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Vietnam - The Internet Travel Guide (FAQ) (part 2/5)

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Archive-name: travel/vietnam-guide/part2
Url: http://www.pmgeiser.ch/vietnam
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See reader questions & answers on this topic! - Help others by sharing your knowledge
VIETNAM - Peter M. Geiser's Hotel and Travel Guide

Located in South East Asia, Vietnam starts to emerge as a major
tourist attraction. Vietnam has two main cities, the political
capital Hanoi and the economic capital Ho Chi Minh City (also
known as Saigon). Apart from these cities, Vietnam's countryside
also offers many beautiful attractions.


Places
 An Khe
 Buon Ma Thuot
 Cantho
 Cat Ba Island
 Central Highland
 Chau Doc
 Cholon
 Chua Huong
 Con Dao
 Cu Chi
 Cuc Phuong National Parc
 Dakto / Tanh Canh
 Dalat
 Danang
 Do Son
 Dong Ha
 Haiphong
 Halong Bay
 Hanoi
 Ho Chi Minh City
 Hoa Lu
 Hoi An
 Hue
 Kontum
 Lao Bao
 Long Xuyen
 Mekong Delta
 Myson
 Mytho
 Nha Trang
 Ninh Binh
 Phan Rang
 Phan Thiet
 Phong Nha Caves
 Phu Quoc
 Pleiku
 Quang Ngai
 Rach Gia
 Saigon
 Sapa
 Tay Ninh
 Vat Sat Tourist Parc
 Vinh Long
 Vinh Moc
 Vung Tau


General Information
 Geography
 Map of Vietnam
 Climate
 People
 Events
 Visa
 Embassies
 Border Crossing
 Money
 Mail
 Telephone
 Internet Access
 Hotels
 Food
 Diving
 Health


Transportation
 Flying
 Train
 Roads
 Bus
 Minibus
 Car
 Motorcycle
 Bicycles
 Cyclos
 Tours
 Travel Guides
 Boats

**************************************************************************

VIETNAM - Peter M. Geiser's Hotel and Travel Guide

Copyright (c) 1995 - 2005, Peter M. Geiser

http://www.pmgeiser.ch
http://www.pmgeiser.com
http://www.mineralwaters.org
http://www.dussy.ch

**************************************************************************

INTERNET HOTEL AND TRAVEL GUIDES

New series by Peter M. Geiser and Sibylle Dussy, with many photos:
 HONG KONG        http://www.pmgeiser.ch/hongkong
 JAPAN            http://www.pmgeiser.ch/japan
 MACAU            http://www.pmgeiser.ch/macau
 SWITZERLAND      http://www.pmgeiser.ch/switzerland

"Classics", FAQ of rec.travel.asia
 CAMBODIA         http://www.pmgeiser.ch/cambodia
 CHINA            http://www.pmgeiser.ch/china
 LAOS             http://www.pmgeiser.ch/laos
 MYANMAR (BURMA)  http://www.pmgeiser.ch/myanmar
 TIBET            http://www.pmgeiser.ch/tibet
 VIETNAM          http://www.pmgeiser.ch/vietnam

Hotel guides
 INDIA            http://www.pmgeiser.ch/india
 INDONESIA        http://www.pmgeiser.ch/indonesia
 MALAYSIA         http://www.pmgeiser.ch/malaysia
 NEPAL            http://www.pmgeiser.ch/nepal
 SINGAPORE        http://www.pmgeiser.ch/singapore
 THAILAND         http://www.pmgeiser.ch/thailand

**************************************************************************

BOOKS

For books, please have a look at the online version at
http://www.pmgeiser.ch/vietnam

**************************************************************************

HANOI

http://www.pmgeiser.ch/vietnam/places/hanoi.htm


Hanoi is the capital of Vietnam, buit in 1010. Aproximately one
million people live there. It is (in my opinion) Vietnam's most
beautiful city. With many French colonial building the old part of the
city retains a special charm, with many shops virtually spilling their
goods into the streets. If you want to buy something you have to know
in what street it is sold, i.e. there is a shoe street, a noodle shop
street, a clothes street, a funeral articles street, etc. Its streets
are lined with trees, giving the city a wonderful green colour and
providing shade.

People in Hanoi are perhaps not as easy going as people in Saigon, but
they are more hospitable and much friendlier. A good place to meet
people is in the parks at 6 am doing various sports, such as Tai-Chi.

Many new houses are being built, but they are mostly typical
Vietnamese, some 2.5 to 6 m wide and more than 40 m deep. They have
4 to 6 stories, on each story a beautiful balcony facing the street.
Old and new buildings integrate easily, never destroying the picture
of the 'old' town.


Sights

Attractions include the Temple of Literature (Van Mieu, open between
8:30 and 16:30, entrance fee VND 12'000), the beautiful Hoan Kiem lake,
the Hoan Keim district (the old center, with many beautiful, small
shops), St. Joseph's Cathedral, the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum (no
entrance fee), the Ho Chi Minh House, the One Pillar Pagoda just next
to it and the Historical Museum (VND 4000).

The Air Force museum is worth a visit for planes of the American
war.

One of the most exceptional evenings I spent in Hanoi was the visit to
the Water Puppet Theater, Kim Dong Theatre at 57 Dinh Tien Hoang
Street. After an introduction of Vietnamese music, the show started.
It is actually a series of scenes from Vietnamese everyday life,
depicted by beautifully carved and painted puppets. They are held on
long sticks by people standing in the water behind a bamboo screen.
Admission was USD 2 or USD 4 with cassette, and they charge USD 1 for
photographing.

The Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum is a worth a visit for patient people.
The admission fee is VND 5'000. It is closed on Fridays.

The Hoa Lu Prison (aka Hanoi Hilton) was a drab triangle. It is
possible to visit, entrance fee is VND 10'000.

For those interested in steam trains, there are some old locomotives
in the rail yard. The best bet is the Giap Bat station at 14:00, when
there should be one.


Climate

 Month       Jan  Feb  Mar  Apr  May  Jun  Jul  Aug  Sep  Oct  Nov  Dec

 High   C     20   20   23   27   32   33   32   32   31   29   26   22
        F     69   69   74   81   89   91   90   90   88   84   78   72

 Low    C     14   14   17   21   24   26   26   26   24   22   18   15
        F     57   58   63   69   75   78   78   78   76   71   65   59

 Water  C     23   22   23   24   26   28   29   29   29   28   26   24
        F     73   72   73   76   78   82   84   84   84   82   78   76

 Rain  mm     18   25   46   84  193  239  295  310  257  127   46   20
   inches    0.7  1.0  1.8  3.3  7.6  9.4 11.6 12.2 10.1  5.0  1.8  0.8

 h sun/day     2    2    1    3    4    5    5    4    5    5    3    3

 days rain     8   13   15   14   14   14   15   16   14    9    7    7


Transportation

When arriving at the airport, beware of the cheap, inofficial taxis.
Although cheaper, they certainly will get stopped by the police. Not only
do you have to wait for quite some time, but you will also have to pay a
penalty that is much higher than what you would have paid for an official
taxi. (see also section on flying)


Hotels

There is no shortage of hotels in Hanoi, although it could well be
possible that the one you wanted to go to is full at the time.
Mini-Hotels cost usually between USD 15 to 25.

There are two main areas for budget accommodation. One is the Hoan
Kiem district (also known as the old town), just north of the Hoan
Kiem lake. It is very pretty, with lots of charm. The other is just
south of the lake. Hotels seem to be a bit cheaper than in the old
part, but this also depends on your bargaining success.

Reserve your hotel online at 
http://www.pmgeiser.ch/vietnam/places/hanoi.htm.

Shopping

There are many tailor-shops in Hanoi. One of the better, with good
prices is the Nice at 110 Tran Phu. The tailor anything overnight.

The BookWorm bookstore in Hanoi has more than 1600 English books. It
opened in April 2001 and is located not far from the Hoan Kiem lake on
15A Ngo Van So Street. Opening hours are 10am - 7pm Tuesdays - Sunday.


**************************************************************************

HO CHI MINH CITY

http://www.pmgeiser.ch/vietnam/places/hochiminhcity.htm


Ho Chi Minh City is one of the new Asian boomtowns and with 3.5
million inhabitants Vietnams largest city. There is still a lot of the
old Asia, but it is changing rapidly, becoming modern quite quickly.

Ho Chi Minh City is often referred to as Saigon. However, this is only
part of the truth, as Ho Chi Minh City also includes other parts, like
Cholon.

The saddest part of the modernisation are the many beggars, some of
them dressing up their wounds, some pretending that they are one
legged (binding one leg up behind their bodies), while others were
really disabled. Since I have seen beggars only at tourist spots and
many beggars were strong and healthy young men I never gave them
money. Another point is that I never encountered beggars in other
cities (except the tourist spots in NhaTrang).



Sights

The sights of the two main parts of the city, Saigon and Cholon are
described in the respective section. Here I list sights that are more
towards the outskirts of Ho Chi Minh City.

Phuoc Hai Tu Pagoda
Built by local Cantonese in 1909, this is one of the most colorful
pagodas in Ho Chi Minh City. Dedicated to the Emperor of Jade, the
supreme Taoist god, this temple also contains a wide range of other
deities including the Buddhist archangel Michael, a Sakyamuni Buddha,
statues of two generals who tamed the Green and the White Dragon, and
Quan Am. There is also a Hall of Ten Hells with reliefs depicting the
one thousand tortures of hell. Women sell birds at the pagoda that are
set free to gain merit and there is a pond containing large turtles.

Tran Hung Dao Pagoda
This temple was built in 1932 for the worship of the victorious 13th
century general Hung Dao. It contains a series of bas-reliefs
depicting the general's successes, carved dragons, and weapons.

Vinh Nghiem Pagoda
A Japanese-style pagoda completed in 1967, it is one of the largest in
Vietnam. The structure is a classical seven-story pagoda with a
spacious sanctuary.(only open on holidays). Inside is a large
Japanese-style Buddha in an attitude of meditation, flanked by two
goddesses.

Le Van Duyet Temple
Le Van Duyet is the South Vietnamese hero who put down the Tay Son
Rebellion and reunited Vietnam. The main sanctuary displays a strange
collection of the Marshal's personal possessions: a stuffed tiger, a
miniature mountain, whale baleen, carved elephants, crystal goblets,
spears, and other weapons of war. The Marshal is buried here with his
wife.

Giac Vien Tu Pagoda
The Pagoda of Buddha's Complete Enlightenment was built in 1771 and
dedicated to the worship of the Emperor Gia Long. Although restored,
Giac Vien Tu remains one of the best preserved temples in Vietnam. It
is lavishly decorated, with over 100 carvings of various divinities
and spirits, dominated by a large gilded image of Sakyamuni.

Giac Lam Pagoda
Built in 1744, the Forest of Enlightenment Pagoda is the oldest in Ho
Chi Minh City. It has a sacred Bodhi tree in the courtyard, the gift
of a monk from Sri Lanka, and curious for the blue and white porcelain
plates used to decorate the roof and some of the small towers in the
garden facing the pagoda. Inside there are rows of funerary tablets
with pictures of the dead and a main altar with layers of Buddhas
dominated by the Buddha of the Past. Particularly interesting is a
49-Buddha oil lamp. The monks are very friendly and are a good source
for the history of the pagoda. Some speak good English and French.


Climate

 Month       Jan  Feb  Mar  Apr  May  Jun  Jul  Aug  Sep  Oct  Nov  Dec

 High   C     32   33   34   33   33   32   32   32   31   31   31   31
        F     89   91   93   92   92   90   89   89   88   88   88   87

 Low    C     21   22   23   25   24   24   24   24   24   23   23   22
        F     70   71   74   77   76   75   75   75   75   74   73   71

 Water  C     27   27   27   28   29   30   30   29   29   29   29   28
        F     81   81   81   82   84   86   86   84   84   84   84   82

 Rain  mm     10    5   10   21  218  297  279  272  310  267  112   36
   inches    0.4  0.2  0.4  2.0  8.6 11.7 11.0 10.7 12.2 10.5  4.4  1.4

 h sun/day     6    8    7    7    5    5    4    5    5    5    5    6

 days rain     1    1    1    4   14   23   20   18   20   17   12    4
               9    5    3    3    5    5    6    5   15   18   13   16
               9    6    3    4    5    5    6    5   14   18   14   15


Hotels
Reserve your hotel online at 
http://www.pmgeiser.ch/vietnam/places/hochiminhcity.htm.

In the region of Pham Ngu Lao and Le Lai street (around Kim Cafe and
Vinh Cafe) are many small hotels with cheap rooms. Also a place to
look for cheap accommodation is nearby Bui Vien Street.


Restuarants

Kim Cafe and Sinh Cafe (6 Pham Ngu Lao St) are known all over Saigon. The
area around those two travelling cafes that also offer tours (see tours
section) is full of cheap places to eat. I prefered Kim Cafe over Sinh
Cafe, because the service was much better (in fact, excellent), and the
beggars and post card selling kids were not allowed to come into Kim
Cafe.

The Buddha Tree, located in the first street behind Kim and Sinh
Cafes, is a good vegetarian restaurant.

The Zen Vegetarian retaurant, down an alley opposite Kim Cafe offers
vegetarian food.

There is an excellent pizza restaurant at Pham Ngu Lao St, towards
Cholon from Kim Cafe.

Goodmorning Vietnam, at De Tham, has original Italian owners and good
Italian food.

Another good place for Italien food is the Trattoria Santa Lucia at
Dai Lo Nguyen Hue Street.

A meeting place for Italian people is the meeting point at Cafe Latin
close to Dong Khoi Street.

Que Huong/Vietnam Motherland on the same street has very good food and big
portions.

There is a nice (and cheap) cafe at 123 Nguyen Hue Boulevard called Lan
Phuong. The owner is very nice and didn't try to overchage me (something
special in this 'region of the rich tourists' in Saigon.)

An excellent and lovely restaurant on Dong Khoi is Tan Nam. It's
beautifully decorated and the food and its presentation were superb.

The Cafe Saigon is a popular hangout for expats. Good service and good
food for a good price. Located on the corner of De Tham opposite of
Allez Boo.

The small pho restaurant just opposite the War Crimes Museum is a good
choice as well. Make sure you go there before going to the museum.

One of the most famous, and most expensive, retaurants is Maxim's. It's
full of Japanese and certainly overrated.

A special treat is the Indochine Restaurant (Dong Duong) at 144 Tran Hung
Dao Street (Tel 8395476). It's not exactly cheap, but has very good food.
They have the strangest of dishes, such as goat penis, pig brain, snake
head and uterus.

Another special treat is an evening at the rooftop bar or on the terasse
of the Rex hotel. The main attraction is the superb view over one of the
busiest intersections of Saigon. In the evening, especially before
holidays, Saigon's youth gather there to 'see and been seen'. Although
prices were about three times of Kim Cafe, the service was lousy. But of
course location and view cost as well... Another idea to spend a quiet day
is to use the swimming pool in the Rex.

The famous Apocalypse Now has reopened in December 1996 at 2C Thi Sach
Street. This bar is very popular with Western travellers. Although
open earlier, it doesn't start to get crowded until 10pm.

A bar that has often live music it the Buffalo Blues at 72A Nguyen Du,
District 1, Tel 822 2874.

There is a new cafe called Condom. Financed by the Medecins du Monde, it
hands out condoms. It also answers questions to AIDS.

Of course, new American cuisine is moving in as well. There is a Baskin
and Robins ice-cream parlour on Tran Hung Dao Boulevard.


Note: Beware of the aggressive street vendors on Dong Khoi St. between the
Continental and the Majestic Hotels. They are gangs of professional
pickpockets (meaning they get your money before you notice it!) Crime is
in the rise in the streets of Saigon. There are not only the usual stories
of stolen cameras, shoes, walkmen, bags, and what else, but I also got
word of a group of twenty elderly French tourists being robbed by a gang
of about 25 boys just after they left the hotel for a daytrip.
The police is obviously used to these kind of things. They are very
helpful, if not friendly, and know the procedures of filing a report (e.g.
for the insurance.) If you look around in some markets you will most
likely be able to buy back your stolen goods.


**************************************************************************

HOA LU

http://www.pmgeiser.ch/vietnam/places/hoalu.htm


(Lars) Among the more scenic areas I would recommend is the vicinity of
the old capitol of Hoa Lu (I think the first emperors lived there), just
outside Ninh Binh. The landscape shows the same type of sharp-rising
cliffs/mountains as in Ha Long, although here you'll find small
rice-fields in between. Take a boat ride along the small rivers (they
actually pass under the mountain in a few places); go exploring caves (I
didn't have time); or just stroll down the dirt road between the
cliffs. It's beautiful!  Close by are other places well worth a visit:
Bich Dong pagoda and Tam Cuc.

**************************************************************************

HUE

http://www.pmgeiser.ch/vietnam/places/hue.htm


Hue was the national capital from 1802 to 1945. 13 emperors of the
Nguyen dynasty lived in the forbidden city. Today, its monuments are a
Unesco World Heritage Site.


Sights

The main attraction, the Imperial City is mostly bombed flat (one of
the haviest battles of the American War took place in Hue during the
Tet Offensive in 1968). The few remaining buildings (five if I
remember correctly) all have been converted to souvenir shops. The
most impressive sight is the royal citadel. Constructed in 1805, it is
20 meter across, has 6 meter high walls and is surrounded by a moat.
The citadel has 10 gates: An Hoa, Chanh Tay, Dong Ba, Hau, Huu, Ke
Trai, Nha Do, Sap, Sgan, and Thuong Tu.

A little outside of the city are several old tombs from former
emperors. The admission costs USD 5 each! As an alternative try to
walk around the tomb to find any open gates where nobody charges
admission, but this will not always work. Since all of them look
similar, it is not worth to visit all of them, one or two will
suffice. The nicer tombs are the Tomb of Minh Mang and Tu Duc Tomb.
The Thieu Tri tomb has no walls around it, so it can be visited
for free.

Most hotels offer beautiful boat trips to the tombs for USD 5. This
boat trip is often combined with the Thien Mu Pagoda (also known as
Linh Mu Pagoda). Some cafes offer boat tours that take you to Thien Mu
Pagoda, one temple and three tombs, and even provide lunch for USD 3.
Try to be at the pagoda at sunset.

(Michael) The Minh Mang tomb is poorly preserved, but the setting is
beautiful. Tu Duc is in better shape, but the layout is not as nice. It
is a long, long walk from the river to Tu Duc. Thien Mu is worth it if
just to see the famous car (see LP).

(John) Hue has brought in the new year (1995) with raising their prices on
all their attractions from an expensive $3.50 to an outrageous $5.00 per
foreigner.  The local prices are $0.50.  The tombs are really not that
great, A fair price is $1-2 to see them.  I would visit one tomb only
since many of them are very similar. At the Imperial City I joined two
other people to hire a guide for $3.  His English was excellent and the
guide was well worth it.

(John) The tombs are on the outskirts of town and are reachable by boat
for $4/person if organized through the Morin.  A boat can be hired
privately for $12.  The tombs can also be reached by bicycle.  Upon
visiting one of the tombs I was charged 0.50 each way to cross a river by
boat with my bicycle.

(Michael) To get across the river to the Dong Ba market, check for
private boats at the Huong Giang end of the Dap Da bridge and river taxis
at the other end. Be sure to negotiate the price before getting on the
boat. Tourist price seems to be about a dollar to get across the river.

(Michael) Cruises both directions on the Perfume River are well worth it.
We engaged a 'dragon boat' for $12 a day. One day we went out to Thuan An
beach for the day. Another day we went the other way to visit a few
tombs. Both trips were very nice and much enjoyed by my daughter.
Negotate directly with the boat owner for the best price. Again, try
getting a boat near the Dap Da bridge, or just down the river from the
floating restaurant.

The Hon Chen temple costs VND 20000.



Transportation

Hue's airport has been reopened. The airport bus into the city costs
USD 1. Tell the driver where you would like to go and chances are he
will take you directly there. He will also know good guest houses.

There are bicycles for rent at VND 6000 - 7000.


Hotels
Reserve your hotel online at 
http://www.pmgeiser.ch/vietnam/places/hue.htm.
Historical comment

The Saigon Morin Hotel has a lot of history but something
that most travellers don't know is that the Morin and the streets and
buildings around it, were the setting for some dramatic events during
the battle for Hue city in the communist Tet Offensive in February
1968.
At the time, the Morin housed Hue University. Just down and across
the street (away from the river) is a walled complex that is currently
a police or military site. In 1968 this complex was the MACV (Military
Assisstance Command Vietnam) compound, a US military command center.
That building was the only significant US position in Hue that was not
captured by the communists in the Tet Offensive. Actually there were
not many US troops inside Hue at all prior to 68. The MACV compound
was mostly an adminstrative site. But, with reinforcements from Phu
Bai just down the highway, it did become the command centre for the
recapture of Hue. One of the first buildings recaptured from the
communists was Hue University (the Morin Hotel). US troops fought a
running battle for the Morin, clearing the building room by room,
mostly by tossing hand grenades. Once the Morin was in US hands,
motars were set up in the courtyard, and it became a command post
supporting attacks against other buildings to the west, such as the
heavily fortified Treasury building (now a VietCom Bank).
The book "Fire in the Streets" by Eric Hammel, details the battle
for Hue, and includes enough detail, maps and photos to allow you to
track the progress of the conflict, street by street and building by
building. It's not for everyone but reading it can add a new dimension
to your visit to the city (cheaper than a visit to the tombs), and may
add a poignant edge to your stay at the Morin.

The Huong Giang Hotel  was the MACV BOQ in 1968. Bullet
holes can still be seen in the glass in the stairway on the Western
side of the old building.
(Michael) So, we moved out and into the Huan Giang Hotel on the
river. This cost USD 80 for a huge room with satellite TV, a good
buffet breakfast and a two bed room. The river front restaurant at the
Huang Giang is (confirming LP) excellent and a very good value. The
sunset view is great. The hotel itself fills up every night with
groups of French tourists doing Vietnam in a week or some such thing.


Shopping

There are silk paintings for less than USD 1.


**************************************************************************

KONTUM

http://www.pmgeiser.ch/vietnam/places/kontum.htm


Kontum is a small city north of Pleiku. There are many montagnards,
mainly Banhar, but also Rengao, Jarrai, Xedang, Jolung, Rade, Ede and
Jet.


Sights

There is a nice French cathedral. On Nguyen Hue Street is a
large church that is more than 120 years. About 1 km past the French
Church is the famous Montagnard Church. Originally built in 1913,
it was restored in 1995. There are several unique montagnard
sculptures made from tree roots and a replica of a communal house,
which has an extremely steep thatched roof. The central stained glass
window was constructed by Mark in 1995 while he was working as a
voluntary teacher there. There is a rong just next to the cathedral.
It is set about 1 m above ground. Behind the cathedral is a montagnard
orphanage, run by wonderful and kind nuns. Here you will always receive
a warm welcome and learn something of the culture. With some luck, you
may even witness a concert of traditional music and dancing. This is
also a place to inquire about any festivals in the surrounding villages.
At Christmas and Easter, there are at least 30,000 montagnards that
journey to this provincal capital to participate in the festivities.

To get some entertainment, you could visit the cinema, but I doubt that
the movies will be in another language than Vietnamese or perhaps
Chinese.

Another form of entertainment and certainly an excellent experience is
a visit to the Foreign Language Centre. The students love to talk to
foreigners.

Most banks cannot change travellers cheques, but only 50 or 100 USD bills.
Travellers cheques will be changed at Quy Nhon Viet Com Bank. However,
the jewellery shop at the corner near the market will change dollars
and give a better rate than the banks.


Montagnard Villages

The region around Kontum is very beautiful and rather free from
restricted areas. The best thing is not to ask, but just to go. The
local tourist agency does not always deliver and is not recommended.

There are many villages very close to the town, yet maintaining their
identity. One hundred years ago, there were no Vietnamese in the area.

Plei Ton Nghia is located near the hospital.

Kon Hra Chot is located about 300 metres down a track opposite the
French church.

Kontum Knomh is located 200 m past the Montagnard Cathedral.

Plei Groi / Plei Rohai still has a communal house. Go south over the
bridge on the QL 19 for about 1 km turn left at the small petrol/gas
station and continue on this track.

Kon Kotu makes a very interesting destination. Go two or three km east
from Cafe Eva, cross the suspension bridge and take the track left.
Continue until after a few more km you arrive at a small village
called Kon Dra Ji. At the bottom of the slope leading to this village
take the track to the left. Consider employing a friendly local as a
guide.

Kon Hra Ban has a communal house but it has a tin roof. Go north on
the QL 14, turn left past the hospital and keep on this road for a few
km. The communal house is by the roadside. If you continue, you will
come to Sathay, which has an enormous Vietnamese mock of a communal
house. It is 'adorned' with a few sorry looking stuffed animals.

South of Kontum there is Yaly waterfall which is quite powerful. The
large construction site and the masses of coke cans and wrappers make
the experience less desirable.


Transportation

The bus station is located in the south of Kontum.


Hotels

There are many hotels and guest houses for reasonable prices.
Note: Malaria is a big problem in the area. Make sure you use
the mosquito nets in the hotels.

The Hotel Dakbla, named after the river, was completed in 1996. Rooms
with hot water and attached bathroom start at USD 9.

Hotel 42 is a USD 5, but the rooms are dirty. Directly opposite is an
even cheaper pit for USD 3.

There are two bank guest houses and the guest house of the electric
company. Rooms are USD 5. 

The government guesthouse has lower quality, but higher prices than
the Dakbla.


Restaurants

Kontum's local speciality is Ban Xiao, and there are many places that
offer it. Beware that the hygiene is not always of a high standard.

The best place for food is the restaurant Dakbla at 168 Nguyen-Hue
Street, about 50 metres from the hotel with the same name. The place
is run by Mr. Van who is very convivial and a good drinking partner,
if his wife allows it. You will get all sorts of information at this
restaurant. The help is given out of genuine friendlyness, so please
don't abuse these peoples good will.

There are many simple, but pleasant garden cafes in the town's side
street.

About 2 kilometres east of the town centre on Phan Chu Trinh Street is
the Cafe Eva. Its owner, Mr. An is an artist with good taste and
consequently, the cafe is attractive and has an interesting interior.

**************************************************************************

LAO BAO

http://www.pmgeiser.ch/vietnam/places/laobao.htm


Lao Bao is the main overland entrance point to and from Laos. While it
has been neglected for a long time, it now starts to become a regular,
often used border crossing with with appropriate facilities.

While the town itself is nothing special, the landscape is beautiful.

From the border, there are many busses to several destinations in
Vietnam.

Note: Beware of the money changers at the border. Their rates are
ridicilously low (starting at about half the regular rate!!!).

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LONG XUYEN

http://www.pmgeiser.ch/vietnam/places/longxuyen.htm


Sights

Catholic Cathedral
This is one of the largest Catholic churches in the Delta with a seating
capacity of 1,000.  It was constructed between 1966 and 1973 with a 164
foot (50-meter) high bell tower in the form of clasped-hands that is
visible from outside town.

Quan Thanh Pagoda
This small pagoda was built by Cantonese residents about 70 years ago.
With lively murals on the entrance wall the altar displays figures of
General Quan Cong and his two cohorts General Chau Xuong and the mandarin
Quan Binh. To the left is Ong Bon, Guardian Spirit of Happiness and
Virtue, and on the right is Thien Hau, Goddess of the Sea.

Dinh Than My Phuoc Pagoda
Interesting for its roof and the murals on the wooden walls near the
altar.

Cao Dai Church
On the outskirts of town traveling towards Chau Doc is a Cao Dai church
worth visiting if you can't see the Cao Dai cathedral at Tay Ninh.

Cho Moi District
Cross the river from Long Xuyen to see rich groves of banana, durian,
guava, jackfruit, longan, mango, mangosteen, and plum. The women here are
said to be the most beautiful in the Mekong Delta.

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MEKONG DELTA

http://www.pmgeiser.ch/vietnam/places/mekong.htm


(John) The two-day Mekong Delta tour offered by the Sinh Cafe was about
$20 and was particularly good.  The guide spoke very good English and was
quite knowledgeable about the region.  Also, the hotel they were using in
early January was the best I stayed in throughout Vietnam.  It was so new
I could smell the paint.


Eating

In the Mekong Delta one specialty easily obtainable is snake. Some
restaurants offer them life, so you can choose and they are certainly
fresh. One kilogram should cost around VND 25000 to 35000, cooking
between 15000 to 35000. One kg serves four to five persons.

**************************************************************************

MYSON

http://www.pmgeiser.ch/vietnam/places/myson.htm


The runis of My Son Sanctuary are a Unesco World Heritage Site.


Sights

These Cham ruins are a very beautiful spot to visit. Of course there are
some people trying to make money out of you. A taxi or a motorcylce can
only go to a small river a bit away from the ruins. There is a ferry and
motorcycle transportation service, but it is easy to cross the river a
little bit upstream and the walk to the entrance takes only about 20 min.
At the ferry station is a tent from the red cross. They show some ugly
photographs from people with wounds inflicted either by mines or the war.
The main goal is to extract money out of the tourist's pockets. Typical
for Vietnam, I was not sure if it was real or a scam.

(John) The Cham ruins are nice, but I experienced many hassles upon
visiting.  I rented a motorcycle for $5 in Hoi An and drove myself to
MySon.  I bargained the ferry operator from an outrageous $10 to $3 for
three people and two motorcycles to cross the pond both ways.  Upon
parking the motorcycles just before the entrance, we had problems with a
guide who did not speak English that insisted we must use a guide to see
the ruins.  He finally left and stole our gas.  We were overcharged by
1000% at the entrance gate, and a begger wanted a toll for crossing a
bridge.


**************************************************************************

VIETNAM - Peter M. Geiser's Hotel and Travel Guide

Copyright (c) 1995 - 2005, Peter M. Geiser

http://www.pmgeiser.ch
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