22 February 2013
Vietnam is a favourite destination of both holidaymakers and those with a TEFL certificate. Everywhere in this beautiful country, you can find places to go and things to see from pagodas and war relics to the stunning landscapes. Here are five of the best and favourites for foreign visitors to visit.
Ha Long Bay
Ha Long Bay is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Vietnam and is also both a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the New Seven Natural Wonders of the World. Over 1600 limestone islets are dotted around the bright blue waters of the bay along with floating villages. Unfortunately, tour boats can no longer stop at these floating villages to meet the locals but photographs by the dozen can still be snapped. If it is a weekend getaway you are searching for, a short cruise can be booked on a traditional junk. This will take you all around the islands and into caves while in comfortable cabins and with delicious Vietnamese food! But be careful about the company you choose, some offer a substandard service and will try to charge you more than the cruise is worth.
Another UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Old Town of Hoi An is a wonderful example of Old Vietnam as most of the buildings here were constructed between the fifteenth and nineteenth centuries. It is a lot quieter than other Vietnamese towns because cars are banned in the Old Town, allowing you to explore with slightly more peace than in Ho Chi Minh City or Hanoi. Access to the historical sites is through a coupon system. For 90,000 dong (just under £3), you can purchase a ticket that gives you access to five attractions. The evenings can be busy with traffic but on the 14th of every lunar month, the town centre shuts to motorised vehicles and lanterns are hung for the full moon. These full moon festivals are worth seeing as they provide an insight into Vietnamese folklore and heritage as the locals perform plays and play traditional music.
Nha Trang is a busy and crowded city but it is home to one of the best beaches in Vietnam. Although it can be overcrowded, the sand is soft and white and the waters are a gateway to a host of islands and coves to be explored. At many beaches in Vietnam, you can hire a kayak to explore the surrounding area and Nha Trang is no exception. Scuba diving is available as well to those who wish to explore the seabed but if you would rather stay on the beach then lounge-chairs are available to hire for a very small price. It is a fantastic place to relax.
Hue is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a former capital of Vietnam; being the political, cultural and religious centre of the country until 1945. It is a wealth of history with plenty to explore. There are four different citadels that make up the city, each one unique! There are also the tombs of ancient emperors and pagodas by the plenty. In particular, Thien Mu Pagoda has been mentioned in various poems and songs and is considered to be the unofficial symbol of Hue. If, however, history is not your thing then don’t worry, Hue still has plenty to offer. There are two hot springs nearby, My An and the slightly further afield Thanh Tan. If you are looking to relax with a massage and a dip in the heated pools then add these to your list of places to visit. Or take a visit to the Thuan An Beach, popular with both the locals and tourists. These are great options for anyone who wants to visit some of Hue’s non-historical attractions.
Ho Chi Minh City
Formerly known as Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City is the largest city in Vietnam and the country’s economic hub. Whether you are looking for the more tourist-friendly experiences or you want to venture off the beaten-track then HCMC, as it is abbreviated to, is welcoming to you. It is a vibrant city with everything you could possibly want; shopping, culture and food in abundance. There are many restaurants and street vendors to visit if you are hungry but also make sure to head for Dinh Cong Trang Street to sample the banh xeo, a pancake-like speciality. Also, with all the history in HCMC, you will never find yourself bored in your free time. The Reunification Palace is a must for anyone wanting to explore the history of Vietnam, particularly around the Vietnam War (or as the Vietnamese refer to it as, the American War!). It is also worth taking a day trip to the Cu Chi tunnels. This is a complex of 250km of tunnels and chambers where the Viet Cong soldiers sheltered during the war. Although slightly claustrophobic, it is a worthy experience and both the tunnels and the Reunification Palace provide an insight into the Vietnam War from a Vietnamese perspective instead of a Western one.
These are just some of the many places Vietnam has to offer. All over this fantastic country, wonders can be found. To visit some of these beautiful locations, check the TEFL Job Centre to find a job in Vietnam that suits you!