Vietnam

The Caves of Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park

A labyrinth of subterranean tunnels and jaw-dropping, otherworldly landscapes, Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park may be off the beaten path for now, but its anonymity is fading fast. Decked out in eerie, alien rock formations and spindly stalactites, these tunnels are estimated at around 3-5 million years old. Here you’ll find the world’s largest cave, home to a thunderous river, clouds, and an entire jungle ecosystem.

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The Imperial City in Hue, Vietnam

From the early 19th century through the end of the Vietnamese monarchy in 1945, Hue’s Imperial City housed an impressive cache of temples, palaces, and administrative buildings. Of the 148 buildings in the walled Citadel complex, today 20 remain. Wide, opulent palaces and dimly lit temples pepper the now-overgrown grounds, boasting a mix of traditional Vietnamese architecture, vibrant lacquered woodwork, and ornate rooftops, not to mention 143 years’ worth of imperial history.

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Planning a Visit to Tram Chim National Park

The stunning landscapes of Tram Chim National Park are awash with tall grass, flat, waterlogged land, and over 230 different aquatic birds. Visitors trace the watery avenues and flooded forests of this picturesque Delta scene by boat, spotting everything from an abundance of slender-necked storks to the vibrant yellow Asian golden weaver to towering sarus cranes.

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The Stranger Side of Vietnamese Cuisine

In a nation as food-focused as Vietnam, it is all but impossible to come up with dozens of savory masterpieces without having created a few strange dishes along the way. While pho and banh mi (Vietnamese sandwiches) have gained worldwide acclaim as delicious, accessible facets of local cuisine, there are several specialties that manage to make some travelers wrinkle their noses.

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Planning Your Time in Ho Chi Minh City

Get anywhere near the flashing neon lights, full-throttle traffic, sardined houses, and soaring commercial towers of the country’s southern hub and it becomes clear why Ho Chi Minh City is the future of Vietnam. Still known to locals as Saigon, the city packs all of southern Vietnam’s best food, art, culture, and diversity into the jumbled houses and narrow alleyways of the country’s most ambitious metropolis.

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Planning Your Time on Vietnam’s South-Central Coast

The bulk of Vietnam’s most-visited mainland beaches belong to the south-central coast, a vibrant, sun-soaked shoreline that runs unbroken from the tumultuous cliffs of Quy Nhon down to Mui Ne’s bizarre tropical sand dunes. Whether you’re an adventure junkie plying the surf of Mui Ne, a party animal living it up on the sands of Nha Trang, or just a traveler in search of some good old-fashioned rest and relaxation on the quieter shores of Phan Rang or Quy Nhon, there are plenty of places to lay your towel here.

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Day Trips From Hanoi

Beyond the city limits, Hanoi’s suburbs and surrounding countryside offer a few easygoing day trips. Take a jaunt to the booming traditional handicraft villages of Tam Coc and Hoa Lu, Ninh Binh’s main attractions, and visit the serene pagoda complex of the beautifully austere Perfume Pagoda.

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Sights North of Nha Trang, Vietnam

There are two notable sights north of Nha Trang: the Po Nagar Towers and the rocky promontory of Hon Chong, both excellent sites for scenic views and interesting histories. Both are easily visited in one trip; stop first at the towers and then continue along the same road for another mile to the sea.

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Saigon’s Ben Thanh Market

Easily the most recognizable structure in Saigon, Ben Thanh Market–located at the north edge of Quach Thi Trang roundabout–is the original commercial heart of the city and a prime spot for souvenir shopping. Learn about its history and its popular day and night markets.

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