"A country, not just a war" Vietnam by mafi_moya
Vietnam Travel Guide: 12,592 reviews and 31,727 photos
To see and read all about the different parts of this amazing country, click on the following pages:
HaLong Bay, Cat Ba Island and the DMZ
Hue, Hoi An and Central Vietnam
Saigon, aka Ho Chi Minh City
The Mekong Delta
Viet Nam most definitely rocks! It's over five years since I was there and from what I hear it's changed so much since. A few years ago there were still relatively few tourists, whereas it's since gone on to become one of the hottest destinations in the world. I can't say I'm surprised as I loved everything about Vietnam - the first thing I remember is the brilliant colours. Raised on Vietnam War movies it was everything I expected - women in conical hats tending the rice fields; buffaloes waddling in muddy rivers; dramatic green valleys; old wrinkled men puffing on pipes; bicycles whizzing through the streets; gorgeous girls in graceful white dresses. But it was also so much more.
As a famous American who I can't quite recall once said, "Vietnam is a country, not just a war." I'm fascinated by the American War period (as they call it here) but although that's how most people know about the country, Viet Nam's civilisation is one of the oldest in the world and stretches back thousands of years. You can visit sites of old universities where students learnt mathematics and philosophy while people in Cambridge or Oxford were still living in caves.
The legacies of the American War are easy to see, from the bombed out buildings and graveyards of the DMZ, to the horrifying "War Crimes Museum" in Saigon, and the hideous deformities of many street beggars infected by god only knows what chemicals. But the war ended around thirty years ago and for the most part it's been firmly confined to the past.
The people now are welcoming and hold few grudges about history. Something I really wasn't expecting was just how beautiful the country is. I went to Vietnam when I was 18 and hadn't travelled much but even now, after seeing many more countries, I would probably still consider it the most beautiful country I've ever been to.
Before the Americans even knew where Vietnam was, the country was ruled by France and numerous wars were fought against that country as well. The French rule is long gone but the colonial influence remains, from the wide boulevards of Saigon to the fresh bread and coffee for breakfast in Hanoi. Unlike many old colonies though, Vietnam has taken all the best bits from France and kept all the best bits of its own culture for a unique and vibrantly rewarding experience.
Someday I will go back to Vietnam, the first country I ever fell in love with. The Vietnamese are not always considered the friendliest people in the world but they are fascinating, incredibly energetic and enterprising. Whether ruled from Paris, Washington, Saigon or Hanoi; by colonialists, homegrown dictators, capitalists or communists, it doesn't really seem to matter - the Vietnamese just get on with doing their own thing and living their lives the way that they want to.
- Pros:Fascinating history both old and new, some of the best food in Asia, and some of the most stunning scenery anywhere
- Cons:The military invasions of the past have now been replaced by thousands of tourists
- In a nutshell:The first country I ever fell in love with
The Delta. The sound of whirring helicopter blades, the smell of napalm in the morning, and The Doors playing "The End".... more travel advice
Much of the far north of Vietnam is home to distinct ethnic tribes, many living in villages in the hills. The area... more travel advice
mafi_moya's Related Pages
Vietnam Travel Guide
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