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Top 10 Things to Do in Vietnam

Posted at: SATurday - 26/04/2014 21:10 - Viewed: 2641 - post name: JackyChau

Vietnam has still a way to go before being a world-renowned destination. However, it still has its share of activities. These range from stunning Ha Long Bay to beautifully quaint Hoi An to Ho Chi Minh’s mausoleum.

The Cu Chi tunnels represent the sheer grit and ‘can-do’ attitude of the Vietnamese while a visit to the War Remnants Museum brings home the horrible reality of war. On the more positive side, the marvelous Hue Monuments, along with the My Son Sanctuary will awaken your spiritual side. Explore the best of Vietnam.
 

Halong Bay (Ha Long Bay)

Halong Bay is a beautiful natural wonder in northern Vietnam near the Chinese border. The Bay is dotted with 1,600 limestone islands and islets and covers an area of over 1,500 sqkm. This extraordinary area was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994. For many tourists, this place is like something right out of a movie. The fact is that Halong Bay features a wide range of biodiversity, while the surrealistic scenery has indeed featured in endless movies.

The best way to get to Halong City is by car, minibus or bus from Hanoi which is only 170km away. If budget is not a problem, an hour-long helicopter transfer is also available.







Halong Bay (Ha Long Bay)


Imperial Citadel of Thang Long in Hanoi

The large central sector of the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long in Hanoi was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site just in time for Hanoi’s millennial anniversary in 2010.

The ancient site was the political centre of the country for 13 consecutive centuries and served as the capital of Vietnam for eight centuries.






 

Imperial Citadel of Thang Long Highlights:

The central sector of the imperial citadel includes relics in Hanoi Citadels and an interesting archaeological area at 18 Hoang Dieu Street. Excavation work took place from 2002 to 2004 at the Thang Long Royal Citadel site and as a result many artifacts and items from the 6th to the 20th century belonging to the Ly, Nguyen, Tran, Le eras were found.

Foundations of old palaces, relics, ancient roads, ponds and wells were discovered and as a result the famous Hanoi Flag Tower on Dien Bien Phu Street in Ba Dinh District, a renovated old stone fortress, is popular with visitors. On top of these discoveries, archaeologists also found bronze coins, ceramics and pottery from China and many places in Asia, all of which demonstrate a close trading relationship in the area. Visitors should head for the display room that features interesting excavated items as well as mockups of the citadel itself.

Location: Next to Ba Dinh Square, opposite the Ho Chi Minh mausoleum and also near many important political buildings including the Vietnamese Presidential Palace.

Hoi An Old Town

Once a major Southeast Asian trading post in the 16th and 17th centuries, the seaside town Hoi An is basically a living museum featuring a unique mixture of East and West in the form of its old-town architecture.

Among the heritage architecture stand Chinese temples, a Japanese-designed bridge, pagodas, wooden shop-houses, French- colonial houses and old canals. Though large-scale trading had long moved elsewhere Hoi An has been successful in preserving and restoring its charming roots and was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in December 1999.

Hoi An Riverside is the best place to be at night as the area is lit by quaint and old-fashioned lanterns, making it an atmospheric and beautiful spot. For those who love sea, sun and sand, Hoi An offers two lovely beaches five kilometres away from the town centre – a sort of holiday within a holiday.

Hoi An is known for its great food, fun shopping, skilled tailors, friendly people and cosy atmosphere – all key characteristics that draw people to this picturesque town.



Hoi An Old Town

Two great things about Hoi An’s Old Town are that it is small enough to get around in on foot and the traffic is nowhere near as heavy as in bigger cities. Some of the streets only allow bike and motorbike traffic and some are pedestrian only. These factors make Hoi An even more inviting for most travelers to Vietnam, especially those who have passed through frenetic Ho Chi Minh City (aka Saigon) or Hanoi.

Many buildings in the Old Town were constructed over a century ago and feature strong Chinese influences stemming from merchants from Guangzhou, Fujian, Chiu Chow and Hainan. Some of the wooden signboards bearing the company names are carved and gilded in Chinese characters, reflecting the strong presence of the Chinese in Hoi An ever since its prosperous times.

Ho Chi Minh's Mausoleum in Hanoi

Ho Chi Minh is probably the most popular leader of Vietnam and known to his people as ‘Uncle Ho’. His body is preserved here in a glass case at the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum in central Hanoi (albeit against his wishes).

For visitors, a trip to Uncle Ho’s final resting place can be an extraordinary experience as it is not just an average attraction; it’s a part of a unique history.





Ho Chi Minh's Mausoleum Highlights

Started in 1973, the construction of the mausoleum was modeled on Lenin's mausoleum in Russia and was first open to the public in 1975. The granite building meant a great deal for many locals as it ensures that their beloved leader ‘lives on forever’.

Security is tight and visitors should dress with respect (no shorts, sleeveless shirts and miniskirts) and everyone has to deposit their bags and cameras before getting in. Visitors are not allowed to stop and hold the constant queue up as the place is constantly busy. Uncle Ho’s remains are sent yearly to Russia for maintenance therefore the mausoleum is closed usually from October onwards. It’s best to recheck with your hotel tour desk before visiting. Admission is free but donations are accepted.

Opening Hours: Tuesday to Thursday and weekends from 08:00 – 11:00. Closed on Monday and Friday
Location: At Ba Dinh Square in Hanoi city centre
Tel: +84 (4) 845 5128


My Son Sanctuary in Hoi An

My Son Hindu Sanctuary, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a great sample of the ancient Champa civilization located in the southern part of Vietnam. It was an independent state from around the 2nd to the 17th century, at which time it was occupied by Vietnam.The impressive Hindu-themed ruins feature many beautiful stone sculptures, temples and towers in tropical jungle surroundings.






My Son was also a political centre and a royal burial ground and the complex consists of more than 70 structures devoted to Hindu gods and goddesses and the most noticeable one, Shiva, was considered the protector of the Champa’s kings. Their skilful use of red bricks and sandstone is remarkable.

Like many historic sites around the world, My Son was destroyed by time and wars and after lying neglected for a long time it was rediscovered and renovated by the French in 1898. Sadly the most recent war did great damage to the complex as the Americans bombed this area knowing that the Viet Cong used it as a hiding place, mistakenly thinking that the enemy would not touch a holy site.

However, the majority of the central complex managed to survive the bombs and parts of the ruins have now been rebuilt. Overall, this Hindu sanctuary reminds visitors of other similar sites in Southeast Asia including the great Angkor Wat in Cambodia. A must-visit for those who appreciate history.

Opening Hours: All year round. The best time to visit is early in the morning before it gets too hot and when it is not too busy
Location: In a small valley in Duy Tan Commune, Duy Xuyen District of Quang Nam Province (about 70km southwest of Danang and 40km from Hoi An)


Hue Imperial City

The Complex of Hue Monuments is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is located in the city of Hue in central Vietnam. Hue was founded as the Vietnam capital city by Gia Long, the first king of the Nguyen Dynasty in 1802. It held this position for nine Nguyen dynasties until 1945.

The massive complex features hundreds of monuments and ruins, such as the Forbidden Purple City, once the residence of the royal family and badly damaged during the Vietnam War, the Imperial City, royal tombs, flag tower, pagodas, temples, a library and museum.




Hue Imperial City Highlights
The Citadel in Hue

Hue, located on the banks of the Huong River, (aka the Perfume River) is about three hours north of Da Nang. Among the most impressive monuments in this former grand imperial capital are the Ngo Mon Gate of the imperial city which once was exclusively used by the royal family and their eunuch servants, the tomb of Emperor Minh Mang as well as the tomb of Emperor Tu Duc. In fact many of the monuments surrounding the royal buildings were constructed in the early 19th century and were modeled after Beijing’s Forbidden City. The wall that surrounds the citadel is six metres high and two-and-a-half kilometres long.

The historical complex is known not only for its rich architecture but also for beautiful landscaping. Overall, the site is quite stunning. Avoid Hue between October and December as it gets most of its rain from the northeast monsoon during that period. This small city is also famous for its Imperial-style cuisine. Don’t miss it.
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