This section of
the web site contains an overview of the many attractions
that Vietnam has to offer, designed with tourism and
travel in Vietnam in mind. Where comments and opinions
are expressed, they are a combination of our subjective
views and feedback from former customers.
In general, the best way to enjoy most places in Vietnam
is to travel between urban centres and use them as
a base to explore the areas in and around them. Long
distances and the country’s limited transport
infrastructure makes a linear tour impractical if
visitors want to experience more than one or two of
Vietnam’s capital city, Hanoi, is just over
half the size of its southern counterpart. Like Ho
Chi Minh City, it is expanding. It's more stately
and calmer than its boisterous offspring, with tree-lined
boulevards and large colonial villas, many of which
are now embassies or government buildings, and its
prices are more reasonable. It is surrounded by many
‘craft villages’, each specialising in
a specific traditional craft.
Vietnam’s third city is Hai Phong, with just
under two million people. Also in the north, about
a hundred kilometres from Hanoi, it is the country’s
main seaport. Hai Phong is close to Cat Ba Island
and is an entry point to Ha Long Bay.
Ha Long City
Ha Long City has a population is around 200,000. It
is a comparatively recent amalgamation of a major
tourist area with a heavy industrial mining town:
initially uneasy bedfellows, the two elements are
now fusing. Apart from being the main access point
for Ha Long Bay, it is also a centre for Quang Ninh
Province and the northeast.
Dien Bien Phu
and Sa Pa
These two small towns are the main centres for the
Da Nang, in central Vietnam, is an expanding port
and industrial area: its population is now well over
a million. It is an attractive centre for three World
Heritage areas: Hue Imperial City, Hoi An Ancient
Town and the My Son Sanctuary, as well as being very
close to some excellent coastal resorts.
Hue is relatively small – less than a third
of a million - but enjoys the status of being the
ancient Imperial City (and the income from armies
of tourists!). It is also a centre for visits to Quang
Tri Province and the Demilitarized Zone.
Nha Trang, Vietnam’s premier resort with a population
of about 320,000, is an attractive destination for
beach lovers and divers. It is also the main access
point to the Central Highlands from the coast.
On the southern end of the central highland plateau,
the temperate climate of Dalat attracts many Vietnamese
tourists to swell its 150,000 population. Other small
towns further north, such as Buon Ma Thuot, are also
important centres for visitors to the Central Highlands.
Ho Chi Minh
Ho Chi Minh City, the former Saigon, is by far the
largest urban centre in Vietnam. It has a population
of around five and a half million, a figure that is
expanding rapidly as poor people migrate to the wealth
of the metropolis. Saigon is the country’s main
commercial area: brash, noisy and, in Vietnamese terms,
expensive. People seldom seem to be indifferent about
it – they either love or hate the place.
Can Tho is a town of about 300,000 people and is regarded
as the centre for the Mekong Delta area.
There are two main centres,
the capital, Phnom Penh, and Siem Riep, the nearest
town to Ankor and the magnificent World Heritage Area
of Ankor Wat. They are at opposite ends of Ton Le
Sap, a large lake linked to the Mekong River. An extension
to either or both centres can be linked to a Viet
Nam tour via Ho Chi Minh City.
Laos' main attraction,
the excellent World Heritage area of Luang Prabang,
can be reached direct by air. However, as a point
of entry to Laos, Vientiane is a small, pleasant capital
city worth a few days for its ambiance alone. Phonsavanh
is the centre for the mysterious 'Plain of Jars',
more or less equidistant from Luang Prabang and Vientiane.
Laos makes an interesting extension to a Vietnam tour
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