Hanoi is said to be Asia's most charming city. Hanoi, meaning ‘where the river bends’ is a city of broad, tree-lined boulevards, with elegant French villas and colonial-era buildings. By day the city hums with commerce and moves at motorbike speed; by night the city is an enchanting, 19th century Asian village best experienced from the seat of a silent rickshaw.
Hanoi was officially founded in 1010 by Emperor Ly Thai To, who in 1010 renamed the area Thang Long or Soaring Dragon. Soon after some of the city’s oldest structures were built including the Temple of Literature, Vietnam’s oldest university.
October 2010 officially marked 1000 years since the establishment of the city.
Hanoi experienced a rapid construction boom recently. Skyscrapers, popping up in new urban areas, dramatically change the citiscape and form a modern skyline. Two of its tallest buildings are Hanoi Landmark 72 Tower (336m, tallest in Vietnam and second tallest in Southeast Asia after Malaysia's Petronas Twin Towers) and Hanoi Lotte Center (267m, also second tallest in Vietnam).
1One Pillar PagodaEmperor Ly Thai To built one of Hanoi's most famous landmarks, the One Pillar Pagoda in 1049 in honor of the Goddess of Mercy. The pillar was destroyed in 1954, but the pagoda was quickly rebuilt. The design of the pagoda reflects the Buddhist belief that the world was created much as a lotus flower emerges from the water. The temple is built above a small pond covered in lotus blossoms.
2Hoan Kiem LakeHoan Kiem Lake is in the heart of Hanoi. As you walk by, you will be able to witness the pace of life in this peculiar city.
Quang Binh is a province in the upper middle region of Vietnam. The width of the province is relatively short, only 50 km from its border with Lao to the seashore, making it the narrowest province on the map of Vietnam. Quang Binh adjoins Ha Tinh in the North, Quang Tri in the South, East Sea in the East and Lao’s Kham Muon Province in the West.
The natural area of Quang Binh is 8.065,27 km². With a population of only 847,9 thousands, it is a pretty humble province in term of people. Besides the capital city called Dong Hoi, the other districts of Quang Binh are listed as follows: Tuyen Hoa, Minh Hoa, Quang Trach, Bo Trach, Quang Ninh, and Le Thuy. The province has a pretty narrow and steep topography. While 85% of the total area is mountains, there are also other types of terrain such as hills, valleys, highlands, plains, etc.
However, almost all of the areas in the West of Quang Binh are mountains, which usually have the height of 1’000 to 1’500, among which Phi Co Pi is the highest peak. Quang Binh Province is lined with sand dunes and beaches. There are ten km of beach and dunes north of town. Nhat Le Beach is at the mouth of the Nhat Le River.
1Phong Nha CavePhong Nha Cave which is about 45 km north west of Dong Hoi, is remarkable for its thousands meters of passageway lined with a great veriety of stalactites and stalagmites. Phong Nha Cave is one of the finest and longest caves of the world. The main tunnel is 1,415 metres in length and 14 halls. Travel within the cave is by boat and on foot.
2DMZFrom 1954 to 2975, the Ben Hai River served as the demarcation line between the South and the North of Vietnam. The Demilitarrised Zone (DMZ) consisted of an area of 5 square km. During the Vietnam War, this area was the scene of some of the bloodiest batttles: Dong Ha, Quang Tri, Con Thien, Camlo, Camp Caroll, The Rockpile and Khe Sanh.
Hue was the home of the Nguyen Emperors who ruled Vietnam from 1802 to 1945, and their impressive Citadel remains partially intact today despite the ravages of several wars. Legacies of the city's dynastic include elaborate tombs and pagodas, mausoleums and assembly halls. Threading along the beautiful Perfume River which flows through the city, these unique and extraordinary monuments serve as a guide to the lives of Vietnam's last emperors.
The spectacular Citadel is built on the same principles and design as Beijing's Forbidden Palace. The ten-meter thick outer walls enclose a vast compound of palaces, temples, meeting halls and pavilions, many of which are now sadly victims of war and the passage of time.
Most well-known for its historic values; Hue had been recognized as one of the World Heritage Sites by UNESCO. Palaces and pagodas, tombs and temples, culture and cuisine, history and heartbreak – there’s no shortage of poetic pairings to describe Hue.
Journalist Gavin Young’s 1997 memoir A Wavering Grace is a moving account of his 30-year relationship with a family from Hué, and with the city itself, during and beyond the American War. It makes a good literary companion for a stay in the city.
1The Imperial CityThe Imperial City contains a series of palaces, ornate halls, libraries, residences, and colleges. Much of the City, including the Forbidden Palace, was destroyed during a vicious battle between opposing forces during the Tet Offensive of 1968. One can spend an entire afternoon wandering around the grounds of the Imperial City, viewing the ancient architecture of the Nguyen emperors and scars of recent battles.
2The Imperial TombsThe Imperial tombs are one of the highlights of Hue, and are more like small palaces than burial grounds. The architecture of each tomb is unique, but common themes are a large stone courtyard filled with life-size statues of soldiers, horses, mandarins and elephants. Inside the grounds are a pavilion with engraved biographies of the deceased king written by his successor, and the temple where the king is buried. Ponds and moats filled with lotus flowers add life to the grounds.
Danang is Vietnam’s fourth-largest city, situated in the central region, encircled with world cultural heritage sites in Hue and Hoi An (My Son).
It is the deep-sea port city in the middle of the country that serves as the economic hub between the north and the south. Ringed by mountains on one side and the East Sea on the other, Danang has numerous sites of natural beauty and historical interest.
The sea is good for swimming. Other activities here are snorkeling, water-skiing, diving. Jutting out into the sea, the Son Tra Peninsula is crowned by the Son Tra Mountain that the American soldiers during the Viet Nam War called Monkey Mountain.
1Marble MountainsThe Marble Mountains are rocky limestone outcrops jutting out of the beach just south of Danang. Paths lead to the top of the forested cliffs, affording spectacular views of Non Nuoc Beach and the East Sea. The caves nestled in the cliffs were originally inhabited by Cham people. Later, Vietnamese under the Nguyen Dynasty built numerous pagodas amongst the caves. Today, the Marble Mountains are home to various artisans producing sculpture and artwork at its base.
2Non Nuoc BeachThis white sandy beach on the outskirts of Danang is renowned for both its spectacular beauty and for its history as an R & R destination for American troops during the War. Today, the beach is home to luxurious resorts, surfing and entertainment facilities.