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Things to Do in Vietnam - page 5

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Kim Bong (Carpentry Village)
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Kim Bồng carpentry village is located within the Cẩm Kim commune in Hoi An. Since the 16th century, the village has been known for its carpentry and traditional woodworking products, the results of which can be found within prominent buildings across the region and beyond.

The style of Kim Bồng carpentry is said to be influenced by the Cham Kingdom, China, Japan, and of course local Vietnamese artisans. The craftspeople here all begin as apprentices, earning the rank of masters only by years of hard work and dedication. The work being produced in the village can largely be divided into three main categories: ancient architectural construction, civil wooden furniture, and shipbuilding. In addition, many of the artisans have more recently shifted their focus to the recovery of historical monuments and relics, especially traditional ancient houses around Hoi An.

Today, bicycle tours of the village are common, allowing visitors to pass through streets lined with open-fronted workshops and witness the artisans at work. Visitors are also able to purchase items produced in the village at its various souvenirs shops, which sell everything from small, low-cost items, such as coasters, to huge expensive pieces, such as religious statues and intricately crafted wooden doors.

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Binh Tay Market (Cho Binh Tay)
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At the heart of Cho Lon, Ho Chi Minh City’s Chinese district, sits Binh Tay Market (Chợ Bình Tây). Built in 1928 after the original bazaar burned down, Binh Tay is the city’s largest market teeming with vendors selling a mind-boggling array of wares, including pottery, flowers, and cheap souvenirs, as well as piping hot noodles and wholesale produce.

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Tam Giang Lagoon
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Stretching 700 km along the Thua Thien-Hue seashore, Tam Giang is the largest lagoon in Southeast Asia with over 300,000 Vietnamese living along its shores. Just 15 km from Hue, it’s a popular place to enjoy Vietnamese rural life and go out on a fishing boat with a local, learning traditional Vietnamese fishing methods along the way. At dusk, you’ll see traps being set to collect fish and shrimps before dawn the next day, and women working hard in the water to collect the oysters and clams which are then sold at the local markets.

Popular fishing villages to visit include Ngu My Thanh, Bao La, and Tan My: learn about daily life on the banks of the lagoon, take a boat trip, sleep overnight on a homestay, or learn how local women making fishing nets and pick up the art of bamboo weaving -- there’s plenty to do on the banks of Tam Giang Lagoon. If you go to Ngu My Thanh village, be sure to visit the traditional floating market which is open in the early mornings.

A photographer’s dream, Tam Giang Lagoon is also famous for its biodiversity -- look out for lake-loving birds and flora while you’re here, and of course, try fresh seafood like squid, clams, crab and shrimp fresh from the lake at one of the cottages lining the lagoon.

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Bac Ha Market (Cho Bac Ha)
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Bac Ha Market (Chợ Bắc Hà), a sprawling market in the sleepy northern highland town of Bac Ha, is the reason many visit in the first place, but you’ll have to time it right. The market only occurs on Sundays, when, like clockwork, villagers from the surrounding hillside flood the town to set up shop, bargain for goods or come to see and be seen, catching up on the latest gossip. The open-air market here is among the largest in the region attracting members of the Black Dao, Tay, Nung, Phu La and other area minority ethnic groups, but it’s the brightly-colored Flower Hmong women that make up the bulk of Bac Ha Market’s vendors; they blanket and enliven the dusty streets with their neon costumes. Under blue plastic roofs, or atop tarps draped over the hard ground, market vendors proffer clothing, building materials, yarn, herbs and medicine, dried chilies, ruou (corn wine) and even livestock such as goats, chickens and buffalo. A growing segment of the market also caters to foreign visitors with bags, bracelets, scarves, bowls, dolls and other locally-made handicrafts. Bring your bargaining skills and arrive early for the best selection.

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Perfume Pagoda (Chua Huong)
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One of Vietnam’s most important pilgrimage sites, the Perfume Pagoda is a vast complex of Buddhist temples, grottos, and shrines dotted around Huong Tich Mountain. The shrines lie amid a flooded valley of towering karst cliffs and lotus fields—a stunning backdrop that makes for some incredible photo opportunities.

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Hon Ba Nature Reserve (Khu Bao Ton Thien Nhien Hon Ba)
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Situated 60 kilometers from Nha Trang, the Hon Ba Nature Reserve (Khu Bảo Tồn Thiên Nhiên Hòn Bà) covers an area of almost 47,000 acres. This ancient forest region is awash with wild nature and was established in order to protect and preserve the unique biodiversity of the area, including resources, wildlife, and flora. The reserve is home to almost 600 different types of plants and 255 species of animals, including many endangered species.

A long and winding path leads through the mist to the peak of Hon Ba Mountain, which sits at an altitude of 1500 meters, allowing it to enjoy a cool yet humid client all year-round, contributing to the area’s rich biodiversity. From the top of the mountain, spectacular panoramic views of the region unfold, and there’s also the small wooden house of the French doctor, Alexandre Yersin, who established the path to the peak of the mountain a century ago.

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Hanoi Ancient House
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Step back in time to late-19th-century Hanoi and see how a typical wealthy merchant family lived at the Hanoi Ancient House. Located in the Old Quarter, the house was renovated in the late 20th century but retains all the architectural and other features of a typical house of the era, in a style unique to Vietnam.

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Silver Waterfall (Thac Bac)
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The impressive Silver Waterfall (Thác Bạc) draws visitors to its stop off just prior to the highestpoint on the Tram Ton Pass, a winding mountain road with panoramic views of the Hoang Lienrange. Thac Bac waterfall rains down through the cool mountain air, dropping more than 320feet over multiple tiers of boulder-strewn and mist-shrouded pine forest. A loop track involvingseveral stairways a safe distance away, but still close enough to feel the mist of the rushingfalls, culminate at an observation bridge spanning a narrow portion in the waterfall’s path.

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Tan Ky Old House
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Hailed as the epitome of antique grandeur, the 200-year-old Tan Ky Old House pays homage to Hoi An’s rich architectural heritage. The beautifully preserved 18th-century house contains Chinese and Japanese artworks, dark-wood furniture, and watermarked walls that attest to the building’s ability to withstand Hoi An’s seasonal floods.

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Ta Phin Village
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A popular hilltribe village, about six miles north of Sapa, Ta Phin village regularly welcomes trekkers to experience a more traditional way of life in mountainous northwest Vietnam. Here groups of Red Dao, Black Hmong and Kinh ethnic groups live side by side and continue to adhere to their distinct cultures, making a visit a unique opportunity to learn about their differences and spend time interacting with members of each ethnic group.

A suite of activities can be arranged with tour guides and include experiencing an herbal bath, making and drinking rice wine, taking an embroidery lesson, offering your skills to teach English or helping to prepare a meal. The trek to Ta Phin village via a nine-mile countryside loop passes terraced rice fields, streams and other smaller villages. Other popular area attractions include a visit to the cave on the outskirts of the village, and a stop at a former French monastery ruined in the 1940s.

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More Things to Do in Vietnam

Ho Chi Minh Museum (Bao Tang Ho Chi Minh)

Ho Chi Minh Museum (Bao Tang Ho Chi Minh)

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Built to preserve the legacy of North Vietnam’s first President, the Ho Chi Minh Museum (Bao Tang Ho Chi Minh) offers a comprehensive overview of Ho Chi Minh’s life, as well as the country’s fight for independence. Over 2,000 items are presented in this massive, Soviet-style building, built in the shape of a lotus.

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Can Gio Mangrove Biosphere Reserve

Can Gio Mangrove Biosphere Reserve

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Located southeast of Ho Chi Minh City, close to where the Saigon River meets the South China Sea, the low-lying Can Gio island houses a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. This is an important natural wetland with attractions like Monkey Island, Rung Sac Military Base, Vam Sat Salt-Marsh Forest Ecological Tourist Center, and a crocodile farm.

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Phuc Kien Assembly Hall (Fujian Assembly Hall)

Phuc Kien Assembly Hall (Fujian Assembly Hall)

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In a city full of historical and architectural landmarks, Phuc Kien Assembly Hall (Fujian Assembly Hall) is not to be missed. What once served as a gathering place for Chinese merchants, today functions as one of the city’s largest and most ornate temples. Intricate craftsmanship begins with the massive gates that protect this historic structure from the hustle of Hoi An streets, and it continues through the shaded hallways and colorful rooms.

Visitors can light incense burners in honor of their loved ones and explore the beautifully carved details of giant dragon statues and well-tended gardens.

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Sin Chai Village

Sin Chai Village

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Sín Chải village is situated near Sapa in Northern Vietnam, at the foot of Mount Fansipan. Located in a rainforested area protected by the Hoang Lien National Park, the village is home to the Black H’mong people, whose traditional wooden houses are scattered across the valley.

Local life here is simple, with people earning a living from farming, dying indigo, planting flax, and textile weaving. Most tours of Sín Chải village focus on the daily life of the villagers, who still maintain their ancestor’s way of life and take much pride in their community. The short yet scenic trek through the landscape of rice paddies, streams, and corn fields serves to culturally acclimatize visitors to Sin Chai and its pace of life.

The villagers draw fresh water from the stream running from the foot of the mountain range, and collect plants from the mountain to treat ailments and illnesses, instead of using modern medicines. It is thought that the pure water supply, fresh mountain air, and natural diet and remedies are among the reasons that the Black H’mong people living in Sín Chải village live for so long, with many members of the community reaching their 100th birthdays and beyond.

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Monkey Island (Dao Cat Dua)

Monkey Island (Dao Cat Dua)

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Monkey Island (Đảo Cát Dứa) is accessible only by boat, but travelers who make the effort to get there are rewarded with numerous outdoor adventure possibilities, including access to a private beach. Visitors to the isolated Halong Bay island can spend time sipping coconut water on a white-sand beach; snorkeling or kayaking in the shallow turquoise waters; hiking the well-marked trails to the top of the island, or simply taking in the fresh air and lush island scenery.

While the island is perfect for a day trip, accommodations such as the Monkey Island Resort also exist for travelers who prefer to spend several days enjoying this out-of-the-way place.

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Presidential Palace

Presidential Palace

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Completed in 1906, the Presidential Palace was originally built by the French for the Governor General of Indochina. The French colonial–style palace, surrounded by lush botanical gardens and orchards, is the official home of the President of Vietnam, now used solely for formal receptions and state events.

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Noon Gate (Cua Ngo Mon)

Noon Gate (Cua Ngo Mon)

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Perhaps the most-visited gate of the Imperial City, this entrance was the site of numerous historically significant announcements (like the resignation of the last emperor, Bao Dai). A list of successful doctoral candidates whose names were announced at these gates still hangs on the wall of the upper floor. Although it was significantly damaged during war, yellow tiles, which demarcate areas reserved for use only by the emperor, can still be seen on rooftops. Climb to the upper level and enjoy unmatched views of both the Citadel and the Hall of Supreme Harmony.

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Dam Sen Water Park (Cong Vien Nuoc Dam Sen)

Dam Sen Water Park (Cong Vien Nuoc Dam Sen)

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The Dam Sen Water Park (Công Viên Nước Đầm Sen) is a fun place to spend a few hours when the weather’s hot in Ho Chi Minh City, which is most of the time! Kids in particular will love the waterslides, wave pool, and watery rides. There are landscaped gardens, lounge chairs, and food outlets to keep parents happy, too.

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Tao Dan Park

Tao Dan Park

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Spanning around 25 acres (10 hectares) in the heart of Ho Chi Minh City, Tao Dan Park is a fresh green space where locals exercise, particularly tai chi in the morning, aerobics after work, and badminton on weekends. Besides the pool, tennis courts, and sculpture garden, many travelers love the bird café, where local men bring pet birds.

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Hoi An Handicraft Workshop

Hoi An Handicraft Workshop

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This 200-year-old Chinese trading house is a historic structure where contemporary travelers can bear witness ancient Vietnamese crafts. On-site artisans construct silk lanterns, practice traditional embroidery, throw terra cotta pottery and weave fabric. Guides explain techniques and offer insight into these traditional crafts. Visitors will find the prices fair and variety vast. Traditional shows are performed daily and these 45-minute events, which include music, dance and song, are worth sticking around for.

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Sun World Danang Wonders

Sun World Danang Wonders

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The Da Nang city outpost of the popular Vietnamese theme-park group, Sun World Danang Wonders sprawls along the Han River. The theme park features rides such as roller coasters, carousels, drop towers, and a giant fairground wheel, while the cultural park highlights Asian architecture through scale models of famous buildings.

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Van Phuc Silk Village

Van Phuc Silk Village

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Dating back more than 1,200 years, Van Phuc Silk Village is undoubtedly the best-known and best-developed of Vietnam’s designated craft villages. More than 700 households here are involved in silk production, and more than 100 shops sell silk clothing and decorative items. Even if you’re not looking to buy, this is a great place to see how silk is produced.

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Vietnamese Women’s Museum

Vietnamese Women’s Museum

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Founded in 1987 and home to a collection of around 25,000 pieces, the Vietnamese Women’s Museum pays tribute to the role of women in Vietnamese society. Besides costumes and crafts from the nation’s 54 ethnic groups, the museum honors the role local women played in the Vietnam War. Most signs are in Vietnamese, English, and French.

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Dau Go Cave (Hang Dau Go)

Dau Go Cave (Hang Dau Go)

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Carved into the karst cliffs of the eponymous island, the eerily beautiful Dau Go Cave (Hang Đầu Gỗ) is a mesmerizing sight, with dramatic cascades of stalactites and stalagmites. The cave’s name, which translates as ‘Driftwood Grotto’ or ‘Wooden Head Cave’ depending which version you prefer, is said to hark back to the 13th century, when it was used by General Tran Hung Dao to store the giant, steel-tipped wooden stakes that were used to defend themselves against Mongol invasion.

Today, Dau Go Cave is among the most visited caves of Halong bay, accessible by boat or kayak, and featuring three large chambers, reached via a 90-step rock stairwell. Inside, highlights include the spectacular rock formations, made all the more atmospheric by the streaks of natural light that dance off their surface, and the 25-meter-high domed roof.

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