Vietnam Tours - 10 Reasons to Visit Vietnam

Published:  07:43 Thursday - March 08, 2012

Vietnam Tours - 10 Reasons to Visit Vietnam

Vietnam is a beautiful and fascinating country to experience. It's one of the few travel destinations that encompasses incredible scenery, a deep and violent history, and an intriguing culture all in the same place.

Ao Dai Vietnam - Vietnam tourism
Measuring in at 128,066 sq miles in area, the terrain is incredibly diverse: white sand beaches roll into vast fertile rice patties which climb into sky scraping mountains. Vietnam's turbulent history is unsurpassed. A century of French occupation and nearly a decade of American invasion have left scattered remnants of war from south to north. Best of all is the stony resilience and indifferent determination that the Vietnamese people portray in their everyday lives. If the overview is not convincing enough, here are ten line item reasons to visit Vietnam:

1) Navigate through the floating markets in the Mekong Delta. The river town of Can Tho boasts some of the most popular floating markets, but they can be found all along the Mekong. As crowded, bustling, and chaotic as street markets, the floating markets of the Mekong are truly an experience to witness.

2) Crawl through the Cu Chi Tunnel network just north of Ho Chi Minh City. The famed tunnels were successfully utilized by the Viet Cong during what the Vietnamese call the "American War." Many of the tunnels were bombed during the war, but the Cu Chi network is one of the best preserved and most stirring. The famed Ho Chi Minh Trail is also nearby and accessible for exploration.

3) Experience Tet, the Vietnamese New Year. From fireworks to street acrobatics to dragon shows these guys know how to party. I was in Hanoi for the Year of the Rat, but have been told that the entire country is a party during Tet. The lead up to the big day is exciting and packed with festivals, but New Year's day, and the next several days, are generally more laid back family time. Head to villages as it's customary for families to invite travelers into their homes to join in the feasts following the big night.

4) Eat some of the best and most interesting food in SE Asia. Pho is an excellent and inexpensive street vendor soup that gets better with every helping. Snake is another good option, although it tends to be more of an experience than a meal. Watch as the chef grabs the live snake, cuts down the belly to collect the blood and venom, then offers you the still-beating heart in a rice wine cocktail.

5) Caffeinate up with the best coffee in the world. Vietnam is the 2nd leading producer of coffee worldwide and this stuff is good - strong, rich, and grown in the coffee plantation 20 feet away. Ditto for the peppercorn.

6) Hike and motorbike around the awe-inspiring and beautiful mountain town of Dalat. A day's bus ride from Saigon provides a drastic transformation in scenery, cooler weather, and friendly locals that help with the small town spirit. Dalat is delightful and a must-see when traveling through Vietnam.

7) Boat around the fantastic rock formations in Halong Bay. Just under 2000 limestone rocks jut out of the bay and provide a truly inspirational scene. The bay also boasts over a dozen caves and several floating communities. Many of the islands are inhabited and even offer guesthouses, including the largest rock, Cat Bay Island. For more breathtaking views in the north, head west of Hanoi to Sapa!

8) Bask on the beaches of Nha Trang and Phu Quoc Island. Nha Trang is conveniently located on the train route about half way up the coastline and has some of the most pristine beaches in the region. Phu Quoc Island, however, is in a class of its own. Located off the southwest coast of the mainland, Phu Quoc is a large resort island situated directly beneath Cambodia. Encompassing a diverse terrain of its own, Phu Quoc is another must-see in Vietnam.

9) Endure the local transportation and especially the bus rides that violate all the senses: feel no less than four bodies pushed up against you as the bus violently swerves from side to side, hear blaring horns and your fellow passengers puke into baggies, see motorbikes veer away and pedestrians cower in your wake; all while smelling cigarette smoke, vomit, and fear. The bus rides are trying, but it's always best to travel with the locals to experience the authentic Vietnam.

10) Experience the resilience of the Vietnamese. If I had to describe the Vietnamese in a single word, it would be (you guessed it!) resilient. Likely forged by their violent past, they are relentless in every way. Persistent in selling trinkets and motorbike rides, indifferent to personal pain and anguish, and unaffected by endless back-breaking work. Bleeding victims of street accidents are treated in the "walk if off" mentality. Homelessness and poverty are unacceptable and considered the individual's fault - they must work at something, anything to survive on their own. Fruit vendors will stalk you for a kilometer, and they're not begging - they're selling. The infrastructure is poor, but they're working to improve buildings and roadways everywhere you look. Vietnam is a fascinating and beautiful country that is inevitably on the rise, and it's because of the resilience of the people. During what the Vietnamese call the "American War," General Giap told the Americans "You can kill 10 of my men for every one of yours... even at those odds I will win and you will lose." This is their unflinching and steadfast nature, and it's certainly an experience to witness.

Vietnam is a difficult country to travel based on communication difficulties, limited infrastructure, and confusing customs, but it's exactly this difficulty that makes the experience unique and rewarding. The highlights listed above barely scratch the surface of Vietnam's attractions, but it's high time for you to discover the rest for yourself!


Published by Justin Landrum
"I am traveling around SE Asia for 6 months to explore new cultures and experience adventures that come my way."

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