• Sydney Australia - credit Jackie Appleton

Vietnam – A Fascinating Country

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Credit Angie Watson

I have just returned from Vietnam – a country with a fascinating and complex history, happy and friendly people, and of course incredible scenery. From the crazy traffic in the cities of Ho Chi Minh (formerly known as Saigon) and Hanoi to the peaceful tranquillity of UNESCO World Heritage Halong Bay the country has diverse attractions to offer, and reasonably priced too.

Ho Chi Minh is the gateway with most airlines, and a few nights here provides a chance to visit the Cu Chi Tunnels (where the Viet Cong fighters lived and fought during the war), as well as the Mekong Delta. Hue was next on our list, and home to the Tu Duc Mausoleum, Thien Mu Pagoda and the Imperial Citadel – all of which give an insight into the long-ago history and culture of Vietnam.

A few hours drive past pretty fishing villages and over the scenic Pass of the Ocean Clouds brought us to Hoi An – a lovely coastal town. This is a great place to combine relaxation by the sandy beaches with the history and culture of Vietnam. The ancient town centre has a 400 year old wooden covered Japanese Bridge, a colourful market famed for its lanterns and a lovely atmosphere.

Up in the north of the country, our next stop was Hanoi – another frantic city well known for its massive number of scooters – which often have four passengers, or perhaps some pigs on board! The ‘Hanoi Hilton’ is the nickname of the former prison in this city, which whilst having a long history in French Colonial days is better known for housing American pilots during the war – who were treated so well that the nickname came about!

The drive from Hanoi to Halong Bay is interesting, passing through farmland – and usually past scooters with enormous loads (water buffalo are even transported by scooter – albeit illegally). Halong Bay itself is out of this world, with thousands of limestone islands rising majestically out of the water. The best way to explore is to take an overnight junk ship cruise around the islands, stopping for swimming, kayaking and cave explorations along the way.

The above route simply touches on some of the highlights of Vietnam, but is by no means the only option – with a good amount of time to spend, one could also explore Sapa in the mountains, the former French hill station of Dalat, and the central highlands. Vietnam is also perfect to combine with Cambodia and Laos – but do ensure you plan to spend enough time in each place.

For more information, please call our office on 01323 446550, email us at  info@experienceholidays.co.uk or see our website www.experienceholidays.co.uk and we can put together a bespoke, tailor made itinerary to suit your requirements and preferences.


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