Travel highlights Vietnam
Cat Ba, near Halong, has lush forests, mangroves and freshwater swamps, beaches, caves, and waterfalls. The Northeast side of the island is now a National Park, including a protected marine zone. The town is small and ancient, with clusters of fishing boats and stunning sunsets across the harbour. Close by you'll find Cat Co Beach, whose mountains look like a throne holding a marvelous sandy coast, and the rockier Cat Vang Beach.
Known as the jewel of the southern Central Highlands region, Dalat is one of the most delightful cities in Vietnam. It was originally the playground of the French who built villas in the clear mountain air to escape the heat and humidity of the coast and of Saigon. Dalat is also a good base for trips into the surrounding highlands, which remain tranquil.
Ha Long Bay
Ha Long means 'where the dragon descended into the sea', and refers to a legend about a dragon who created the bay and islands with its flailing tail. It's 3000 islands rising from the clear, emerald waters of the Gulf of Tonkin, is one of Vietnam's natural marvels. The islands are dotted with innumerable beaches and grottoes.
Hanoi has become one of the most beguiling cities in Southeast Asia. It's slow-paced yet quick to charm, with a lovely landscape of lakes, shaded boulevards, lovely public parks and French-colonial architecture.You will find monuments and ancient culture along the narrow streets of the Old Quarter. The major sites in town include Ho Hoan Kiem, or Lake of the Restored Sword, in the very heart of the old town. Behind the Municipal Theatre, with a cupola resembling a pagoda, is the Bao Tang Lich Su (History Museum).
For several centuries, the charming town of Hoi An played a central role in the commerce between Vietnam and the rest of the world. Today, the old quarter that has been restored and renovated as something of a historical showpiece for tourists. It's famous for its wooden houses, for its family chapels, for its Assembly Halls and for its silk shops.
Ho Chi Minh, formerly Saigon
Ho Chi Minh City is the heart and soul of Vietnam. It's a bustling, dynamic and industrious centre, the largest city in the country, the economic capital and the cultural trendsetter. Yet within the teeming metropolis are the timeless traditions and beauty of an ancient culture.
The ancient imperial city of the Nguyen kings, Hue is approximately midway between Hanoi to the north and Ho Chi Minh to the south. Always an important cultural, intellectual, and historical city, Hue remains one of Vietnam's top attractions. South of Hué are the splendid Royal Tombs, of the Nguyen emperors.
South of Da Nang, towards the coast, stand five large hills. Mysterious caves within the mountains shelter altars dedicated to Buddha, bodhisattvas, and the different deities created in stories of the area's inhabitants. The mountains are also a valuable source of red, white, and blue-green marble.
The Mekong Delta, at the south end of Vietnam is a vast and low plain, divided by the "Nine Dragons", the arms of the mighty Mekong River. The Delta produces close to half the agricultural production of the country, a world of rice fields, orchards, and canals and in many places a boat is the most convenient way of transportation. Traditionally it has been a refuge for minority religions such as the curious indigenous Cao Dai religion and the Muslim faith of the descendants of the Cham people.