Interesting Places in Vietnam
An ancient country plagued by decades of violent conflict, Vietnam has recently become a popular destination for tourists traveling through Southeast Asia
on a budget. Famous for its historical destinations, beach resort
towns and nonstop entertainment, Vietnam has much to offer to visitors of all ages.
Ho Chi Minh City
While Hanoi is the capital of Vietnam, it is Ho Chi Minh City that attracts the most visitors and has some of the most interesting sights. Ho Chi Minh, best known as Saigon (its former name) has more than 9 million residents, compared to the six million living in Hanoi. Ho Chi Minh is a testimony to the horrors of war, which can be seen firsthand in the damaged architecture around the city, as well as in its museums. The War Remnants Museum is a good example, as it houses American weapons, downed planes, a French guillotine and tiger cages where prisoners where kept. Even more famous are the Cu Chi Tunnels, which span over 200 km and connect chambers where revolutionaries maintained medical care rooms, kitchens, ammunition storage areas and living quarters. Ho Chi Minh has an active nightlife as well, which is a lot to say in a country where curfews dictate that clubs and bars close at midnight. Many underground places manage to stay open until later, including a few favorite expat hangouts, such as Ice Blue bar, Q bar and Shadow Cafe.
Ha Long Bay
A UNESCO World Heritage Center, Ha Long Bay stretches for over 120 km on the northeastern coast of Vietnam. Over 2,000 islets are part of the area, many of which contain caves, thermal waters and hidden lagoons. Most islands are covered in thick jungle and all except for two are inhabited, although tours visit some of them on a daily basis to allow visitors to explore the cave systems or relax on a private beach. Floating fishing villages, which are basically houses built on boat-like structures that are permanently afloat and can be freely moved, are set up around the two biggest islands. Diving, snorkeling and kayaking are popular activities here, and five-star spa resorts are set up along the beach for those who want both beauty and comfort.
A small mountain area in the north of Vietnam, Sapa is best known for its craft markets and for being home to some of the country's oldest minorities, such as the H'mong and the Dao groups. Close to the Chinese border, Sapa attracts tourists who want to hike up Fan Si Pan, Vietnam's tallest mountain at 10,308 feet. Many unique species of plants and animals inhabit the region, especially in the Hoang Lien Nature Reserve, where 30 percent of the animals are on the endangered list. Several ethnic villages also draw tourists, who stop by to see the rice fields and terraces, food markets, silks and traditional straw houses. Sapa is also well known for its high-quality textiles.
Claire Taylor is a health, wellness and travel writer with credits in publications such as "Woman's Day," "Marie Claire," "Adirondack Life" and "Self." Taylor is also a seasoned independent traveler, as well as a certified personal trainer and nutrition consultant.