Vietnam

Places of Interest

23/04/2013 10:10



Hanoi  

Halong Bay  

MaiChau  

Sapa  

NinhBinh  

PhongNha  

DMZ  

Hue  

Danang  

Hoian  

NhaTrang  

DaLat  

PhanThiet/MuiNe  

Saigon  

Mekong Delta  

PhuQuoc  

CuChi Tunnels  

CaoDai Temple      

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Hanoi




Vietnam’s capital city, Hanoi is a city of numerous captivating faces. The traditional commercial bustle, street markets, chaotic traffic and fascinating shop house architecture of the Old Quarter contrast dramatically with the quiet lakes, historic temples, shady city parks and regal architecture of the French colonial districts.

Hanoi’s 1,000 year history has lent the city this fascinating blend of influences and styles - it's one of Private Asia Tours ‘s favorite cities! Join us to explore the shady gardens of the Temple of Literature, Hanoi’s ancient university, with its colorful Confucian temple.
Visit the vast Ba Dinh Square, Hanoi’s political centre, and see Ho Chi Minh lying in state in his imposing Mausoleum. Also visit his simple house on stilts, and the historical displays of the Hio Chi Minh Museum. Enter the gloomy confines of the infamous Hanoi Hilton, the city prison built by the French and later used by the North Vietnamese to house American fighter pilots shot down over the north.           

 

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Halong Bay



With its thousands of limestone islets emerging from the South China Sea, Halong Bay is Vietnam’s premier natural attraction.

Now a World Heritage site the bay’s towering cliffs, jungle-topped islands, hidden caves, grottoes and calm waters are a must-see for any visitor to the north of Vietnam. Cruise this magical environment with Private Asia Tours, aboard a private boat that will carry you deep into the Bay’s more secluded inner reaches for a memorable experience of this unique seascape 


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Mai Chau



Located in a beautiful upland valley, Mai Chau is a mosaic of rice fields, bamboo groves, and scattered settlements of the White Thai people.

It is the Tai who give this valley its unique atmosphere, with their picturesque villages of bamboo and timber houses raised on stilts. Thai women are skilled weavers, with looms in use below most of the houses and Thai weaving making a fine moment of a visit to this area.

Stay with Private Asia Tours in a Thai family house for a night of traditional hospitality and warmth. After dinner, we may have the opportunity to see some Tai dancing - or perhaps just bed down in the communal house before an early rise for a walk around the valley.
 

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Sapa



Located in Vietnam’s remote north west mountains, Sapa is famous for both its fine, rugged scenery and also its rich cultural diversity. Its lush, deep river valleys, in the shadows of Vietnam’s tallest peak Mount Fansipan, are home to Blue H’mong and Red Dao communities, who continue to maintain their strong traditions and warmly welcome visitors to their homes.

Sapa is also famous for its street market, which attracts villagers from the surrounding hills and is particularly busy on Saturdays. The unique embroidery, jewelry and clothes of the H’mong and Dao are good buys here, and the sight of dozens of minority women in their traditional clothing is a memorable part of any stay in Sapa.

Let Private Asia Tours introduce you to the cultures and landscapes of this unique region. We visit nearby minority villages, take a walk to the river below Cat Cat, see the Thac Bac Waterfall and spectacular valley views up the nearby Tram Ton Pass.
 

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Ninh Binh



Situated on the Red River Delta, Ninh Binh separates the North and the Central Vietnam by Tam Diep Mountain Range. It is surrounded by Hoa Binh, Ha Nam provinces on the north, Nam Dinh Province on the east and Thanh Hoa on the west and the south.

Ninh Binh’s topography is divided clearly into 3 parts: the mountainous area in the west and northwest; the delta and coastal area in the east and south. Ninh Binh has Day, Van Sang rivers, and Non Nuoc, Canh Dieu mountains. Annual average temperature is 23.4ºC. 

In Ninh Binh, Hoa Lu Ancient Capital (in Truong Yen Commune, Hoa Lu District now) was chosen as the first capital of Vietnam feudal centralism regime and the Dai Co Viet's political, economic and cultural centre with the name of Kings Dinh Tien Hoang, Le Dai Hanh and Ly Thai To in 10th century. In 1010, King Ly Thai To moved the capital from Hoa Lu to Thang Long (Hanoi now), opening a new era for Vietnamese people.

Ninh Binh owns beautiful Tam Coc, Bich Dong, Dich Long, Hoa Son, Tien caves, Van Trinh Grotto and other special landscapes following:

Cuc Phuong National Park is home of varies of strange flora and fauna. Especially it is enjoyable to touch the thousand-year-old cho xanh (parashrea stellata) and sau (Dracontomelum Duperranum or Dancorra Edulis) trees, 50-70m high. The park is also suitable to watch birds, butterflies and orchid flowers.

Phat Diem Cathedral is a solemn and interesting architectural complex, reflecting the skilful and excellent stone carving art of the Vietnamese workers.

Ninh Binh’s people have created such famous and traditional products as Kim Son's fine arts, Hoa Lu's high-class embroidery, hanger products and rocky sculpture products for export, Gia Vien's rattan and bamboo knitting products, etc.

Transportation
Located 90km far from Hanoi, Ninh Binh has convenient waterway and road networks of transportation. The Reunification Express Train from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City stops at Ninh Binh Town. National Highway No.10 connects to Nam Dinh, Thanh Hoa provinces and National Highway No.12B links to Hoa Binh Province
 

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Phong Nha Cave



Vietmam's Phong Nha-Ke Bang national park has been recognized as a world natural heritage site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) at its 27th general assembly session being held in Paris from June 30-July 5.

At the session, delegates from over 160 member countries of UNESCO World Heritage Convention agreed to include Phong Nha-Ke Bang park and 30 others worldwide to the list of world heritage sites.

Phong Nha-Ke Bang park is now the fifth UNESCO recognized site in Viet Nam after Ha Long Bay, the imperial city of Hue, the ancient quarter of Hoi An and the My Son historical site.

Phong Nha-Ke Bang national park, located to the north of the majestic Truong Son range incentral Quang Binh province, is one of the world's two largest limestone regions.
The over 200,000 ha of parkland includes beautiful limestone formations, grottoes and caves, and boasts lush forestland covering 95 percent of the park area. 

The area is considered a paradise for researchers and explorers of grottoes and caves, and Vietnamese and British scientists have so far surveyed 20 with a total length of 70km. Of them, 17 are in the Phong Nha area and three in the Ke Bang area.
The Phong Nha cave itself which lends its name to the whole system is probably the most beautiful of all, containing many fascinating rock formations, enchanting visitors with evocative names such as Lion, Fairy Caves, Royal Court and Buddha.

Besides the grotto and cave systems, Phong Nha has the longest underground rivers, the largest caverns and passageways, the widest and prettiest sand banks, and the most astonishing rock formations in the world.

According to initial statistics, the primitive tropical forest in Phong Nha-Ke Bang houses 140 families, 427 branches, and 751 species of high-rated plants, of which 36 species are endangered and listed in the Viet Nam Red Book. The forest is also home to 32 sets, 98 families, 256 races and 381 species of four land backboned animals. Sixty-six animal species are listed in the Viet Nam Red Book and 23 other species in the World Red Book. In general, Phong Nha-Ke Bang's animals are more diverse than in other natural reserves and national parks.

Phong Nha-Ke Bang also boasts dozens of mountain peaks of over 1,000 meters still unexplored by men and seen as ideal sites for activities like climbing and exploration. Worthy of note are Peak Co Rilata with the height of 1,128 m and Peak Co Preu, 1,213 m. Lying between these peaks are valleys which promise tourists exciting eco-tours.

In addition to the diversity in the ecosystem, Phong Nha-Ke Bang is home to archeological and historical relics, such as an ancient hieroglyphic script of the Cham ethnic minority, King Ham Nghi's base built for the resistance war against French colonialists in the late 19th century, and the Xuan Son ferry station, Ho Chi Minh Trail and Road 20 used during the US resistance war.
Central Quang Binh province has poured heavy investment into upgrading. 
 

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DMZ



In 1954, Ho Chi Minh’s government in the north and the French colonial administration in the south agreed an armistice that involved a ‘temporary’ partition of Vietnam. The Ben Hai River, in the extreme north of Quang Tri province, became the arbitrary line dividing the two halves of the country. When the southern ‘government’, backed by the US, reneged on the national elections promised in the agreement, Quang Tri became the theatre where most of the important scenes of the Vietnam War were staged.

From then until the early seventies when the Vietnamese army overwhelmed the defenses along the southern edge of the DMZ, Quang Tri was a battlefield, one of the most intensively bombed areas in military history. It left a barren desert created by hundreds of thousands of tons of high explosive, estimated to be the equivalent of seven Hiroshima atom bombs, as well as napalm, phosphorous and herbicide.

Today, nature has reclaimed much of the land, but craters are visible almost everywhere in the area.

It has been estimated that nearly a third of the ordnance failed to explode. Clearance is continuous, but there are still enough live landmines, bombs and shells to add to the tens of thousands of children and adults killed or maimed by unexploded ordnance since 1975. The numbers are dropping, but incidents of death or injury among local people are reported almost every week.

Accidents affect children walking to and from school or the market who mistake grenades for toys, farmers ploughing or planting crops, building workers digging wells or laying foundations, and poor peasants attempting to dismantle a bomb or shell to sell the scrap metal for a small amount of cash.

The main sites and paths are now free of danger, but venturing off the beaten track is unwise unless you’re accompanied by a professional guide.

Apart from war memorabilia, little remains of the pre-war towns and villages. Nevertheless, there are a couple places of interest beyond those directly linked to the war.

Quang Tri town, once an important citadel town and the provincial capital, is mostly an evocative ruin. There are a few remains of the citadel, built in 1824 by King Minh Mang, but not much else.

On the other hand, Dong Ha, the present provincial capital, has flourished. It has a large deepwater port, a direct route to Laos via the Lao Bao border gate 80kn to the west, and is likely to be an important hub on the planned trans-Asia highway. It has a decent hotel and is a good centre from which to explore the DMZ in depth.

Near the Laos border, Huong Hoa is a unremarkable small town in the foothills of the Annamite mountains. Formerly known as Khe Sanh, it’s known for the coffee produced from plantations developed by the French. The interest for our visitors is a German project linking Kraft Foods Germany and the Dutch ‘Douwe Egberts’ coffee company with a Vietnamese Arabica coffee producer to develop high quality coffee without exploiting the farmers or damaging the environment.

A sizable proportion of Huong Hoa’s population is poor Bru Van Kieu ethnic minority people – you’ll probably meet women smoking long-stemmed pipes.
 

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Hue



Vietnam’s 19-20th Century capital under her last royal dynasty, Hue is a quiet and attractive city home to some of Vietnam’s most impressive feudal remnants.

Private Asia Tours will guide you through the landmark Citadel, once the residence of the royal family, where we climb the Citadel’s colossal Ngo Mon Gate for views over the Thai Hoa Palace, with its interior of gold and scarlet ironwood columns and royal paraphernalia.
Walk the grounds of the former Forbidden Purple City, scarred by decades of war, and admire the Hall of the Mandarins and the 2 tonne dynastic urns with their fine bronze work. We take a dragon boat up the Perfume River to the celebrated Pagoda of Thien Mu in its fine hilltop location. 
 

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Danang



Talking about Danang City, tourists may quickly think that this is a picturesque city by the Han river, by the coast of the Eastern Sea with distinctive attractiveness compared with other sea cities... Furama beach(430Wx288H)

Danang is favored by nature, situated in the middle of the three world cultural heritage sites including the ancient capital Hue, the ancient town Hoi An and the holy land My Son. Such the position highlights the Danang's role in Central Vietnam. This is the place for welcoming, serving and being the entrepot for tourists. Not only at the central point of the three world cultural heritages, Danang City has also lots of attractive spots which tourists feel unforgettable after visiting the city.

Danang has the high and dangerous Hai Van pass with full of perilous obstacles, engraved “the most grandiose beauty spots in the world”, Son Tra peninsula - an ideal rendez-vous for tourists. Surrounding Son Tra peninsula are Da stream, Bai But, Bai Rang, Bai Bac, Bai Nom - the beautiful alluvial plains which make interesting feeling for tourists on being ingulfed in splendid of dawn and the quietness of crepuscle in a picturesque l But alluvial ground (004)(430Wx315H) and. The eco-tourism resort Ba Na - Mo Stream is considered as Dalat, Sapa of Central Vietnam and the legendary Marble Mountains - 'a beautiful landscape of the southern heaven and earth'. Mentioning Danang, tourists can not forget the poetic Han river and its bridge - the first swing one in Vietnam. This is the pride of Danang people. The Han River bridge - the symbol for new vitality and the developing desire of the city- was built with the contribution of all the city's people. It seems that all poetic features of the Han River can be only expressed deeply in the space of Han river bridge with full of wind and ventilation. It not only facilitates transport and potentials for tourism, awaking economic potentials of a vast area in the eastern city but is a cultural spot of Danang people today left behind for the future generations.

Danang is also endowed with sea - the vast tourist source of inspiration. In addition to beautiful and clean stretching beaches, Danang seaport is one of the most well-known seaport in Vietnam.

Danang City by Han river - a poetic and beautiful sea city plus the hospitability of the city people make it a frequent destination for domestic and international tourists.
 

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Hoian



The small town of Hoi An is the perfect place to break your journey midway through Vietnam. Located on the country’s magnificent central coast, this one-time trading port retains an old world ambience and a rich historical quality that resulted in its recent listing as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Let Private Asia Tours escort you through the narrow lanes and streets of the old town, lined with centuries old shop houses combining the influences of the many trading communities who visited Hoi An: French, Japanese, Chinese.
See the Japanese Covered Bridge, the gaudy interior of the Guangdong or Phuc Kien Chinese Assembly Halls; take tea in an 18th Century home; jostle for space with the fish mongers in the lively riverside seafood market,; cycle out to Cua Dai Beach or take a sunset river cruise - these are all part of the unique Hoi An experience.
 

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Nha Trang



Its fine beach, island and mountain views, fresh seafood and gentle sea breezes have endeared Nha Trang to many a Private Asia Tours traveler. We spend time cruising the waters of the South China Sea, stopping to swim from our boat and visit an island fishing village. Whether eating on board, in the spectacularly located villas of the former emperor Bao Dai, or in one of our favorite barbeque restaurants, don’t miss the local seafood.

Nha Trang’s charms lie in its seaside surrounds, but you might like to take a cyclo ride along the beachfront boulevard to the city’s market, and on to the ancient Cham towers of Po Nagar with their views over the colorful fishing fleet to the sea. Or if sport takes your fancy, why not join the locals as they gather on the beach in the evening for a friendly game of football.
 

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DaLat



A slice of Europe in the Central Highlands of Vietnam, Dalat found favor with the French rulers for its cool climate. Today, Dalat’s mild temperatures are popular with Private Asia Tours’s travelers, as is the town’s attractive landscape of colonial villas, gardens, lakes and rolling hills.

Dalat’s colorful market features locally-made specialties such as artichoke tea, candied fruits, coffee and the finest cool climate vegetables and flowers in Vietnam. Visit the former summer residence of Vietnam’s last emperor, Bao Dai, and meet Dalat’s famous artist monk Vien Thuc in his studio lined with thousands of his quirky compositions. The brilliantly colored silk weavings of the K’hor tribes people are a popular purchase, as are finely detailed silk embroideries.
 

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Phan Thiet - Mui Ne



Located in Binh Thuan province, Phan Thiet is 200 km from Saigon and lies south of Cam Ranh bay on the southernmost stretch of Central Vietnam. Binh Thuan was once a part of the Cham kingdom. In 1692, Lord Nguyen Phuc Chu captured the area and named it Binh Thuan Dinh. Binh Thuan is quite important in Vietnam's history, as it was because of this area that in 1306 King Tran Nhan Tong agreed to the marriage of princess Huyen Chan to King Jaya Sinhavarman III of the Cham Kingdom. During the revolution against the French, it was in this area that the two patriots Phan Chu Trinh and Tran Quy Cap had their start. Furthermore, according to local lore, the area around Phan Thiet is where Han Mac Tu, the disfigured poet, spent his time forlornly as he waited for Mong Cam, the lady of his dreams.

Bairang
Bai Rang or Rang Beach is probably the most beautiful beach in Phan Thiet. It is located 15 Km northeast of Phan Thiet and is described by the locals as the beach that is nestled in the middle of a coconut palm forest. Other landmarks in the area of Rang beach are Da Ong Dia (boulders of the Earth God), and Suoi Tien (Celestial stream).

Muine Sand Dunes
However, by far the most popular among tourists are Mui Ne Sand Dunes and Mui Ne Beaches located 12 miles East of Phan Thiet. The sand dunes in this area are shaped by the elements of the wind and therefore is a spectacular site to the visitors.

Muine Fishing Village
Mui Ne gets its name from the local fishermen using this area as a shelter during the stormy season. Mui meaning nose or peninsula and Ne meaning to duck or to take shelter. The combination of sun, sand and deep turquoise water of the pacific ocean create a breath taking and spectacular site to the visitors.
 

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Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon)



One of Asia’s most vibrant and welcoming cities, Saigon (as it is still popularly known) is a cultural melting pot with something to offer every traveler. Join Private Asia Tours to discover the many faces of this city - our home in South East Asia.

District 1 is the best place to start with its many historic French-built landmarks - the Opera House, Notre Dame Cathedral, and Hotel de Ville to name but a few. We visit the remarkable Cu Chi Tunnels where the Viet Cong hid during the Vietnam-American War, the former Presidential Palace, and the sobering War Remnants Museum. We’ll introduce you to the enormous variety of exotic local produce at the sprawling Binh Tay Market in Cholon, the city’s bustling Chinatown, and nearby the colorful Thien Hau Pagoda. Visiting Saigon while it passes through a remarkable and rapid phase of transformation will fascinate and delight. Above all, experiencing the heartfelt warmth and humour for which the Saigonese are renowned will stay with you long after you’ve departed for home.

In recent years Ho Chi Minh City has transformed into a city offering visitors a fantastic abundance of shopping, dining and nightlife. Explore the many new shops and boutiques of a rejuvenated Dong Khoi Street - the famous Rue Catinat of the French elite in the colonial era - where fine silks and tailored clothes, hill tribe crafts, Vietnamese antiques, ceramics and embroideries vie for the attention of visitors. Or take a browse through nearby streets and the central Ben Thanh Markets for imitation designer labels and modern fashions, jewelry, CDs, luggage, and an array of local products - all amazingly cheap. Finish the day with a Vietnamese feast at one of our favorite restaurants, or perhaps try one of the city’s delectable French or Western eateries. There’s a gastronomic treat awaiting every taste bud and every budget. And if you’re in the mood for a boogie, party on at a city bar or nightclub - Metropolis, Monaco, or the infamous Apocalypse Now are a must.
 

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Mekong Delta



Vietnam’s most fertile region, the Mekong’s riverine environment is simultaneously unique and beautiful. From Vinh Long, travel by sampan along narrow canals to tropical fruit orchards and bonsai gardens; sample freshly-picked fruits and the local delicacy, fried elephant ear fish; and navigate though the waterborne bustle of the area’s famed floating markets.

Many of our tours through Vietnam take a day trip from Saigon to the province of My Tho, gateway to the Mekong. We then take a boat ride to one of the islands located in the middle of the Mekong River. On the island we visit a fruit orchard and sample some delicious fresh local produce. We take the opportunity to visit a local family's house, enjoy their hospitality and share with them some tea or rice wine.
Both our Vietnam Grand Adventure and Inside Vietnam and Cambodia tours travel to the scenic little town of Chau Doc.
 

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Phu Quoc



Located in the Gulf of Thailand, the hear-shaped island lies just 62 nautical miles from Rach Gia and nearly 290 nautical miles from Laem Chabang (Thailand). It covers an area of 567 sq. km (about 62 km long and 3-28 km wide) and is situated at 10o01'-10o27' north latitude and 103o51'-104o50' east longitude. Its population is approx. 85,000 (2001).

Phu Quoc is called the island of "99 mountains" because of its many sandstone chains gradually descending from the north to the south. The longest one is Ham Ninh which stretches for 30 km along the eastern edge with its highest peak called Mt. Chua (603m).

Phu Quoc has a monsoon sub-equatorial climate. There are two seasons in the year: the rainy season (October only) and the dry season (November to September). The average annual rainfall is 2,879 m and the average temperature is 27oC. Trips to Phu Quoc can be made all year round, but the best time is dry season when the sky is always sunny, clear and blue.

In the early 17th century, Phu Quoc was a desolate area, where Vietnamese and Chinese immigrants earned their living from sea cucumbers. From 1782 to 1786, Phu Quoc became a stronghold of Lord Nguyen Anh, later Emperor Gia Long, in his confrontation with Tay Son forces.

In 1869, the French occupied it and set up rubber and coconut plantations in the island. From 1967 to 1972, a P.O.W detention camp of 40,000 inmates during the war covering on 400 hectares was built at An Thoi by the Saigon regime.

After being liberated on 30 April 1975, Phu Quoc has been converted into an ideal tourist destination for nature and sea lovers.

Citizens of south-east Asia countries don't need to have im-emmigrating certifications when entering Duongdong town within 15 days. If they want to go to other places from here (except restricted areas), they can get im-emmigrating certifications given by im-immigrating management Offices of Duongdong town. Foreign-tourist ships can arrive or leave Duongdong harbor as the projects signed with Vietnamese tourist companies. Foreign tourist ships to Duongdong area & other areas (except restricted areas) have to obey the laws mentioned above.

Foreign cargo ships are allowed to arrive or leave Duongdong town to deliver or get cargoes as the contracts signed business-manufacturing organizations. The crewmen on these ships can use their passports or sailor's registers to enter Duongdong area issued by foreign authorities. If they deliver or get goods in other harbors of Kiengiang province, they have to obey Vietnam's current law.
 

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Cu Chi Tunnels



It was one of the weirdest tourism experiences we've ever had. As though Fellini and Disney had teamed up to do 'Nam....
At the beginning of the tunnel complex, there's a wall draped with clothing ... vests, cone shaped peasant hats, capes in camouflage colors. Oh yes, and rifles. Real rifles, but thankfully without the ammo.
You can rent these things. And wear them while crawling through the tunnels. So much the better to feel like a guerilla.

The Cu Chi tunnels of Vietnam are one of those horrible remnants of a horrible war that most folks would probably rather forget. So, of course, they've become a tourist attraction.
The Cu Chi Tunnels lie 75 km northwest of Saigon ... which nobody these days but the government and maps call Ho Chi Minh City. At the height of the Vietnam war, the tunnel system stretched from the outskirts of Saigon all the way to the Cambodian border ... something like 250 kilometers of tunnels.
The tunnel system, built over 25 years starting in the 1940s, let the Viet Minh and, later, the Viet Cong, control a huge rural area. It was an underground city with living areas, kitchens, storage, weapons factories, field hospitals, command centers. In places, it was several stories deep and housed up to 10,000 people who virtually lived underground for years.... getting married, giving birth, going to school. They only came out at night to furtively tend their crops.The ground here is hard clay, which made this whole thing possible. But even so, the planning and construction was incredible. People dug all this with hand tools, filling reed baskets and dumping the dirt into bomb craters. They installed large vents so they could hear approaching helicopters, smaller vents for air and baffled vents to dissipate cooking smoke. There were also hidden trap doors and gruesomely effective bamboo-stake booby traps.

Of course, the U.S. military knew about the tunnels. The tunnels not only allowed guerilla communication, they allowed surprise attacks, even within the perimeters of U.S. military bases. The U.S. retaliated with bombs, eventually turning the region into what writers Tom Mangold and John Penycate called "the most bombed, shelled, gassed, defoliated and generally devastated area in the history of warfare."
That was then.

Today, the trees and bushes have grown back. And since 1988, two sections of tunnels have been open for tourism. There are what some guidebooks call the "real" tunnels at Ben Binh. They remain unlit and mostly unreconstructed, which means chunky Westerners shouldn't even try.

Re-creation of underground conference room from which Tet offensive was planned

The "fake" tunnels at Ben Duoc aren't fake at all. They're merely renovated, widened for tourists and come complete with lights and displays underground.
After declining the guerilla costumes and gear we went for a hike through the woods while our guide pointed out bomb craters (labeled by shell type) and smoke vents, thoughtfully steered us around booby traps and let us play a brief game of "try to find the trap door" ... which, of course, we couldn't.
Finally, we came to the tunnels. We dropped through a trap door to the first level, 10 feet below the surface, and squeezed through narrow passageways to see bunkers, a hospital, a kitchen and the actual command room from which the 1968 Tet offensive was planned.

There are tables and chairs, bunk beds, crude cooking stoves, dummies outfitted in guerilla garb and, for effect, the occasional live person to give an authentic touch.

Even with the tunnels widened it was a squeeze, especially one serpentine stretch at the second level where we had to drop to our knees and crawl while the ceiling scraped our spines. There was a third level, which is hardly 18 inches high and definitely would have required wriggling on our stomachs. We gratefully declined.

The day we did all this, the temperature was 98 degrees with correspondingly high humidity, and the sweat gushed so heavily we could hardly hold onto our cameras. It gave us an incredible admiration for the people who lived and struggled here.

After one last wriggle, we came up at a snack stand where we got to taste the taro root and green tea that tunnel residents ate.

Then off to the souvenir stand, zoo and shooting range (where, if you knock down the target with your AK47 or M16, you can win a gen-u-ine guerilla scarf).....

War is hell, and, sometimes, the aftermath is just plain weird.
 

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Cao Dai Temple



Cao Dai is an attempt to create a perfect synthesis of world religions. It is a combination of Christianity, Buddhism , Islam, Confucianism, Hinduism, Geniism, and Taoism . Established in the Southern regions of Vietnam in the early 1920's, the religion was officially codified in 1926. The functioning center of Cao Daism is located in the Tay Ninh province. Cao Dai literally means high tower or palace, a metaphor for the spender of spiritual growth. The central philosophy of Cao Daism pertains to the duty that the faithful perform for themselves, their family, society and the world at large. Much like Confucianism, this element of the Philosophy pertains to how the individual functions within the context of the community.



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    Departure: from Saigon or Siem Reap

    Highlights: Saigon, CaiBe, VinhLong, CanTho, ChauDoc, Phnom Penh, Siem Reap

    The majestic Jayavarman is considered the father in Heritage Line’s “family” of cruise ships. This vessel was named after Angkor’s most venerated king, who ruled from 1181 to 1218, and was a devout Buddhist. King Jayavarman oversaw the construction of some of the most famous temples in Angkor, including Ta Prohm, Preah Khan and the unforgettable Bayon. Inspired by the serenity and artistry associated with this great Khmer monarch, The Jayavarman’s design was also influenced by the French cruise liner Normandie, which launched in 1935. Traveling between Saigon and Phnom Penh, the Jayavarman marries the art deco charm of 1930’s France with the romance of Indochine. Measuring 57.8 meters from bow to stern, the Jayavarman holds 27 elegantly decorated cabins. Thanks to its intricate woodcarvings, Khmer bas-reliefs and Vietnamese lacquer paintings, this impressive cruise ship resembles a floating art gallery. Wherever they look, guests are reminded of the local arts and culture. With three-and-a-half decks the Jayavarman is as spacious as it is beautiful. Guests can admire Khmer artifacts in the Henry Mouhot Lounge, mingle in the Club 1930 Bar, dine in the elegant Indochine Dining Hall, and recharge with spa treatments in the Apsara Spa. A Jacuzzi is located on the top sundeck, which offers spectacular views of the passing delta. Along with its peaceful beauty, the Mekong Delta is known for its friendly locals. The crewmembers of The Jayavarman are no exception. From the moment they board, guests are made to feel at home. Offering exceptional service, comfort and style, The Jayavarman is a name to remember. This beautiful vessel is an unforgettable means of exploring some of the finest scenery in Asia.