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Lying on the eastern part of the Indochinese peninsula, Vietnam is a strip of land shaped like the letter “S”. China borders it to the north, Laos and Cambodia to the west and the Pacific Ocean to the east and south. Since opening its borders to tourism in the late 1980s, Vietnam has become an incredibly popular destination. Still, the country remains relatively unspoiled as a tourist destination in Southeast Asia and holds many pleasant surprises for first-time visitors. Vietnam has over 1,800 miles of coastline most of which is lined with sandy beaches providing visitors with an excellent location for relaxing beach holidays. In contrast, the remote hills of northern Vietnam on the Chinese border are home to more than 40 ethnic minority peoples, whose culture and lifestyle has remained unchanged for centuries. The Vietnamese people are some of the friendliest you are likely to encounter anywhere in Asia and their genuine smiles are an enduring memory for almost every visitor.

The sights

Ho Chi Minh City - Formerly known as Saigon, this is a big city full of hustle and bustle. Saigon is a melting pot on a social and cultural level. Wandering around the city each district has its own charm and character. You should make time for the Reunification Palace (once the Presidential Palace), Notre Dame Cathedral, the War Museum, Historical Museum and the Ben Thanh Market.

Cu Chi Tunnels - Tours offer you a fascinating opportunity to see the impressive underground tunnel network built by the Vietcong. The tunnels are 125 miles long and, at their peak, housed 10,000 troops.

Chau Doc – Chau Doc is a riverside port famed for fish-breeding. The fish are raised in cages beneath houses, which rest on wooden drums floating on the river. The residents feed the fish by opening a "trap door" in the floor of the house, and can catch the fish with just a stretch of the hand.

Can Tho – Can Tho is a bustling trading hub connected to the rest of the Mekong Delta via a system of rivers and canals. A boat trip along the network of canals is the highlight of a trip to Can Tho, as is a visit to the floating market, where traders zip around from boat to boat selling rice, fruit and other agricultural products.

Hoi An – Situated on Vietnam’s central Eastern coast, Hoi An is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and an ancient trading town where much of the 17th and 18th Century architecture remains. It also boasts an amazing untouched beach, just 10 minutes drive from the town.

Hue – Once the Imperial capital of Vietnam, a visit to Hue offers you the chance to cruise along the Perfume River to the 14th Century Thien Mu Pagoda. Hue is one of Vietnam’s cultural and educational centres and is home to pagodas, temples and royal tombs.

Ninh Binh – Ninh Binh is an important commercial link and a major distribution centre for the Northern Delta and Laos and Cambodia.

Hai Phong – Originally a small fishing and market town, known as the City of Flower Lined Streets, the port city of Hai Phong is endowed with a superb coconut palm fringed beach only 25 km drive from the city and the famous district of Hang Kenh, where wool-carpets are produced. Hai Phong offers many historical sites, French colonial houses, temples, pagodas, mausoleums, and shrines - all proof of a rich traditional life.

Halong Bay – Amongst Vietnam’s most spectacular sights and with some of the most magnificent scenery in the country, Halong Bay offers a chance to cruise amongst the mystical, jutting limestone pinnacles, explore hidden caves and beaches and watch the graceful junks and sampans sail by.

Hanoi - The garden city in the north with its elegant tree lined boulevards and inner city lakes has retained a very French ambience. The city itches to be explored. Hanoi, although the capital of Vietnam, is certainly not as dynamic as Ho Chi Minh, but its beauty and warmth envelop all who visit. The main sights to visit include the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and Museum, the fascinating Old Quarter with its "36 street and 36 wares", the One Pillar Pagoda and Temple of Literature.

Sa Pa Hill Station – Sa Pa is a former French Hill Station built in the early 1900s. Today Sa Pa attracts visitors for its stunning vistas, colourful markets and fascinating ethnic hill tribes.

Beach Resorts – One of Vietnam’s best kept secrets is its beaches. As you might expect from a developing country, they are still unspoiled by mass tourism – visit before everyone else does!

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