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Places to Visit in Vietnam

Places To Visit

Ba Be National Park

Ba Be National Park is a popular tourist destination in the Bac Kan Province in Northern Vietnam. Travelers venture 5 hours from the capital of Hanoi to experience this ASEAN Heritage Park's natural beauty, rich biodiversity, and diverse culture. A quick search of the place will always yield images of a body of water which is the Ba Be Lake which also houses the Tien Pond, a round-shaped pool with a 3,000 sqm acreage. Kayaking along this lake is a must. The wonder of Tein Pond is its surrounding primeval forest and its serene, ripple-less feature. Naturally, trekking is the name of the game in this national park and if you venture further you will be rewarded with the Dau Dang Waterfall and will be treated to pleasant sights of diverse flora. Other worthy sites to visit are the Hua Ma Cave and the ethnic Tay Pac Ngoi Village. Ba Be is worth than a day tour so if you plan to stay there are quite a few options such as Be Be Lake View Homestay and Mr. Linh's Homestay and recommended for their spectacular view of the Lake, their cleanliness, character, and hospitality. For a more local experience, one may choose to rent a room in one of the ethnic villages.

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Bac Ha Town and Bac Ha Market

Located 66 km to the east of Lao Cai City in Sapa where the roads soar upward is the town of Bac Ha or what some people call "Little Sapa". But with an elevation much lower than its bigger kin, the weather is much more pleasing which a lot of travelers take full advantage of especially during weekends. The town fills up with both tourists and locals alike especially during Sundays when the Bac Ha Market is in full swing. This weekend market where the vibrant Flower Hmong take centerstage has been a mainstay for over a century now and their traditions have remained the same for generations, making for a splendid visit for those looking to immerse in culture or do engage in commerce. Not all of the produce in the market can be considered for tourists though as cattle, horses, goats, and dogs are peddled but is an interesting sneak peek at what life is for the locals. What tourists could take home with them are the colorful textiles that are one of the market's main attractions and could be referred to as a textile paradise as the bright colors and patterns are easy to locate and take up a large portion of the market. Though often teeming with tourists, it has largely remained a local market so don't expect to find any pizzas but you will most likely find something more interesting and delicious at times and when there do check out the local corn cake soup, colorful sticky rice, and an ethnic fried donut made with taro root and filled with mung beans.

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Bach Ma National Park

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Ban Gioc Water Fall

If you happen to be in the Northeastern part of Vietnam, particularly in the province of Cao Bang, you must be there to visit the grand Ban Gioc Waterfall. But if it was never part of your itinerary, you should revise it immediately to include this wonder of nature - it is the fourth largest waterfall in the world and sits at the country's border just 30 km from neighboring China. It is 300 meters wide and its massive size is just breathtaking. It has different falls and pools and the surrounding forest area just adds more color to its already captivating appeal. It feels like a paradise of its own, reminiscent of the fictional world in James Cameron's Avatar. Ban Gioc is 85 km from the capital of the province Cao Bang city and there is a bus that goes directly to the waterfall at three-hourly intervals in the morning beginning at 6 am. Once there, you can take a raft into the river to the base of the falls and you'll most likely see Chinese tourists doing the same thing coming from their side of the border. During the rainy season, the flow of water may be intimidating but still a sight to see. During the dry season, the water is tamer and ideal to go around and see the entire surrounding park. Other nearby attractions are the Nguom Ngao Cave, Hang Pac Bo Cave, and the Uncle Ho Museum.

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Ben Tre

The City of Ben Tre is actually where the Vietnam War started when the Viet Cong killed 12 southern Vietnamese soldiers in 1959 and where the preposterous strategy was proposed by a US army officer who said, "It became necessary to destroy Ben Tre to save it" and was bombed till flattened. But this meant the city had a clean slate and rebuilt what it is now today. The completion of the Rach Mieu Bridged in 2009 was when things kicked into high gear as development growing at a rapid pace with tourism following suit. It is still considered an off-the-beaten-track destination for tourists but developers are quickly catching up and buying property along the Tien Giang River so hotels and commercial buildings are on the rise. To get there, one must take a 20-minute ferry ride from My Tho or a direct bus from Ho Chi Minh City. In the city, the best way to explore is via motorbike rental or intercity buses which uses a very system to navigate the different districts. Boat tours are the centerpiece of a visit to Ben Tre so you could take a tour along the rivers in Con Phung Island or head off to Con Oc Island. Other interesting sites are the Ben Tre Museum, Dong Khoi Building of Historical Value (war history), Nguyen Dinh Chieu Poet's Mausoleum and traditional handicrafts villages such as the Son Doc Rice Paper Villages, Cai Mon Fruit and Flower Village, Phu Le Traditional Alcohol Village, and the Hung Phong Coconut Handicraft Village. Lastly, one cannot leave without trying out the coconut produce with the fruit so prominent that there is a Coconut Festival held every four years.

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Buon Ma Thuot

Located in the lush green central highlands of Vietnam is the capital of Daklak Province, Buon Ma Thuot a slowly developing tourist destination that has established itself as a gateway to the surrounding awe-inspiring landscapes of the region. For coffee enthusiasts, this destination will make you palpitate heavily as this is where the majority of Vietnam's coffee engine is fueled with its rich, red soil perfect for cultivating coffee beans. Buon Ma Thuot and Nha Trang are closely packaged together as destinations and there is a direct bus that travels to and from these cities. There are also direct buses from Ho Chi Minh City and air travel is possible via the airport in Da Nang. Natural wonders that people should check out are the impressive waterfalls, particularly Dray Sap but you could also see Gia Long and Dray Nur. For more nature, the country's largest nature reserve Yok Don National Park is well worth an excursion where you could see ethnic minorities the Ede and M'nong who have domesticated elephants. Finally, there is the Lak Lake and the Ban Don Village which give you a wonderful peak of how the locals in the area live.

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Can Tho

If you want to experience big city life with small-town charms, Can Tho is most likely the destination you are looking for. This city is the fourth largest in Vietnam and despite its size, it retains its feature as the center of a rural area. The de facto capital of the Mekong Delta is a vibrant and bustling metropolis but outside the city limits is a setting of a tranquil river with peaceful canals, lush green rice paddies, and pastoral villages. The city itself is very large but appeals to visitors because there is a compact central area where most of the hotels, restaurants, markets, and bars are located. Do note that most of the action, especially in the Hai Ba Trung Street, happens when the sun goes down. For religious sites, one can visit the Quang Duc Pagoda and the Tham Tuong Church. Two areas that are worth checking out are the Xuan Khanh Quarter, Hai Ba Trung Area, and local markets such as the Cai Khe Market, Xuan Khanh Market, and the Ninh Kieu Pier Tourist Market. The city is so beautifully designed that numerous bridges offer romantic views of the city such as Nguyen Trai and Ho Xang Thoi. Outside the confines of the city, travelers should try the floating markets like the massive Cai Rang Floating Market and be amazed by this unique way of commerce. Other attractions are the Muoi Cuong Cacao Farm, Minh Kieu Quay, and the Historic Binh Thuy House. Buses from Ho Chi Minh City are the best way to get in but you can also access it via the Tra Noc Airport.

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Cao Bang

Looking for adventure but dread the crowds? The province of Cao Bang may just be the destination fit for you. It's on the Northeastern-most part of Vietnam and one of its main attractions, the Ban Gioc Waterfall sits on the border and is just 30 km from China. If you visit at the right time, ideally from October to April, Cao Bang is a laid-back getaway with five major river systems and 47 lakes and most of the province is protected as a UNESCO Global Geopark. The most direct way to get in is via Hanoi which will set you back 5 hours on the road but the ride will be well worth it. The city capital, similarly named Cao Bang is where you'll end up and the best way to get around and explore is by renting motorbike taxis. In the city itself, do check out their local markets for food and culture and if you are familiar with the lunar calendar, you can schedule it accordingly since this determines when the markets pop up. Like a lot of Vietnam, Cao Bang is another nature lover's paradise but what sets it apart is the breathtaking Ban Gioc Waterfall which is the fourth largest in the world. Intimidating yet magnificent during the rainy season and very magical to look at during dry times. Other sites one should check out are the Than Heng Lake, Nguom Ngao Cave, and Pac Bo Cave.

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Cat Ba Island

Located just next to the UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site of Halong Bay, Cat Ba Island is the largest island in Halong Bay and approximately half of its area is covered by Cat Ba National Park, which is home to the highly endangered Cat Ba langur. This golden-headed langur is rarely seen, as fewer than 60 specimens are thought to survive in the wild, although it is the subject of a well-organized conservation program; the Cat Ba Langur Conservation Program, an international NGO that has its office at the National Park Head Quarters. The Park covers both land and marine areas and has high biodiversity, although it is at risk from too rapid an increase in tourism. Other mammals in the Park include civet cats and oriental giant squirrels. The island is a very popular tourist destination for local holiday-makers during summer months from May-August. Staying in town, you will enjoy slower pace during Autumn and Winter months. Three Cat Co beaches are located near the town - hardly world-class, but they’ll do for a quick swim. A national park is a good place for nature treks among the mangroves and freshwater lakes and it’s a good launching point for tours of Ha Long Bay and kayaking trips. There are also few caves to explore including Hospital Cave, Trung Trang Cave on the main island, which played its part in the war with America. You might also enjoy the views from Cannon Fort or just cruise the island on a motorbike. If you have the time, allow at least a couple of days to explore -- longer if you plan to use it as a base to take boat trips out into Ha Long Bay, relax on the beaches or engage in activities such as rock climbing. Alternatively, trek through the National Park until you reach Viet Hai fishing village nestled in a small valley on the other side of the park. Cat Ba Island is a popular extension for travellers to Halong Bay to chill out for a couple of nights. There are also options to stay on secluded island resort if you would like to avoid the hotels and resorts in town.

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Chau Doc

In the An Giang province that borders Cambodia, lies a city that is colorful both literally and figuratively - Chau Doc. The pastel colors that are prominently painted on storefronts are a testament to the lives that the locals lead and make it more than just a stopover for tourists making their way to Phnom Penh. The town is culturally diverse with significant Chinese, Cham, and Khmer communities while people are captivating and friendly with a fairly good grasp of English and the area has its fair share of mosques, temples, churches, and pilgrimage sites. The best way to get there is via a direct bus or boat from Ho Chi Minh City. The Chau Doc riverfront is a great place to explore to get a feel of how people live their lives and you may even be lucky enough to strike a good conversation with some of the locals hanging about the area. Other attractions are the Sam Mountain which is also a local pilgrimage site and where you could find the Ba Chua Xu Temple. History buffs will appreciate Tuc Dop Hill where US forces were unable to stop small-scale insurgents based in the delta. Lastly, there is the Tra Su Bird Sanctuary which offers an excellent view of the An Giang countryside. For food, Bay Bong Restaurant and Bassac Restaurant are the standouts that serve reasonably priced local favorites.

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Con Dao

Con Dao is a group of 16 islands located on the southern coast of Vietnam. It has a storied history with Marco Polo even stopping over the island but later on, it became a prison for political prisoners during the French Colonial era and was continued by the Saigon regime where they locked up and tortured the Viet Cong. Its bloody historical past aside, it is an island of immense natural beauty with forested hills, untouched beaches, and extensive coral reefs that divers dream of. Interestingly, these days both jailers and former inmates all live amicably on the island. To get to Con Dao Islands, one must take a boat or fly in from Ho Chi Minh City's airport. Your port of arrival and the place where you will be staying is the largest of the 16 islands, Con Son. A peaceful town where you could visit the old prisons, marvel at crumbling colonial buildings, and visit the local market. Nothing beats getting around town than on a motorbike. With very little traffic, even beginners will enjoy and feel safe riding around. While those satisfied to be on their own two feet could head over to the Con Son National Park Headquarters and purchase a map that shows all the nearby paths one can trek on. Finally, one should take the time to explore all the beaches and the best spots are the nearby Bai An Hai Beach, the secluded Mui Ca Map Beach (Shark Cape), and the picturesque white-sanded Nhat Beach. Lastly, if budget and time permits, you'll be amazed by the natural beauty of the archipelago if you go island hopping and underwater is a whole new world if you choose to go diving.

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Da Lat

Originally the playground of the French who built villas in the clear mountain air to escape the heat and humidity of what was then Saigon is the beautiful hill town city of Da Lat. Many people call it "Le Petit Paris" and even features a small replica of the Eiffel Tower and is a cross between Vietnam and the French Alps because of its surrounding beauty - pine-covered hills, lakes, and higher peaks which makes for some fantastic scenery quite unlike any other in the country. The weather is pleasant throughout most of the year and getting here is via direct bus from Ho Chi Minh City or through the Lien Khuong Airport. It is very much a tourist town and it does not hide that fact so expect a lot of local tourists especially during summer when the locals want to do as the French did and escape the heat. It's also common to see honeymooners during your escape to Da Lat as the scenery is just absolutely romantic and don't be surprised to see a lot of students in the area as the city prides itself on being an education center. Nature is Da Lat's best feature and it is famous for its wide variety of flowers, vegetables, and fruits with its richness in resources, some of the natural sites that visitors should see are the Lake Xuan Hong, the Elephant Falls and Pongour Falls, Datanla Waterfalls, the Valley of Love, and the Da Lat Flower Gardens. There's no shortage of sites to see here and some of the notable ones are the Linh Phuoc Pagoda, Bao Dai Summer Palace, the Crazy House, or the Hang Nga Guest House and Art Gallery), and the St Nicholas Cathedral. Activities one can do are bike riding, canyoning, hiking, and whitewater rafting. If you have a little more time on your hands, you could easily spend a few more days visiting the surrounding areas visiting local ethnic villages, and taking in the scenic landscape.

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Danang

Mountains, beaches, shopping centers, malls, historical sites, and quirky attractions all make Danang a must-visit destination for those traveling to the central regions of Vietnam. It's part of the big four cities in the country so development has taken prominence during recent years but it has still retained its old-world charm and preserved its natural wonders. If tourists are looking for something uniquely Danang, they could check out some ingenious attractions such as the Dragon Bridge with special shows during the weekends, the French Village at Ba Na Hills (their very own theme park), and the Giant Hands in the Golden Bridge. For those more attuned to nature, you could trek the Marble Mountains or go up the Son Tra (Monkey) Mountain; relax at the very popular and beautiful My Khe Beach or check out others such as the Non-Nuoc Beach. If sites are your fancy, plan your trip to see the artsy Tam Thanh Mural Village, the My Son Sanctuary, the Da Nang Cathedral, and the Fifth Military Division Museum of Da Nang. Foodies will be in for a treat because of its central location, so one will be able to try dishes from both Northern and Southern Vietnam and because it is a coastal city, there is a wide selection of seafood to choose from. Da Nang is a near-perfect destination if you want to experience all kinds of attractions but make sure you plan your visit accordingly - May to August are the best months as the season is usually dry but could get as hot as 40 degrees celsius. And the most scenic way to get here is by the Reunification Express that runs between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. Da Nang International Airport is one of the country's main hubs that travelers can take advantage of if they are itching to get there as quickly as possible.

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Dien Bien Phu

For history buffs, Dien Bien Phu is a place that one should dream about visiting. It was the site of the Dien Bien Phu battle during the First Indochina War. A battle between the French and the Vietminh (both Communist and nationalist) that resulted in the colonists surrendering to the Vietnamese and ended the French colonial presence in Southeast Asia but also led to the division of the country into North and South. Nowadays, it's a stark contrast to the war that raged on and is a relatively sleepy town with a high proportion of ethnic minorities - only one-third of residents are ethnically Vietnamese. The history and the people, and the fact that outsiders don't know too much about this place, are definitely this destination's biggest draws One can get to Dien Bien Phu via a decent sleeper bus via Hanoi's My Dinh Station but if you happen to be in Sapa or Lao Cai, you could have the opportunity to take a scenic route getting there. Those with an interest in battle will be pleased to know that a lot of major historical locations have been well-preserved and are worth visiting. But it's not all for history buffs, as people who want an untouched part of Vietnam will find the valley at Dien Bien Phu particularly pleasing with beautiful mountains dotted with friendly Thai and Kamu minority villages. From here, travelers may also use Dien Bien Phu as a jumpoff point to visit the lesser-known northern region of Laos, Muang Khua.

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Dong Hoi

In the never-ending quest to find off-the-beaten-track locations, travelers always find a hidden gem with regards to mountains, bodies of water, agricultural lands, forests, and the like but not so often do you find an entire city that lays claim to that attribute and Dong Hoi may just be the best-kept secret along the Vietnamese coast. The capital city of Quang Binh Province in North Vietnam that receives very few visitors. So, its population of roughly 170,000 freely gives hellos to the occasional wanderer, adding more charm and hospitality to the capital. The City of Hue is the best access point to Dong Hoi, and catching a bus from there will yield you a journey of approximately 3 to 4 hours. Dong Hoians are the city's biggest draw as they are known to be very friendly and don't be surprised if you strike up a conversation with a well-educated Vietnamese fluent in English, which will be a great way to learn more about the city, its culture and customs, and its history while learning a few Vietnamese words and phrases along the way. Historical sites around town are the Tom Toa Church and the Dong Hoi Citadel Gates. And since you're in a coastal town, it's best to hit the beach. Popular ones are the Bao Ninh beach and the Nhat Le beach. The city's river also called Nhat Le is a great place to stroll with its landscaped promenade and a small number of tourists. It's also where a lot of the action happens as one of the major markets is situated along the river.

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Ha Giang

Ha Giang is Vietnam's final frontier, both literally and figuratively. It sits in the northeastern part of the country and on the edge of its border, neighboring China. Meanwhile, life for locals has changed very little since with cultures and traditions untouched by the rapid development of the county and the world around which it sits. It's one of the few places that mass tourism has not touched - yet. So, this will be the most unique and truly cultural experience you'll get when you visit this region. September to December are the best times to visit because of the cool weather with November being the most popular among local tourists because of a flower bloom festival that is celebrated in the province. Getting to Ha Giang is possible via a 300 km bus from Hanoi but once there, public transportation is very limited so it's best to rent a motorbike which is also the best way to experience Ha Giang. Ha Giang consists of many different ethnic minorities and could be distinguished by the clothes they wear - a testament to how things have remained unchanged for hundreds of years. These people are the biggest reason to visit as their way of life is undiminished and is a great cultural experience. Various communities make for great dishes so do check out these popular ones - Thang Den (glutinous rice cake), Au Tau porridge, dried pork or buffalo meat, and Ha Giang steamed rice rolls. The best thing to do here is to hop on your motorbike and do the Ha Giang Loop where you will see the Thon Tha Village; the Quan Ba Pass where you will see a lookout to what is called Heaven's Gate and the Dong Van Karst Plateau Geopark where there are high limestone peaks and rick-strewn fields. Other attractions are the H'Mong King Palace which is unique because of its wooden frame and Long Cu where a gigantic flag of Vietnam blows proudly at the border shared with China.

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Halong Bay

The iconic Halong Bay is the most logical next destination if you chose the picturesque Hanoi as your jump-off point to your Vietnam Trip. The UNESCO World Heritage Site needs no further introduction as it has been featured in countless movies, travelogues, vlogs, and magazines because of its rich biodiversity and scenery that looks straight out of a postcard. The Bay of the Descending Dragon as it is otherwise known covers an area of over 1,500 sqm and is dotted with almost 2,000 uninhabited limestone cliffs make for a most breathtaking and spectacular view.

Simply getting there and seeing it from afar won't do Halong Bay any justice, one needs to experience it up-close by booking one of the many boat cruises. One may choose a one or two-day expedition that would most likely include stops to Cat Ba Island for eating and drinking, Dau Be Island for swimming and snorkeling, Bo Hon Island for cave spelunking. Ti Top Island is a perfect landing spot as its main draw is its stunning beach and features all the comforts of traveling with its restaurants, bars, shops, and hotels.

Bonus insider tips for those who want to avoid the crowds and experience a more unique trip that's not always stated in guidebooks and tour companies: The first is meeting the locals at Hai Phong City at the edge of the bay and partake in its lively local traditions. Next is to try and book a trip with one of the local fishermen or sea captains who call the Bay their home. They may not speak a lot of English but they know the bay pretty well enough to take you off the beaten track. Lastly, visit Bai Tu Long Bai which is less known and less visited than the main Ha Long which makes the view much more satisfying, especially when you don't need to share it with anyone else.

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Hanoi

Hanoi, the country’s capital unfairly overlooked due to the famous Ho Chi Minh City (or Saigon) because of how the War portrayed it towards foreign tourists. When in fact, Hanoi is one of the most picturesque, culturally rich, and has well-laid streets that it one of the world’s most attractive and interesting cities. It’s the country’s cultural heart where its thousand-year history is ever-present and takes centerstage by its centuries-old but well-preserved colonial architecture.

The city of Hanoi is best known for its two main neighborhoods - the French Quarter and the Colonial Quarter which are rich in attractions and are a mere 15 minutes away from each other on foot. The Old Quarter features the beautiful Hoan Kiem Lake in its heart and is surrounded by historical attractions, colonial buildings, and ancient pagodas with a great assortment of shopping streets and local eateries. The French Quarter, on the other hand, features iconic landmarks such as the Hanoi Opera House with hotels and restaurants that appeal to the higher end of the market. So swap your bottled water with possibly the cheapest beer in the world, Bia hơi and take a leisurely walk around the city but do make sure to watch out for the zipping motorbikes which just adds more flavor and excitement to the city.

If you're into shopping, you should check out the Hanoi Weekend Night Market and Hang Gai Silk Street for local flavor, or the Trang Tien Plaza and the Lotte Center for upscale choices. When in Hanoi, you must try their bún chả and Bun Cha Huong Lien is where Anthony Bourdain and former President Barack Obama had their memorable lunch. And to cap it off, have a drink and an amazing experience at the Bia Hoi Junction or sit back and enjoy the music at Binh Minh's Jazz Club while you plan your trip to the world-renowned Halong Bay the next day.

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Ho Chi Minh City

HCM, Saigon, take your pick as these are all names that Ho Chi Minh City go by since the fall of Saigon in 1975. The city is Vietnam's business and financial hub with a prominent history going back hundreds of years but the war is mostly how foreigners associate the city's history. Travelers usually land on the Tan Son Nhat international airport and could make their way easily into town by hopping into either a Vinasun or Mai Linh taxis - the rest of taxi companies are known to have faulty meters or untrustworthy drivers. Upon landing, most backpackers and Westerners make Bui Vien in District 1 their homes for a couple of nights but Ho Chi Minh City is vast and there are many other quieter areas where one could find decent accommodation at any price range. A lot of the museums and historical locations are centrally located and are within walking distance of each other namely the War Remnants Museum, the Reunification Palace, the tallest skyscraper in the country Bitexco Tower and Sky Deck, the Ho Chi Minh Central Post Office and the Notre Dame Cathedral. Other noteworthy places to visit are the Opera House and the Cau Mong which is the bridge that French architect Gustav Eiffel designed. Other religious and cultural sites include the Cao Dai Temple, Jade Emperor Pagoda, and the Mariamman Hindu Temple. For retail therapy, shoppers can visit Saigon Square, the touristy Benh Thanh Market, and the more local Bin Tay Market. A visit to the legendary Cu Chi Tunnels is a must but if you are looking for something less touristy, you could check the Secret Tunnels of Phu Thoa Hoa which is free and lesser-known. Also, Secret Cellar B is another site that is now well-known making it more authentic but one needs to book in advance. It's easy to fall in love with the city so long as you keep an open mind to everything and there will be no limit to what you can do in the southern capital of Vietnam.

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Hoi An

The port city of Hoi An is a major tourist hub and makes no effort to hide it and even flaunts it freely and with good reason. One such display that's sure to attract visitors is the noticeable lanterns that illuminate the city at night. That's because local laws require shophouses to dangle these from their facade thus giving one a snippet of what Hoi An is for tourists. Additionally, this is the only city that prohibits motorbikes from plying the roads during most parts of the day. The biggest problem, albeit a good one, that tourists tend to face is that there is much to see and do that it could become very overwhelming. Being a major trading hub between the 15th and 19th centuries, Hoi An's influences are a fusion of Chinese, Japanese, European and Vietnamese, and the most picturesque part of the city is the Japanese Covered Bridge that crosses the peaceful Thu Bon River. With the customary touristy shot accomplished, make your way to the UNESCO Heritage Site, Old Town, where there are old merchant houses, museums, assembly halls, a theatre, and a traditional handicraft workshop. Choose wisely though as the entrance fee only allows visitors a maximum of 5 attractions per ticket. After Old Town, Hoi An's other attractions are the Hoi An Central Market, Hoi An Night Market, Hoi An Silk Village, and the Tra Que Village. But simply walking along the narrow peaceful roads especially at night is a great experience in itself. And if it so happens that you require a suit, you're in luck because the city is known for its good quality custom-made suits which will be ready for you the next day.

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Hue

Hue is one of Vietnam's major cities located in the central region which is rich in the country's monarchial history and was the capital until 1945. It's a photogenic destination with amazing local cuisine with people who are devoid of big-city trappings. The weather isn't always pleasant with either its perpetual rains or its unbearable heat but if you make the journey (most scenic by train from either Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City), you'll be rewarded as most tourists tend to overlook the former capital. Its ancient history is one for the movies where Hue was gifted to the Vietnamese King in 1306 as a wedding gift to marry the princess. The city is intimately connected to the imperial Nguyen Dynasty but the last king abdicated in favor of Ho Chi Minh's revolutionary government. Ho Chi Minh and his generals spent time in this city and their rivals, President Ngo Dinh Diem and his family hail from Hue adding to its historical depth. Hue is very easy to navigate, which you can do on two feet or two wheels and the main landmark is the Perfume River with the north side is the old city and the Imperial Citadel while to the south is the newer city housing mist of the hotels and restaurants. So do check out the Imperial Citadel, the Tombs of the Emperors, Thien Mu Pagoda, and the Thanh Toan Bridge. Dong Ba Market is its local market which one should visit and food lovers must try their specialty, Bun Bo Hue (Anthony Bourdain tried it here as well) and experience their amazing coffee culture which runs through their veins and is an integral part of locals' lives.

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Kon Tum

A remote region in Vietnam's Central Highlands, Kon Tum is a destination for travelers seeking solace and it is not unusual to plan a trip there and not see any tourist, foreign and local but should not discourage anyone from not going especially if you're into a relaxing ambiance, set on a river and populated with friendly locals. The most interesting thing about Kon Tum is the surrounding ethnic villages with minority groups such as the Sedang, Bahnar, Jarai, Gieh Trieng, and Rengao. There are also a few Christian vestiges located in the area as French missionaries were relatively successful in converting a number of these minorities into Christianity. Some of these sights include the Tan Huong Church, the Wooden or Montagnard Church, the Bahnar Orphanage, and the Catholic Seminary. Other places to visit are the Kon K'Tu Village, the Kon Tum Market, the old airbase Dak To Airstrip, and the Kon Tum Museum. To get to Kon Tum, the easiest ways are if you're in the Pleiku area where it's just 30 minutes away. Buon Me Thuot is 250 km away and one could also take the bus route that plies to Hoi An using the Ho Chi Minh Highway.

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Mai Chau

Located 165 km from Hanoi, Mai Chau is a mountainous region in the Hoa Binh Province best known for its agricultural beauty, its numerous ethnic villages, and its laid-back atmosphere. If you're visiting more than one day, the best experience would be staying at a small, ethnic homestay amidst a field of rice paddies with a great view of the mountains. The best places to experience this are the Lac and Pom Coong Villages but for a more authentic experience, Van Village is a great alternative. You can't go wrong choosing any as you'll still be immersed in its history, culture, and its people. Once you're comfortably settled, you could rent a bike and roam freely and peacefully around the valley where you'll be able to see its unique architecture - ethnic stilt houses. You may also support the local economy by bargaining for local handicrafts and intricate fabrics that are woven in the ancient and traditional way. On Sunday, head off to the local market for more local crafts and unique foods. Visitors shouldn't leave without trying their specialty - Muong Pork which is a pig so versatile it is made into so many unique and delicious dishes that are native to the area. Finally, if you have a lot of time on your hands, you could add a kayaking side trip to the nearby Hoa Binh Lake. From Mai Chau, you could jump off the either the Pu Luong Nature Reserve or the Hieu Village.

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Mu Cang Chai

Far away in the northern corridor of Vietnam is a photographer's dream, a land seemingly so picture-perfect one would think that the locals here designed the place just for their photographing pleasure. This is Mu Cang Chai and what makes it so unique and beautiful is that its landscape is its rice terrace-filled mountains that look like staircases that go straight to the heavens. And the locals didn't cultivate this for one's Instagramming pleasure. This is all for necessity as mountains aren't natural irrigators so the locals had to rely on ingenuity to grow rice on the land, they were on for them to survive. And this practice has been its way of life for centuries. These terraces cover more than 2,200 hectares of land and are best experienced by staying in rustic local guesthouses and homestays. This is the heart of eco-living and the top-rated ones are Mu Cang Chai Ecolodge and Indigenous Homestay. These accommodations usually offer day tours that welcome you into their lives and you'll get to experience the rural way of living such as planting, harvesting, and cooking the local cuisine. The best thing to do is simply enjoy the scenery by cycling or trekking and make sure to bring enough memory cards to store all the great photos you'll surely be taking. Mu Cang Chai can be reached via a 7-hour bus ride from Hanoi and the weather perfect year-round. Whether it's planting season or harvest season, you'll surely be treated to one of the best scenic experiences in your life.

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Mui Ne

In a country teeming with beach destinations, the fishing town of Mui Ne is a location worth checking out for its quiet and serene 10 km coastline that's great for relaxing strolls, peaceful jogs, and unforgettable sunsets. Mui Ne is 200 km north of Ho Chi Minh City and could be accessed via a bus that runs from the southern capital going to Nha Trang or via train which stops at the city Phan Thiet. It's impossible to get lost in this town as the place just stretches on a lone strip along the main street, Nguyen Dinh Chieu. Along the strip is where you could find a wide range of accommodation and restaurants with bargain prices for their seafood dishes. The Mui Ne Beach is the main draw and its coastline is 15 km of sandy beaches that have everything from luxurious beach resorts, loads of dining options, and shopping venues. Though very touristy, the town has retained its fishing village charm so getting up early in the morning and watching local fisherman haul their catch and sort the seafood is a must-see experience. As the day progresses, one major activity is kitesurfing where amateurs could also get lessons. Other activities are riding hot air balloons, sailing, surfing, windsurfing, and all sorts of water activities. What one shouldn't miss out when here is to check out the unique Nui Ne Sand Dunes which is a natural phenomenon that is reminiscent of the desserts found in the Middle East. It's a great place to take photographs of or even ride an ATV along. One should also check out their specialty - fish sauce. A lot of Vietnamese cuisines feature this and here is where a large quantity is made the local way. You could cap off your trip with visits to the Fishing Village, the Mui Ne Market and fishing harbor, and the Fairy Stream.

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My Tho

My Tho is the capital of the Tien Giang Province in the Mekong Delta region of southern Vietnam. Historically, it was formerly Cambodian and known as Misar but was annexed by the country towards the end of the 17th century. Later on, it was ceded to the French and was developed into agricultural lands after the French army engineers drained its marshes. It once had a direct rail route that connected to Ho Chi Minh City and apart from tourism, it is also known for coconut, fruit, and vegetable production, soap making, and coconut oil extraction. From Ho Chi Minh City, it just takes two hours to get to My Tho and thus becoming the common gateway for those who want to explore the Mekong Delta. Most just spend a maximum of one day here so visitors shouldn't miss out on the floating market which is touristy but still has a local flavor to it. So get lost among a sea of coconut trees and sample the different tropical fruits common in the area. Food is also a highlight with local specialties such as Hu Tiu My Tho noodle soup and its sibling, the Hu Tiu Sa Te. Grilled bananas are also a must because of the rich coconut juice.

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Nha Trang

For all the negatives brought about by colonialism, one could thank the French, and later on the Americans, for having the foresight to see beauty out of nothingness. What was once a sleepy coastline dotted with small fishing villages, the French transformed it into the very popular resort town of Nha Trang, also known as the Riviera of the South China Sea. To get there, one may fly directly to the Cam Ranh International Airport, use the train that passes between Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi or buses from HCMC or Hoi An. The weather can make traveling a little tricky with the monsoon season from mid-October to December as months to avoid and summertime brings throngs of local and foreign tourists so spontaneous travelers may be hardpressed to find accommodations during those times. The city center is a great place to experience the culture with ancient pagodas and French colonial buildings and churches but with beaches and nature just 20 minutes away. Though tempting as it is the most convenient to reach, the main beach at Nha Trang suffers from over-tourism but close by are other great alternatives such as Doc Let Beach, Bai Dai Beach, and Bai Duong Beach. One can do a bevy of activities such as sailing, surfing, kayaking, diving, and snorkeling. Then in terms of attractions, visitors may plan their trips to see the Po Nagar Cham Towers, Suoi Do Pagoda, Long Son Pagoda, and White Buddha, Nha Trang Cathedral, the National Oceanographic Museum of Vietnam, and the Alexandre Yersin Museum. Other water-related attractions are the Ba Ho Waterfalls, the Thap Ba Hot Springs Centre, and the Hon Khoi Salt Fields.

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Ninh Binh

If stunning scenery and a laid-back vibe where you cap off a day by drinking beer with the locals is what you're after then the city Ninh Binh may be the destination just for you. It's approximately 100km south of Hanoi and features hundreds of limestone cliffs scattered across swaths of rice fields, therefore gaining the nickname "Halong Bay on land." Apart from its beautiful karst scenery, Ninh Binh is a great opportunity to get a peek into the rural way of living. If visiting Ninh Binh, be sure to check out the UNESCO World Heritage site Trang-An Scenic Landscape Complex which houses Tam Coc-Bich Dong. It is a major travel destination where you rent a small boat to explore lush paddy fields, limestone fields, and karst rock formations while making your way to the interesting Bich Dong Pagoda. If you can't get enough of nature, you could make a 45km journey northwest to the Cuc Phuong National Park which features a diverse ecosystem. For history and culture, you could check out the Phat Diem Cathedral with its design and build considered rare and unique and the Bai Dinh Pagoda, the largest pagoda in Southeast Asia. Top dishes to try in Ninh Binh are Scorched Rice, Eel Noodle, To Nhu Noodle and Nho Quan Steamed Sticky Rice.

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Ninh Thuan

Not much has been written about Ninh Thuan, maybe because it is Vietnam's newest province, splitting away from Binh Thuan in the south and Khanh Hoa in the north in 1993 so with even locals not knowing that it is now its province, travelers will find a hidden gem of a location that offers so much more tranquility but an equal amount of beauty compared to neighboring Nha Trang. The best way to reach Ninh Thuan is ironically via the Nha Trang Airport which is closer to the capital city of Phan Rang than it is to Nha Trang. Trains are an excellent choice as well due to the proximity of the station to the city. Be prepared though as Ninh Thuan is known to be the hottest province in Vietnam and qualifies as one of the rare Mediterranean climates in Southeast Asia. The province's main attraction is in Phan Rang, the Ninh Chu Bay which is considered as one of the top ten beaches in Vietnam. Ninh Chu Bay, specifically the My Hoa Lagoon, is also a major site for kite surfing because of its ideal wind conditions. Meanwhile, avid surfers could find the best waves in the Nui Chua Natural Park with its numerous point breaks. If you're up for some in-land adventures, you can trek the Nui Chua mountain ranges and see the different facets of lives that the locals here live. Other worthy sites to visit are the Po Klong Garai Cham Tower, Po Re Me Temple, and the Quang Truong Thanh Pho Phan Rang-Thap Cham Ninh Thuan War Monument.

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Phong Nha - Ke Bang National Park

In the heart of central Vietnam is an adventurer's playground called Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park (Phong Nha). It was designated a UNESCO Heritage Site in 2003 and was recently featured as the filming location of Hollywood blockbuster, Kong: Skull Island. So, the place is slowly booming and with the opening of Danang Airport, the tourist trajectory can only be seen as going upwards. The National Park contains the oldest karst mountains in Asia, formed roughly 400 million years ago and millions of years of flooding have chiseled out the world's largest caves, the Son Doong Cave which also serves as its main attraction, among many other beautiful features. For the most part, travelers can enjoy hiking trails, countryside trails ideal for biking, and rivers perfect for kayaking. If one wants to experience Phong Nha in all its glory, try to avoid going from October to November as it is its wettest season, so erosion and flooding are common thus prohibiting access to many of the caves. The Son Doong Cave is the main cave, on that is so big that it even has an underground jungle. Other well-known caves are the Hang En, Tien Son, Thien Dong (Paradise), Ruc Mon caves, and the Tu Lan Cave System. If you're all "caved-out", you can choose to do the Nuoc Mooc Spring Eco-Trail but to enjoy it completely, it's recommended to book a tour and guide with a reputable travel company as it may be difficult to get to certain locations even with your best haggling and motorbike navigational skills. But once that is settled, put on your best-hiking boots and be prepared for an amazing adventure.

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Phu Quoc

Once upon a recent time, Phu Quoc Island was voted The Cleanest and Most Beautiful Beach of the World and though it doesn't hold that title anymore, it still lives up to its reputation as just that. And its status as a UNESCO national park ensures that it has kept its natural charm and remains mostly untouched. So what visitors will get are beautiful sunsets, evergreen forests, traditional villages, vast nature parks, Buddhist pagodas, and other interesting attractions. Though advertised as a hidden paradise, tourists will be well-pleased to know that Phu Quoc is highly developed and has its fair share of luxury hotels, restaurants, and bars but set in a way that does not ruffle the feathers of being truly Vietnamese. The most direct way to get here is by plane to its local Duong Dong Airport from Ho Chi Minh City. Ferries and boats are also good options but make sure to avoid the rough seas during the monsoon season from June to September as it could greatly affect your vacation. There are a lot of activities and sights to choose from and one of those can't-miss locations is the Phu Quoc National Park which takes up half of the Island. There you can marvel at rare plants and wildlife. Travelers can also visit Dinh Cau Rock and the temple built on top, Sao Beach, Suoi Tranh Waterfall, Duong Dong Market, Sung Hung Pagoda, Su Muon Pagoda, Cao Dai Temple, Ham Ninh Fishing Village, and the historical Phu Quoc Prison. For activities, the recommended ones are the night squid fishing tours, fishing and snorkeling, and island hopping.

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Phu Yen

Tourists looking for a vast expanse of golden coasts with barely anyone in sight should look no further than the Province of Phu Yen. It's 120 km south of the uber-popular Nha Trang and enjoys a vibe that is laid-back and very local. As beach province, it is best to avoid it during the monsoon season from September to November but do note that May to July is the peak of the domestic tourist season so prepare for heavy local tourism. Once you've sorted out when you'll go, getting there is fairly easy especially if coming from Ho Chi Minh City as you can take a direct bus or train that passes there. A good starting point to explore is its capital city, Tuy Hoa with its beautiful natural and historical sites and see how different it is from other Vietnamese cities. But Phu Yen's main attractions lie outside of the urban zone and the top places to see are the Bai Xep Beach, Mon Beach, Hon Yen Beach, Vung Ro Bay, Xoan Dai Bay, Van Hoa Plateau, Da Dia Reef, the Nhan Mountain, and the Chop Chai Mountain. Other sites to see are the Mang Lang Church, the Ong Cop Bridge (longest wooden bridge in the country), and the Da Trang Pagoda. Of course, no trip to a beach town is complete without sampling their seafood. Among their specialties are local salted anchovy, grilled blood clam, and their main fish specialty salad. Another local favorite is the Hoa Da Girdle Cake which is not your typical dessert cake but more of the main course.

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Pleiku

It doesn't get more off-the-beaten-track than Pleiku, the Gia Lai province's capital which is strategically located at the junction of two of Vietnam's major highways routes 14 and 19 and is a great jump-off point for anyone looking to explore Vietnam's verdant central highlands. With its lush green beauty, it's hard to think that just a few decades ago this site was heavily bombed as part of the "Operation Rolling Thunder" but with help of the USSR, Pleiku was rebuilt into what it is now. It's possible to access Pleiku via a direct bus from Ho Chi Minh City and there are routes that come in from Quy Nhon, Da Nang, and Buon Ma Thuot. A small airport services the area as well so one could book a flight from one of the country's major city airports. Once there, don't be surprised by the lack of attractions but take the opportunity to see the Vietnamese countryside in all its natural beauty. With that, the things visitors could expect to see are the Bien Ho or Sea Lake, the Cong Vien Dong Xanh or the Fossil Tree Waterpark, the Gia Lai and Ho Chi Minh Museums, the Cathedral of Kon Tum, Yaly Falls and the Phu Cuong Waterfall, and the Yok Don National Park. Do note that if one wishes to see the ethnic villages, they need to obtain a government permit from the provincial office and that a local guide is preferred. Lastly, don't forget to check out the very famous traditional noodle, Pho Kho Gia Lai with its soup served separately from the noodle.

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Pu Luong Nature Reserve

Eco lovers should be giddy at the thought of going to Pu Luong Nature Reserve, after all, ethnic Thai people probably had that same feeling as they once called this home hundreds of years ago. It's a must-visit destination for nature enthusiasts and even amateur trekkers where you'll see endless mountains, fertile valleys, and unspoiled jungle. The best seasons to go are from May to June when the weather is still cool and when locals start the new crop season carpeted by green paddy fields. The next best season is from October to September which is harvest season and the green has been replaced by golden fields and the lush scent of ripening rice seeds is ever-present. To get there from Hanoi is to go through Mai Chau and pass through the highway along the Ma River for 40km until you reach the nature reserve. For the adventurous, you must conquer the Pu Luong Mountain Peak with a height of 1,700 meters where you will be rewarded by a view of the surrounding mountains, forests, fields, and valleys. For a more relaxing affair, one could take a swim at the Thac Hieu Waterfalls. Starting from the Hieu Village, make your way through rice fields into a serene waterfall cascading down the hillside, and with a bit more exploration you'll find the perfect spot for you to a nice refreshing dip. Other activities include visiting a Thai ethnic village and see their rice cultivating skills; dining on farm-to-table home cooking where you could sample their grilled mountain snails dipped in fish sauce; join a craft workshop and learn how to weave, embroider, make baskets and bamboo furniture which are all essential to the local way of life; or, simply stay still and let nature consume you.

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Quang Tri

Quang Tri is the northernmost part of Southern Vietnam and was one of the most fiercely contested areas during the American War which makes for a very interesting destination for both war and history aficionados. It has a 75 km coastline but is otherwise a hilly province so with little on the way of topography, its war-torn recent past takes the limelight. One of the vestiges of war the Vinh Moc Tunnels north of the Ben Hai River. Constructed by those who wanted protection from the fighting but did not want to leave their homes and was used extensively by a large number of families so unlike other tunnels, this one can be navigated comfortably by tourists. The site Battle of Khe San is also a must-see due to its historical significance. Monuments include the Hien Luong Bridge which connected the South with the North where in the past it was seen as a sign of division because it was destroyed by bombing, now it is a symbol of unification. Lastly, take a short trip to the ancient Quan Tri Citadel which was built in 1824 but withstood the effects of war. Access points to the province are via Danang International Airport; Hanoi which is 600 km away and Ho Chi Minh City which is double that distance but many trains make their way through to Quang Tri.

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Quy Nhon

Travelers looking for a pleasant beach getaway destination should make a trip to Quy Nhon, the laid-back city that is surrounded by magnificent beaches and breathtaking rural countryside. Perhaps one of the reasons why the tourism boom hasn't struck the city yet is because there's no direct way to go there. Located halfway between Nha Trang and Hoi An, the easiest route would be the Reunification Express or via bus from Da Nang, Hoi An, or Da Lat. There are plans for future infrastructure developments that will make it more accessible but why wait for the tourists when you can experience it in its native form. Before hitting the beaches, you may check out these different attractions: the interesting Bin Dinh Museum, the well-preserved Thap Doi Cham Towers, the Long Khanh Pagoda, and the Quy Hoa Leper Colony. Now moving to its main draw, the best swimming beaches are by the Seagull Hotel and the Royal Resort but basically, just feel free to choose a spot by the shore and settle yourself in with the surroundings. Moving a bit further you can make your way to the Bai Xep Beach and The Beach Xuan Hai which is probably one of the cleanest and untouched in Vietnam. Seafood is a must when in Quy Nhon and the best places to get them are in 2000 Restaurant and Dong. Vietnamese cuisine can be best experienced at Vespa Cafe and Tinh Tam. For shopping, the Nguyen Nga Centre is worth checking out as it is also a charitable organization where souvenirs are made by children with special needs, and the proceeds from sales are used to educate them.

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Sapa

Very popular and with good reason, Sapa is where you can find one of the most beautiful rice terraces in the world. Despite the heavy tourism that has flooded its gates in recent years, it has largely remained unchanged and still enjoys the rural they were accustomed to for centuries. This region in northwestern Vietnam could be described as having four seasons in one day - winter chill in the early morning, springtime after sunrise, summer heat in the afternoon, and an autumn breeze that turns into winter cold as the night progresses. So beautiful is this place that there is a legendary accommodation that National Geographic has recognized as one of the Unique Lodges of the World, so do check out Topas Ecolodge while you are there. But with various ethnic communities that call Sapa home, any choice you make to call home for a couple of days or nights will be a great one. Sapa Town is a sight in itself as its nestled in a valley surrounded by the Hoang Lien Son mountains and has a spectacular view of Vietnam's highest peak, the imposing Mount Fansipan where you can hire a guide to help you trek all the way to the top. But if you're content to stay ground-level, the verdant fields and vast rice-paddies are enough to make you dream about this place long after you've left. Ethnic minorities are a major part of Sapa and your interaction with them will be inevitable as they'll be your guide if you decide to go trekking and they run the markets through which you will find a lot of interest in because of the diversity of products that they sell - local food, traditional clothing and handicrafts, and even trekking gear. When in Sapa, the major places to visit are Ham Rong, the Silver Waterfall, the Sky Gate, the Rattan Bridge, the Ancient Rock Field, and the Lao Chai, Cat Cat, and Ta Phin Villages. Must eat dishes are Lon Cap Nach, Com Lam, and Thang Co. To get to this marvelous destination, the best, most scenic and most affordable way is via the scenic sleeper train

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Tam Coc

Imagine yourself on a small boat gliding through a serene stream that cuts through a vast expanse of rice paddies surrounded by limestone karsts, that's what you get when you visit Tam Coc. Often referred to as the landlocked version of Halong Bay, Tam Coc translates to Three Caves - Hang Ca, Hang Hai, and Hang Ba along the Ngo Dong River. Travelers hire small boats from the village of Van Lam with local women serving as both boat captains and local guides and are well known for rowing their boats by using their feet. Tam Coc is part of the Trang An Scenic Landscape Complex UNESCO World Heritage site in the province of Ninh Binh and can be accessed by taking a 3-hour bus or train from Hanoi. Once there, you will be rewarded with a change of scenery and pace from where you departed from. Once you board the traditional sampans, you can kiss the normal world goodbye for a few hours as you make your way through a flooded landscape where the river and paddies merge into one. You may even spot local mountain goats and the occasional darting king kingfishers. At the end of your boat ride, you may ask to stop at the ancient Thirteenth Century Thai Vi Temple. If you're up for another boat ride, you can make your way 2km southwest from the dock to visit the cave pagoda of Bich Dong or Jade Grotto. Work your way through stone-cut steps consumed by the roots of banyan trees to the entrance of the cave, once inside you'll see three buddhas sitting beside a head-shaped rock which supposedly bestows longevity to those who touch it. Continue further to get a magnificent view of the waterlogged scenery.

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Vietnam

Vietnam is one of the destinations that stirs up a whole array of emotions and imaginations with its rich history, stunning scenery, vibrant people, and mouth-watering cuisine. One could say it’s a quintessential Southeast Asian country but it begs to differ as it has one foot solidly out the door towards progress and development and another foot firmly planted on preserving its past and protecting its lush natural beauty - it knows where it stands and that’s why travelers are always compelled to make Vietnam part of their travel bucket list.

It’s a destination that has everything for each traveler where a city slicker may feel right at home at the nation’s capital, Hanoi or in the bustling financial center of Ho Chi Minh City; or a nature lover may never want to leave exploring the Cat Tien or Cuc Phuong National Parks or even marveling at the rice terraces of Yen Bai or Sa Pa. Water lovers have Ha Long Bay etched in their dreams but may have hundreds of beaches to choose from with Phu Quoc Island, Nha Trang and Mui Ne to name a few. It’s a widely known food lovers paradise that the late great Anthony Bourdain swears by that is spread out across the country. Photographers and vloggers will need to clear up their memory cards or else commit to memory all the beautiful wonders that each destination has to offer. It’s a treat both for the senses and the soul.

There are no easy ways to describe Vietnam with its colorful character - Buddhist temples and Christian churches alongside massive skyscrapers; office workers in business suits having their lunches right on the streets; a mountainous cold region on the north, a laid-back coastline at its center and its exotic flood plains on the south; its character can only be described as purely Vietnam. So whether you are a big spender or a backpacker, a nature lover or a culture seeker, Vietnam’s geography and character make it the most perfect travel destination for everyone at any time of the year.

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Vung Tau

If traveling to Vietnam and Ho Chi Minh City is your getaway, then Vung Tau could be a perfect opportunity to be a getaway within that getaway due to its proximity to the southern capital. The tourist destination is so steeped in maritime history that the European ship activities during the 14th and 15th centuries inspired the name Vung Tau which means "anchorage". Its tourist boom roots could be traced back to the recent War when US and Australian troops flocked to the city for relaxation and recreation. And though very busy during the weekends, a trip here during the weekday will reward you with a well-developed city that's enveloped by the ocean on three sides. Vung Tau has a dry season from November to April and a rainy season from May to October and the best way to get here from Ho Chi Minh City is by bus or private car. The beaches are the city's main attraction and the popular ones are the touristy Front Beach, the secluded Back Beach, the calm and scenic Pineapple Beach, and the exclusive Paradise Beach. Other scenes to check out are the giant Jesus statue similar to that of Rio de Janeiro, the photogenic lighthouse, and the Ho May Culture and Ecotourism Park. Lastly, make sure to indulge its local cuisine, especially seafood. And for something uniquely Vung Tau, you shouldn't miss the Banh Khot which is a seafood pancake snack.

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