Welcome to a world where the colors are more vivid, where the landscapes are bolder, the coastline more dramatic, where the history is more compelling, where the tastes are more divine, where life is lived in the fast lane. This world isNature has blessed
, the latest Asian dragon to awake from its slumber. Vietnam is a paradise for both the outdoor adventurer and city explorer alike. Winding down 3,444 kilometers of coastline from the northern Red River Delta near the Chinese border to the Mekong Delta at the southernmost tip of the Southeast Asian peninsula, Vietnam is a splendid blend of picturesque coastline and lush inland terrain. Vietnam
Visit the economic capital of
Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) in the south to witness the vibrant and progressive culture that has taken root in . Vietnam
While there, explore the extensive botanical gardens, Buddhist monasteries, and stop by the Binh Soup Shop, which was the secret Viet Cong headquarters in
Saigon during the Vietnam War. Hanoi
In the far north, the capital city of
is a bit more relaxed; speaking to ancient Vietnamese culture and 1000 years of history along the streets of the Old Quarter. Hanoi
Visit the intriguing One Pillar Pagoda built by Emperor Tong in the 11th century and replenish your spirits in the Bach Ma Temple, the city's oldest and most revered.
Ba Be National Park
Retreat to the captivating beauty of
's wilderness for a more tranquil portion of your journey. Tropical rainforests abound in the protected area of Ba Be National Park, located close to the Chinese border in the north. Vietnam
Tay people live in stilt houses and contribute cultural significance to the area.
Take an elephant ride through the expansive Yok Don National Park for a chance to see monkeys, birds and even leopards.
If confined spaces don't trigger nightmares, the Phong Nha Cave is a must see. This UNESCO World Heritage Site was created 250 million years ago and boasts a cavernous entanglement stretching thousands of meters below ground. Portions of this natural wonder are open to the public daily.
For the claustrophobic, travel to Halong Bay in the Gulf of Tonkin, another World Heritage Site, which is dotted with more than 3,000 tiny islands with cliffs and white sand beaches that cascade into the surrounding sparkling waters.
Due to the country's broad north-south range,
is a wonderful country to explore any time of year. The sheltered forests and increased speed of the coastal cities offer an invaluable variety for a perfectly balanced journey. Vietnam
to discover this underestimated Southeast Asian gem. Vietnam