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Halong Bay, Vietnam
Floating market on
Halong Bay, Vietnam

Vietnam Travel Fast Facts

Getting there: regular flights from major world cities to international airports in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, and Da Nang
What to see:
Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi, Dalat, Nha Trang, Hue, Halong Bay
Currencies: Vietnamese dong
Official language(s):

Vietnam, now in full recovery following years of war, has in recent years flowered as a major Southeast Asia tourist destination.

By day, visitors walking along the streets of Ho Chi Minh City (still commonly known as Saigon) can watch hundreds of shoppers fill chaotic, bustling markets -- and, as the sun sets, watch the city come back to life with the sound of young people enjoying a night out in clubs and discos in the city center.

Today, at every turn visitors find reminders of Western influences, whether at the Hard Rock Cafe or in the Romanesque architecture of Notre Dame Cathedral. And everywhere, everywhere are the scooters and motorbikes hoping to wend their way out of the latest traffic jam.

Meanwhile, the capital city of Hanoi the merging of old and new is seen in the stark contrast between the remains of French colonial architecture and the steel and glass of modern high rises.

Get out of town

However, it is away from the big, metropolitan areas where Vietnam's natural beauty can truly be appreciated.

Nha Trang beach, Vietnam
At Nha Trang in Vietnam, there's world-
class diving and a handful of islands off
the coast just begging to be explored ....

Nowhere is this more evident than in Dalat, a popular outdoor getaway excellent for hiking in the nearby mountains, or strolling around Emperor Bao Dai's Summer Palace.

Along the coast, Nha Trang offers crystal clear waters and long stretches of beach front perfect for diving and snorkeling.

Also hugging the shore is Hue a seaside resort offering fine dining, famed dragon boat rides, and historic sites of interest including the Citadel, a royal 19th century castle.

Finally, no visit to Vietnam would be complete with a trip around Halong Bay, where travelers may tour around the 3,000 islands that dot the Gulf of Tonkin (either by high speed boat, paddle wheeler or more traditional junks) to explore numberless other beaches and mysterious grottoes.

DID YOU KNOW? Vietnam Travel Fun Facts

Have moped, will travel ....

• An estimated 40 million people ride a moped or motorbike in Vietnam. Don't be surprised to see entire families riding one moped as their main source of transportation!

• Hungry for authentic Vietnamese street food? You can find “Cơm Tấm” (savory pork and rice) and “Bánh Mì” (grilled meat sandwich) stalls at almost every street corner in Vietnam.

• Hanoi boasts the world's only water puppet theatre, Thang Long, which spins a unique variation on the Asian puppet tradition. The show is performed in a pool, upon which puppets appear to dance on water.

• Although he died in 1969, the body of deceased Vietnamese leader Ho Chi Minh is still on display for the whole world to see at the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum in Hanoi.

• Tanning at one of Vietnam's most popular beaches? It may be fine for tourists, but don't expect the locals to do the same. Porcelain skin is a thing of beauty in Vietnam and a sign of refinement while sun-drenched bodies are more identified with being a poor field laborer.

More about Vietnam travel & tourism around the Web:

Elsewhere on the Web, dig deeper into all that Vietnam has to offer the savvy world traveler with information on what else to see and do, where to stay, along with guides to top attractions in photo galleries and virtual tours ...

Vietnam travel guide - Wikitravel
- Encyclopedic knowledge of the country's culture, food, transportation system and top attractions with practical tips on travel etiquette, health & safety, communications & Internet access.

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