Beautiful coastlines and vibrant cities, Vietnam has become a go-to four tourists. Here is our guide to on of the world's best tourist spots.
Not just that it’s among the most affordable destinations for international tourists, Vietnam is also among the most fascinating countries to visit.
Even though neighbouring Thailand has been better known for international arrivals with close to 40 million in 2019, Vietnam has been fast catching up with tourists from different parts of the world numbering under four million in 2009 and exploding to over 18 million in 2019. It’s as if the world has suddenly discovered this country.
The Background of Vietnam
The country has a strong heritage of most of the tribes coming together and forming a united front. So resourceful are the Vietnamese that with very little weaponry and great ingenuity of creating booby traps they won the war against the Americans.
As we know the Americans lost nearly 60,000 of its soldiers during the war. It’s not that the Vietnamese did not suffer casualties.
In fact more than 1.5 million of the country’s civilians, mainly women, children and the old were killed and an equal number of young men who fought the war.
Going back further down the modern past of Vietnam, the French began arriving during the mid of the 19th century, conquered the nation which they called French Indochina and ruled over its people straight through to 1954 until they were finally defeated by the forces led by Ho Chi Minh after whom Ho Chi Minh City, formerly Saigon, is named and is the financial hub.
Even though the American forces withdrew in 1973, the country could only begin developing after 1986 when more liberal economic policies were introduced and gathered pace after 1994 when the U.S. lifted the embargo.
There is some mining in Vietnam but the major sources of income are from agriculture, garments, food processing, glass and electronics.
The Vietnamese are the largest producers of Cashew with about 37 percent of the world’s production and the second largest in coffee contributing to about 20 percent of the total worldwide production.
Now tourism plays a significant role and accounts for more than 9% of the GDP.
Facts on Vietnam
About 40% of the population has the surname Nguyen.
Almost every household owns a motorcycle.
The country has close to 3,500 kilometres of coastline and also some of the best tropical beaches. The largest cave, Hang Son Doong, in the world is here. It’s wide enough that a large commercial airliner could fly through.
Fansipan, the highest mountain, is more than 3,000 meters high and a large part is terraced with rice fields. A cable car traveling a little over six kilometres takes you atop the mountain.
In Hoi An, you can get a suit stitched while you wait. A popular sport is foot volleyball. You use just your feet. Headers are allowed, hands are not.
Not for the queasy, snake wine is a popular drink. A live snake is put into the wine bottle and slowly dies away. It’s supposed to be a powerful aphrodisiac.
Places To Visit
Ho Chi Minh City, the economic centre, is an experience. While the noise of the motorcycles may be an assault on the senses, the city is worth a visit for its people, the street food, the museums and the Notre Dame Cathedral. While here, the Chu Chi tunnels should not be given a miss. These were the famous network of tunnels that the Viet Cong dug up to facilitate fighting the war.
Hanoi, the capital, is as noisy and lively as Ho Chi Minh City.
Mekong Delta is famous for its floating markets, mangroves, the Cau Mau nature reserve and boat trips.
Con Dao, for its beautiful sandy beaches and coral reefs. These are several islands and the French used to send prisoners here. Today, it has a delightful atmosphere.
Nha Trang, for its beautiful tropical sandy beach.
Hoi An is a city for those interested in ancient architecture.
Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, is an unforgettable heritage site with its caves most especially the Paradise Cave that extends more than 30 kilometers below ground.
Halong Bay, a UNESCO heritage site with thousands of limestone islands should be on your must visit places. The views are like no other.
My Son has the surviving ruins of the ancient Hindu religious centre dating back to the 4th century.
For the mountain lovers, the country has many mountains and any number of stupas. Ta Cu, Fansipan and the Marble Mountains are the most visited.
While in Vietnam, eat Vietnamese. The food is delicious and the choices are almost unlimited. The most popular dishes that you would like to go for are the Pho soup, spring rolls, Bahn Mi the famous baguette sandwich, a vast variety of meat and seafood stews, noodles and sticky rice. All of these are served in the street side stalls and in the high end restaurants.
The ethnic groups in Vietnam are diverse yet as people they are one, welcoming, hospitable and friendly who are sure to make your visit memorable and leave an indelible impression on you. This is a country you want to visit, not just once.
Want more from Asia in our travel guide? How about this from Bhutan?
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