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Overview to Vietnam: Travel Guide and Tourist Information
While it may not have the fame or cachet of neighboring China or Thailand, a trip to Vietnam still throws up numerous hidden surprises. A snaking strip of land at the southernmost tip of the Indochinese peninsula, the entire country is overflowing with cultural and historical attractions.
Inland, three quarters of the country is dominated by lush rural landscapes and jungle, both of which are rich in diverse wildlife. Its long coastline, similarly, is absolutely stunning -- a collection of one dramatic stretch after another that reaches its pinnacle with the remarkable Ha Long Bay.
Across the country, a range of ancient archeological sites like the Cham Towers of My Son remain largely intact. Its cities, meanwhile, have come through the many wars that have haunted them over the centuries largely unscathed.
The capital Hanoi's impressive architectural backdrop has a blend of influences ranging from Sino-Vietnamese to French. Over 600 pagodas and temples can be found here, notably the famous One Pillar Pagoda and the Temple of Literature built back in the 11th century.
Hanoi's old quarter is packed full of street vendors and an ever-growing selection of shops that have responded to the recent growth of the country’s tourism industry. Here, much of day-to-day life seems to be conducted on the street, from eating to bargaining or conducting business.
Other highlights include the magnificent tomb of Khai Dinh in the centrally located city of Hue, home to Vietnam's last emperors from the Nguyen Dynasty. The dizzying activity of Ho Chi Minh – formerly Saigon – combines with a fantastic night market and several excellent museums.
Along with Laos and Cambodia (with whom it shares its western borders), Vietnam is a country that has largely managed to shake off its troubled past. And this revival in the country’s fortune has prompted an orderly queue of travelers to form, eager to experience everything it has to offer.