Saturday, July 8, 2017

hoa xong

Vietnam’s Stunning Beaches

Vietnam is blessed with a coastline stretching 3,000 kilometers with hundreds of beaches up and down the country that cater to all tastes; from white sand beaches where you can view sunsets, to beaches with 5 star facilities, and beaches with nothing at all to do except swim, relax and enjoy the local culture.


Starting in the Far North, bordering China is Tra Co, not a beautiful beach by anyone’s standards what with its muddy flats at low tide; but it’s a pleasant place to stay if you’re on your way into our out of China, before heading to Ha Long Bay.

Bai Chay beach is the nearest to Hanoi, so it draws a huge crowd of people on the weekends and in summer. It too doesn’t live up to the beauty of the southern beaches, but does serve up some good seafood harvested from nearby Ha Long Bay. It certainly isn’t a place to come in winter as temperatures can drop to the 15 degree C mark.

Ha Long bay offers plenty of small beaches, most of them on islands in the middle of the Bay (though the majority of islands are too steep and rocky to have beaches) These are best visited by kayak because large touring boats don’t have the shallow depth to approach the rocky shore.

The North Central Coast of Vietnam stretches all the way down to the Hai Van Pass, and is almost a continuous stretch of golden sand pounded by huge waves churned by the frequent typhoons. Its an area rarely visited by travelers, because most either fly or take the train straight between Hue and Hanoi, but if you’ve got time they are beautifully deserted and make excellent places to go for long walks. Locals will regard you with great curiosity, and may even follow you to practice their English.

Though the facilities are scarce here, (you won’t find restaurants selling to tourists just yet) it is a rewarding break from the long drive on Highway 1. Take note however, that its not a wise idea to walk any of the beaches near the DMZ and Dong Ha, because of mines, unexploded ordinances can still be found in this area.

The Central and South Central Coast of Vietnam offers the countries best beaches: from Hue to Nha Trang, the miles of coast is populated with coconut palms and dotted with fishing villages with lots of facilities and choices to make your vacation comfortable.

My Khe beach to Vietnamese, or China Beach to foreigners, looks out at Monkey Mountain east of Da Nang Bay. It’s by no means deserted, because locals use the beach as a place to play football, do morning exercises and just chat away with friends. It has some of Vietnam’s best surf beaches and in November waves can reach two meters.

Its here where 5 star resorts like the Furama and the Lang Co resort (north of the Hai Van Pass) are situated and offer the best services in the country including al fresco dining, water sports and day tours.

The beach is also incorrectly linked with the first landing of American Marines in 1963. In fact, it was Red Beach, around the point in Da Nang Bay, where this took place. My Khe was the spot where numerous attacks took place in the American war and it was a center of fierce fighting in the late 1960’s.

From Da Nang, the lazy coast line stretches all the way down to Nha Trang. Dozens of beaches, many of them just a few meters from Highway I can be visited as you drive south. Facilities are mushrooming up to meet the demand of the numerous tour buses that now ply these routes. Seafood restaurants, guesthouses and other businesses are making this area easier to visit.

Nha Trang is the epicenter of the beach travel industry in Vietnam, and if you’re looking for a secluded beach, you won’t find it here. But if you want to enjoy a day trip out to the islands in Nha Trang Bay, where you can snorkel and swim, then Nha Trang is the place for you. One of the best things in the city is its marvelous seafood, which includes abalone, prawns, scallops and crabs.

Doc Let is 40 kilometers north of Nha Trang, and its here where you’ll find solitude and long deserted beaches; the shallow bay in front is perfect for a swim and the place is famous for its boiled crabs.

Even further south is Phan Thiet, close enough to Saigon to be a popular weekend outing destination for residents there. Its got a laid back feel, and includes 4 star hotels like the Nototel Corallia, so roughing it isn’t required here.

Even closer to Saigon is Vung Tau, and serves much the same function as Bai Chay near Hanoi; it’s the closest and cheapest destination for Saigonese to escape the crowded city streets. Again, if youre looking for solitude, this isn’t the place, because on Sundays the beaches are packed.

Phu Quoc has the whitest sand beaches in the country, and if you want to watch the sun set (it’s the only place in Vietnam where you can do this) this is the place to come. Geologically, its totally different to the other beaches in Vietnam, because its in the Gulf Of Thailand, and Phu Quoc closely resembles Koh Chang or Koh Samet near Bangkok. Just an hour flight from Saigon and you’ll be enjoying the sun, sea and seafood of Vietnam’s most southern beach.

North to South, there are a multitude of choices in beaches so whatever kind of beach you are looking for you’ll find it in Vietnam

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Wednesday, July 5, 2017

hoa xong

Vietnam's Former Battlefields

It has been nearly 3 decades since the American War ended in Vietnam, and 5 decades since the war ended with the French. Though Vietnam is rapidly developing into a major economic power in South East Asia, many of the historic battlefields and war vestiges can still be visited.


Almost every city has a museum dedicated to the Vietnamese Revolution, and contain dioramas, exhibits, and photographs detailing how their inhabitants contributed to the war effort, and which important events took place in their city.

The largest of these museums are in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. The Ho Chi Minh Museum in Hanoi, is an important place to visit and understand more about Vietnam's great leader, Ho Chi Minh.

THE NORTH

Most of the historical remnants of the wars relates to the French conflict, because the American ground war was centered in the south and the center (extensive bombing was experienced in the north).

Dien Bien Phu

The Dien Bien Phu valley is where the French were defeated in 1954, ending their colonial rule over Indochina. Best reached by plane, you can also hire a 4-wheel drive vehicle and tour the far northwest, to Son La and Lao Cai.

Son La

A site of a Former French Prison, many visitors come here to see the museum commemorating the fiercely anti colonial fighters who were based in the region.

Hanoi

Hoa Lo Prison: Razed to make way for a towering office block, the prison is remembered by a museum that focuses on the activities there before 1954, when it was used as a detention center for anti French colonialists.

Ho Chi Minh Museum: More than a museum dedicated to the man who reunified his country, the Ho Chi Minh museum chronicles the Vietnamese revolution of the 20th century, and in an interesting stop for those interested in this phase of Vietnamese history.

Christmas Bombing in 1972: In December 1972, US President Nixon ordered the bombing of Hai Phong and Hanoi, which targeted power stations and other installations; some residential quarters were hit too. In Hanoi alone, more than 1,300 people were killed. Today, the area south of the Hanoi train station is where much of the destruction took place, and Kham Thien was the epicenter.

THE CENTER

Central Vietnam was the scene of much fighting during the American war, and much of the vestiges here are related to that conflict, though a few places, like the Hai Van Pass, contain some remains of the French conflict.

DMZ and Dong Ha

The bridge at the DMZ over the Ben Hai river can be crossed on foot, and the Vinh Moc tunnels (like those built at Cu Chi) can be visited nearby. Tours can be arranged from Hue, or Dong Ha. The road north of Hue was dubbed, 'La Rue Sans Jolie,' or 'The Road Without Joy' by the French troops; who fought fierce battles with Vietnamese forces here.

Truong Son Trail / Ho Chi Minh Trail

As the major supply chain between troops in South Vietnam, the Truong Son Trail (or Ho Chi Minh Trail as it's known in the west), named after the mountains of central Vietnam, was heavily bombed and strafed by American aircraft, trying to sever the artery that supplied men, weapons, and other supplies to the soldiers in the south. It is currently being developed into a tourist attraction by recreating the structures it contained and the methods used to carry weapons to the south, to aid in the war effort. A small section of the Ho Chi Minh trail can be seen after crossing the Dakrong bridge.

Khe Sanh / Con Thien Fire Base; Camp Carroll

Several former American army bases can be visited along Highway 9, between the Dong Ha and the Laotian border. Sites include Camp Carroll, Con Thien Firebase, The Rockpile, and Khe Sanh, where a fierce battle took place in 1968.

Hai Van Pass

Long used as a lookout for enemy troops, Hai Van Pass is littered with pillboxes and installations used to protect this vital link between north and south. Its about 350 meters high, and often is shrouded in mist. On a clear day, however, you can see northwards, to the Lang Co peninsula; and south, to the city of Da Nang.

Da Nang and China Beach

Often mistaken as the site where American Marines first came ashore in 1963, the event actually took place around the bay at Red Beach. China Beach was the site of a major Army base that came under attack by Vietmaese forces based around the Marble Mountains.

THE SOUTH

The South was the command center of the US forces stationed in Vietnam (Followed by Da Nang) though it still has a lot of history related to the French war. Not a whole lot of vestiges remain of the war, though there are some informative museums in Ho Chi Minh City and the Cu Chi tunnels shows the struggle the Vietnamese people endured during the war.

Cu Chi Tunnels

The Cu Chi tunnel system was built by Vietnamese forces who boldly tunneled beneath a major American Army Base. The tunnels can be visited today, often combined with a day tour.
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