’s Halong Bay. The Bay, which was designated a World Heritage site in 1994, is a spectacular scatter of thousands of  tiny islets and towering limestone pillars and is unsurprisingly one of the more popular tourist hubs of the region. A large number of these islands like the Dau Be Island, Dau Go Island, Cat Ba Island to name a few, are visited for their hollow caves and grottoes with unique stories and histories attached. Inland lakes, floating villages and fish farms are a number of other tourist attractions at Halong Bay.

Hoi An

The exceptionally well preserved trading port of Hoi An is filled with beautifully restored houses, shops and temples, offering sightseeing opportunities unlike any other Vietnamese city. The architecture and streets of the city reflect both local and foreign influences that have combined to produce a unique heritage site. Attractions range from centuries-old Buddhist pagodas and temples, to pristine beaches and quaint museums.

The Old Town, with more than 800 historic buildings, is an authentic visual depiction of ancient Vietnam, with attractions such as the Japanese Covered Bridge, the Chinese Assembly Hall and the Guan Yin Temple. All of these sites are easily toured on foot or bicycle as they are in close proximity of each other. End the day with a trip to the An Bang Beach; with its local cafes, restaurants and scenic beauty, the beach is a popular tourist destination in Hoi An.

Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park

Described as one of Vietnam’s most spectacular and interesting regions and home to Hang Son Doong, the world’s largest cave, Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park with its hundreds of cave systems, underground rivers, near pristine tropical evergreen jungles and wide variety of mammals, reptiles, amphibians and birds, is truly an adventurer’s paradise. Visitors can bike, trek and paddle to explore the region, but the caves are its absolute highlights and one cannot visit Vietnam without touring the vast expanse of this World Heritage Site.

Hue

Despite the destruction caused to most of the city’s finest architecture, this capital city of the Nguyen Dynasty still resonates with the glories of Imperial Vietnam. Located on the popular Perfume River, the city blends elements of new and old, with buildings and hotels towering over crumbling, century-old citadel walls. an overall charming, tranquil and conservative city with just the right hint of modernity. Popular tourist attractions in this overall charming, tranquil and conservative city with just the right hint of modernity, include the Imperial Citadel— home to the Nguyen Emperors — a number of Imperial Tombs located along the Perfume River, and the Thien Mu Pagoda, which at seven stories in height is the tallest pagoda in Vietnam.

Sapa

Named a hill-station by the French in 1922, Sapa has grown to become an increasingly popular tourist destination for travelers keen on trekking through the breathtaking scenery that this region offers. Overlooking a plunging valley, with mountains towering on all sides, Sapa is often subdued by thick mist rolling across the peaks. The hill-station is a premier trekking base and hikers in the area can immerse themselves in the cascading rice terraces and tiny hill tribe villages that seem a world apart from urban towns.

Mui Ne

What used to be an isolated stretch of beach for travelers wishing to camp on the sand has now evolved into a string of beach resorts along the long coastal strip, where travelers outnumber the local population. This increasingly popular tourist destination is famous for its enormous red and white sand dunes, the latter closely imitating those of the Sahara Desert. Riding plastic sleds along the dunes, which has grown to become a popular tourist activity in the area, four-wheel-drive tours to explore the dunes and low rise resorts set amidst pretty gardens by the sea, all combine to make Mui Ne a must visit for tourists to Vietnam.

 

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