"Vietnam - the dragon of Indochina." Vietnam by worldkiwi
Vietnam Travel Guide: 12,590 reviews and 31,725 photos
Vietnam is an intriguing country in southeast Asia that is shaped rather like a dragon. The head is northern Vietnam, the body is the long, slender middle part of the country, and its tail is in the south. All over the country you can see dragons on temples, tombs, and ruins, so I have come to think of the dragon as being the best symbol of Vietnam.
In April 2005, I had 17 days holiday, which I had tacked onto the end of a business trip around Asia. I chose to explore Vietnam in as much detail as I could during this time, as it was a new destination for me.
After reading the 2003 edition of Lonely Planet - Vietnam, I was almost paranoid that I was going to a very dodgy place, fulls of thieves and rip-off artists. I thought the place would be very "third world" and difficult to travel around. In short, I was prepared for a major adventure.
Well, the truth of Vietnam is very different to what that last edition of Lonely Planet portrays. The country is a rapidly developing place, the people are friendly and honestly helpful, and travelling around between cities is comparatively easy (if a little time consuming). Vietnam is a great place to visit. I am sure in another two year's time it will have changed further and perhaps lost some of that rustic charm it seems to have now, however, I can thoroughly recommend this place as one you must visit. Perhaps plan to do so sooner than later. I am sure the glamour and novelty of foreign tourists will wear off for the local people and visitors will not experience that true warmth and hospitality that I have seen. I guess that's just the way of the modern world. Vietnam, for me, was Asia as it was about 20 years ago (it reminded me a bit of Indonesia in 1989).
I started my journey through Vietnam in Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon). From there I flew to restful Phu Quoc Island for a few days on the beach. Back to the mainland and a bus from HCMC to the small coastal town of Mui Ne. Next, there was a long 19 hour bus trip through the night to charming Hoi An, one of my favourite spots in Vietnam. After a scenic four hour bus trip from there, I arrived in Hue for a couple of days history sight seeing. Finally, a flight to Hanoi, the capital, for my last stop in Vietnam before heading home.
- Pros:Idyllic rural charm, stately colonial grace in the cities and towns, warm friendly people, lots of sunshine, some spectacular natural landscapes.
- Cons:Murderous traffic, dodgy internet cafes, creeping mass tourism.
- In a nutshell:See it and experience it before it's gone!
One more interesting way of crossing the "Perfume River" from modern day Hue to Thien Mu pagoda, is by river boat.... more travel advice
Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon), is quite unlike any other Vietnamese city. It has a striking array of heritage... more travel advice
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