Interesting Places to see around Vietnam
Vietnam, a country nestled in the southern part of Eastern Asia is known for its peaceful and serene environ. Once haunted by the bloodshed and strife of Vietnam War, the streets of the country in its current avatar buzz with youthful energy. Tall and looming skyscrapers, quaint floating markets, mopeds zooming through the roads, and paddy fields add even more to its overall charms. Oozing overwhelming natural beauty and rich heritage, the country takes you on a journey through its ancient architecture and its vibrant culture.
Commonly referred as Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City is all about dynamism, crowded streets, skyscrapers and urbanization fusing well with culture side including Oriental style pagodas, ancient temples and traditional markets. With a sudden bout of economic uprising, the city offers something for everyone and thus serving as a destination worth visiting.
Binh Tay Market, constructed by the French in the 1880s, is located in the centre of Vietnam’s largest Chinatown district. Unlike Ben Thanh Market in District 1, this market mainly serves the local population with its extensive range of fresh fruits, vegetables, poultry, meat and seafood from regions across Vietnam.
The War Remnants Museum is a sobering and unforgettable museum which details the effects of the 30 year long war between America and Vietnam. There are immaculately preserved tanks, planes and other war machines in the outside grounds, but the really hard-hitting information is found inside. Photographs, exhibits and written documentation show the horrific lengths that the American Army lowered themselves to in order to try and defeat the North Vietnamese Army.
This marvellous tourist attraction lets visitors experience what it must have been like for soldiers who used an extensive network of tunnels to move around undetected by their enemies. There is an informative movie to watch, followed by a guided tour of some mock recreations of daily life for the Viet Cong hiding in the jungle. Burnt out tanks make for a great photo prop and then everyone gets to crawl through a small section of the tunnels which has been widened and supported with concrete.
Cao Dai Temple is the centre of the Cao Dai faith, a religion that has taken bits of Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, Taoism and Confucianism. Tourists are welcome to visit the temple and learn more about this faith that is practiced by a few dedicated followers. Each Cao Dai practitioner wears a white robe to enter the temple with an additional sash to signify their previous religion. The temple itself is very bright and colourful with dragons flying up banisters and a cloud mural decorating the ceiling.
Jade Emperor Pagoda is one of the most revered temples in Ho Chi Minh. Originally built in 1909 by Chinese immigrants this Taoist temple now welcomes Buddhist worshipping and is incredibly atmospheric with incense smoke hanging heavy in the air. Intricate architecture, carvings, statues of Gods and Goddesses and Chinese characters create an exotic and timeless ambiance.
Bitexco Tower is an ultra modern office tower in Ho Chi Minh, with a characteristic oval extension which acts as a helicopter landing pad. Standing at 262 metres tall, this 68 storey building is the highest in all of Vietnam with a sky deck offering 360 degree views of the city and surrounding area as well as a fantastic sky bar called Alto where you can see all of Ho Chi Minh while enjoying a cocktail and some tapas style international dishes. Head up here for sunset and don’t forget your camera
The centre of the allied command and the place where the North Vietnamese claimed victory in the American War, Reunification Palace has played its part in some incredible scenes. This ageing palace has essentially been frozen in time since a North Vietnamese Army tank smashed through its gates in 1975. Visitors will get to discover secret rooms, grand reception halls and the command bunker where General Ngo Dinh Diem conducted his war strategies.
The Central Post Office in Ho Chi Minh is a glorious example of French colonial architecture, perfectly preserved with as much style as when it first opened in 1891. The building still functions as the city’s main post office and sending a letter or postcard home is highly recommended for a taste of living history. Beautiful from any angle, this building was designed by Gustave Eiffel, who also designed the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
Mariamman Hindu Temple is a beautiful example of the bright and vibrant architecture of Hindu places of worship. As the only active Hindu temple in Ho Chi Minh, it acts as a community base for the small community of Hindus living in the city. Open every day from 07:00 to 19:00, non Hindus are also welcome to visit, just remember to dress conservatively and take off your shoes before entering the inner temple.
Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral, built in the late 1880s by French colonists, is one of the few remaining strongholds of Catholicism in the largely Buddhist Vietnam. Located in Paris Square, the name Notre Dame was given after the installation of the statue ‘Peaceful Notre Dame’ in 1959. A Virgin Mary statue also stands in front of Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral, which locals claimed to have shed tears in October 2005. While this incident was refuted by the Catholic Church of Vietnam, thousands of visitors still flock to this statue in hopes of witnessing a miracle.
Da Nang sits prettily on the east coast of Vietnam, right between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. Popularly known as the tourist capital of South-Central Vietnam, Da Nang is truly stunning – filled with beaches, museums, evolving nightlife and world-class infrastructure. On the coast of the South China Sea, with the Han River flowing through its midst, Da Nang is beautified by multiple bridges. The most striking among them is, of course, the Golden Bridge beautified by a sculpture of two giant hands holding it up.
Marble Mountains, located just to the south of Da Nang are a cluster of five hills made of marble and limestone. Marble Mountains are highly revered for the Buddhist sanctuaries and other ancient sites found here. Located just off the coastal road, each mountain is said to be dedicated to the 5 natural elements.
The Golden Bridge, or Cau Vang, located in the Ba Na Hills of Da Nang is famous for its sculpture of two giant hands cradling a golden bridge. The sculpture has acted as a tourist magnet and the bridge is flocked with groups of people strolling or taking selfies. Made up of eight sections, the bridge is about 150 meters long and snakes through the forests of Ba Na Hills.
Stretching for almost 20 miles, My Khe Beach in Da Nang is the most popular beach and for all the right reasons. As far as the eye can see there is silvery-white sand frolicking with blue waters. The beach was awarded by Forbes as being one of the most luxurious beaches in the world. The beach is clean, serene, and tidy, filled with cosy cafes and luxurious restaurants. It is also a prime surfing destination and has prime accommodation facilities. The efforts taken by the Da Nang Lifesaving Association and Da Nang Government has made My Khe a clean, serene, and luxurious getaway.
My Son Sanctuary, recognized by UNESCO as the world heritage site, is located about 43km to the southwest of Da Nang. Site Archelogique de My Son is a series of over 70 partly ruined Hindu temples which were built between in the 4th to the 14th century AD by the rulers of Champa.
Ba Na Hills is a popular resort complex and hill station located at a height of 1489 meters on the Truong Son Mountains in Da Nang. Also known as Nui Chua, it houses a fantasy park with rides. The Ba Na Cable Car is the longest cable car running on a single track and has been included in the Guinness World Records.
Hai Van Pass translated to as “ocean cloud pass”, is a 21 km long strip connecting the cities of Da Nang and Lang Co in the Hue Province. Touted to be the highest pass in Vietnam, at a staggering height of 500 metres above sea level, it is a part of the Annamite range which goes down to the East Vietnamese Sea. The exhilarating Hai Van Pass is prominently known for bike rides amidst the mystical view of mountains and clear skies.
Dragon Bridge is the largest one in Vietnam and lies over the Han River. The bridge stretches for 1,864-foot-long and was built in July 2009. It currently has a six-lane way for traffic to pass. The bridge is the main connecting link between the Da Nang Airport and the main area of the Da Nang City as well as My Khe and Non-Nuoc Beach.
Danang Cathedral, also known as Con Ga Church (Rooster Church) is a pink-coloured edifice built by French priest Louis Vallet in 1923. It is known as the Con Ga Church after a rooster that tops its bell-tower. Located on Tran Phu Street in Da Nang, the Da Nang Cathedral is the only church in Da Nang which was built during the French Colonial Rule in Vietnam.
Accommodating about 50,000 followers at a time, the Cao Dai temple of Da Nang is the largest Cao Dai temple in Central Vietnam. Constructed between 1933 and 1955, this temple renders a unique styled-architecture based on the blended religion frame of reference. The Da Nang Cao Dai temple is one of the 1,000 Cao Dai temples located in the country. The signboard at the entry translates into very peculiar teaching of this religion – that all religions have the same reason and seek tolerance in the world.
Han River Bridge is one of the prime examples of ingenious engineering! It is the first swing bridge in Vietnam and stretches over the Han River for 487 metres. Inaugurated in the year 2000, it not only facilitates transport but also links the eastern side of the river to the city centre. While you are in Da Nang, travel to the bridge at around 11 PM on a weekend when the traffic is stopped and the bridge swings on its axis for about 15 to 20 minutes. to allow the shipping traffic in the Han River to pass through. It is the pride of the Da Nang dwellers and an example of the modernity of the city.
Halong Bay is a popular bay which is located in the north of Vietnam. The name of this place i.e. Halong means “the place of descending dragons’. This place was not very much known before the 19th century. However in the recent years the popularity of this place has risen to a much greater value.It is a beautiful bay which one can visit in order to enjoy the scenic beauty present all around.
Cat Ba Island is a popular island located in the bay. Anyone who visits Ha Long Bay tends to visit the Cat Ba Island. Many tour companies include this as a part of their itinerary. You would find all of the amenities such as drinks, hotels as well as restaurants in this place. Also, here you will find the local people carrying out their prime occupation of fishing.
Popularly known as the ‘Cave of marvels’, Hang Sung Sot is one of the largest caves in Halong Bay discovered by the French. Filled with unusual rock formations including a Buddha, a tortoise and a phallus illuminated by the colored lights, the massive interior of the cave is breathtaking. There are also many stalactites and stalgamites of different shapes inside the Sung Sot Cave.
Dau Be Island is famous for its diverse flora like orchids, banyans, palm trees and fauna like golden monkeys, flying squirrels, birds. Other popularity factors are the Ba Ham Lake consisting of three ocean basins, and a narrow cave full of strange stalactites and stalagmites hanging from the ceiling. The island waters have a gorgeous marine life for snorkelers too. This island is also one of the main tourist attractions for the people who tend to visit here. You can actually swim in this area as it consists of three inland lakes which are filled with corals. During the low tide days, you can also access the caves with the help of a boat.
Hang Trinh Nu is popularly known as the “Virgin Cave”, a popular cave due to the historical story atteched to it. The cave is called Virgin Cave because of the historical story about a beautiful young girl who refused to marry a rich old Maldarian man, and then committed suicide. In the heart of the cave, there is a woman stone statue with long hair, believed to be the young virgin from the story. This ‘Cave of the Girl’ is considered to be a symbol of eternal love by the locals.
Ti Top island is one of the most attractive islands of Halong Bay named after a Russian astronaut, Gherman Titov. It has a very organized and beautiful beach with chairs, souvenir shops and cold drink stalls. A steep climb up the summit of Ti Top mountain gives you a panoramic view of the Halong Bay. Enjoy a swim, kayak or snorkel session while you’re here.
One of the largest and the most beautiful caves of Halong Bay, Dong Thien Cung, popularly known as ‘Heaven Cave’ is a natural wonder. It has a magnificent system of stalactites and stalagmites of strange shapes like birds, fishes and human activities illuminated with fluorescent lights. Along with this heavenly beauty, the cave also has three small ponds.
One of the most unique and photographed pair of islets in Halong Bay is the Hon Ga Choi Island. Also known as the ‘Fighting Cocks’ island, the rock formations loom 12 metres over the water. Tourists, especially photographers, usually visit here during sunrise and sunsets when the light casts a beautiful hue.
Tuan Chau Island is a perfect tourist destination of Halong Bay with a two kilometre artificial beach. There are multiple villas and luxury resorts, international restaurants, shops and roadside food stalls. The island offers various activities like jet ski, kayaking and mountain climbing. Being a popular tourist attraction, there is a dolphin, seal, circus and a martial art show almost everyday here.
Castaway Island is a must visit attraction in Halong Bay pristine waters and white sand. Whether you want to grab a bite and just laze around, or head to crazy parties, have a few drinks and interact with other tourists, or indulge in some water sports like tubing and wakeboarding, it’s a one-stop shop for everything you could want from the beach.
With a bold and unique architecture, Quang Ninh Museum is a brilliant museum with valuable artefacts reflecting the natural heritage of Halong Bay. A whale skeleton, boat models, images and documents displaying history of Buddhism culture and wars in Vietnam, and other exhibits displaying economic and cultural achievements of Halong, you can find it all at this museum.