Ho Chi Minh City: A Travel Guide

city hall saigon ho chi minh vietnam


              Ho Chi Minh City is a mixture of old and new.  Elegant buildings of French Colonialism sit between high rises and hotels.  With a booming economy and a growing middle class, the people of this city are eating artisanal foods and sipping craft beer.  Tourist may come to visit the articles of the past, but the city is moving forward, and fast.

Unrivaled Destinations: My Tour of Northern Vietnam

flag tower hanoi vietnam


              Northern Vietnam has been one of my favorite areas to visit during my travels throughout Southeast Asia.  The mountainous terrain makes for some of the most stunning scenery you will ever witness and creates truly remarkable outdoors experiences.  On top of this, the food is simply amazing in northern Vietnam.  Though many of the dishes are similar to other parts of the country, their style of cooking sets them far part.  All of this added to the fact that the people are genuinely friendly, remarkable, and helpful, makes this area of Vietnam extremely traveler friendly and, for those willing to step onto the road less traveled, creates a genuine Vietnamese experience.  


Ninh Binh: The Gem of Vietnam

overview bai dinh pagoda ninh binh vietnam


Ninh Binh is a town which lies to the southeast of Hanoi and is a lesser-known gem of Northern Vietnam.  It is commonly referred to as ‘Halong Bay on Land’ for its similar landscape, but is far less touristy and untouched.  Ninh Binh is surrounded by hundreds of limestone mountains topped by dense greenery that tower from the ground, scattered with serpentine rivers flowing through and around them, while lush green rice fields shoot up from their muddy banks.  If the scenery itself is not enough for you, the area is dotted with some of the best pagodas and temples in the area and one of Vietnam’s ancient capital cities.

Perfume Pagoda

perfume pagoda thien tru vietnam


              The Perfume Pagoda is located 60 kilometers southwest of Hanoi where the karst limestone mountains jut out of the rice fields below.  The Perfume Pagoda is a very revered and sacred site featuring a maze of Buddhist pagodas built into the limestone cliffs of the mountain.  It is northern Vietnam’s most famous pilgrimage site and one of Hanoi’s most visited tourist day trips.  

History is More Than the Textbooks

khe sanh combat base dmz vietnam
            
            My least favorite class in school was history.  Every day, I would do the bare minimum I needed to get an “A” which often meant glazing over a chapter of my textbook and paying close attention to the bolded terms and their definitions so that I would pass the inevitable “pop quiz” the following morning.  The school year wasn’t long enough to really dive into a topic and since I wasn’t really passionate about history, I didn’t spend any of my spare time trying to actually process the information that I had committed to memory.

Sapa

aerial view amitabha buddha statue fanispan sapa vietnam


Sapa is a small town located in the heart of northwestern Vietnam.  Located above a deep valley flanked by cascading rice terraces and surrounded by high mountains, Sapa is a sight to be seen.  Though heavy mists often roll through the mountains, the vibrant colors of its rice fields, temples, and people shine through in a vibrant display.  

Ba Be: A Mixed Story

boat ba be lake national park vietnam


              Continuing on tour of Northern Vietnam, we decided to head across to Ba Be.  The trip was long and had us on two different buses, a motorcycle with all of our bags, and a boat, but we finally made it.  Not knowing we exactly what we wanted to do in Ba Be, we settled down, got a beer and some great food, and looked at the brochure that our guest house had provided us with.  Ba Be National Park is supposed to be the ‘outdoors capital’ of Northern Vietnam, but we weren’t really feeling the whole hiking/biking thing after having hiked for two full days and a full day of traveling.  

4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14