Travel to Vietnam
Vietnam is located in Southeast Asia with China (north) and Laos and Cambodia (west) as its primary neighbors.
Although it is recognized worldwide for its history of war, rebellion and colonization, Vietnam is a place of overwhelming beauty. Divine beaches line its entire coastal strip and brilliant green rice paddies provide a dazzling contrast. The Red River Delta on the north and the Mekong Delta on the south add to the natural setting which is also enhanced by soaring mountains cloaked by misty forests. The lure of the country's rich culture and history is also strong.
Great Tourist Destinations Hanoi
Hanoi has overcome its history of war and hostility to become one of the most enchanting cities in Southeast Asia. The pace of everyday living is slow and pleasant and is ideal for the wandering traveler who wishes to soak in Hanoi's majestic landscape of lakes, public parks and narrow boulevards. Prime examples of French-colonial architecture such as monuments, temples and other ancient buildings line the city.
Ho Chi Minh City
In stark contrast to Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh is a bustling, dynamic city where business and a modern lifestyle are the order of the day. As Vietnam's largest city, Ho Chi Minh is a modern-day metropolis around which the country's economic prospects revolve. It is also the country's cultural trend-setter where young urban professionals lounge in roadside cafes during the day and frolic at throbbing nightspots after work. There as an exhilarating mood throughout the city, particularly in the shops, street markets and sidewalks where vendors peddle assorted wares.
In the southern Central Highlands region, Dalat city is the place to visit for its serenity, natural environment and cool climate. It hosts the Summer Palace, constructed by Emperor Bao Dai as his personal summer playground and as a depository of art treasures. The palace hosts the Hang Nga Guesthouse and Art Gallery which the locals call the ï¿½Crazy House.ï¿½
UNESCO has dubbed Halong Bay as a World Heritage site. It provides a magnificent view of over 3,000 tiny islands that makes the Gulf of Tonkin a breath-taking tourist destination. Each island is peppered with clear beaches and grottoes.
The My Son monument is another locale that UNESCO has declared as a World Heritage site. It is set in the center of a lush green valley that is encircled by rolling hills and a soaring massive mountain known as the Cat's Tooth. My Son was once the center of the kingdom of Champa, one of Vietnamï¿½s two Indian-influenced civilizations, the other one being Angkor.
How to Get There
The three international airports are in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh, and Da Nang. They accommodate direct flights from Australia, Cambodia, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Laos, Malaysia, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand and Taiwan. Long-distance flights are few and tourists usually transit through Tokyo, Singapore, Bangkok and Taipei.
Tourists can also enter Vietnam by train from Beijing, China. The rail link has been closed due to landslides. If you wish to enter Vietnam by road, there are also several border crossings along China and Laos. International driver's licenses are not honored in Vietnam.
Tourists usually roam around the cities in rented cars that come with their own drivers. These can be arranged easily enough through hotels and tourist cafes. The more adventurous travelers can opt to roam Vietnam by motorcycle or bicycle, which is how most of the population gets from place to place. Cyclo pedicabs are popular among natives but the drivers are known to overcharge foreigners. For $20, you can hire a tour boat for a full day's tour.