The country of Vietnam is located on the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia. Today, Vietnam has a population of over 86 million people and is the third most populated country in the world. The culture and early language of Vietnam was heavily influenced by the Chinese and the effects can still be felt today. Each year Vietnam plays host to some 3.5 million international guests and the number has been steadily increasing every year.
The capital city of Vietnam is Hanoi, which is situated along the banks of the Red River. The city still retains an air of French colonial feel with its yellow stuccoed homes and beautiful tree lined roads. It is also the city of lakes and in the middle of the city is Hoan Kiem Lake, which in translation means, “Lake of the Restored Sword”. On an island in the center of the lake is an 18th century temple, Ngoc Son Temple which means Jade Mountain Temple. The temple can be reached via a footbridge called the Huc Bridge.
Located to the west of the Old Quarter, is the former Ville Francaise. This used to be the old French Administrative Quarter and has sprawling colonial-era chwteaux and spacious streets. In this area is also a popular tourist attraction, the Ho Chi Min Mausoleum. The house was built in 1958, is also open to the public. Other locations to note in this area are Bao Tang Lich Su (History Museum), the Bao Tang Quan Doi (Army Museum), Ho Chi Min Museum, Bao Tang My Thuat (Fine Arts Museum), Bao Tang Cach Manh (Revolutionary Museum) and the Independence Museum.
There are also a number of fascinating pagodas in this area as well. The One Pillar Pagoda , constructed in 1049, was built to resemble a lotus flower, a symbol of purity rising amidst a sea of sorrow. It was subsequently destroyed by the fleeing French troops just before being ejected from the city, the pagoda was then rebuilt by the new government who took over the area.
Vietnam also has the Temple of Literature which was built in 1076 and was the first university. It has a complex of small, but elaborate buildings and lovely courtyards. Northwest of the Citadel is West Lake. This area is popular with the locals as well as tourists, for picnicking and a number of small, charming cafes. The lake also holds the remains of a crashed American B52 bomber airplane.
In Central Vietnam, halfway between Hanoi and Ho Chi Min City, lies Hue, which used to be the emperors capital in Vietnam. Now known for its impressive imperial architecture, the Perfume River now forms a natural border between Hue and the formerly, “Forbidden Purple City”, the Citadel. There are tombs of Vietnamese former emperors such as Minh Mang and Tu Duc. Also housed in the city are impressive Buddhist pagodas, such as the Thien Mu Pagoda.
The Halong Bay is one of the famous World Heritage sites located near Ho Chi Min City. The bay is set in the emerald waters of the Gulf of Tonkin. What makes it most unique is that there is a series of tiny islands with a mountain terrain. The scenery is the stuff fairy tales are made of and tourists can visit a series of illuminated caves and is a hidden treasure in east Vietnam.
There are several deluxe hotels in Vietnam such as the Caravelle Hotel, the Equatorial Hotel, the Majestic Hotel, the Legend Hotel, the Omni Hotel and Sedona Suites in Ho Chi Min. The temperatures in Vietnam range according to region. There are tropical monsoons that occur between May and October, however it is mostly dry the rest of the year, which makes for excellent conditions for guests during the off season.