SOUTH OF VIETNAM – HO CHI MINH CITY Summary Area: 2,095.5 sq. km Population: 9,396,000 (2011) Administrative divisions: – Urban districts: District 1, District 2, District 3, District 4, District 5, District 6, District 7, District 8, District 9, District 10, District 11, District 12, Tan Binh, Binh Thanh, Phu Nhuan, Thu Duc, Go Vap, Binh Tan,Tan Phu. – Rural districts: Nha Be, Can Gio, Hoc Mon, Cu Chi, Binh Chanh. Ethnic groups: Viet (Kinh), Hoa, Khmer, Cham Geography – Ho Chi Minh City is nestled within the Mekong Delta, where Saigon River flows through – The city is an important economic and political center of Vietnam Climate – Saigon climate is hot and humid. There are two distinctive seasons: the wet season from May to November, and the dry season from December to April. There is sunshine all year round. History – In the 19th century, Saigon was under the French control and was the biggest and busiest city in Indochina. – In April 1975, the North and the South of Vietnam reunified, and Saigon was renamed into Ho Chi Minh City. Tourism Ho Chi Minh City is an important tourist attraction of Vietnam as it contains many vestiges of the past. It shows the cluster of Eastern and Western cultures via the architecture, costumes, and customs. The historical relics in the city attracts a large number of tourists each year. General information Ho Chi Minh City – the center of Southern Vietnam covers an area of 2,095.5 sq. km and has the population of 9,396,000 (2011). It consists of 19 urban districts (District 1, District 2, District 3, District 4, District 5, District 6, District 7, District 8, District 9, District 10, District 11, District 12, Tan Binh, Binh Thanh, Phu Nhuan, Thu Duc, Go Vap, Binh Tan, and Tan Phu) and 5 rural ones (Nha Be, Can Gio, Hoc Mon, Cu Chi, and Binh Chanh). Similar to Hanoi and Da Nang, the majority of the population is the Kinh people. There are also citizens from Hoa, Khmer, and Cham ethnic groups. Geography Along with Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, formerly known as Saigon, is one of the two important cities of Vietnam. It is the center of economy and entertainment. The city is nestled within the Mekong Delta, where the Saigon River flows through. The Saigon Port, which was founded in 1862, is a big inland river port. Climate In general terms, Saigon climate is hot and humid. There are two distinctive seasons: the wet season from May to November, and the dry season from December to April. The annual average temperature is 27⁰C. The city receives sunshine all year round. History This land was used by the Khmers as a hunting area 500 years ago. In late 19th century, the French colonizers invaded this area, and turned Saigon into a bustling city, and the economic center of Indochina. Traders from different countries came and established the major trading center there. Saigon became the largest city in Indochina in 1874, when the China Town (Cho Lon) merged into. It was considered the Pearl of the Far East. In April 30, 1975, the Viet Cong tanks hit the gates of the Independence Palace and marked the reunification of the North and the South of Vietnam. Since then, Saigon has been renamed into “Ho Chi Minh City”, under the name of the great leader of Vietnam. Ho Chi Minh City still is a crowded and bustling city. The past and the present stay together in the city, where you can easily find the ancient French architectural works stand next to new skyscrapers. Tourism Today, Ho Chi Minh City is the big tourism center in Vietnam, attracting a large number of visitors to Vietnam. The City has various attractions as Ho Chi Minh Museum, formerly known as Dragon House Wharf, Cu Chi Tunnels, system of museums, theatres, and cultural houses. Recently, many additional tourist areas evolved with significant investment such as Thanh Da, Binh Quoi Village, Dam Sen Park, Saigon Water Park, Suoi Tien, Ky Hoa, which draw numerous people from all over the world. Despite its quite recent past, Ho Chi Minh City still possesses various beautiful buildings, displaying a characteristic combination of Vietnamese, Chinese and European cultures. These include Nha Rong (Dragon House Wharf), Quoc To Temple (National Ancestors Temple), Xa Tay (Municipal Office), Ho Chi Minh Municipal Theatre as well as many pagodas and churches (Vinh Nghiem, Giac Vien, Giac Lam, Phung Son pagodas, Notre Dame Cathedral). After more than 300 years of development, Ho Chi Minh City presents many ancient architectural constructions, famous vestiges and renowned sights. It is remarkable for its harmonious blending of traditional national values with northern and western cultural features. HIGHLIGHTS OF THE SOUTH Reunification Palace The Reunification Palace – Dinh Doc Lap is absolutely a must-visit stop for any Saigon Travel Tour. It is considered a landmark of Saigon. Similar to the United States’ White House, Dinh Doc Lap was the home and the workplace of Southern Vietnam Governors during the Vietnam War. During the Fall of Saigon, the palace marked the end of the War when the Northern Vietnam Army tanks crashed its main gates on April 30th, 1975. The Reunification Palace is not only an extremely important historical site but also a masterpiece of architecture. It is a combination of Eastern and Western styles. Nowadays, it has become a meeting place of the Government and also a national historical and cultural site which attracts a huge number of tourists from every part of the world each year. Address: 106 Nguyen Du Street, District 1, HCMC Opening hour: Everyday, 7.30 am – 5.00 pm Entrance fee: Around 20,000VND/adult Notre Dame Cathedral This is the city’s Catholic Church built in 1880, which has become the worship place of a large Catholic Community in Saigon. Notre Dame Cathedral was constructed with French-imported materials only. The twin towers of the church is a distinctive feature which are approximately 60 meters high. In 2005, there was a miracle in the church that the statue of the Virgin Mary shed tears. With its distinctive Western design as well as religious value, the Notre Dame Cathedral is regarded a must-stop place that every traveler should visit. Address: Han Thuyen Street, District 1 Opening hour: Everyday, 8.00 am – 5.00 pm Entrance fee: Free Recommend: If you visit on weekdays, use the side gate (if the main gate is close) to get inside the church Museum of Ho Chi Minh City Also known as The Museum of the Revolution, the museum is placed in a beautiful French palace (Gia Long palace), which used to be the home of French Governors and President Ngo Dinh Diem – the final residence of the South Vietnam Government. That museum displays the developments of Saigon as well as the revolutionary movement. Visiting the museum, travelers will get exposure to the history of the past Vietnam, to see what happened in Vietnam War through photos, and see how Saigon has changed time after time. Especially, there is a corridor leading the way from that palace to the Reunification Palace. Address: 65 Ly Tu Trong, Ben Nghe Opening hours: Monday to Friday, 7:30 a.m – 6:00 p.m Entrance fee: Free War Remnants Museum Once known as the ‘Museum of American War Crimes’, the Museum was first opened to the public in 1975. It offers a shocking reminder of the long and brutal Vietnam War, with many graphic photographs and American military equipment on display, including a helicopter with rocket launchers, a tank, a fighter plane, a single-seater attack aircraft, and a 6,800kg conventional bomb. Address: 26 Vo Van Tan Street, District 3 Opening hour: Everyday, 7.30 am – 12.00 pm, 1.30 pm – 5.00 pm Entrance fee: Around 15.000VND/guest Cu Chi Tunnels Nestled about 40 kilometers from the city center of Ho Chi Minh City, Cu Chi Tunnels is the underground tunnel which was used by Vietnam Army during Vietnam War. It was a 250 kilometer-long tunnel bug by elementary tools and bare hand and was the place where the Vietnamese stay and live during the War. It was later the Viet Cong base during Tet Offensive event – a major military campaign on January 1968. It was used to store weapons and food, as a hospital and a hiding place and living quarters for Viet Cong armed forces. The tunnel, therefore, played a vital role in the victory of Vietnam during the War. Nowadays some plots are open for tourism. Visitors can come inside the tunnel and experience how Vietnamese people did to survive during the War. Address: Ben Dinh, Nhuan Duc, Cu Chi Ward Opening hour: Everyday, 9.00 am – 5.00 pm Entrance fee: Around 80.000VND/guest Central Post Office Located at Paris Commune Street, District 1, Saigon Central Post Office is a must-stop destination for Saigon City Tours. It is a typical colonial French Building. The post office was built in 1891, based on the design of Eiffel – the globally famous French architect and has become the busiest post office in the city. As a mixture of Gothic, Renaissance and French influences, the post office attracts tourists with typical characteristics of French-style architecture. Walking into the Central Post Office, visitors would feel like they are brought back to a 20th-century building in Europe rather than an Eastern post office. Nowadays, the post office still offers all kinds of traditional postal services such as mailing, selling postcards or stamps, and exchanging foreign money. Address: 2 Cong Xa Paris, District 1 Opening hour: Everyday, 7.00 am – 8.00 pm Entrance fee: Free Jade Pagoda The Pagoda was built in 1892 and is dedicated to Taoism and Buddhism. This pagoda was an important meeting place of Chinese secret societies who planned to overthrow the government in Peking during the Manchu Dynasty. The pagoda is filled with incense, candles, and statues of various divinities and heroes. Address: 73 Mai Thi Luu Street, District 3 Opening hour: Everyday, 8.00 am – 5.00 pm Entrance fee: Free Recommend: Visitor can make donation. Giac Lam Pagoda It is the oldest pagoda in the city which has more than 250 years of history. The pagoda make tourists feel that they are entering a different world with its pungent incense, funeral tablets, and carved inscriptions. Carved wooden pillars describe the lives of the monks whose portraits adorn the walls. This pagoda also consists of many beautifully carved wooden statues of the Buddha, reincarnations of Buddha, judges, guardians from Hell, and the Buddha of Mercy. Address: 118 Lac Long Quan Street, District 3 Opening hour: everyday, 5.00 am – 8.00 pm Entrance fee: Free Thien Hau Temple This Temple was built by Cantonese fishermen in late 18th century and is dedicated to the Goddess of the Sea. The altar for the Goddess features three statues of the goddess “Thien Hau”. Votive paper offerings are burned in a large furnace at the entrance. Address: 710 Nguyen Trai Street, District 5 Opening hour: Everyday, 8.00 am – 4.30 pm Entrance fee: Free Ben Thanh Market It is the largest market in Ho Chi Minh City which has gone through a hundred year of history. The market is highlighted with French-style decoration with an outstanding clock tower at its entrance. Visitors can find a wide range of products in the market such as garments, textile, handicrafts, flowers, and vegetables. It is also a good place to try the authentic Saigon Cuisine. Address: Le Loi Street, District 1 Opening hour: Everyday, 6.00 am – 6.00 pm Entrance fee: Free Recommend: Ben Thanh Night market, which flanks the 2 side roads of the Ben Thanh Building, comes on at about 5 pm and all the way to 12 midnight Chinatown – Cho Lon Cho Lon is the largest China town in Vietnam. Not only does Cho Lon sell a wide range of product, it also displays the influences of Chinese culture in the architecture and customs. The majority of people living there is Chinese-Vietnamese people. The ancient works are well preserved. Visiting Cho Lon, tourists can take a glimpse at the life of the Chinese-Vietnamese community and the cluster of the past and the present. Address: District 5, Ho Chi Minh City Opening hour: 24/7 Entrance fee: Free TRANSPORTATION Ho Chi Minh City is the hub of the South. It is the main junction for railway, road, air, and water transportation systems for both domestic and international routes. Saigon is 1,730km from Hanoi, 99km from Tay Ninh, 30km from Bien Hoa (Dong Nai), 70km from My Tho, 125km from Vung Tau, 168km from Can Tho, 308km from Dalat, and 375km from Buon Ma Thuot. The National Highway 13 is the main road connecting Vietnam and other Indochinese countries. Regarding railway transportation, Thong Nhat Express Train is the biggest railway system in Vietnam which comes throughout the whole country. Tan Son Nhat Airport in Ho Chi Minh City is a big domestic and international airport. Flights within Vietnam and towards other countries are available there.
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North of Vietnam
SUMMARY Area: 3,324.92 sq km Population: 6,448.900 (April 2011). Administrative divisions:10 urban districts: Hoan Kiem, Ba Dinh, Dong Da, Hai Ba Trung, Tay Ho, Thanh Xuan, Cau Giay, Long Bien, Hoang Mai, Ha Dong and 1 town: Son Tay. 18 rural districts: Dong Anh, Soc Son, Thanh Tri, Tu Liem, Gia Lam (Hanoi); Ba Vi, Chuong My, Dan Phuong, Hoai Duc, My Duc, Phu Xuyen, PhucTho, Quoc Oai, Thach That, ThanhOai. Thuong Tin, UngHoa (former Ha Tay province) and Me Linh (a former district of Vinh Phuc province). Ethnic groups: Viet (Kinh), Hoa, Muong, Tay and Dao. Geography – Hanoi is situated in Red River Delta, surrounded by Thai Nguyen to the north, Vinh Phuc and Ha Tay to the west and south, Bac Giang, Bac Ninh, and Hung Yen to the east and southwest. Climate – Hanoi has tropical monsoon temperature type: hot summer with high rainfall and cold winter, rare of rain. The city receives high rainfall and humidity. History Hanoi has a thousand year of history. It has been the political center of Vietnam since the 3rd century. Hanoi has undergone the up-and-down of the country during the northern invasion, civil war, French colonization, and Vietnam War. Tourism With high cultural values, Hanoi is an attractive destinations in the North. Millions of tourists coming to the city each year to see the ancient architectural works, the fascinating lakes, and other traditional villages there. General information Hanoi – the center of the North covers an area of 3,324.92 sp km, with the population of 6,448.900 (2011). The city consists of 10 urban districts which are Hoan Kiem, Ba Dinh, Dong Da, Hai Ba Trung, Tay Ho, Thanh Xuan, Cau Giay, Long Bien, Hoang Mai, and Ha Dong, and one town that is Son Tay. Regarding rural areas, there are 18 districts: Dong Anh, Thanh Tri, Soc Son, Tu Liem, Gia Lam (Hanoi); Ba Vi, Chuong My, Dan Phuong, Hoai Duc, My Duc, Phu Xuyen, Phuc Tho, Quoc Oai, Thach That, Thanh Oai, Thuong Tin, Ung Hoa (former districts of Ha Tay province); and Me Linh (a former district of VinhPhuc province). The Kinh people accounts for the largest proportion of the population, and the rest is the Hoa, Muong, Tay, and Dao people. Hanoi is the capital of the Social Republic of Vietnam and the cultural, political, economic, and trading center of the nation. Hanoi is well-known as a beautiful capital with high cultural value. The name “Hanoi” means “embraced by the river”, as the city is surrounded by the Red River. There still exists many elegant pieces of French architecture of which have a hundred years of history. Hanoi is among the greenest cities in Asia with several parks and lakes. The city has the bustling life at daytime; however, it is really tranquil by night. Geography Located in the Red River Delta, Hanoi is surrounded by Thai Nguyen to the north, Vinh Phuc and Ha Tay to the west and south, Bac Giang, Bac Ninh, and Hung Yen to the east and southwest. The city is embraced by the Red River and its tributaries. There are also some rivers flowing through the city, namely Duong, Cau, Ca Lo, Day, Nhue, Tich, To Lich, and Kim Nguu. Climate Ha Noi climate belongs to tropical monsoon temperature type: hot summer with high rainfall and cold winter, rare of rain. The annual average temperature is 23.6⁰C. In the hot season, it might reach 40⁰C. Hanoi receives a considerably high rainfall and humidity. The average annual humidity is 79% and rainfall is 1,800mm per year. History Hanoi’s history dates back to the very early day of Vietnam. In the 3rd century, the residing King Thuc chose Co Loa in Dong Anh District) as the capital of the Au Lac Nation – the first dynasty in Vietnam history. The city then was the core of resistance movements against the Northern invasions. Hanoi was selected as the chief city of Vietnam under the Northern domination. In the autumn of 1010, Ly Thai To, the first king of the Ly Dynasty, transferred the capital from Hoa Lu (Capital of Vietnam in the Dinh Dynasty) to Dai La, thereby renaming it to “Thang Long”, which means “Soaring Dragon”. For almost a thousand years from 1010, the city was called Thang Long, then changed to Dong Do, Dong Kinh, and finally Hanoi in 1831. This sacred piece of land thereafter continued to be the theatre of many fateful events. The city experienced rapid growth because of the expansion of foreign trade in the 17th and 18th centuries. In 1786, the Tay Son Troops lead by Quang Trung came from the south to fight against the dominators in the North and united the country. The capital was then moved to Hue, and remained throughout the Nguyen Dynasty. It was not until 1831 when Emperor Minh Mang established it as the capital of the Northern Province that Hanoi regained its former name. The arrival of the French invaders in 1888 resulted in the growth of the city. Many old boulevards, residences, and villas still remain today. Hanoi served as the capital of French Indochina from 1902 to 1953. In 1945, Ho Chi Minh gave the independence speech and declared Vietnam an independent nation in Ba Dinh Square. Since then, Hanoi is the capital of Vietnam. Tourism Despite the destruction of wars and natural disasters, Hanoi still well preserves several ancient architectural works. Some outstanding ones are the Old Quarter, One Pillar Pagoda, the Temple of Literature, Imperial Citadel of Thang Long, Hanoi Opera House, Uncle Ho’s Mausoleum, and more than 600 pagodas and temples. There are lots of fascinating lakes in the city such as Hoan Kiem Lake, West Lake, and Truc Bach Lake, which are considered the lungs of the city. Hanoi is also home to many traditional handicraft villages, including Bat Trang Pottery Village, Ngu Xa Bronze Casting Village, and Yen Thai Glossy Silks. With these valuable attractions, Hanoi has always been a huge appeal to tourists. HIGHLIGHTS OF HANOI Hanoi Old Quarter The 36 streets of Hanoi Old Quarter bring tourists a closer look at Vietnamese life in the past. Since the 13th century, the Old Quarter has been the main streets of Hanoi, where shops gather. Each street, also called “hang”, is specified for one kind of products. Taking a tour around the Old Quarter, visitors will not only see the western influences in architecture but they also acknowledge the tradition and customs of Hanoi people. Address: Hoan Kiem District Entrance Fee: Free The Ancient House This 100-year-old house is located at 88 Ma May Street, within the Old Quarter. The house is a typical “tube house” which is 2 meters wide and 60 meters long with open yards between rooms. The house is arranged strictly in accordance with “FengShui” rules and is vividly decorated in a Eastern traditional style. Address: 87 Ma May Street, Hoan Kiem District Opening hours: Everyday, 8.30 am – 4.00 pm Entrance fee: Around 20.000VND/guest Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum Uncle Ho’s Mausoleum is where the embalmed body of the founder of Vietnam stays. He is the great politician, author, and philosopher of Vietnam in particular and the World in general. The life of Ho Chi Minh has inspired millions of people on Earth. Another worth-visiting place in this relic is the Uncle Ho’s house on stilts, which used to be the place where Ho Chi Minh lived and worked. To visit the Mausoleum, tourists are required to dress formally and keep silent. Also, taking photos inside the Mausoleum is banned. Address: Hung Vuong Street, Ba Dinh District Opening hour: Every day except Monday and Friday, 7.30 am – 10.30 am Entrance fee: Free Recommend: Dress formerly. Avoid wearing shorts, singlets, etc. Temple of Literature The thousand-year-old Temple of Literature was the first universities in Vietnam and was used as the school for the sons of the mandarin class. The complex includes five separate courtyards with different paths that would originally have been reserved for the Emperor and his mandarins and highlighted by the Khue Van Pavilion. Another notable feature of the temple is the steles. From 1442 to 1779, hundreds of stone tablets, or steles were erected to record the names and achievements of the graduates. Eighty-two of the steles remain today and are the most valuable artifacts at the temple. Visiting the Temple, travelers can see the importance of education in Vietnam society. Address: 58 Quoc Tu Giam, Dong Da District Opening hour: Everyday, 8.00 am – 5:30 pm Entrance fee: Around VND 20.000/guest Recommend: Dress formerly. Avoid wearing shorts, singlets, etc. One Pillar Pagoda One Pillar Pagoda is one of the landmarks of Hanoi. One Pillar Pagoda was built in 1049 in honors of the Goddess of Mercy. The pillar was destroyed in 1954, but it was quickly rebuilt. The pagoda looks like a lotus flower emerging from the water. It is one of the Buddhism belief. Similar to the Mausoleum, the Pagoda is not open for tourism in every Monday and Friday. Address: Hung Vuong Street, Ba Dinh District Opening hour: 7.30 am – 10.30 am everyday except Monday and Friday Entrance fee: Free Recommend: Dress formerly. Avoid wearing shorts, singlets, etc. Hoan Kiem Lake Considered as the heart of Hanoi, Hoan Kiem Lake is a small but beautiful lake located close to the Old Quarter. Legend has it that a giant turtle presented Emperor Le Loi with a magic sword with which to defeat Chinese invaders. After the victory in the battle, the King returned the sword to the turtle on this lake. Hoan Kiem Lake now is an important historical relic of Hanoi, which welcomes millions of tourists each year. Also, it is the place for locals to gather and chat. Address: DinhTien Hoang, HoanKiem District Opening hour: 7.00 am – 6.00 pm everyday Entrance fee: Around 20.000VND/guest Recommend: Dress formerly. Avoid wearing shorts, singlets, etc. Quan Thanh Temple The Temple was built during the reign of King Ly Thai To (1010-1028) – the first Emperor in the Ly Dynasty. Quan Thanh Temple honors Saint Tran Vu, who helped King An Duong Vuong chase demons away while Co Loa Citadel was constructed. The central feature of the temple is a giant, black, bronze statue of Tran Vu cast in 1667. Address: Thanh Nien Street, Ba Dinh District Opening hour: Every day, 5.00 am – 7.00 pm Entrance fee: Around 10,000VND Tran Quoc Pagoda Tran Quoc Pagoda is the oldest pagoda in Hanoi with its history line of more than 1,500 years. The architecture of this Buddhist center is a subtle combination between the solemn and beautiful landscape on the peaceful and quiet ambiance of West Lake’s surface. Not only is it a popular place for locals, the pagoda is famous with foreign tourists. Address: Thanh Nien Street, Ba Dinh District Opening hour: Every day, 7.00 am – 6.00 pm Entrance fee: free Water Puppet Theatre Water puppetry is a significant art form of Vietnam, which combines traditional music, fireworks, and elaborate puppets floating elegantly on the water. This game dates back to the 10th century and was held on lakes or ponds. Today, visitors coming to the Water Puppet Theatre can learn about the Vietnamese legends and customs. Address: 57b Dinh Tien Hoang Street, HoanKiem District Show schedule: Every day at 3.30 pm – 5.00 pm – 6.30 pm – 8.00 pm – 9.15 pm and Sunday at 9.30 am Ticket fee: 60.000 – 100.000 VND Website: www.thanglongwaterpuppet.org Museum of Ethnology The Museum of Ethnology is where foreign visitors can take a glimpse at the distinctive features of Vietnamese ethnic groups. The museum displays the characteristics of 54 groups. It is a great place to learn about the tradition and legends of Vietnamese ethnic groups. Address: Nguyen Van Huyen Street, Nghia Do, CauGiay District Opening hour: Every day, 8.30 am – 5.30 pm, except Monday Entrance fee: Adult: Around 25,000VND, Child: around 5,000VND, Free admission to child under 6 years-old Bat Trang Ceramic Village Bat Trang is a small traditional village located about 13 km to the southeast of Hanoi. The village is renowned for its ceramic and pottery products of high quality. Recently learning to make ceramic products has become one of the top things to do in Hanoi. In documents, the history of Bat Trang Village dates back to the 15th or the 16th century; however, local people believe the village appeared much earlier. Legend has it that during Ly Dynasty, scholars who had been sent to China came back to Bat Trang Village to teach locals how to make ceramic products. After times, the village has gradually transferred from a normal ceramic village into a famous center. Pottery products from Bat Trang have been widely used as household furniture in Vietnam and other countries. Travelling to Bat Trang, visitors are enabled to understand more about the historical and traditional values of the village as well as its products. Also, it is interesting to try making a ceramic product by yourself. Address: Hamlet Bat Trang, Gia Lam District Opening hour: Every day, 8.00 am – 5.00 pm Entrance fee: Free TRANSPORTATION Hanoi is an important hub of Vietnam and Asia. Three main ways to connect the city with other regions are by air, by road, and by train. Noi Bai International Airport, which is situated just 35 km from the city center, is the biggest airport in Vietnam with several international and domestic routes. It is the safest means of transportation. Regarding traveling by road, Hanoi is the center of the North, which is 93km from Ninh Binh, 102km from Haiphong, 153km from Thanh Hoa, 151km from Ha Long, 474km from Dien Bien Phu, 658km from Hue, 763km from Da Nang, and 1,710km from Ho Chi Minh City. Please note that going a long journey by bus is not a suitable option for the elders and those with ill health. Last but not least, Hanoi is the starting point of the railway routes leading to different parts of the country. Train is exceptionally perfect for traveling to places like Sapa, which are far away from the airport, and the roads are bumpy.Read more
Middle of Vietnam
HUE – DA NANG – HOI AN I. HUE Area: 70.99 sq. km Population: 1,090,000 (2011) Administrative Division: – Wards: Phu Nhuan, An Cuu, Truong An, Phuoc Vinh, Vinh Ninh, Phu Hoi, Xuan Phu, Vy Da, Tay Loc, Thuan Loc, Thuan Thanh, Thuan Hoa, Kim Long, Phu Hoa, Phu Cat, Phu Hiep, Phu Hau, Phu Binh, Phu Thuan, Phuong Duc, Huong So, An Hoa, An Dong, An Tay, Huong Long, Thuy Xuan, Thuy Bieu. – Ethnic groups: Viet (Kinh) The city of Hue covers an area of 70.99 sq. km with the population of nearly 1,010,000 people (2011). There are totally 27 wards in the city: Phu Nhuan, An Cuu, Truong An, Phuoc Vinh, Vinh Ninh, Phu Hoi, Xuan Phu, Vy Da, Tay Loc, Thuan Loc, Thuan Thanh, Thuan Hoa, Kim Long, Phu Hoa, Phu Cat, Phu Hiep, Phu Hau, Phu Binh, Phu Thuan, Phuong Duc, Huong So, An Hoa, An Dong, An Tay, Huong Long, Thuy Xuan, and Thuy Bieu. Most of the citizens are the Kinh people. Hue used to be the capital of Vietnam during the Nguyen Dynasty, from 1802 to 1945. The vestiges of the past still remains today. Coming to the city alongside the Perfume River, visitors will be amazed by the spectacular beauty and high cultural value of the monuments, tombs, and pagodas. Thanks to the significant value, the complex monuments of the Imperial Citadel of Hue and the Imperial Court Music have been designated as UNESCO World Cultural Heritage. The city then gains its reputation as a cultural and religious center of Vietnam in particular and Southeast Asian in general. HIGHLIGHTS OF HUE The Imperial Citadel of Hue It is a complex monument which was built during the 19th century. The Citadel of Hue is actually a walled fortress and palace with impressive architecture. The construction of that massive monument involved in more than a thousand of workers and huge volume of burden workload. With the well-preserved architecture, that site was made a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage in 2003 and have attracted a large amount of tourists since then. The Imperial City of Hue contains of two main parts: the Citadel and the Forbidden City. The Forbidden City is where emperors and the loyal family lived and worked whereas the Citadel is to protect it. Address: Thuan Hanh Ward Opening hour: Everyday, 7:30 a.m – 5:30 p.m Entrance fee: VND 150,000/person Emperor tombs Another worth-visiting place is the complex of Emperor Tombs, including Gia Long Tomb, Minh Mang Tomb, Khai Dinh Tomb, and Tu Duc Tomb. Each tomb represents different viewpoints of the Nguyen Emperors. Visiting the tombs, history lovers will have a chance to explore the life and viewpoints of the Emperors. These relics are also parts of the Citadel – a World Cultural Heritage. Opening hour: Everyday, 7:30 a.m – 5:30 p.m Entrance fee: VND 55,000/person Thien Mu Pagoda As a religious center of Central Vietnam, Hue has a lot of temples and pagodas. The most famous among them is Thien Mu Pagoda on the Northern bank of Perfume River. Its alluring beauty is a huge attraction to visitors. Located in the foot of Ha Khe Hill, Thien Mu Pagoda (Linh Mu Pagoda) is just about 5km from the city center of Hue. Built in the 17th century, it is considered the oldest pagoda in Thua Thien Hue province. Though having been restored many times, the pagoda still remains its ancient look. There are some notable architectural works such as Phuoc Duyen Tower, Dai Hung Shrine and Dia Tang Shrine. Visiting Thien Mu Pagoda, tourists will immerse their souls in pagoda sightseeing and go into the pure and majestic space, which cannot be seen in bustling cities. Address: Kim Long Road, Huong Long Ward, Perfume River Opening hour: Everyday, 7.30 am – 5.30 pm Entrance fee: Free Tha Om Garden House On the way to Thien Mu pagoda, Tha Om Garden House is a worth-visiting destination where visitors can not only hear the stories about the history of Vietnam but also try the finest Hue dishes. It is a sophisticated garden with lotus ponds and pavilions, creating an unforgettable memory for travelers of the traditional Hue residence harmonizing with an extraordinarily delicious Vietnamese dinner. Address: 12/12 Nguyen Phuc Nguyen Street Entrance fee: From VND 100.000 – VND 300.000 Opening hour: everyday, 8.00 am – 10.00 pm Thanh Toan Village Located in Thuy Thanh Commune, Thanh Toan Village is among the most beautiful villages in Hue. Visitors love to ride bicycle around the village to watch the tranquil scenery of a Vietnamese village as well as visit some interesting destinations. Thanh Toan tile-roofed bridge, the communal houses, and clan worshipping houses are great to pay a visit. Also, traditional festivals are perfect to join in. Address: Thuy Thanh Commune, Huong Thuy Ward Opening hour: Everyday Entrance fee: Free Lang Co Beach After discovering the history and culture of Hue, here comes the time for relaxing. Lang Co Beach is regarded one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. With more than 10 kilometers of coastline, Lang Co has soft white sand-bank and turquoise sea water, which is a huge appeal to travelers. It is wonderful to dive into the cool water there. The beach is even more attractive when it is located closely to some sightseeing spots and cultural sites, namely Bach Ma National Park, Hue Citadel and Da Nang City. It is a perfect stop during your travel. Address: Thuy Thanh Commune, Huong Thuy Ward Opening Hour: Everyday Entrance Fee: Free II. DA NANG Area: 1,283.4 sq. km Population: 926,000 (2010) Administrative divisions: – Urban districts: Hai Chau, Thanh Khe, Son Tra, Ngu Hanh Son, Lien Chieu, Cam Le. – Rural districts: Hoa Vang, Hoang Sa. Ethnic groups: Viet (Kinh), Hoa, Co Tu, Tay… Da Nang has an area of 1,283.4 sq.km with more than 926,000 citizens (2010). It consists of 6 urban districts (Hai Chau, Thanh Khe, Son Tra, Ngu Hanh Son, Lien Chieu, and Cam Le), 1 rural districts (Hoa Vang), and 1 island district (Hoang Sa). The majority of population is Kinh people; additionally, there are some ethnic groups such as Hoa, Co Tu, and Tay. The history of Da Nang dates back to the ancient Champa Kingdom, which was established by Indonesian settlers in 192 AD. Champa Kingdom used to be a prosperous nation, but due to the expansion of the Chinese, Vietnamese, and Khmer led to the fall of the Kingdom in the 15th century. Da Nang is now a major economic and service center of Vietnam. Surrounded by the marvelous Truong Son Mountain Range and the East Coast, the city possesses several tourist attractions. HIGHLIGHTS OF DA NANG Marble Mountains Marble Mountains is a should-see in Da Nang. Also known as “Ngu Hanh Son”, these mountains are a cluster of five marble and limestone hills located just about 7km to the south of Da Nang city center. The mountains are named after five elements of the ancient oriental philosophy, which are metal, wood, water, fire, and earth. There are plenty of marvelous tunnels, caves, and Buddhist sanctuaries to explore. Also, the caves were formerly the hiding places and important bases of Vietnamese army during the Vietnam War. Marble Mountains is perfect for those wanting to climb up high to take a bird’s eye view of the bustling yet beautiful Da Nang city. Address: Hoa Hai Ward, Ngu Hanh Son District Opening hour: Everyday Entrance fee: Around VND 15,000/guest Champa Sculpture Art Museum The Museum was built in 1915 and is the world’s largest collection of Cham sculpture. Regardless of its significant value in culture and history, that museum is recommended in lists of where to see in Da Nang. Cham Sculpture Art Museum displays an extensive sculpture collection of Champa nation, which was a matriarchal society in the Middle of Vietnam dating from the 7th to the 15th centuries. Nowadays, the museum consists of around 300 sandstone and terra-cotta sculptures standing for Cham culture. The sculptures are collected from Champa temples all over Vietnam and are displayed in distinguished showrooms of different localities. Visiting the museum, visitors have a chance to learn about the glorious past of a nation which passion for art and creativities reached the peak. The distinctive value cannot be found anywhere else in the world. Address: 01 Trung Nu Vuong Street, Da Nang Province Opening hour: Everyday, 7.00 am – 5.30 pm Entrance fee: Around VND 30,000/guest, complimentary for children under 16 years old Ba Na Hills Nestled in the spectacular Truong Son Mountain Range to the west of Da Nang, Ba Na Hills is a huge entertainment complex which welcomes a large number of tourists from different parts of the world. Ba Na used to be a resort founded by French since early 20th century with more than 200 Western-style villas, but only a few of them remain today. Ba Na attracts travelers with dense rainforests, waterfalls, and its bio-ecological diversity. Another notable attraction in Ba Na is the Southeast Asian’s biggest indoor amusement center. Fantasy Park opens a lively and attractive entertainment world with many fascinating games for all ages. Also, Ba Na also consists of many alluring places such as Le Jardin D’Amour Flower Garden, Debay Wine Cellar, Linh Ung Pagoda, and French Village. The cable car, Alpine Coaster, and Funicular will take you through the picturesque landscapes as well as the interesting tourist attractions in Ba Na Hills. Address: Hoa Vinh, Hoa Vang District Opening hour: Everyday Entrance Fee: VND 650,000/person Non Nuoc Beach Regarded as one of the most beautiful seashores in the world, Non Nuoc Beach attracts tourists with soft white sandbank which gently slopes towards the unpolluted blue sea waters. Thanks to its poetic beauty, Non Nuoc Beach always appears in lists of best place to see in Da Nang. Nestled only about 20 km from the city center of Da Nang, the sandy beach with sunshine and mild waves all year round is the ideal destination for those who want to run away from the hustle and bustle of cities. Non Nuoc Beach is not only a swimming spot but also a place for outdoor activities like skydiving and surfing. It is also a great place to eat fresh seafood. Non Nuoc Beach is suitable for both single-day tours and long trips. There are several hotels, hostels, and even luxury resorts available for any types of trips. Address: Hoa Hai Ward, Ngu Hanh Son District Opening hour: Everyday Entrance fee: Free My Son Located in Quang Nam Province, just 70km from Da Nang, My Son Sanctuary is an important vestige of Champa civilization. Champa was a dependent country in Central Vietnam from the 4th to the 13th century. Influenced by comprised of a series of impressive tower-temples located in a dramatic site that presents a vivid picture of spiritual and political life in an important phase of the history of South-East Asia. Address: Duy Xuyen District, Quang Nam Province Opening hour: Everyday, 6.30 am – 5.00 pm Entrance fee: Around VND 100,000/guest III. HOI AN Location: Quang Nam Province, 30km from Da Nang Population: around 90,000 people Ethnic groups: Kinh, Hoa (Chinese) Administrative divisions: 13 communes and wards Nestled in Quang Nam Province, Hoi An is a small town at the lower section of Thu Bon River, just 30 km to the south of Da Nang. The town used to be the major trading port of Vietnam in particular and Asia in general between the 15th and 17th century. The town consists of 13 communes and wards (3 mainland communes, 1 island commune, and 9 wards). The population of Hoi An is approximately 90,000 people. Most of them are the Kinh and Hoa (Chinese) people. Hoi An has tropical monsoon climate, with the average temperature of 25⁰C, humidity of 82%, and the annual rainfall of 2,000 mm. Hoi An is an ancient town with high cultural values. There exists several ancient buildings and houses, which display the influences of foreign cultures, namely Chinese, Japanese, and French. The town is also a poetic land as the Thu Bon River flows through the town. Thanks to its poetic scenery and important cultural value, Hoi An Ancient Town was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999. HIGHLIGHTS OF HOI AN Japanese Bridge (Chua Cau) Japanese Bridges are well-known for their spectacular design, and the one in Hoi An is not an exception. It well represents the impact of Japanese culture on Vietnam. Legend has it that the bridge was constructed to deter the monster called Mamazu, whose head was in India, tail in Thailand and back in Vietnam, from causing earthquakes and natural disasters. In fact, the Japanese commercial community built it in the 16th century to connect with Chinese people on the other side of the river. The Japanese Bridge is famous for its unique decoration. Additionally, there is a small temple on the north side of the bridge. Night on the bridge is even more poetic. With its historical background and beautiful architecture, this is considered a must-visit place for any Hoi An tour. Address : Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Minh An, Hoi An Ancient City, Quang Nam Province Opening hour: Everyday, 7.00 am – 5.30 pm Entrance fee: Free Chinese Assembly Halls Another interesting thing to do in Hoi An Vietnam is to visit the Assembly Halls of Chinese people. When they immigrated to Hoi An, they decided to build some Assembly Halls to socialize as well as to preserve their traditions. There are totally 5 Chinese Assembly Halls (Fujian, Chaozhou, Hainan, Cantonese, and Chinese). Though not all of them remain the original look, these halls have become popular Hoi An Tourist Attractions. All the Halls follow the same formula: a grand gate, a beautiful garden with ornamental plants, a main hall, and a large altar room. These are decorated with lots of statues, murals, and lacquered boards. However, each Hall worships different gods and each Chinese Community has different beliefs. Address: Tran Phu Street, Hoi An City Opening hour: Everyday, 8.00 am – 5.00 pm Entrance free: Free Old House of Tan Ky Located at 101 Nguyen Thai Hoc Street in the Old Quarter, Tan Ky Old House is an almost perfect instance of residence of the 18th century in Hoi An. Although it is not the oldest house in town, Tan Ky is the most well-preserved one. The details of this house such as the storage area, the outside structure which was made of bricks and tiles and the floor that is covered with Bat Trang bricks still remain unchanged after centuries. Tan Ky Old House represents the cluster of Vietnamese, Chinese and Japanese culture. Oriental philosophy features are clearly displayed in the house, such as the triple-beam structure, the five round blocks, and many decorative carvings on the furniture. It is absolutely an ideal place for exploring the cultures of Eastern countries. Address: 101 Nguyen Thai Hoc Street, Hoi An Opening hour: Everyday, 8.00 am – 5.00 pm Entrance fee: Around VND 10.000/guest The Tran Family Chapel Among the top Hoi An Attractions stands the Tran Family Chapel – one of the oldest houses in the ancient town. It was built in the 19th century by Tran Tu Nhac – a highly-respected mandarin under Nguyen Dynasty before he was sent to China as the King’s envoy. The house was originally used as a worshipping place for his family’s ancestors. It is also a reminder about the tradition of his family to the next generations. As a typical example of Eastern architecture, the house has a main gate, a big garden surrounded with high walls. There are different parts which serve different purposes in the house: one for worshipping, one for housing the family leader and his guests, and one drawing room. Members of Tran Family still gather in the house every year to worship their ancestors. It is also a chance to educate the future generations about the traditions of their family. Tra Que Village Located in the rural area of Hoi An and surrounded by fields of vegetables and crops, Tra Que village is dedicated to the growing of traditional vegetables and supplies Hoi An and its neighbors with most of the fresh products which are used to make distinctive central Vietnamese dishes such as Cao Lau and Quang noodle. The village has more than a hundred years of history. Address: 3 km North of Hoi An Opening hour: Everyday Entrance fee: Free Thu Bon River It is a river flowing alongside Hoi An ancient town. Travelers can take a boat tour along the river to watch the beautiful scenery and visit some craft villages. Thu Bon River is incredibly beautiful at dawn and by night. It is a lot of fun to spend your time watching the romantic scenery of the river filled with lanterns by night. Not only do travelers visit Hoi An to explore the stunning scenery but also to sample Hoi An Cuisine, which is renowned for delicious dishes. While travelling around the town, you can drop by some street vendors to try Hoi An specialties such as “Cao Lau”, “Mi Quang”, and “Banh Mi Hoi An”. All these tasty dishes will make your trip even more wonderful. Cua Dai Beach Just 5 km from Hoi An stands Cua Dai Beach – a tranquil seashore with majestic beauty. Not only is the beach wonderful to visit, the way from Hoi An, through peaceful landscapes of villages and fields, is also fascinating to explore. Address: 3 km North of Hoi An Opening hour: Everyday Entrance fee: Free Cu Lao Cham According to archaeologists, Cu Lao was first settled by the Cham people 3,000 years ago and they established business contacts with overseas countries 1,000 years ago. Cu Lao Cham has well preserved many architectural constructions dating back to the 18th and 19th centuries, including the shrine built in 1843 at Bai Huong and Hai Tang Pagoda built in 1753. Cu Lao Cham is also a great destination to watch coral reefs and the marine life. Address: Cua Dai Beach, Hoi An Opening hour: Everyday Entrance fee: FreeRead more
History of Vietnam
Vietnam’s history is so redolent and profoundly rich as anywhere in this world. Going back many centuries, way before the American War in Vietnam monopolised the attention of the people of the West, the country was struggling to, well, stay alive and, if possible, thrive. Being the object of desire for the Mongols, the Chams, the Khmers, and the Chinese the Vietnamese did manage to shape a civilisation that rivals in sophistication that of their powerful neighbours in the north, China, from which they were significantly influenced after almost a millennium under their ruling.Then came the French, and Vietnam barely survived the colonialism period. The Americans were the last ones to try to gain lordship over them in the second half of the 20th century. These invaders were too pushed back and away, writing another black page in the history of this country that had to endure a horrible and unprecedentedly brutal war, some of whose atrocities are displayed at the Coconut Prison now turned into a war museum in Phu Quoc. If you walk along the streets throughout Vietnam and pay attention to the names of the roads, you will realise that some names appear repeatedly in every town, city or village across the country. These are the names of national heroes, who had helped lead the nation out of foreign invaders’ imperialistic plans and inspired forthcoming generations of patriots. In greater detail: The Early Days of Vietnam The Vietnamese are believed to be descendants of nomadic migrants from Indonesia and Mongols from China. Mythology places the first breaths of Vietnam somewhere in 2879 BC when Hung Vuong founded the nation. However, recent archaeological finds suggest that northern Vietnam was inhabited way before that, some 500,000 years ago while the first agricultural activity here dates back to 7000 BC! Southern Vietnam was part of the Funan Kingdom (under Indianised Cambodian reign), called Nokor Phnom by the Khmers, from the 1st to the 6th century. It was then when the first (admittedly, elaborate) irrigation and transportation canals were created in the country, and Oc-Eo in the Mekong Delta became the principal port of Funan. When the Champa Kindom (Hindu) emerged in the late 2nd century AD, the country received influences from the Indian culture and art. During that time, Sanskrit was adopted as a sacred language, but Champa’s desire to rule over the entire coast of Indochina eventually cost them their kingdom and were forced to squeeze themselves between the powerful Khmers to the south and the equally might Vietnamese to the north. It did not take long before the Red River Delta was conquered by the Chinese, in the 2nd century BC, which allowed a great number of settlers, scholars, and officials to head south and “saddle” the Vietnamese with a centralised state system, which did not please local rulers, some of whom raised an army and led a revolt that resulted in the Chinese governor making a quick exit in 40 AD. Three years later, though, the Chinese counterattacked and strangled every rebellion against them from the 3rd to the 6th century, imposing tyranny and forced labour, among others. During their ruling, Vietnam was an important opening to the sea for the Chinese and Indians alike, who both influenced Vietnam in several different ways. The Indians introduced Theravada Buddhism while the Chinese brought Mahayana Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism while also sharing their medical and scientific knowledge. Shortly after, Vietnam started producing its own great scholars, botanists, and doctors and was also beginning to understand the principles of building irrigation channels and dikes to help prevent flooding from the sea. All that combined contributed to the birth of paddy agriculture and farming rice. But, Vietnam felt too small a country to the ever-growing population who had to seek new lands. With the Truong Son Mountains being an inhospitable place, their only way out was to the south. Breaking Free From China When the Tang Dynasty collapsed in the early 10th century, the Vietnamese saw it as an opportunity to revolt and regain their autonomy, which eventually happened after patriot Ngo Quyen pushed back the Chinese army. After a millennium under China’s reign, Vietnam was finally free and, even though the Chinese, the Cham, and the Khmer kept on launching attacks to Vietnam, they were all repelled. At the same time, Vietnam’s expansion to the south was a work in progress, enabling the Vietnamese to gradually take control of the Cham Kingdom. Five centuries after, the Chinese regained control of Vietnam, causing a significant blow in the Vietnamese civilisation after carting off the national archives, among others. An era of slave labour and heavy taxation followed until Le Loi, a wealthy philanthropist, rallied the Vietnamese against the Chinese and declared himself Emperor after the Chinese were defeated. Slowly, but steadily, he turned Vietnam into a mighty country, even for a little while. The Portuguese’s Impact on Vietnam In 1516, the first Portuguese sailors and a party of Dominican missionaries stepped foot at Danang. In the decades to follow, the Vietnam-Portugal trade thrived while the Catholic Church had a profound impact on Vietnam, much greater than on any other Asian country besides the Philippines, which remained a Spanish colony for nearly four centuries. Between the 17th and 18th century, though, Vietnam found itself in the middle of a rivalry between the rulers of the North, the Trinh Lords, who bore Dutch armaments, and the lords of the South, the Nguyen Lords, who were supported by the Portuguese and their powerful weaponry; each of them wanting to subdue one another. The latter clan won and further expanded to the south, absorbing regions of the Mekong Delta along their way. The Fall of the Nguyen Family A rebellion that took place in 1765 led by the Tay Son Rebels (who were controlled by the Nguyen brothers) allowed the Nguyen family to control the entire central Vietnam in less than 10 years. They also defeated the Chinese army in 1789; a victory that holds a special place in the Vietnamese history. By 1802, the country was united again for the first time in 200 years thanks to the Nguyen Lords, and Hue was the new capital. The Clan’s expansionistic policies continued, seizing areas of Lao territory, pushing into Cambodia, and clashing with Thailand to grab a share of the divided Khmer empire. The countdown began when the French arrived in Vietnam in 1874 with military activity. They attacked Danang harbour, seized Saigon, and got an agreement that provided them with three eastern provinces of Cochinchina, which put an end to the independent state of Vietnam. However, under the French colonialism, Vietnam saw impressive public works being carried out, such as the construction of the Hanoi-Saigon railway, which was paid from the peasants who were enforced utterly heavy taxes. As expected, this devastated the economy and raised frustration (to say the least) among the Vietnamese. Between 1917 and 1944, it is said that more than 12,000 Vietnamese workers at a single rubber plantation died of malnutrition and disease (out of the 45,000 in total). Of course, all those hardships kept the fire for independence burning inside people’s hearts. And, it turned out that the communists were, in fact, the most successful anti-colonialists as they managed to channel people’s demands for more upright land distributions. The Break Out of WWII Vietnam escaped the ravages of Japanese occupation (Japanese troops had been sent to Vietnam when France fell to Nazi Germany) when the latter decided to leave the French administration to help their country with its daily running, which allowed the Vietnamese to go back to their normal, everyday rhythms. Unfortunately, 10 million people of North Vietnam starved to death due to famine after dikes broke causing massive floods and destroying crops, and the requisition of rice paddies by the Japanese just before WWII ended. During this period, the USA-assisted Viet Minh and Ho Chi Minh saw the arguments between the Japanese and the French as a window to strike, which they did. After a series of events, the Japanese occupation forces in Vietnam were disarmed, and Ho Chi Minh declared its independence; but the country was in a chaotic state, being headless. The French Return In the meantime, the French reappeared on the scene to reclaim their so-called inheritance and were eventually allowed to regain control of Vietnam. That was, in fact, was a strategic move on behalf of the Vietnamese, who feared the ruling of the Chinese and allowed the French to maintain control for a specified amount of time. In return, they asked Vietnam to be recognised as a free state within the French Union. All went relatively well until the French made the mistake to attack Haiphong and kill hundreds of civilians, which sparked the France-Vietnam war. Despite the massive aid they received from the Americans, the French did not manage to take administrative control of Vietnam and eventually admitted defeat, after losing tens of thousands of soldiers. The conflict ended with the Geneva Conference, and the country made preparations for nationwide elections that were, sadly, never held. The USA In 1950, USA troops marched into Vietnam, at first, serving as advisers, and then as the main military force as a means to help the French combat the expansion of communism. They remained there for 25 years until a random incident fired up a Vietnam-USA war that started with the destruction of Vietnamese rail bridges and the destruction of every single road in the country and the majority of the villages in North Vietnam. In an attempt to get rid of Vietnamese communist sanctuaries across the border, the American started secretly bombarding Cambodia in 1969 while pushing the North Vietnamese deeper into Cambodian territory. The brutality of the war, though, that was always finding a reason (and way) to feed itself on behalf of the Americans caused great anti-war protests in the USA. Eventually, the USA and Vietnam (south and north) signed the Paris Peace Accords in 1973, providing a cease-fire, leaving behind millions of dead soldiers and civilians and hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese that had decided to flee their country. The Era of Changes When the war ended the communist party renamed Saigon as Ho Chi Ming City and the country finally reunified in 1976. However, communism had to be overruled and replaced by socialism which led to the creation of prison camps for those that still had ties to the previous regime, who were incarcerated in horrendous conditions. Meanwhile, the relations with China were going from bad to worse, an anti-capitalistic campaign that was launched in 1978 led to seizing businesses and private property of Ethnic-Chinese, the Khmer Rouge kept on attacking the Vietnamese borders forcing the latter to respond, and, in the end, Vietnam entered into war mode with Cambodia, which was temporarily seized but later liberated again after the Chinese’s intervention. For a short while, the Vietnamese Communist Party saw a beam of light when President Mikhael Gorbachev came to power in the Soviet Union in 1985 wanting restructuring and openness. But, the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 forced the Party to reform to survive. Vietnam Today The relations between Vietnam and the USA have improved significantly in the past few years. The USA-imposed economic embargo was lifted in 1994, after more than 30 years while full diplomatic relations between the two countries have now been restored. Since that day, a few US Presidents have visited northern Vietnam, and the country was welcomed into the WTO (World Trade Organization) in 2006. The relations with China have also improved over the course of time despite the fact that many still believe that China never ceased to consider Vietnam a deserting traitor. Nevertheless, the righteous and forward-thinkers insist that collaboration towards the future is much more vital than remembering the past and arguing about what happened then. Northern Vietnam is now seen as a gate to the South China Sea, and Beijing does not miss an opportunity to show how appreciative they are of Vietnam’s strategic geographical location as it enables a fast route from the Sichuan and Yunnan to the Sea. That aside, Vietnam is also an ASEAN member, an organisation that was originally founded to serve as a defensive wall against communism, and all that have contributed to Vietnam’s economic prosperity. The economy is growing at over 8% annually, and tourism is on the rise.Read more