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Hanoi the capital of Vietnam, is located at 20° 25' latitude North and 105° 30' longitude East in the plains of North Vietnam, where there are many rivers flowing eastward to the sea. Hanoi is a convenient transport cluster for all the northern provinces. Smaller, quieter, greener and more dignified than Ho Chi Minh City, the nation's capital can sometimes look like a provincial French city. The city remains quiet enough for cycling, which is the ideal means of getting around. Places to visit include the fascinating 11th-century Van Mieu - Temple of Literature (site of Vietnam's first University), Tran Quoc Pagoda, temples, and the Mausoleum of President Ho Chi Minh.
Hai Phong Situated on the Gulf of Tonkin, Hai Phong is the largest Port in North Vietnam and 100 km east of Hanoi. Hai Phong is the gateway to Ha Long Bay either by boat through Cat Ba Island or by road. Cat Ba Island, 30km east of Hai Phong. Its diverse ecosystems include tropical evergreen forests, freshwater swamp forests, coastal mangroves, freshwater lakes and waterfalls, grottoes, caves, sandy beaches and offshore coral reefs. It's home to monkeys, boars, deer, squirrels and hedgehogs, and its offshore waters are also heavily populated by fish, mollusks, arthropods, seals and dolphins.
Ha Long 170 km east of Hanoi, a picturesque landscape of sea and sky, considered a beautiful wonder on earth and recognized as World Heritage by UNESCO. It is composed of more than 3000 islets over an area of 150 km2 with many beautiful and multiform caves, grottoes, lakes, beach stalactites and stalagmites.
Hoa Binh 70 km west of Hanoi, Hoa Binh region is rich in beautiful landscapes and is a unique melting pot of the different ethnic minorities in Vietnam (Thai, Tay, Muong, Hmong).
Sapa Located at an altitude of 1600m in the remote North-Western Highlands, Sapa attracts many visitors. It was built as a hill station for the French in 1922, but went into a long decline from which it has only recently recovered. More and more travelers are braving the bad roads and flocking here for the climate and to visit the hill tribes (mostly Hmong, Dao and Kinh people) who live in the area. The Saturday market is the best place to buy handicrafts. Just 9km from Sapa is Fansipan (3143m), which is Vietnam's highest mountain.
Central Highland The western region of the Central Highlands area, along the border with Cambodia and Laos, still sees few visitors. The region's varied agriculture and the presence of up to 31 distinct ethnic groups make it a fascinating destination. Buon Ma Thuot, Pleiku, and Kontum are made up of ethnic minority groups, while Tua and Ban Don societies are matrilineal and matrilocal.
Hue Located in the middle part of the country and often referred to as Vietnam's most beautiful city, Hue was the country's capital from 1802 to 1945. It has long been a major cultural, religious and educational centre. The remains of the Citadel, constructed by the Emperor Gia Long from 1804 and surrounded by moats, contains many interesting sights. Here you will see the Nine Holy Cannons, the Imperial Enclosure, the Palace of Supreme Harmony and the Halls of the Mandarins. Sadly, the intriguing Purple Forbidden City was largely destroyed during the American War. About 15km south of Hue are the Royal Tombs. Hue has many other places of religious and dynastic importance, and some interesting museums. If you want to get out of the city for a swim, head 13km northeast to Thuan An Beach, where there's a lagoon, a hotel and the possibility of sampan trips up the Huong River.
Da Nang Founded in 1888 and called Tourane by the French, Da Nang has long been the busiest port and is now the main city in central Vietnam. Except for a few architectural remains of the French colonial period and the famous Cham Museum, the city is mainly an active business city and port. In the outskirts, the most famous beaches of Vietnam offer great opportunities for relaxation. China Beach and My Khe Beach were famous during the American War as the Rest and Recreation destination for G.I.s and are also outstanding Surf Spots.
Hoi An An important river port 30km south of Da Nang, Hoi An is rich in history and has a unique character. It was a contemporary of Macau, attracting Dutch, Portuguese and Japanese trading vessels, and it retains the feel of centuries past. Its magnificent collection of almost 850 older structures and intact streetscapes just beg to be explored. They include merchants' homes, pagodas, public buildings and a whole city block of colonnaded French buildings.
Nha Trang Although it could well develop into a flashy resort similar to Thailand's Pattaya Beach, Nha Trang is still fairly quiet. With clear turquoise waters, snorkeling and diving are prime activities, and just relaxing on the beach is an experience in itself. There are also some interesting sites nearby, such as the Cham Towers of Po Nagar, built between the 7th and 12th centuries on a site that had been used for Hindu worship as early as the 2nd Century. Nha Trang , the main city of Khanh Hoa province, is famed as the finest city beach in Vietnam. The town is also a key transport crossroads, with Cam Ranh harbor, Nha Trang airport and good access to roads and railways. The vibrant local economy is based on fishing, tourism, forestry products and its comprehensive infrastructure. Ethnic minorities include the Ede, the Cham and the Raglai. Places to visit incles Ponagar Cham Tower, Nha Trang Cathedral, Hon Chong.
Dalat, a city of Lam Dong Province, is located on the Lang Bian Highlands, at the altitude of 1,500 m above sea level, 300 km from Ho Chi Minh City and 110 km from the East Sea. Endowed with favorable climate and a spectacular landscape by nature, the city enjoys fresh air and cool weather all the year round. It is a peaceful place famous for its green pine forests, colorful flowers and fruit the whole year. Rolling hills and fertile valleys are dotted with lakes and thousands of villas nestling in the pine trees. In the distance, water from high peaks flows into inviting rivulets and imposing waterfalls.
Ho Chi Minh (Saigon) Ho Chi Minh City is the economic capital of Vietnam. It's a bustling, dynamic and industrious center and, by far, the most populous city of the country (6.5 millions). The streets, where much of the city's life takes place, are a myriad of shops, stalls, stands-on-wheels and vendors selling wares spread out on sidewalks. The city churns, ferments, bubbles and fumes. Yet within the teeming metropolis are the timeless traditions and beauty of an ancient culture. Sights include the Giac Lam Pagoda, the neo-Romanesque Notre Dame Cathedral, Reunification Palace, Cholon market and the former US embassy, scene of much havoc during the 1975 evacuations.
Cu Chi Tunnels 75 kms north west of Ho Chi Minh city, is a 215-km tunnel which started in the 1930's as a series of underground shelters, where the revolutionary resistance fighters against the French lived. Later in the War against the Americans, the networks of tunnels were constructed, stretching as far as Saigon river and the Cambodia border. They contained meeting halls, bed rooms for the guerrillas, food and weapons storage, area, kitchens and field hospitals.
Mekong Delta In Vietnam, the mighty Mekong is divided into nine tributaries, which the Vietnamese call Cuu Long or "The Nine Dragons". To understand life in the Mekong Delta you must float down its slow, shimmering waterways. Here, all life still depends on the river.
Not only in the river the source of all nourishment, but it’s also the marketplace. In Can Tho’s floating market you’ll find evidence of the Mekong Delta’s rich rice crop, as well as the area’s abundant fish, fruit and vegetables. And you’ll get a sense of the river’s role as a highway. It remains the delta’s key link to the outside world.
The pace of life remains slow in the Mekong Delta, the daily routine little changed for centuries. As you drift down the small canals which crisscross the area, modern life and its worries will seem a world away.
My Tho 70 kms from Saigon offers beautiful riverside views and immense rice fields. A boat cruise on Mekong river to visit orchards on islands, coconut candy workshop, bee-keeping farm is an excellent trip.
Can Tho the capital of the Mekong Delta, 170 km south of Saigon is famous for its floating market and for the Khmer pagoda. Visitors can take a boat cruise to visit the bustling floating market and enjoy the tranquil beauty of the riverbank orchards.
Ha Tien a small town on the Gulf of Thailand, 8km from Cambodian border. The area, famous for its nearby white sand beaches and fishing villages, is also known for its production of seafood, black pepper and items made from the shells of sea turtles. All around the area are lovely, towering limestone formations that give this place a very different appearance from the rest of the Mekong Delta region.
Chau Doc Located deep into the Mekong Delta, at the Three river crossing made by the Hau river. Once part of Cambodia, ChauDoc an attractive bustling riverside town is the home of the Cham and Khmer cultures, of floating fish farmhouses and the Islamic Cham minority settlement. An area of outstanding cultural richness and beauty.
Phu Quoc Island mountainous and forested Phu Quoc island is in the Gulf of Thailand, 45 kms west of Ha Tien and 15 kms south of the coast of Cambodia. This tear-shaped island is ringed with some of the most incredibly beautiful beaches in Vietnam. There are fantastic views of underwater marine life through the transparent blue green waters.