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  Maren & Kirk

Socialist Republic of Vietnam

Facts about country

Capital Hanoi

Population

79 million

Main Languages

Vietnamese, Russian, French, Chinese, English

Electricity

2 Plug System 220 50 HZ

Currency

Dong (d)

Exchange Rate for US $ as of Nov 2001

15000 Dong per 1 US$

Safe to Drink Tap Water

No

Size

329,566 sq km

Transport

train, bus, plane, taxi, minibus, tourist bus, motorbike

Cash Machines (ATMS) Yes
Credit Card Usage Yes
Religion Buddhism, Taoist, Confucian, Hoa Hao, Caodaists, Muslim, Christian
Measurement System Metric System

Recommended Budget per Day in US $ 

Total Budget per Person Accommodation Meals Transportation Other
20 $ 6 $ 5 $  5 $ 4 $

Main things to See (we give descriptions only on places we visited)

Things to See  Visited Brief Description Recommend (10 is best 1 is don't bother)
Hanoi Y Hanoi is the Capital of Vietnam. The attractions in the city are the Ho Chi Min Mausoleum, the Ho Chi Min Museum, the Presidential Palace, the Lakes. There are a lot of motorbikes and bicycles charging through the streets, so watch out. The backpacker area of the city is fully made out for western tourists. One can have western meals and there is cheap internet everywhere. One can also book tours to anywhere in Vietnam. 7

Ho Chi Min City (Saigon)

Y Ho Ci Min City formally known as Saigon, actually Saigon is stilled used a lot even among the Vietnam people themselves.  It is a crowded and busy city with a few attractions like the  Giac Lam Pagoda, the neo-Romanesque Notre Dame Cathedral, Reunification Hall, Cholon market and the former US embassy.  People will hassle you a lot to buy about anything.  They want your money, so bargain hard.   The city had a very western feel to it. 7
Halong Bay Y A major highlight of ours. The bay is filled with small islands that look like pinnacles coming out of the water.  We had overcast and bad weather,  but it was still a beautiful sight.  One takes a boat tour through the islands and can sleep on a few. There are also interesting caves one can visit on some of the 3000 islands. 9
Hu Y We did not spend too much time in Hu. We just visited the Citadel, but did not go in, it was raining too much. Along the river one can visit the royal tombs.  3
Hoi An Y Hoi An is situated along a river. We did an excursion to the My Son temples. They were nice but nothing too special. They are falling apart and many just look like an old brick building in the middle of the jungle. 4
Nha Trang Y Nha Trang is famous for its beaches. When we were there it was rainy and overcast so we did not get to enjoy them as one could have when the sun was shining. 5
Da Lat Y Da Lat is Vientnam's number one honeymoon spot and is sort of a tacky place. One can rent a motor bike and visit the outlying areas or take a tour. We did a small hike up Lang Bian Mountain. Other things to see are the central market, Hang Nga Guest House & Art Gallery ( or Crazy House), Lam Ty Ni Pagoda, Cam Ly Falls, Lake of Sights, Prenn Falls, Datanla Falls, Xuan Huong Lake.  Da Lat in our opinion is not worth visiting unless you have a lot of time in Vietnam. 6
Mekong Delta Y You can do one day our more day boat trips in the Mekong Delta, the southern most part of Vietnam. The boat trips are very touristy and you will meet up with a lot of other tourists along the way.  It was ok, but nothing spectacular. 4
Ha Tien N
Central Highlands N
Sapa N
Dien Bien Phu N
Cuc Phuong N

Popular activities and Tours (Being not included does not mean they do not exist)

Hiking / Trekking x
Scuba Diving x
Historical Sites x
Sightseeing tours x

Ballooning

Bungy Jumping

Safaris

Boat tours x
Fishing x
Horseback riding
Canoeing x
Camping
River Rafting x
Sky Diving  
Abseiling  
Surfing x
Windsurfing x
Kayaking x
Sailing x
Mountain biking x
Rollerblading  
Motorbike x
Sand boarding
Snorkeling x
Water Skiing x
Skiing
Bicycling x
Others 

Feeling and Opinions on Vietnam    

One has mixed feelings about Vietnam. On one hand it is nice because a lot of things are made for travelers and they speak English a lot.  On the other hand they are tricky and seem to be only after the dollar.  They always give you the wrong inflated price, no matter what you want to buy, from hotel rooms, internet, food, and almost anything you think of.   For us the highlight was Halong Bay with the pinnacle islands coming out of the water.  After we got to Cambodia, we right away thought we spent too much time in Vietnam.  Vietnam was sort of a tourist trap because one almost always have to go on tours to see anything.  Though they are the cheapest way to see and do things most of the time.

 

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