I think most people know Vietnam from the famous guerrilla war they fought with America from the 1950’s till the 1970’s. But here I would like to present my experience vacationing this beautiful country.
As soon as you land in Ho chi min city (named after their great leader Mr. Ho chi min who was the face of their independence) you are greeted with a humidity similar to Mumbai and a peculiar smell of fish. The main life line of the city seems to be the Siagon river which was also the historical name of the city. It is one of the most modern cities of Vietnam where you will find all the facilities that money can buy. The main tourist attraction of the city are the Cu chi tunnels.
Cu chi tunnels gives you a perspective of how the war of Vietnam was fought. Why the Americans had trouble fighting the small and poor Vietnamese. The tunnels are narrow, deep and run a network that is several kilometers long.I am a thin guy and I could barely enter the tunnel and there was no way for an American soldier to enter the tunnel opening with all their gear.
Its unequivocal that Vietnamese designed these tunnels with a lot of planning ,creativity and practical thinking.For instance for every entry into the tunnel they also made another opening camouflaging it in the dense jungle at a distance of just 2 m from the first entry. So whenever an American tried to follow a Vietnamese in a tunnel the Vietnamese soldier would come out of the second exit and shoot the soldier. They built in various booby traps all across the jungle which were camouflaged in the best way possible. The Vietnamese used resources of the US against them, they recycled everything from US bomb scrap to US tanks. The tank mines that they used were made from the scrap of bombs that the US forces used for bombing them. It is worth visiting Cu chi tunnels and see how the Vietnamese fought against all odds . The best part about Cu Chi tunnels is that you get to fire M10, Ak-47 and the Rambo gun M-60. The feeling is pretty awesome.
The next place we visited was Da-lat, which is an hours flight from Ho Chi Min. It’s a hill station that the French colonist used as their vacation destination along with the then king of Vietnam. It’s a very beautiful city with a scenic view similar any standard hill station. The French architecture, embroidery exhibition shop, the flowers exhibition and the vacation palace of the last king are the some of the places worth visiting and enjoying in Da lat. Especially the XQ- hand embroidery is pretty good and if you are interested in art and stuff you will find it pretty amazing. The embroidery that they have done is every detailed and exceptional.
One thing that you can not miss in Da-Lat is the tribal show with the tribal dances and drinks. It was one of the most lively and audience engaging events that I have seen in my life. A must attend.
You can see the lush green mountains, waterfalls and at the same time on the other side the you can see the ocean across the city of Da-nang. I think it is one of the most novel and unique views one can ever come across. At the top of the mountain there is a beautiful statue Buddha along with some of the most well kept gardens that I have ever come across. It is a beautiful sight and a place that you would definitely not like to miss.
Next place on our itinerary was Hue which was the ancient capital of Vietnam and also the seat of their last Monarch. Through the city flows one of the cleanest and most beautiful rivers named the perfume river. Along the bank of this Perfume rivers is an ancient Pagoda (Buddhist temple) which were worth the visit.
We also visited Hoi An which has been declared as a heritage site by UNESCO.The city is preserved to its ancient self and grandeur. The place is a paradise for back packers and shopping enthusiasts. The folk music show on the boats that was pretty good. To me the best thing about the city were its rickshaws .The rickshaws have two wheels in the front and the Rickshaw drivers sits behind you. It was a fun experience.
Next we visited Hanoi which is the current capital of the country and is situated in the north. There we saw a Dragon water show that was pretty darn special.A must attend and for all the Indians is ‘Namaste India’ restaurant in Hanoi, it has one of the best Indian food that you can get.
From Hanoi its a 4 hour drive to Ha long bay, which is in itself one of the seven natural wonders of the world with almost 2000 islands. I highly recommend that you can try one of the cruise ships and spend on day in the bay. It was a beautiful, calm and serene experience.
The caves in the Islands of Ha long bay are simply amazing and one of the most astonishing sites that I have ever come across. The caves are intricate and i was awed by its natural beauty and enormity.
If possible try booking Pelican 2 as your ship for the journey, we had very good time with crew and even taught them how to dance on Made in India.
Overall you will find the country very beautiful and worth spending the vacation. The right blend of history, modern amenities and the happy and warm nature of its people across all the tourist sites make this country a perfect holiday destination that not many people have explored.
As a few personal recommendation I would suggest that you should visit the beach, the 7 saloon pub, and the InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort while you are in Da nang and there is a bridge made in the shape of a dragon from which they breath fire on weekends.If you are travelling with your family or your girlfriend please carry an extra baggage because there are several shopping destinations across the country. The craftsman ship of the people is exemplary and at the same time they are warm and friendly. Though there is a language barrier and most of the people don’t understand English, so hiring a guide might not be a bad idea.
PS:There is road named after Ho Chi Min in south Delhi