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Vietnam Travel Guide - The Hidden Charm

Even after decades of war, Vietnam still offers a magnificent experience for the visitor. Roughly the size of Germany or Arizona, it has a suffocated economy and a rusty infrastructure that try the patience of a toughened traveler's. This is without doubt a destination where the inconveniences fade in light of the extraordinary; the beauty of its scenery, people and traditions confound all.

Hanoi, a prehistoric city founded nearly 1,000 years ago, is attached to Northern Vietnam. This political capital adheres to the expression of a socialist system and yet accepts government-controlled capitalism. Renovated villas and impressions of the French colonial period lend the city an ambience found only in this part of Asia. The outstanding beauty of island-dotted Halong Bay is found nearby.

To the South, following the historical advancement of the Viet people, travelers will discover a chain of coastal provinces washed by the South China Sea. In the ancient royal city of Hue, an intense awareness of the past fills its older streets. Close by is the scenic old coastal town of Hoi An, and the distinctive ruins of My Son. The antiquities don't end here. Today a popular seaside resort, these lands of the early kingdom of Champa that extend south to Nha Trang, hold decaying sanctuaries, temples and towers that give evidence to the invasion by the Viet people from the north. The cool weather and lovely landscape of Dalat, found inland, is another attraction.

Ho Chi Minh City, frequently still called Saigon, revitalizing its age old impression as a well-know, active city of busy people. Ho Chi Minh City is loud, Hanoi is calm and quiet; Hue's refined beauty subtly grows on you, Ho Chi Minh City aggressively takes hold of your senses; Hanoi is a rustic city, Ho Chi Minh City is loud and flashy.

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