Vietnam Travel Guide

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VIETNAM

HOLXO TRAVEL GUIDE

Located in the tropical paradise of Southeast Asia, Vietnam is a psychedelic symphony of exceptionally serene nature and incredibly bustling metropolis.

Introduction

Vietnam's exotic with lush rice terraces, gorgeous beaches, quaint little villages, enigmatic caves, lip-smacking food, and some of the most picturesque landscapes. Yet, the major cities are swarming, cacophonic and enthralling.

Notwithstanding the contrast, you’ll fall in love with the country at first sight - or maybe because of that big disparity? Whatever be your reason, you just can’t close your eyes to Vietnam if explorations travel in your veins.

Hills in Vietnam

Part of the reason why Vietnam remained unexplored for long as compared to its other Southeast Asian cousins has to do more with its culture and politics rather than with what it offers.

One of the last communist countries in the world and with Philippines and Thailand in your backyard, the public expects you to sweat a wee bit extra to invite travellers to your country.

While the war with a superpower and its horrendous consequences kept it busy for decades, it is heartening for travellers like us to finally notice that the beautiful country is receiving a richly deserved appreciation as a prime travel destination.

Best time to visit Vietnam

Vietnam is a long and narrow country and divided into 3 distinct regions with differing climatic conditions. Planning can be a bit difficult but to be on the safe side, the best time to visit Vietnam is from December through April when temperatures are milder and rain is minimal in all 3 regions.

The peak travel season for us Indians is usually the summer school holidays’ period of mid-May to June. Although it’s the time for rains in most of Vietnam, I will still say it’s a fantastic time to visit Vietnam. Your travel company can tailor your tour to avoid places where heavy rain is forecast.

Green hills in Vietnam December - April

Visa Requirement to Visit Vietnam

Indian passport holders need a visa to travel to Vietnam. You can either ask a travel company like Holxo Holidays to help you with it or apply yourself online.

The simple process to apply for Vietnam visa approval letter online is to provide the details mentioned below. After processing a charge for the same, the visa letter usually takes 2-3 working days to come via email.

This visa letter is used to get your visa stamped at the airport you selected in Vietnam, on payment of a stamping fee.

Here is the essential information for Vietnam Visa approval letter if you apply online:

  1. Your Full Name
  2. Your Date of Birth
  3. Your Nationality on Passport: the passport you are using to enter Vietnam (should be valid for at least 6 months from the date of arrival)
  4. Your Passport Number
  5. Date of arrival: applicants must fill-in the suitable Date of Arrival. With this registered entry date on official visa approval letter, you can then choose to enter Vietnam on or later but not earlier than the approved date
  6. Photos: passport photos are required at Vietnam airports only
  7. Visa on arrival option is ONLY applicable for TRAVELING BY AIR to Vietnam. If you’re trying to enter Vietnam from a neighbouring country, please discuss with your travel company on the means of transportation.

You can also apply for a Visa the conventional way, i.e. through the Vietnam embassy. Since the process is draining and long (7-9 working days,) we are not detailing the steps for the same here. Just drop us a mail if you need more information about applying for a Visa to Vietnam and we will send you the details.

Acclaimed Festivals of Vietnam

If you are culturally inclined, you’ll agree with me that the best time to witness and understand a country’s culture and legends is during its festivals; nothing else demonstrates the best (and sometimes, the worst) in people, society and governments than during a major festival. Here’s a list of major festivals that Vietnamese celebrate with all traditional practices:

Tết Nguyen Dan

The Vietnamese New Year is celebrated around late January or early February. The traditional Lunar New Year Festival, Tết marks the arrival of spring according to the lunar calendar. The festival begins on New Year’s Eve and is then celebrated for the first three days of the Lunar New Year.

People celebrating Tết Nguyen Dan in Vietnam

Like with any festival in a clogged Asian country, Tết is also marked with inflated hotel and restaurant rates. The transportation too becomes a big problem since scores of Vietnamese travel to their native places and tens of thousands of Chinese travellers also arrive in Vietnam to celebrate the Chinese New Year that also falls on the same days.

Though Vietnam is a packed out place during Tết, it also is undoubtedly the most interesting and exciting time to be in the country.

Hoi An Lantern Festival

The Hoi An Lantern Festival is celebrated every month on the full moon day. The festival is marked with floating lanterns all over the sky. As night begins its cover, all the floating lanterns rise together in the sky to make for a spectacular view.

Hoi An Lantern Festival in Vietnam

Tết Trung Thu or Mid-Autumn Festival

Mid-Autumn Festival or the Mooncake day is a harvest festival that is held on the 15th day of the 8th month of the lunar calendar when the full moon shines in all its glory at night (Purnmasi in our lingo). Typically occurring in late September or early October, the festival is celebrated as a thanksgiving for good harvest.

People celebrating Tết Trung Thu in Vietnam

The day is marked by honouring family relationships by gathering together, worshipping moon and other deities, performing lion dances or delighting in others’ performances, and eating delicious mooncakes and other festival food, especially Tò He, figurines made from rice paste and coloured with natural food dyes.

In my opinion, this is the best time to visit Vietnam to delight in the festive spirits minus the inflated prices and tsunami of people. This year, the Mid-Autumn festival shall be celebrated on Friday, September 13, 2019. Book an extended weekend tour to Vietnam today to absorb one of the best cultural experiences the country has to offer.

Is Vietnam Safe?

Of late, many travel groups, especially on Facebook, have seen a few posts about scams or petty crimes with tourists in Vietnam. My experience though is totally different. I found the Vietnamese one of the most affable and welcoming people. Here’s an all-embracing blog post on safety in Vietnam by one of our travellers.

Of course, like with every large cluster of people, there are tempestuous elements in the Vietnamese society too, but a little bit of common sense coupled with basic preventive measures that are expected from a traveller in any alien land shall be more than adequate in avoiding any unpleasant situations.

Keep your eyes and your mind open and chances are you’ll feel safer than any major Indian metropolis.

Must Visit Places in Vietnam

Hanoi

An archetypal metropolis of the 21st century, Hanoi is overcrowded, chaotic, and wears its resilient history on its sleeves. The capital of Vietnam can be overwhelming but is as mesmerizing as it proudly celebrates Vietnamese history and achievements through its French colonial architecture, museums, lakes, lush tree-lined boulevards, pavement cafes, and old-world markets that entice you to keep walking and exploring the city that is located between the Red River and Nhue River.

Hanoi, Vietnam

To say that Hanoi is crowded will be stating the obvious. But the interesting part is that for a population of around 8 million, there are more than 5 million motorbikes that transport people as well as a vast and unusual array of goods. Think huge stacks of eggs, implausible amount of toys or even a few pigs! Watching motorbikes on the perpetually-rush-hour traffic roads of Hanoi is as staggering as it is stunning. A London photographer even did a series with BBC on this!

The best way to see Hanoi is to ride in one of the thousands of tuk-tuks along the city boulevards and into the old town after a filling breakfast at one of the many street cafes. It really is cathartic to soak up the divergence between agitatedly blaring horns and the calming character of a game of chess between impish grandfathers.

The biggest draw here is that Bali offers not just the mindboggling range of activities like surfing, diving, cultural performances, historical attractions, archaeological wonders et al but the equally fabulous Bali accommodation options at prices that are much lower than similar resorts at any other tourist destination in the world. No wonder with this very high value-for-money-ratio for a broad spectrum of visitors, Bali attracts more travellers than most of them!

Best Things To Do In Hanoi

Hanoi is wonderful with so much to see and do that you won’t even know and your vacation in Hanoi will come to an end! Before you forget, here are the most important things to see and do in Hanoi:

  • EAT!
    Yes, I’ll begin with the food. The fascinating cuisine of Vietnam offers categorically delectable fare like pho, banh mi, spring rolls, and of course, anything that crawls or comes out of water. Like a Cobra! Street after street in Hanoi is filled with tiny stalls that challenge your sensory nerves to try every available grub on offer.

    If you need any kind of vindication about the famed Vietnamese food in Hanoi, can I present the celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain? If that doesn’t ring a bell, how about Barrack Obama? The famed chef took the then American president for dinner to a StreetSide restaurant in Vietnam - Bún Chả Hương Liên - where they ate Bún Chả, a traditional Vietnamese dish of grilled pork, rice noodles, and vegetables. And the bill for the two? Less than ₹400!!! A dinner this cheap and delicious is understandably attracting patrons from all around! You can choose to schedule the same dinner, now available there as “Combo Obama” for a modest VND 85000 (around ₹250).
  • Walk around Hoàn Kiếm (Turtle Lake)
    The locals of Hanoi love to take a stroll around the lake that forms the heart of the city. Nothing extraordinary, but the perfect place to listen and comprehend the buzz of the city. The lake appears particularly captivating once the sun goes down and the coloured lights begin their play with water - a good time for an ice cream from a stall nearby!
  • Temple of Literature
    Probably the most well-preserved traditional Vietnamese architecture places you can expect to see in the whole country. Covered by lush greenery and peaceful courtyards with pagodas, and ponds, the temple was built in 1070 by Emperor Ly Thanh Tong to honour Confucius (Khong Tu) and was also the site of Vietnam’s first university (1076).

    You may be able to visit the place when swarms of students turn out here, either for praying for good grades or for graduation photos.

  • Hanoi Old Quarter
    The old quarter exists since 1010. To say it is chaotic will be a harsh understatement; it is a place that may come to define chaos! The winding, messy concierge of rich old Vietnamese customs invites you to lose yourself in the maze of 36 ancient streets and experience a sense of timelessness surrounded by the raucous trappings of modern living.

    You can also shop around for traditional Vietnamese arts and handicrafts from shops that still sell under the business name their ancestors chose around a thousand years old.

    Aim to visit the place on a weekend when the streets are closed off to motorised traffic and give way to open air Bia Hoi bars and food stalls with a gamut of Vietnamese food.
  • Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre
    One of the most popular tourist attractions, the Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre comprises 17 short sketches using traditional puppets within a one-hour performance.

    Located along the Dinh Tien Hoang Street, the show features delightful puppets narrate a story in a pool of water that functions as the stage, complemented by a Vietnamese Orchestra that still use wooden bells, horns, bamboo flutes, drums, and cymbals.

    The tickets get sold out fast, so it’s advisable to book as soon as you arrive in Hanoi.

  • Lotte Observation Deck
    A recent development, the Lotte Centre opened in 2014 in the western corner of Hanoi's Ba Dinh district. The 65th floor of this landmark building is a vantage point to observe the bustling Hanoi city and ponder over the relative size of the Old quarters as compared to the aggressive growth of the new Hanoi city.

    There are restaurants at lower floors as also a departmental store for your shopping needs.

Ho Chi Minh City

The vibrant Ho Chi Minh City infuses virulent energy into every visitor, as if you’ve gulped a whole can of Red Bull on landing here.

Popular world over as Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City is the commercial heart of the country. The city of passion looks like it is always on the move, with thronging people and motorbikes all around. But look around and you will find charming boulevards and glorious French colonies that will fill your heart with glee while the ancient temples and traditional markets will absolutely take your breath away!

Street Food Market in Ho Chi Minh City

The city that was witness to large scale destructions of a dreadful war not too long ago is gradually coming out of its damaging past with modern constructions of skyscrapers, and chic malls. At the same time, it is comforting to see sincere efforts to preserve timeworn history to bring together two worlds into one exciting unit.

Best Things To Do In Ho Chi Minh City

  • Mekong Delta Tour
    Visiting Ho Chi Minh and not taking a Mekong Delta Tour is as scandalous as going to Paris and sidestepping the Eiffel Tower! Mekong Delta, the ‘Rice Bowl’ of Vietnam is a water world, enveloped by contrasting shades of green, where boats renovated into houses and markets float upon the tangled maze of streams and paddy fields as you cruise past fruit orchards, rice paddies and fields being ploughed by oxen that jog your memory to the equally magical Indian countryside.

    A Mekong Delta Tour is the most authentic way to discover the charmingly languid lifestyle of rural Vietnam without the haunting fear of a motorbike materializing from behind. Or front. Or left. Or maybe the right side! The Mekong Delta tour includes an elaborate traditional lunch where the star attraction is the insanely delicious fried elephant ear fish, an ideal complement to the fiery Mekong Delta whisky.

  • War Remnants Museum
    The infamous Vietnam War has left a deep scar on the country, and nowhere is it more starkly felt than at the War Remnants Museum in Ho Chi Minh City.

    Once you have covered the distance from entrance to the main building after viewing US armoured vehicles, artillery pieces, bombs and infantry weapons that are on display outside, you will reach the ground floor that houses anti-war posters, photos, and other memorabilia. It simply acts as an offset to the horrors of the war displayed on the upper floors.

    A must-visit place if you want to learn about the Vietnam War and its revolting consequences.
  • Notre Dame Cathedral
    Built during 1877-1883, the architectural marvel is named after the Virgin Mary. The French colonial beauty that was built using red bricks in a neo-Romanesque style radiates a charming old-world charm that is worth a visit, especially on a Sunday mass.

  • Cu Chi Tunnels
    A fascinating way to learn about the ingenious and brave resistance of Vietnamese soldiers during the war. You can see underground trapdoors, living areas, kitchens, storage areas, armoury, command centres, and even hospitals inside the Cu Chi tunnels.

    The tunnels also offer you the opportunity to fire genuine AK-47s and automatic machine guns at a steep price. But remember this is no Diwali Mela and you’re not aiming at balloons with an air gun; each bullet costs a lot and automatic weapons can fire pretty fast!

  • Central Post Office
    Just across the Notre Dame stands another French classic - the Central Post Office. Among the top historical attractions to visit in Saigon, you can recognize it from a mile away by its distinctly yellow building and green wrought iron windows and fencings.

    Inside, the large historic maps of South Vietnam, Saigon and Cholon that are painted on the walls of the concourse will fascinate you for sure. If you’re there during the right season, you may also find many a couple getting clicked for their wedding albums outside the iconic building. I find it charming and profoundly relaxing.
  • Nightlife at District 1
    Ho Chi Minh City has imaginably the best nightlife in Vietnam and District 1 offers the poshest of rooftop bars and swanky nightclubs that stay open until 03:00 or even later.

    Enjoy cocktails on rooftop bars that offer panoramic views of this dynamic city, dance your heart out at a snobbish nightclub, test your luck at a casino or simply enjoy the excellent service in a stylish ambience to unwind at a live music bar.

    With endless options to unwind in upmarket atmospheres, this could well be your best night in Vietnam.

Hội An

A serene town of grand architectural heritage, turbulent history and romance, the beguiling riverside town of Hội An is a veritable treasure of well-preserved historical buildings and Chinese temples that date back to the 17th century when the town was chosen by Chinese merchants who settled there and gave the town its unique character.

Many descendants of those immigrants still run the businesses established a few centuries ago and that has helped the atmospheric Old Town preserve its incredible legacy. Other, more ambitious of the lot have transformed their places into tourist businesses. So, you have a fabulous setting where ancient tea houses rub shoulders with ritzy lounge bars and boutique hotels. And of course, a flood of tailor shops that are famous world over for custom made suits that rival the Saville Row, and at a fraction of a cost.

Street in Hội An, Vietnam

But Hội An is more than just the old town - there are laid-back beaches, night bars and the nearby majestic ruins of My Son temple complex. Vietnam’s prettiest destination, Hội An is remarkably free of the country’s major modern menace - traffic!!

Best Things To See In Hội An

  • Hội An Riverside
    The main landmark of the city, the Thu Bồn riverside is outstandingly beautiful at night when hundreds of colourful handmade lanterns are hung from windows of neighbourhood dwellings.

    The lively place is the hub of the best of restaurants and bars in Hội An that are thronged by tourists for a laid-back dinner on the riverside while marvelling at the illuminated river as the shadows of lanterns dance in the water.

    I also suggest you to take a languid stroll along the river and achieve your shopping goals. Apart from usual handicrafts and curios, the inimitable thing to buy here is the Vietnamese rice wine that comes with real cobras and scorpions in it.
  • Hội An Old Town
    The UNESCO World Heritage site instantly transports you to the 18th century - such is the focus on preservation of the 800 odd buildings here.

    A few edifices worth mentioning are Chinese Temples, the Japanese Covered Bridge, Pagodas, Quaint Chinese Wooden Shops, and French Colonial structures. Don’t miss the traditional music show at the Handicraft Workshop.

    The Old Town magically comes alive at night. The streets fill up with food stalls, plastic chairs and hungry patrons. Simply sitting by the Thu Bồn River and watching the magnificence of the four-century old Japanese Covered Bridge is a marvellous experience that entices travellers to this picturesque town.

  • My Son Temple Complex
    Located about 25 miles from Hội An, the former capital of Champa Kingdom faced large scale destruction during the Vietnam-American war. Still, many temples survived and the ruins are a mute testimony to the majestic complex that was built between 4th and 13th centuries. Dedicated to Hindu deities, the My Son temples epitomize the spiritual and artistic expression of Cham people.

    A visit here is highly recommended if you - like me - are a fan of fantasy films like Indiana Jones!

  • An Bang and Cua Dai Beaches
    One of Vietnam’s most happening beaches, An Bang beach offers a lovely stretch of fine sand and beautiful horizons. You can lounge on the beach or participate in activities like parasailing and jet skiing. The food stalls there are as good as Hội An, so you can safely try out more Vietnamese cuisine.

    Cua Dai has turned more commercial yet you can find your quiet spot on the gorgeous palm-fringed coastline. There are many resorts here that come with their own private beaches. Together, both the beaches make for a good day trip from Hội An.
  • Hội An Central Market
    A refreshing experience in itself, the central market is the perfect place to test and sharpen your bargaining skills! Spend a few hours here to soak in the atmosphere of locals and learn a trick or two about haggling, without any expectation of buying the curio!
  • Da Nang
    Da Nang marks the halfway point between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. The fourth largest city in Vietnam is a great place for visiting historical places, and the popular beaches - the wildly popular My Khe and the relatively secluded Lang Co. The calm, cool waters are an absolute delight for fishing, water-skiing, diving, and yachting.

    With a coastline that stretches to more than 30 km, Da Nang is the idyllic place for a day or two or even as your base for Hội An.

Nha Trang

The most fêted of beach towns in Vietnam pulsates with infectious youthful energy and exuberance. And there are worthwhile reasons for it, primary being its spectacular setting - its turquoise waters are dotted with tiny tropical islands that present a trancelike picture not seen anywhere else in the country.

Vĩnh Nguyên, Nha Trang, Vietnam

The skyscrapers along the shoreline accord the town a cosmopolitan feel that goes a long way in establishing Nha Trang as an ideal party place. But don’t let that dishearten you - it still is a beach town at heart with heavenly beaches that are always in high demand for activities like scuba diving and snorkelling.

If aqua adventure does not appeal to you, there are other sedate activities here like sunbathing, river cruises and time-honoured spa treatments.

Nha Trang is also known for its entertainment complexes such as Vinpearl Land, Tri Nguyen Aquarium, and Hon Tam Resort. Vinpearl Land in particular has made a big name for itself in the inner circles of the rich and famous. It is a mélange of a five-star international resort, and an Amusement Park with Guinness Book of Records 3,320-meter long sea-crossing cable car system, Water Park, Under Water World, Amphitheatre, Shopping Mall and a Food Village.

Best Things To See In Nha Trang

  • Long Son Pagoda
    One of the main attractions of Nha Trang, this Buddhist temple was founded in the late 19th century. Located less than half a kilometre from the main railway station, Long Son Pagoda is a favourite among tourists for its serene Buddha statue, and the glass and ceramic dragon motifs that cover the roof and the entrance to the Pagoda.

    A dazzling aerial view of Nha Trang is the reward if you are willing to climb the 152 stone steps to reach the main statue. Definitely worth a crack!

  • National Oceanographic Museum of Vietnam
    Occupying pride of place in a grand French-colonial building, the Oceanographic Museum of Vietnam is an interesting aquarium that provides an exact representation of Nha Trang marine environment.

    The tanks here are filled with reef sharks, turtles, living coral, anemones, puffers, lionfish, clownfish, sea horses, and colourful reef species. Together, the displays amount to a mammoth 20,000 specimens of tropical marine creatures.

    The museum is a great place for families as kids are certainly going to be excited on sighting the big tropical turtles and crocodiles.
  • Vinpearl Land
    An alluring concoction of traditional and avant-garde, the Vinpearl Land Amusement Park in Nha Trang lies right in the middle of sea on the Hon Tre Island. A speed boat ride or a cable car takes you to the wonderland in less than 5-12 minutes.

    As soon as you reach the island, a bevy of charming Tuk-Tuks will welcome you to take you to the resort or the amusement park through winding roads in an enchanting mountain landscape.

    You can choose to spend your day at the amusement park with loads of outdoor and indoor activities or plan a visit to the Vinpearl Land Aquarium that houses over 300 species of rare and fancy fishes in an area of over 3,400 sq. meters. The inviting water park also calls for your attention with its thrilling games and adventure zones.

    If you arrive here in a mood to chill out, I’ll suggest you to experience the massage treatments or put your feet up in one of the many seafood restaurants, bars or clubs.

  • Po Nagar Cham Towers
    A complex of temples erected approximately before 781 A.D, Po Nagar Cham Towers share a great deal of similarity with Angkor Wat. Known locally as Thap Ba, Po Nagar Cham Towers are still actively used for worship by Cham, Chinese and Vietnamese Buddhists.

    For history buffs, the 4 towers present an amazing opportunity to sight hundreds of ancient relics displayed inside each tower. Travel photographs can delight in the incredible view of Cai River and the village on the riverside.

    For the culturally inclined, there are many traditional dance performances that exhibit the culture of Cham people.

  • Nha Trang Beaches
    Lovingly called the Riviera of Asia, Nha Trang enjoys a six-kilometre stretch of scenic coastline that extends a glut of sightseeing and recreational activities for travellers looking for a relaxing time on the white sands. The wide range of dining and accommodation options set along the tranquil, unspoiled beaches makes for a picture-perfect holiday in Vietnam.

    Most popular of Nha Trang beaches are the bustling Tran Phu Beach, the remote Bai Dai Beach and the tranquil Hon Chong Beach. Each of these comes with an individual character of its own, even though they are not too far from each other.

    Tran Phu Beach is a part of the city, hence attracts the most crowds. The beach is also host to the delightful seaside promenade, Tran Phu Street that is famous for its luxurious yet affordable beachfront resorts, souvenir shops, museums, and seafood restaurants. As darkness envelopes the city, Tran Phu switches into the most happening place in Nha Trang with its many night bars.

    Bai Dai Beach makes for a comforting day trip from the city of Nha Trang. The beach beckons you to unwind in pristine settings or enjoy a day of volleyball, surfing, and swimming in its clear waters.

    Hon Chong Beach is barely a five-minute drive from Po Nagar Cham Towers and is surprisingly tranquil for a beach that lies so close to the city. It is well-known for the formation of piled rocks that provide a picturesque panoramic view of neighbouring isles and the crescent-shaped Nha Trang coastline. There is a small fee of about ₹65-68 to climb the rocks.

Huế

The poignant remains of the blood-spattered Battle of Huế still linger in the atmosphere of the ancient city of Huế (pronounced Whey) in Central Vietnam. The ancient capital of Nguyen Dynasty is now recognised as a World Cultural Heritage Site by UNESCO for its formidable historical significance.

Hue, Vietnam

Located on the bank of Song Huong or Perfume River, Hue is only a few miles from the sea, making it a favourite among travellers who love beaches and are fascinated by historical and cultural destinations.

No other Vietnamese city represents the power of the extinct feudal empire as much as Huế. Although the main tourist attraction here is the impressive riverside Hue Citadel or the Imperial Enclosure, other attractions including temples, and pagodas attract tourists from all over the world.

Huế is possibly the only city in Vietnam where you can find hordes of all-vegetarian or shudh shakahari restaurants - a result of strong Buddhist beliefs that require locals to eat an only vegetarian meal twice a month. The cuisine of Huế is also famous for being very spicy and aesthetically presented.

Best Things To Do In Huế

  • The Hue Citadel and other Royal tombs
    The Imperial Enclosure was a colossal citadel that housed about 148 buildings. Even though only 20 survive now due to the French and American wars, the fascinating site commands tourist attention for the amount of Vietnamese culture and history it encircles within its 2.5 km long walls. You should ideally spend an entire day here to absorb the various citadels for their breath-taking ancient architecture.

    You can also append a visit to the other royal tombs that are scattered around the Perfume river - Minh Mang, Khai Dinh, Tu Duc, and Dong Khanh along with your visit to the Imperial Enclosure.

  • Thien Mu Pagoda
    The iconic Buddhist temple in Hue is its most distinguished symbol. Built on a hill overlooking the river, the 21 meter high octagonal tower of the Pagoda makes a spiritual statement to the first time visitor to Huế.

    Plan a visit here early morning to avoid the crowd of tourist groups and political protesters. Other Pagodas in Hue that you can include in your Huế exploration list are Tu Dam, Tu Hieu, and Huyen Khong.

  • Ho Quyen
    A gladiatorial battling area where tigers and elephants were made to fight each other for the entertainment of the king. The scandalous part of the fights was that the claws and teeth of tigers were removed so that the elephants - signifying emperor’s power, always won!

    An eerie reminder of the days of the empire, the place is just 3 km from Hue.
  • Thuan An and Lang Co beach
    Thuan An and Lang Co beach are outrageously beautiful beaches where dazzling sunshine plays dreamily with the translucent blue ocean and stark white sand invite you to spend a few hours without a care in the world.

    The gorgeous beaches are relatively untouched by international tourist traffic but are frequented by local Vietnamese to enjoy a respite from the daily drudgery of life.
  • Boat trip along Perfume River
    Enjoy the enigmatic royal art cultural performances while gorging on delectable Vietnamese cuisine on a cruise on the Perfume River.

    You can also hire a boat for sightseeing in Huế and soak in the exquisite views of the Hue Citadel along the river. The boat also takes you to Thien Mu Pagoda, Hon Chen Temple and the tombs of Tu Duc, Khai Dinh and Minh Mang.

Vietnamese Cuisine

Welcome to the riveting world of Vietnamese cuisine - a cornucopia of heady fragrances, vibrant colours, fresh produce, spices and enigmatic indigenous herbs. Vietnamese cuisine is renowned for coalescing the five fundamental tastes of spicy (metal), sour (wood), bitter (fire), salty (water) and sweet (earth); making the food as much or sometimes, even more appetising than other famed world cuisines.

Authentic Vietnamese food counts heavily on fresh herbs and meats and a crafty use of spices to cook up ardent storms in delightful bowls. Since very little dairy and oils are used, Vietnamese food is considered one of the healthiest cuisines available.

I invite you to our ever-popular blog post on Vietnamese Cuisine for an exhaustive introduction and an exciting list of best Vietnam food you should try out while in Vietnam. Or even in your own city since speciality Vietnamese restaurants are gaining good ground around the world.

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