Friday, November 21, 2008

Unique Vietnam

Voices of the Vietnam POWs

Vietnam is a fascinating country with a long history and an ancient culture. It's also a dynamic nation that's moving ahead. In recent decades, Vietnam has opened up as an outstanding holiday destination owing to its enchanting cities and magical natural scenery. Here's a look at the unique watery attractions in the great historic cities of Hanoi, Hue and Ho Chi Minh City.

Standing along the banks of the Red River, Hanoi, the capital, is a city of timeless elegance with its French colonial villas, spacious tree lined boulevards, quaint backstreets and pagodas. However it's the medley of lakes that gives this city its unique charm.

The most delightful of Hanoi's lakes is the serene Hoan Kiem Lake (Lake of the Restored Sword) that lies plumb in the heart of the city. Cross the The Huc (Rising Sun) Bridge to explore the island in its centre. The island is home to the 18th century Ngoc Son (Jade Mountain) Temple.

The shores of Hanoi's West Lake make up a popular meeting and picnicking spot. This lake is nine miles in circumference and several cafes stand on its shores. A B52 bomber crashed into this lake during the Vietnam War and its wreckage remains.

Going south from Hanoi brings you to the imperial charm of the old capital Hue. The centrepiece here is the Perfume River which is populated with dragon boats, houseboats, and long-tail sand dredgers. Linking the two banks is the Trang Tien Bridge, a popular evening strolling place for young lovers and the perfect spot to take the air. In the evenings, the bridge is illuminated with a light display and the outdoor riverside cafes are splendid spots to relax, admire the lights, and take in the local action.

The Perfume River separates the city and the ‘Forbidden Purple City’, once the sole province of the emperor and his family and attendants. Much of its splendid imperial architecture was razed during the Tet offensive but remnants of its tombs and pagodas remain to hint at its former splendour.

Heading further south to the Mekhong delta region brings you to the zest and optimism of old Saigon in what is now known as Ho Chi Minh City. It's a brash, dynamic and forward-looking city that retains much of its colonial charm in the form of delightful villas and churches and boulevards.

One of the main factors in the choice of Saigon as capital in the 19th century was its location on the Saigon River. This made it perfect for a port and a major trading and transport hub for Indochina. And today the river remains an important part of the city. The best way to experience the charms of the city's main waterway and sample the country's culture is to take a five-mile cruise to the Binh Quoi II Tourist Resort.

The Binh Quoi II Tourist Resort offers a range of cultural events such as music and dancing and dining. One of the highlights is the show of a traditional Vietnamese wedding with a water-borne procession. Tours usually depart Ho Chi Minh City in the early evening and last for four hours.

Vietnam, a forward-looking nation that's steeped in history and a unique and wonderful culture, has much to offer the holiday maker. These three cities with their aquatic charms offer a great introduction.
Reluctant Warrior: A Marine''s True Story of Duty & Heroism in Vietnam

When visiting Vietnam, be sure to have a reservation, because hotels in Vietnam could be fully booked in high season. Of course the Internet offers many opportunities to book Vietnam hotels in advance.

Richard has over 20 years experience in the travel industry and writes for CheaperThanHotels.
Cheaper than Hotels offers cheap hotels with extended background information for travel destinations
Vietnam Voices: An Oral History of Eleven Vietnam Veterans

No comments: