VIETNAM is a country of natural beauty, turbulent history, and charming national and regional cultures. It offers a unique blend of the East and West with plenty of sights, sounds and smell. Vietnamese cuisine is a gourmet delight with a mixture of Chinese, French and a little Thai and is one of the most sophisticated cuisines in Asia.
Your exploration starts in Hanoi, capital of Vietnam. This charming city still retains the mystery and charm of past centuries. Narrow lanes and traditional shop houses invite exploration by cyclo (pedi cab), while its many beautiful public spaces – lakes, parks, tree-lined boulevards and monuments – give the city an air of elegance and harmony with nature unique among Asian capitals. Legacies of Chinese and French influence are evident in many parts of the city.
Drive through the Red River Delta and travel from Hanoi to your boat in Halong Bay. A day spent cruising gently between the imposing limestone islets is hard to beat, but an evening spent watching the stars come out over the bay is a truly magical experience. You get both, plus kayaking and swimming in the turquoise water of Halong Bay. The train journey up to the mountainous town of Sapa lead you into the world of Vietnam’s northern minorities, cheerful, resilient, and stick to traditions, they are among the most friendly people you will ever meet.
A short flight takes you to Da Nang in Central Vietnam. Take a day excursion to Hue, the imperial city of Vietnam. The Imperial Citadel, a vast complex built in the early 19th century, was modeled after the Forbidden City in Beijing. The original walls stretched for 10 km and were surrounded by a wide moat. Most of the buildings were destroyed due to bombings during the war, but the monuments that remain provide a fascinating glimpse into the court life of the Nguyen Dynasty. Also explore the mysterious My Son site and the ancient merchant town of Hoi An and the charming countryside surrounding the city.
Fly down south to Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City), a vibrant metropolis teeming with energy, activity and motion. Everywhere you look, you see the meeting of traditional and modern life. The emerging modern skyline stands cheek by jowl with colonial buildings and traditional temples. Outside on the streets, young professionals zip by on motorcycles, chatting on cell phones; inside the quiet temple courtyards, worshippers pray amidst clouds of incense.
Fly home from Saigon or continue travel to your next destination in Asia.
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