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Vietnam - The Internet Travel Guide (FAQ) (part 3/5)

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Archive-name: travel/vietnam-guide/part3
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

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

MYTHO

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


With a population of 100'000, My Tho is the capital of Tien Giang
Province, a region famous for its orchids, coconut palms, and
fruit. The city was founded in the 1680s by political refugees from
Taiwan. The economy of the area is based on fishing and the
cultivation of rice, bananas, citrus fruit, coconuts, longans, and
mangos.


Sights

My Tho Church
Built almost a century ago, today two priests, two sisters and several
assistants minister to much of My Tho's 7,000 Catholics. The pastel
yellow and white church is on the corner of Nguyen Trai Street and
Hung Vuong Boulevard, a 5 minute walk from the central market. It is
open to visitors every day from 4:30 - 6:30 am and 2:30 - 6:30 pm.

Central Market
Sprawls over a large area from Le Loi Boulevard down to the river. The
streets are filled with stalls selling everything from fresh food and
bulk tobacco to boat propellers. The river is the best spot to observe
life in My Tho.

Vinh Trang Pagoda
Built in 1849, the pagoda displays a mixture of Chinese, Vietnamese
and colonial architecture. It is now a beautiful place, with no signs
of the touristy stuff described in the Loney Planet guide. Even the
awful Ho Chi Minh statue has been removed.

Tan Long Island
Tan Long Island is renowned for its longan orchards. It can be reached
with a 5-minute boat trip from the dock at the foot of Le Loi
Boulevard. Wooden fishing boats of the type used by the 'boat people'
to flee Vietnam, line the thick palm-fringed shores of the island.

Island of the Coconut Monk (Con Phung)
Ong Dao Dua, the 'Coconut Monk,' established a bizarre open-air
sanctuary on this island for his followers shortly after the end of
WW II. 

Snake Farm
About 6 miles (10 km) from town at Dong Tam there is farm that raises
snakes for the strong healing powers of their flesh and gall.

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

NHA TRANG

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


This is the main beach town in Vietnam.


Sights

The cultural sights, the Cham towers and the Pagoda with the giant
sitting buddha were nice, but there were so many beggars that one
couldn't really enjoy them. Also, it is advisable not to go at a time
when there is a cruise ship in the harbour. Entrance is VND 5000.

About 500 meters upriver from the Cham towers is a shipyard. The staff
there is friendly enough to let people wander around and see how ships
are constructed in a traditional way. Be friendly and do not take this
courtesy as granted, in most western country people would not be
allowed into a shipyard.

The fishing village south of Nha Trang is nice, but there are a lot of
souvenir shops. The oceanographic institute is worth a visit.


Boat Tours

There are some people offering a boat trip for USD 7. This trip is
very good value for money. Starting in the morning (around 8:30) you
are taken to a place where you can swim and snorkel (use of equipment
is free). Near noon we drove to a second place and while we went for
some more swimming and snorkling (although since the equipment is poor
and there is not enough for all people you should bring your own), a
excellent lunch was prepared. There were crabs, shrimps, several kinds
of fish, vegetables, noodles, everything fresh and delicious. The
lunch alone would have cost much more than the price of the trip in a
restaurant. In the afternoon we stopped at a beach on an island where
a buffet of fresh local fruit was built up. Of course we had some more
time for swimming. On the way back we stopped at a small fishing
village. The usual return time is 16:30.


Diving

Nha Trang offers excellent places for snorkelling and scuba diving.
Some 70 islands and rocky shores are easily accessible witha boat.
Depth is usually less than 20 m, with little undercurrents. Up to 12 m
there are all kinds of corals, later its sand and rocks. Coral fish
shine in beuatiful colours. Don't expect large swarms of fish, since
overfishing reduced their numbers. There are nearly no wracks, because
metal is valuable and salvaged as soon as possible.

The best time for diving in Nha Trang is between February and October
with air temperatures between 25 and 35 degrees, and water temperature
between 20 to 25 degrees Celsius.Equipment can be rented from several
places, e.g. the Bao Dai Villas.

There are several dive clubs where you can get information and rent
equipment:
Center of Diving Tourist Services (Trung Tam Dich Vu Du Lich Lan),
Tran Phu Boulevard
Coconut Cove Resort, Opp40 Tran Phu Boulevard, Tel 825390, Fax 824214
The Sailing Club, 72, Tran Phu Boulevard, Tel 829946, 813788, Fax 811223.
Has a Padi instructor, Mr. J. Stein
Octopus Dive Club, 62 Tran Phu Boulevard
Bao Dai Villas


Climate

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

 Sunrise   C  20   22   26   28   30   30   32   31   28   26   20   19
           F  68   72   79   82   86   86   90   88   82   79   68   66

 Afternoon C  24   25   28   29   32   32   34   34   30   28   22   22
           F  75   77   82   84   90   90   93   93   86   82   72   72

 Rain  mm    230  130  110   60   40   45  135  120  125  170  320  300

 humidity  %  68   60   59   58   56   57   65   63   63   64   71   70



Transportation

A car costs USD 30 to USD 46 to rent, depending on where you rent the
car, quality, distance you intend to travel, bargaining luck, etc.

A motorcycle costs around USD 5 to 7 for 8 hours. Fuel is not included.

The airport departure tax is VND 10000.


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

Restaurants

Nha Trangs speciality is seafood. It is comparatively cheap and
everywhere fresh available.

Recommended is the Van Canh at 54 Phan Chu Trinh. This family
restaurant offers excellent food and good, friendly service.

(Lotta and Johan) Banana Split cafe is a good travellers cafe. Note
that the cafe next door, to the left, previously called 60's bar,
thought the secret of success was in the name, and changed 60's bar
to... Banana Split cafe! When we were there, all the people were in
the real Banana Split, and the owners of "fake banana" yelled at
passing tourists to get customers. (Banana Split is at 58 Quang Trung
Street)

A cheap, friendly place is Quan An 98 at 98 Hoang Van Thu. They offer
mostly delicious noodle soup.

Another good place are the restaurants on the sea shore oposite Haiyan
hotel, but they are definitely much pricier.

An excellent restaurant is Hoan Hai at 6 Phan Chu Trinh, Tel 823133.
The prices are reasonable.

A nice place is the restaurant just next to the jetty in the fishing
village south of Nha Trang.

The vegetarian restuarant mentioned in the lonely planet guide near
the circle market cooks an excellent (and exotic) Banana Flower.

The only place with some kind of night life in Nha Trang is the
Lizard.

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

NINH BINH

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


Ninh Binh is a good place for an overnight stop on the way between Hanoi
and Hue.


Sights

A small walk of a quarter of an hour up the small mountain to the Bich
Dong Pagoda lets you enjoy a nice view of Hoa Lu. Some people may want to
charge you VND 10000, but this is only for the boat.

The Tam Toc Caves are worth a visit. It is only 12 km from the village, so
you can rent a bike for some VND 5000 to 10000. Another possibility is to
combine the caves with a boat trip to Hoa Lu. The boat is VND 25000.

Cuc Phuong makes for good walking.


Hotels

The Than Thuy's Guest House at 128 Le Hong Phong Street offers simple but
clean double rooms for USD 8. Its owner speaks English and German, having
spent four years in Germany. He is very helpful giving advice on what to
do and which places to avoid. There is a restaurant attached.

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

PHAN RANG

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


Phan Rang offers not more than the Po Klaung Gerai Cham towers. They are
about 7 km outside the town towards Dalat. Admission is VND 5000. A ride
on a motorbike should be about VND 5000, after hard bargaining and one way
only. Usually, the tourist minibusses stop on their way between Dalat and
Nha Trang.


Hotels

The Khach San Phan Rang at 354 Thong Nhat Street near the bus terminal
offers terrible rooms for USD 8.

The Huu Nghi at Thong Nhat Street has rooms for USD 15. Tel 22721,
Fax 22722.

There are several hotels with rooms for USD 30 or more.

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

PHAN THIET

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


Phan Thiet is a town of abou 100'000 inhabitants with a large fishing
industry. Located 20 km from the ocean, the Ca Ty river near the town
is full of fishing boats during the fishing season in summer. The
fishing industry causes the pungent odor caused by the production of
Nuoc Mam, the famous fish sauce.


Sights

There is not much to see in Phan Thiet. The main reason to come here
is to play golf.

A nice place is the fishing village just next to the river.


Beaches

Bai Rang
The most beautiful beach in Phan Thiet is some 15 km northeast of the
city. Two famous landmarks bear the names Da Ong Dia (Boulders of the
Earth God) and Suoi Tien (Celestial Stream).

Mui Ne Sand Dunes
More famous are the Mui Ne Sand Dunes and Mui Ne Beaches, 12 km to the
East.


Golf

The Ocean Dunes Golf Club, designed by Nick Faldo, offers 6746 yards
of seaside dunes. The course has 72 par. The course is owned by a US
company.


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

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

PHONG NHA CAVES

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


The Phong Nha Caves, also called Troc Caves, are located in Quang Binh
province. So far, 14 caves have been discovered in the area. The whole
system measures several thousand meters of underground passageways and
includes a wide variety of stalactites and stalagmites. The main hall
is about 1450 m long and consists of 14 halls. The system has the
longest underground river in the world.

During the 9th and 10th century, the Chams used the caves as a
Buddhist sanctuary. There are still some Cham altars and inscription
to be seen. Local Vietnamese still use these sites, as they do at many
other Cham locations.

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

PHU QUOC

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


Only a few tourists venture this far in Vietnam. There are nice beaches
and the sea is calm and clear.


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


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

PLEIKU

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


Hill Tribes

There are hill tribe villages throughout the Central Highlands around
Pleiku. The only legal way to visit one of these villages is on an
arranged tour (ask at the Pleiku Hotel). You can walk into any of the
hill tribe villages you pass by on the highway, and the villagers will be
very receptive and friendly but be advised that this is illegal. All of
the villages around Pleiku have large signs posted saying "restricted
area, no tresspassing", in English in big bold letters. It is clear that
the Vietnamese government does not want foreigners in close unsupervised
contact with hill tribes. Perhaps the reason for their nervousness is the
fact that during the war, the hill tribes here received military training
and equipment from US Army Special Forces, which made life difficult for
invading North Vietnamese Army troops.


Hotels

The large Pleiku Hotel has nice rooms for USD 11. The staff here are
very helpful, particularly the staff in the hotel restaurant. There
was a renovation project taking place here in early 1995 so prices may
go up.

The Movie Star Hotel is not exactly a place to be safe: all the room
keys work in every door.


Tours

You can visit the former US special forces base at Plei Me but it is only
accessible by motor bike and it is a long haul (20 km road and 20 km on a
very dusty trail). Ask the staff at the Pleiku Hotel about arranging the
rental of motor bikes and hiring a guide.


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

QUANG NGAI

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


While only a few years ago, this must have been the place with the
most unfriendly people all over Vietnam, this seems to have
changed. Today, people are really friendly, so it is a perfect place
to go.

Just for reference, and curiosity, here are the stories that I heard
back in 1994. I heard quite a few stories of travellers being
hasselled by local people. One English guy even got arrested by the
police. He was followed by a cyclo driver, refusing to ride with
him. After entering a cafe, the cyclo driver followed him and demanded
that he pay him. Of course, he refused. The cyclo driver called the
police and the English got arrested. They only let him go after he
paid VND 10000 (half of what the cyclo driver demanded, but still
about double than what the ride would have costed.) Another traveller
was eating his noodle soup when suddenly a Vietnamese started shouting
at him in Vietnamese. Although he told the man that he did not
understand Vietnamese, the man shouted even loder, and beginning to
threat with his fists.  Finally the traveller did the best thing in
just leaving the place, before the other became violent. These
incidents are all the more strange in that I never heard of something
like this from somewhere else in Vietnam, where people are mostly
friendly and certainly never violent.

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

RACH GIA

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


Rach Gia, capital of Kien Giang Province, is a dirty town known for
its bia om bars and prostitution. Ironically, the province is said to
be the richest in Vietnam, its wealth based on rice and seafood. Phu
Quoc, a renowned fish sauce, is produced here.


Sights

Reflective of the typical religious diversity in the Delta, Rach Gia
has a small Cao Dai temple near the bus station on Nguyen Trung Truc
Street and a Protestant church further along the street in the
direction of the river. Rach Gia Church, a red brick structure built
in 1918, is in Vinh Thanh Van across the channel from the market.

Nguyen Trung Truc Temple
Is named after the 19th century resistance leader who was active in
Cochinchina during the 1860s and led the raid that resulted in the
attack on the French warship L'Esperance. Although the French
repeatedly tried to capture him, it wasn't until 1868 that they
succeeded after taking his mother and a number of civilians hostage.
He gave himself up and was executed by the French in the marketplace
on October 27, 1868.

Oc-eo
This ancient city, found about 6 miles (10 km) inland from Rach Gia,
was an important port at the height of the ancient Kingdom of Funan
from the 1st - 6th centuries AD. It lay submerged for centuries until
it was rediscovered in the 1940s. It is an important site for
archeologists, but there is not a great deal for tourists to see. Some
artifacts are found in the Historical and Art museums in Saigon.

Most of what is known of Funan comes from this site which revealed
evidence of contact with China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Persia, the Roman
Empire, Thailand, and written accounts of Chinese emissaries and
travelers. Excavations have shown that buildings were constructed on
piles and the city was connected by a complex network of irrigation
and transport canals. Like many of the ancient empires of the region,
Oc-eo built its wealth on controlling trade between the east (China)
and the west (India, Mediterranean).

The site is near the village of Tan Hoi, and is only accessible by
boat, which you can hire from the riverfront beyond Vinh Tan Van
Market. You may need special permission to visit the area, so ask at
the local Vietnam Tourism Authority.


Hotels

The 1 Thang 5 at 38 Nguyen Hung Son has rooms from VND 70000, some with
airconditioning.

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

SAIGON

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


Saigon is the central part of Ho Chi Minh City.


Sights

Catholic Cathedral
The Cathedral of Notre Dame was built between 1877 and 1880 on what is
thought to be the site of an ancient pagoda. You can see communion
celebrated here three times on weekdays and Saturdays and six times on
Sundays. For those of you who like Asian kitsch, look out for the neon
"Ave Maria" sign in the nave.

Municipal Theatre
The municipal theatre is just opposite the Continental Hotel. The
place in front of it is the place to be on a Sunday or on a beautiful
evening where Saigon's youth meet and circle around on motorscooters
to see and be seen.

City Hall
Stands at the northwest end of Nguyen Hue Boulevard overlooking a
statue of Ho Chi Minh.

Historical Museum
Once known as the National Museum, this ornate building was built in
1928. It displays a wide range of artifacts from prehistoric times
(300,000 years ago) and the Dongson period (3,500 BC - 100 AD) up to
the formation of the Vietnamese Communist Party in 1930. There
numerous artifacts from Chenla, Funan, Han Chinese, Khmer, and Oc-ceo
periods, various Vietnamese dynasties, and some hilltribe
pieces. Notable are the Cham sculptures, of which the best is the
standing bronze Buddha from the 4th-6th century.

War Museum
Marked by a tank and warplane in the front compound the museum
contains the articles of war and various photographs without overt
propaganda.

War Crimes Museum
This museum's message does not come from bombs, helicopters, and tanks
in the courtyard. Rather the most disturbing aspect is from the
display showing the after-effects of Agent Orange defoliation -
bottled human fetuses with shocking deformities. There is a great
number of photographs and a some additional exhibits illustrating
Man's inhumanity - the Son My (My Lai) massacre on 16 March 1968, and
the effects of napalm and phosphorous. However, don't expect to find
any displays showing atrocities committed by the Viet Cong or North
Vietnamese. Admission is VND 7000. It closes at 16:45.

Botanical Gardens
Since they were established in 1864, the gardens had grown to a
collection of nearly 2,000 species, of which its orchids were
noteworthy. With the war and its subsequent dislocations, the gardens
declined and are still trying to recover today.

Former US Embassy
The grounds are in a state of neglect with vegetation growing up
around the buildings. A plaque outside records the attack during the
1968 Tet Offensive and the final victory in 1975. Check with the guard
at the side entrance, it may be possible to go in for a closer look.

Xa Loi Pagoda
This pagoda is more interesting for its history, despite the fact that
it houses a relic of the Buddha. Built in 1956, the pagoda became a
center of dissent against the Diem regime. In August 1963, armed men
ransacked the pagoda and arrested 400 monks and nuns, including the
country's 80-year-old Buddhist patriarch under orders from President
Diem's brother.

Presidential Palace (Reunification Hall)
The residence of the French governor was built on this site in 1868
and was later renamed the Presidential Palace. In February 1962, in an
assassination attempt against President Diem, a pair of planes that
took off to attack Viet Cong positions suddenly turned back to bomb
the Presidential Palace. The president escaped, but the palace had to
be rebuilt. The building remains as it was on April 30, 1975 when an
NVA tank crashed though the front gates.

Saigon Central Mosque
Since Islamic law forbids the use of human or animal figures for
decoration, the mosque's simplicity stands in stark contrast to the
fussy Chinese temple decorations and elaborate ritual objects of
Buddhist pagodas. Built by South Indian Muslims in 1935, only
half-a-dozen Indian Muslims remain in Saigon. There are 12 other
mosques serving Saigon's 5000 Muslims.

Mariaman Hindu Temple
This is the only active Hindu temple remaining in Saigon to serve the
50 or 60 Tamil Hindus. However, it is a curious sight to watch the
numerous Chinese Vietnamese Hoa Hao worshippers prostrating themselves
with incense sticks in front of a Hindu deity. The temple has two
colorful towers decorated with a tangle of lions, goddesses, and
guardians. Inside there is a statue of Mariamman flanked by
Maduriveeran and Pechiamman.

Revolutionary Museum
This is the same as the museum in Hanoi, displaying photographs, some
military hardware in the back compound, and memorabilia of the
Revolution. Admission is VND 20000 and the once eager guides have
become bored civil servants.

Ton Duc Thang Museum
Opened in 1989, this museum contains photographs and memorabilia
dedicated to the life of Ton Duc Thang, a comrade of Ho Chi Minh. Bac
Ton was president of Vietnam and died in 1980.

Art Museum
Work from the classical period through to socialist realist is
displayed in this cream mansion at 97A Pho Duc Chinh Street.

Phung Son Tu Pagoda
This small temple was built just after WW II by Fukien Chinese. It is
dedicated to Ong Bon, the Guardian of Happiness and Virtue. The most
notable feature of the temple is the front doors decorated with
fearsome armed warriors. Incense coils patiently burn in the open well
of the pagoda, spreading their sweet scent.

Nha Rong (Dragon House)
The building has been converted into a museum honoring the life of Ho
Chi Minh through pictures.


Shopping

Cho Ben Thanh Market
This is a large covered central market which, together with Binh Tay
Market in Cholon, is the largest in Ho Chi Minh City. Cho Ben Thanh,
at the intersection of Le Loi, Ham Nghi, and Tran Hung Dao boulevards,
is interesting to walk through, but there is little of its clothes,
food, household utensils, cheap jewelry, and toys worth buying.

Many airline offices are near the Rex Hotel, some in the same block,
some on the other side of Nguyen Hue Boulevard, others just round the
corner (turn right just before the city hall).

Just opposite the Vietcom bank (the main branch next to Saion river)
there is an animal market. It is in a small hall, looking more like a
storage shed for some tools. There are dogs, cats, birds, snakes,
mice, monkeys, and some other sepcies on sale. I didn't inquire for
prices ;->

South of the Rex Hotel is an electronic market. You can get really
cheap CDs (for as little as VND 20000), but of course they are
copies. The cover is printed badly, but the sound quality is mostly
ok. It is possible (and advisable, since there are somtimes faults) to
listen to them before you buy them.

On the first floor of the department store at Nguyen Trung Truc Street
is a well stocked supermarket.

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

SAPA

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


Located in the middle of breathtaking landscape, Sapa is one of the
most wonderful places in all of Asia. Being a former French hill
station, it is situated in the midst of mountains, just south of the
Fansipan, with 3143 m the highest point of Vietnam. It is very
convenient located for hiking in the surrounding area, where you can
visit many small villages of minorities, mainly the Hmong (Meo) and
the Dao. Especially the Hmong sell beautifully embroidered bags, caps,
jackets, etc. Market day is every day, but the weekend is special. But
the weekend is also specially crowded with foreigners, so it's
probably a good idea to avoid it. I dare say that someone who has been
there just one year ago will not recognize it anymore and certainly
not like the crowds. But that's the way of most of the (former)
insider locations...

(Lotta and Johan) A wonderful place. The surroundings are
breathtaking, and the atmosphere friendly. During weekends, the
minority people walk down from the mountains to sell their goods and
handicrafts at the market in Sa Pa. They wear their beatiful costumes,
and they would wear them even if the tourists weren't there, which
felt good. At night the Hmong people gathered on the street, and the
young girls and boys sang traditional, monotonous tunes to one another
to find a husband or a wife. All the tribes members, as well as some
tourists, gathered around them and listened. As a couple had found
each other and finished singing, they left hand in hand. Let's just
hope tourism doesn't spoil this wonderful place!


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

Restaurants

One of the best places to relax in Vietnam is the Cafe d'Auberge. From
its terrasse you can enjoy an excellent view of the surrounding
valleys and, of course, the Fansipan.


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

TAY NINH

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


Tay Ninh is the center of the Cao Dai religion. The Cao Dai Great
Temple is the main reason to visit Tay Ninh. The cathedral is set
within a large complex of schools and administrative buildings painted
in pastel yellow. The twin-towered cathedral is of European design,
but has distinctly Asian features. On the facade are high-relief
figures of Cao Dai saints, like Victor Hugo, Albert Einstein, etc.

Every day at noon there is a great mass where the tourists are allowed
to watch from the balcony.

There are one-day-trips from Saigon to Tay Ninh.

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

VAT SAT TOURIST PARC

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


In September 2000 a new tourist parc / nature reserve has opened its
gates to the public. The 2'000 ha (about 5'000 acres) parc is located
some 60 km from Ho Chi Minh City and can be reached by car or by boat.

The Tang Bong tower offers a nice view over the whole nature reserve.

The main attractions are an untouched landscapes which is home to many
rare species of birds, monkeys and bats. There is a crocodile islands
and a fish farm. Alligators, pythons and warans are also on display.

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VINH MOC

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


When the villagers of Vinh Moc found themselves to be in a 'free-fire
zone' in 1966, they began to dig the 2.8 km long tunnel system. There
were up to 1200 persons living in these tunnels. Since it is easy to
get lost in the maze of tunnels, be sure to hire a local guide.

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VUNG TAU

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


Vung Tau, formerly also known as Cap Satin Jaque, is a beach resort
located on a peninsula some 128 km south-east of Ho Chi Minh City. The
whole peninsula is only about 7.5 km long. There are four main beach
areas, the Front Beach, the Back Beach, Bai Dau and Bai Dua, but the
beaches are very dirty, so don't expect to be able to swim in the
sea. While the Front Beach is more expensive than the rest, Bai Dau
not only has the cheapest guest houses, but is also the most relaxing
part, located three km from the town center.


Sights

There is a giant Jesus statue overlooking the resort. It is hollow, so
that you can climb the stairs to the head of the statue and enjoy an
impressive view of the surroundings.

The Linh Son Pagoda, at 61 Hoang Hoa Tham Street has originally been
built on a mountain slope in the 19th century. In 1921, it was
relocated to its current place and underwent renovation in 1959. The
Buddha in the main hall is a Sakyamuni, originating from the Oc-Eo
civilazation.

Many Buddhist shrines can be found along the beach, and in the middle
of the city is also the Buddha's Park.


Transportation

There is a fast hydrofoil boat from Saigon. It used to leave at the
pier just opposite the Majestic, but this pier is currently being
rebuilt. But you can still wait there and an air-con bus will pick you
up and bring you to the Russian naval base down the road, where the
boat currently leaves. There are two types of tickets, for USD 7 and
USD 12, but they give you the same comfort. The boat takes about 1
hours.


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


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

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

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

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