Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City among best holiday destinations in Asia
The nostalgic beauty of the culturally rich capital city and the dynamic life in the southern city has made Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City fascinating tourist destinations domestically and internationally.
Vietnam, a nation in Southeast Asia, gains popularity as a tourist destination in Asia, according to the UK’s The Independent newspaper, since it offers many good things including lovely scenery, an intriguing culture, and delectable food.
|A flower vendor in Hanoi. Photo: Tu Pham|
“Vietnam boasts to have striking scenery for both a blissful holiday on white sands and backpacking adventures through UNESCO World Heritage Sites such as Ha Long Bay,” Natalie Wilson wrote in an article titled “The best Vietnam holiday destinations: When to travel and where to stay.”
For Wilson, the gorgeous country has so many things for travelers to discover, from its numerous beautiful landscapes, the wonderful culinary, funky residential culture of the townsfolk, and vast choice of paradise-like beaches to historic sites from the American War and the Communist era. All of the features would turn Vietnam to be a should-not-to-miss travel destination in Southeast Asia.
Among the series of interesting tourist destinations in Vietnam, The Independent highlights Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, two biggest urban hubs of Vietnam.
St. Joseph Cathedral in Hanoi's Old Quarter. Photo: Tu Pham
“Vietnam’s cosmopolitan capital in the north, Hanoi, is home to buzzing night markets, narrow trade streets and Buddhist temples, with a fusion of historical and 21st-century sights creating its lively atmosphere,” according to Wilson.
“Ancient paths through the 14th-century Old Quarter jostle with contemporary art galleries, while the city’s authentic cuisine is best tasted by indulging in street food such as Pho and Bun cha, the budget options abundant between pint-sized watering holes on the chaotic urban track of Train Street,” she added.
In fact, Hanoi is considered one of the most dynamic cities in the Asian region, with a chic and unique charm. The Vietnamese capital city, which has a great history and distinctive culture, is the ideal fusion of new and old, modern and ancient.
Hanoi’s Old Quarter is a “gem” of this capital city. Covering an area of 82 hectares, including 10 wards of Hoan Kiem District, it is the treasure trove of the city’s and country’s culture, history, and architecture.
Founded in the late 18th, and early 19th centuries, the place adjacent to Hoan Kiem Lake, is made up of 79 streets and is bounded by Hang Dau Street in the north, Phung Hung Street in the west, Tran Quang Khai and Tran Nhat Duat streets in the east, and the streets of Hang Bong, Hang Gai, Cau Go and Hang Thung in the south.
|A corner of Hanoi. Photo: Tu Pham|
The residential culture of the townsfolk through the feudal and colonial periods is still present in Hanoi’s Old Quarter, making it a living heritage.
While intangible values are more likely to be lost due to life changes, architectural structures often last for a long time.
So far, there are some 121 temples, pagodas and shrines to be found in the quarter, along with numerous historic houses, including more than 200 of special value.
The Old Quarter is also remembered as the best place to reflect the capital’s ancient architecture as it is also home to many typical relic sites, including the ancient house at 87 Ma May Street, Kim Ngan Communal House (42 Hang Bac St.), Hanoi Old Quarter Cultural Exchange Center (50 Dao Duy Tu St.), Quan De Temple (28 Hang Buom St.), Dong Lac Communal House (38 Hang Dao St.), Arts and Culture Center (Cantonese Assembly Hall - 22 Hang Buom St.) or Nam Huong Communal House (75 Hang Trong St.), and many others.
Meanwhile, other historic sites like the UNESCO heritage site’s Thang Long Imperial Citadel, The National Museum of History, Hoa Lo Prison, and the Temple of Literature are sure to entice history buffs.
|The vibrant nightlife in Ta Hien Street in Hoan Kiem Lake Pedestrian Street. File Photo|
For those who prefer to experience Hanoi’s night scene, Ta Hien Street in Hoan Kiem Lake pedestrian street is a perfect choice. The street offers a huge range of nice local draft beers and delicious street food.
Meanwhile, throughout the weekend, there will be street art performances, traditional and contemporary music shows, and other activities to meet the needs of the public while facilitating interactions with non-Vietnamese friends and cultural integration.
Regarding the best time to visit Hanoi, The Independent suggests the period from April to November “as temperatures are the highest and rainfall predictions are the lowest”.
It also proposes a boutique hotel in Hanoi’s downtown for the newspaper’s readers to stay at. However, there is a vast choice of other ultimate modern stays in Hanoi.
Most of the boutique hotels in the old quarter offer elegant rooms with up-to-date facilities, diverse complimentary breakfasts and fast WiFi connection everywhere.
Ho Chi Minh City
|The nightlife in District One, Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Caravelle Saigon|
Formerly known as Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City is Vietnam's economic capital and its most heavily populated region.
“In a marriage of tradition and modernity, Ho Chi Minh is the metropolis where pagodas meet skyscrapers and innovative commerce hubs thrive. Elaborate French colonial architecture, including the Notre Dame Cathedral and landmarks such as the War Remnants Museum and Cu Chi tunnel network used by the Viet Cong during the American War, are historical highlights in this fast-paced city,” the newspaper wrote.
The ideal time to visit the city in southern Vietnam is in the dry season, which falls from December to March.
Similar to Hanoi, there is plenty of accommodation in Ho Chi Minh City’s downtown, especially in District 1. Visitors have a variety of options, from affordable homestays to luxurious five-star hotels.
|The funky atmosphere in Bui Vien Walking Street in District 1, HCMC. Photo: Pho di bo Bui Vien|
The Hanoi Times suggests the Bui Vien Walking Street for entertainment in Ho Chi Minh City. The nightlife tourist attraction in Saigon seems ideal for Western guests and young Saigonese to unwind.
Being considered a “backpacker street”, the street and surrounding area feature many restaurants, coffee shops, hotels, pubs and bars.
The Independent suggests visiting other travel destinations in Vietnam, including Halong Bay, an UNESCO World Heritage Site in the northeast province of Quang Ninh; the Pearl Island of Phu Quoc in southwestern province of Kien Giang; the central coastal beach paradise of Nha Trang; Hoi An Ancient Town in the Central region is an exceptionally well-preserved example of a Southeast Asian trading port dating from the 15th to the 19th century; and Hue Imperial Citadel.
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