Destinations

Cuc Phuong National Park

national park

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Ha Tien

Ha Tien is a seaside town in Kien Giang Province in Southern Vietnam. It is at the west end of the Mekong Delta close to the Cambodian border. Although a tourist spot, it doesn't see many western visitors due to its remoteness.

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DMZ (Vietnam)

Vietnam's Demilitarized Zone, or DMZ, is the area around the former border between North and South Vietnam. Historically it was a narrow band of terrain extending from Laos to the coast, five km on either side of the Ben Hai River, roughly on the 17th parallel, north latitude.

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Hanoi

capital of Vietnam

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Ha Long Bay

bay in Vietnam

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Da Nang

municipality of Vietnam

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Kontum

City of Vietnam

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Haiphong

municipality of Vietnam

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Sa Pa

human settlement

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Hue

provincial city of Vietnam

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Vinh

town in Vietnam

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Rach Gia

Rach Gia is the capital of the province of Kien Giang, in the Mekong delta region of Vietnam. For most tourists it is mainly of interest as a jumping-off point for trips to Phu Quoc island.

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Phu Quoc

Phú Quốc (pronounced fú-wóg) is a large tropical Vietnamese island off the coast of Cambodia. It is only accessible from Vietnam.

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Tây Ninh

Tay Ninh is the capital city of Tay Ninh Province, in Southern Vietnam.

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Phong Nha-Ke Bang

national park in Vietnam

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Ho Chi Minh City

city of Vietnam

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Nha Trang

city of Vietnam

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Hoi An

provincial city of Vietnam

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Dalat

city of Vietnam

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Sights

Huế

provincial city of Vietnam

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Mekong Delta

region in southwestern Vietnam

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Buôn Ma Thuột

capital of Đắk Lắk Province

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War Remnants Museum

The museum was opened in a hurry, less than five months after the fall of the South Vietnamese regime. It has moved to new premises with 3 storeys of exhibits and various US military hardware (tanks, jets, helicopters, howitzers) on display outside the building. This disturbing display of man's cruelty during the Vietnam (American) War includes halls full of gruesome photographs, a simulated "tiger cage" prison and jars of deformed foetuses attributed to contamination by Agent Orange. An exhibit on the 3rd floor tells the story of the war journalists from all over the world who documented, and often disappeared or died in the war. Watch out for the amputees who will try and sell you their wares. It's a short walk from Reunification Palace — see the museum pamphlet for a map.

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Ho Chi Minh Museum

This gleaming white museum and its gloriously ham-handed iconography is the perfect chaser to the solemnity of the mausoleum. The building, completed in 1990, is intended to evoke a white lotus. Some photos and old letters are on display on the second floor, but the main exhibition space is on the third floor. It includes cars crashing through walls to represent the chaos of post-war American capitalism, soldiers charging around with electric plugs, a cave hideout re-imagined as the inside of Ho Chi Minh's brain, and several other postmodern confections integrated with the detailed main story of the man's life and his country's struggle. There are plenty of photographs, prison documents and newspaper cuttings tracing his life along the way. The tour ends with a burnt bridge signifying the separation of Vietnam, followed by a reconstructed bridge showing the unification of Vietnam after the war. One of the more informative museums in Vietnam. Free guides are available in English, French, Chinese and Russian. The displays are labelled in English and French.

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Independence Palace

This is a restored 4-floor time warp to the 1960s left largely untouched from the day Saigon fell to the North; construction started in 1962 and finished in 1966. Formerly South Vietnam's presidential palace, the war ended on 30 Apr 1975 when Tank 843 crashed through the gate. A replica of that tank is now parked on the lawn outside. Be sure to check out the impressively kitschy recreation room, featuring a circular sofa, and the eerie basement, full of vintage 1960s phones, radios and office equipment, supposedly left exactly as it was found when the North took over. There is also a photo gallery and a propaganda film recounting how the South Vietnamese supporters and American imperialists succumbed to Ho Chi Minh's indomitable revolutionary forces, at which point the South Vietnamese supporters were forgiven and everyone lived happily ever after. Tours are available and are free, but not necessary. There is a nice outdoor café on the grounds outside the palace.

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Hoàn Kiếm Lake

A pleasant park in the centre of town, an easy walk from anywhere in the Old Quarter. It's the locals' favorite leisure spot, and a great place to watch people practising tai chi in the morning or to sit and read in the afternoon. At weekends the park becomes even more popular as the normally busy road around it is pedestrianised, and instead filled with children driving electric cars or riding hoverboards. Hoan Kiem means "returned sword", and the name comes from a legend in which King Le Loi was given a magical sword by the gods, which he used to drive out the invading Chinese. Later, while boating on the lake, he encountered a giant turtle, which grabbed the sword and carried it down to its depths, returning it to the gods from whom it had come. (You can see a version of the legend at the Water Puppet Theatre.) The giant soft-shell turtles, whom Vietnamese biologists assigned to a separate species, Rafetus leloii, resided in the lake until the early 21st century. One of them, who died in 1968, has been preserved by the wonders of taxidermy, and can be viewed in a glass box (sarcophagus?) in a pavilion adjacent to Ngoc Son Temple on the island in the lake.

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Vietnam National Museum of Fine Arts

Only party-approved art is shown here and there is no information in English and not much in Vietnamese. But it is an interesting museum, on three floors of a colonial building, with another 3 galleries in the west wing. Pieces include soldiers on boats depicted on prehistoric bronze drums, Buddhist art, and revolutionary art of the 20th century wars. Also some interesting silk paintings.

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Gia Long Palace

The museum, housed in a French colonial-era building, relates the life of the modern day father of Vietnam. The exhibits include various personal possessions of Ho Chi Minh, but are mainly photographs. It's not overly informative, the interior is shabby and the staff are disinterested. While some may find the theme a little jingoistic, like most things it depends upon your point of view. The onsite shop stocks the usual souvenirs along with some books related to Ho Chi Minh.

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Temple of Literature, Hanoi

citadel

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Presidential Palace, Hanoi

Completed in 1906 as the residence of the French Governor-General of Indochina. It became the official residence of the President of North Vietnam following independence in 1954, and later of the President of Vietnam following reunification in 1975. Ho Chi Minh was said to have refused to live in the palace for symbolic reasons, though he used it to receive state guests. The building itself is not open to the public, but you can view it from the outside and take photographs.

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Vietnam Museum of Ethnology

Exhibitions cover mainly the culture and ritual practices of the various ethnic groups in the whole of Vietnam. One of the key attractions of the museum is the open-air exhibition, which has houses of some ethnic groups, which even comes with inhabitants in costumes. The museum features actual explanations of the exhibits in Vietnamese, French and English. There is an excellent café on the premises.

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Dalat University

lake in Da Lat, Vietnam

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Tomb of Khải Định

airport

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West Lake (Hanoi)

Mostly a residential hub of the well-to-do. Hotel Intercontinental and Hanoi Sheraton are on this lake front.

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Dragon Bridge (Da Nang)

A 2013 bridge actually built in the shape of a dragon, breathing fire and water each Saturday and Sunday night at 21:00.

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St. Joseph's Cathedral, Hanoi

A late 19th-century Gothic Revival church that serves as the cathedral of the RC Archdiocese of Hanoi. Built in 1886, the exterior is gaunt and grey, but within is light and peaceful. Mass is held several times a day, and for Sunday evening mass at 18:00 the crowds are huge: the service is broadcast to those outside who can't get in.

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Chợ Lớn, Ho Chi Minh City

quarter of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, known as Chinatown

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Tomb of Gia Long

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Perfume River

river in Vietnam

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Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum

The city down south may have his name, but only Hanoi has the man himself, entombed in distinctly Lenin-esque fashion. Against his wishes, but that's how it goes. No talking, revealing clothing (shorts should be knee length and no exposed shoulders), or other signs of disrespect allowed while viewing; photos are allowed only from outside, in the grand Ba Dinh Square. Purses are allowed into the tomb, but expect them to be searched by several bored soldiers along the way. Left luggage is handled in a complicated scheme: there is an office near the street for large bags, with separate windows for Vietnamese and foreigners, and a further office for cameras, which will be transported to a third office right outside the exit of the mausoleum. Items checked in at the first office, however, will stay there. The mausoleum is closed for a couple months around the end of the year, when the body is taken abroad for maintenance. It is closed in the afternoons for maintenance.

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Museum of Cham Sculpture

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Hanoi Museum

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One Pillar Pagoda

Visitors find this either charming and lovely or utterly pointless, depending on how many tour groups are crammed into the small grounds at the time of their visit. It has a long history attached to it. Regarded as one of Vietnam's iconic temples, it was built by Emperor Lý Thái Tông. The emperor was childless and dreamt that he met the bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara, who handed him a baby son while seated on a lotus flower. He then married a peasant girl that he had met and she bore him a son. The emperor constructed the temple in gratitude for this in 1049 having been told by a monk to build the temple, by erecting a pillar in the middle of a lotus pond, similar to the one he saw in the dream. Before the pagoda was opened, prayers were held for the longevity of the monarch. The temple is built of wood on a single stone pillar 1.25 m in diameter, and it is designed to resemble a lotus blossom, which is a Buddhist symbol of purity, since a lotus blossoms in a muddy pond. In 1954, the French Union forces destroyed the pagoda before withdrawing from Vietnam after the First Indochina War, it was rebuilt afterwards.

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Hoàng Liên National Park

national park

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Hỏa Lò Prison

This prison was built by the French at the turn of the 20th century, in classical French prison design. This is where the French imprisoned and executed Vietnamese freedom fighters. It is now a museum since two thirds of the prison was torn down to make way for the Hanoi Towers, the museum exhibits the plight of the jailed political revolutionaries, their plight under the French colonial regime and the struggle of the Vietnamese people against imperialism in chilling detail. The prison was also known as the "Hanoi Hilton" during the Vietnam War as it held US POWs. Little emphasis is given to this period however, and to some the exhibits may seem to be propaganda, such as showing photos only of prisoners being treated well and playing basketball and playing chess. The museum claims to have John McCain's flight suit from when his plane was shot down. Most of the exhibits are self-explanatory in English and a guide may not be required. You can still get one for 25,000 dong.

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Hang Sơn Đoòng

Largest cave passage in the world, located near the Laos-Vietnam border

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Ho Chi Minh City Museum of Fine Arts

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Hiền Lương Bridge

bridge in Vietnam

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Lăng Cô

township in Thừa Thiên–Huế, Vietnam

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Pak Ou Caves

The famous "Buddha caves" are north of the city on the Mekong and can be reached by road (approximately 1 hr) or river boat (around 1.5 hr). Alternatively, you can hire canoes and a guide for the day, which would allow you to view the beautiful scenery and visit the caves without throngs of other tourists. It's also possible to finish the trip at the "whisky village" where the local Lao lao (rice spirit) is made. There are two caves, one on the entry level and another, the upper caves, on top of the hill. A very steep climb, but worth the effort. A torch is needed to see the upper cave. Simply cross the river at Pak Ou village for 13,000 kip per person (25,000 kip if you're the only one on the boat), walk up the hill and turn right, crossing the school grounds, to find your way to the caves. Motorcycle parking at Pak Ou village 5,000 kip.

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Quan Âm Pagoda (Ho Chi Minh City)

The oldest pagoda in town, home of a lot of incense and a cheerful puppy.

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Hang Én

If your budget doesn't quite stretch to Son Doong cave, Oxalis also offer 1-4 day trips to Tu Lan and Hang En caves. They seem to have a monopoly on the overnight cave trips, but they do have good English speaking guides. Prices start around 5.5M dong, limited or no trips during the rainy season from September-December. Beware of tropical storms when visiting the Hang En cave, it is prone to flash flooding.

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Presidential Palace Historical Site

The exit from the mausoleum takes you right into the grounds of the, uh, vestige, where Ho Chi Minh lived and worked from 1954 until his death in 1969. The nicely landscaped complex includes two of Ho Chi Minh's houses, kept shiny and "as he left them" by the authorities, as well as a garage with two of Ho's "used cars" and a carp-filled pond. You also get to see Ho Chi Minh's work room and politburo meeting room The presidential palace is nearby, but it's not always open to visitors. Pamphlets are available in English, Chinese, French and Korean. Guided tours are usually available if you wait.

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Linh Phuoc Pagoda

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Temple of the Jade Mountain

Located on a small island in the Hoan Kiem Lake, connected with the mainland by a bridge. With small but attractive grounds, the temple displays on Vietnamese history and, more memorably, displays on the giant turtles, including a mummified specimen (who died in 1968). The two on-site gift shops vend a variety of souvenirs, many of them turtle-themed.

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Xín Chải

commune and village in Điện Biên, Vietnam

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Camp Carroll

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we will see

Vietnam

Vietnam (Vietnamese: Việt Nam), officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam (Cộng hòa xã hội chủ nghĩa Việt Nam) is a country in Southeast Asia. Its neighboring countries are China to the north, Laos and Cambodia to the west.

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Cambodia

Cambodia (កម្ពុជា), sometimes transliterated as Kampuchea to more closely represent the Khmer pronunciation, officially the Kingdom of Cambodia (ព្រះរាជាណាចក្រកម្ពុជា), is a country in Southeast Asia, bordering Vietnam, Laos, and Thailand.

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Laos (ສປປ ລາວ), officially known as the Lao People's Democratic Republic (ສາທາລະນະລັດ ປະຊາທິປະໄຕ ປະຊາຊົນລາວ) (Lao PDR), is a nation in Southeast Asia, known for its mountainous terrain, French colonial architecture, hill tribe settlements, and Buddhist monasteries. A mountainous and landlocked country, Laos shares borders with Vietnam to the east, Cambodia to the south, Thailand to the west, and Myanmar and China to the north.

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