Looking for a new place to take off to? You have probably heard a lot of people gush about Vietnam. The country has begun to realize its tourist potential and there’s a lot more to see and do than there ever was before.
It’s about time you experienced the splendor of this country by yourself. Here are some things that will definitely lure you into touring Vietnam.
A Piece of History on Your Plate
Vietnam has a very long and continuous history. Hominid settlements have been found dating to half a million years ago and the country’s cultural history is around 20,000 years old.
- The Complex of Hué Monuments in Hué, was the first site in Vietnam to be recognized as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Hué was established as the capital of Viet Nam in 1802. The city was not only the political center of then unified Viet Nam but also the religious and cultural center. The city was built around the Perfume River and offers beautiful scenic views. There are also monuments, tombs, pagodas, temples, and more to hold your interest.
- The ancient town of Hoi An was once a major port. The town is now one of the country’s wealthiest and important tourism destinations. Hoi An is free from traffic and pollution woes and you’ll find the atmosphere here to be pleasant. This delightful town has Chinese temples, Japanese merchant houses, ancient tea warehouses and more to cherish.
- The Cu Chi province in Vietnam has an elaborate system of underground tunnels that were built by the Viet Cong guerrillas during the Vietnam War. These tunnels served as living quarters; hiding spots; hospitals; food and weapon caches; and supply routes. The network of tunnels was built over a period of more than two decades and has been turned into a memorial park. Tourists can crawl around in some parts of the tunnel and get a peek into what life was like in the 1950s.
Tour National Parks and Sanctuaries
Vietnam has several national parks and sanctuaries great for one-day trips, camping, or hiking. Vietnam and Cambodia tours are practically guaranteed to never disappoint.
- The Cát Bà National Park is situated on the Cát Bà Island in Hạ Long Bay. The tropical rainforest teems with several species of reptiles, birds and mammals. Many plant species found here are unique to the country.
- The Cu Lao Cham Marine Park on the Chàm Islands is recognized by UNESCO as a Biosphere Reserve. The islands are a wonderful place to soak up some sun. The forests are lush and populated with wild monkeys. You can get the best “bird’s nest soup” in the world on the Chàm Islands.
- The Cát Tiên National Park is about 90 miles to the north of Ho Chi Minh City. The Park protects a large area of lowland tropical rainforest and is home to 40 species of animals and birds that are listed in the World Red list of threatened species.
Get a Taste of Vietnamese Cuisine
Vietnamese cuisine consists pretty much entirely of rice, green vegetables, fruits and fish sauce! Vietnam is the world’s second largest exporter of rice in the world and the Vietnamese can eat rice for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Fish sauce is added to almost all dishes and you could be served an array of fresh fruits as dessert.
- Pho is a staple food including rice noodles, broth, herbs and beef or chicken. It is available just about everywhere and has many variations. Try Bún Bò Huế which is beef and vermicelli soup, Bún Riêu which is crab and tomato noodle soup, Canh Chua which is a sour tamarind soup, or Bánh Canh Bột Lọc which is soup including thick noodles.
- Bánh Xèo is a crispy crepe filled with shrimp, pork, bean sprouts, and herbs. It is served with sauce and you can even roll lettuce leaves or rice paper over it and relish.
- Towards the north of the country, the food is inspired by Chinese cuisine. As such, one can easily find Cơm chiên or fried rice to eat.
- Bánh Tét or ‘sticky rice cakes’ are savory rice cakes wrapped in banana leaves. They need to be prepared skillfully and are widely eaten during the Vietnamese New Year.
- If you crave for some sandwich in the Far East, Bánh Mì or Vietnamese sandwich will delight you. A French baguette layered with ham, pork, pickled radish, carrots and cilantro gives you everything your taste-buds could ask for.
Indulge in Adventure Sports
With the natural diversity that Vietnam has to offer, there are several options when it comes to enjoying outdoor sports and adventure activities.
- You can go kayaking in Hạ Long Bay. During low tides, one can go through low caves and take in the beauty of limestone and volcanic rings.
- The South China Sea to the East of the country provides ample opportunities for water-sports such as diving, sailing, snorkeling, jet-skiing and kite-surfing.
- Mount Fansipan (the highest peak in the country); the Cát Tiên and Cuc Phuong National Parks; and the Central Highlands are great places to go trekking or hiking.
- One can also rent a motorbike and tour the Central Highlands or Far North. Cycling in the Mekong Delta can be enjoyable as most of the routes are quite flat.
Hills, mountains, valleys, beaches- Vietnam has it all. Whether you want a lazy vacation or something action-packed, you will find Vietnam to be the best choice you ever made.
So get your visas and tickets and get packing!
Eric Andujar is a freelance writer and traveler. He writes about the best destinations and travel deals. One of his favorite places on Earth is Vietnam and he loves talking to people about the country, how to get a Vietnam visa on arrival and why it’s a country that needs to be visited at all costs.
Top 5 Historical Landmarks of Portugal
Top 5 Historical Landmarks of Portugal
Portugal is a hive of culture, history, and architecture and is home to fifteen UNESCO World Heritage Sites. If you plan a holiday to Portugal to discover some of its glorious histories, look through our top five Portuguese historical landmarks.
This beautiful monastery is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The Monastery of Santa Maria de Alcobaça is a prime example of early Gothic architecture. The sanctuary is home to the ornate tombs of Ines de Castro and King Pedro I. There is a tragic love story associated with the burials. Ines de Castro was assassinated in 1355, and the king ordered his tomb to be placed next to hers so that he could face the woman he loved on the day of resurrection. They are considered to be the most beautiful medieval tombs in Portugal. There are also living quarters, including a refectory, dormitory, kitchen, and cloisters that have been inhabited by monks for 800 years.
Convent of Christ
The Convent of Christ is a beautiful roman catholic building located in Tomar. It was initially a stronghold for the Order of the Knights Templar. The building houses impressive art and examples of Romanesque, Gothic, Manueline, and Renaissance architecture. The walls inside are exquisitely decorated with paintings, carved stone sculptures, and a window depicting symbols and motifs. This site has been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1983.
Évora is a Portuguese city home to several historical sights, some over two thousand years old. The Cathedral of Évora is considered one of Portugal’s most important gothic monuments. Moorish palaces and courtyards, a renaissance fountain built-in 1559, and a one-of-a-kind Roman temple have become the city’s most famous landmarks. It is not surprising that Évorahas is classified as a World Heritage site by UNESCO.
Belém Tower was built to be a fortress in 1515 to guard the entrance to Lisbon’s harbor. The tower is constructed from lioz limestone that is local to Lisbon. It is considered one of the prominent examples of the late gothic Manueline style. There is a drawbridge, spaces for cannons, turrets, and arches that have been decorated with images of animals, plants, and royal coats of arms. Inside there are statues, pillars, and gargoyle facets. UNESCO has listed the tower as a World Heritage monument.
Jerónimos Monastery is considered one of the most beautiful monasteries in Portugal and Europe. Located in Lisbon, the monastery has various entrances that have been decorated with carved figures, gables, and pinnacles. There is a 16th Century Portuguese sculpture of Our Lady of Belém in the central doorway, a figure of Prince Henry the Navigator in the center of the monastery, and a statue of King Manuel I. The monastery has been classified as a World Heritage site by UNESCO.
We hope this has inspired you to start planning your trip to Portugal today.
Top 5 Outdoor Adventure Activities in Qatar
Find out why Sand boarding, Diving and Safaris through the desert are included in the Top 5 Outdoor Adventure Activities in Qatar.
Qatar is a country of reinvention. Shimmering towerblocks rise against a desert horizon, and maze-like souks thrive next to 21st-century shopping palaces. It’s also one of the more accessible countries of the Arab Gulf, with a welcoming reputation towards visitors and plenty of attractions to keep them coming. Some of the best holiday activities you’ll find in Qatar are the adventurous kind. And these are the top 5 outdoor adventure activities in Qatar.
Top 5 Outdoor Adventure Activities in Qatar
The Gulf Sea is famed for its crystal waters and the exuberant marine life which lurks just beneath the surface. Messaid is a good jumping-off point where you’ll find angelfish and barracuda, while those intrigued by underwater wrecks will love the Hall Island dive site at Al-Sharqi, where bright clownfish circle the abandoned boat.
Many of the sports here have been adapted from colder climates, so instead of skiing down a mountain piste, try Khor Al Adaid beach to glide down the impressive dunes on a sand-board. Alternatively, race your blo-kart along the sands of Al Wakrah, south of capital Doha, to experience the thrill of wind-sailing on dry land.
The ancient carvings of Al Jassasiya lie to the north near Al Shamal, amid a truly remote landscape of village ruins and limestone. Hire a 4×4 of your own and make the journey to see the 900 petroglyphs which riddle the rocks here. The carvings denote flowers, animals, fleets of shows, or traditional Arab boats, and to this day, their origins remain a mystery.
When the time comes for a more relaxed excursion, you can do no better than a sunset cruise onboard a wooden dhow as you drift past the super-modern Doha seafront of Al-Corniche and the old harbor at Al Khor. If you’re still hankering after some adventure, rent a smaller vessel and go for a fishing trip the following day.
Much of the inland desert in Qatar remains inaccessible on foot, but fortunately, that’s where a 4×4 comes in very handy for a safari trip you won’t easily forget. There are numerous options available from Doha, including day-long excursions, bumping, and rolling to the inland sea at Khor Al Adaid. Or make the trip at dusk for a spot of star-gazing before you settle in Bedouin-style tents for the night.
Most activities can be arranged via a tour company. Although cash has been the predominant payment method in Qatar, this is beginning to change, which is good news for tourists since HSBC offers protection against loss or theft. If you’re planning on taking part in several activities, it can be handy to have some plastic on you to avoid expensive traveler’s cheques, plus credit cards from HSBC and other familiar providers also enable easy access to money at the ATMs. However, it’s wise to exercise caution, using only official bank machines here and sticking with local currency at the market and in smaller shops.
There’s no doubt that Qatar offers some world-class cultural attractions beyond the more energetic highlights, and while you’re in the country, set aside some time for the historic Al Zubarah fort or browse the recreated 19th-century Souk-Waqif, in Doha.
This country has been undervalued in the past but is now coming to the world’s attention. With its desert adventures, ancient sites, and thriving culture, this attention is thoroughly deserved.
This is a travel feature by world traveler, Jose Capelo. He loves exploring the top 5 outdoor adventure activities in Qatar and has spent many trips exploring the wild deserts of Qatar.
8 Things to do in Bondi in Winter
8 Things to do in Bondi in Winter
Bondi is well known for sun, surf, and fun, but what can you do if you find yourself there in the colder months from June to August? Here are a few suggestions for things to do in Sydney’s most popular suburb when the temperature drops.
8 Things to do in Bondi in Winter
1. Go on an art tour
If the weather doesn’t allow for the typical outdoorsy activities Bondi is known for, a tour of some of its first-rate art galleries can be a great way to spend an afternoon. Don’t miss the Cooee Aboriginal Art Gallery, dedicated to promoting Indigenous art, and the Bondi Art Lounge, where you can view works from local artists or even take a beginner class and create a masterpiece of your own.
2. Take a hike
In crisp cool temperatures, a hike along the coastal cliffs with a view of the gorgeous Pacific Ocean below can’t be beaten. One of the most popular hikes is the Bondi to Coogee Walk, which is 6 km and takes you through Sydney’s eastern suburbs and past plenty of cafes, restaurants, and kiosks where you can stop to rest and take in the sights.
3. Head to Bondi Icebergs for some winter swimming
Even during winter, swimming is not entirely out of the question in Bondi. The Oceanside pool at Bondi Icebergs Club is open year-round, and the winter swims every Sunday from May to September have become a time-honored tradition. Although club members must complete at least three winter swims a year to retain their lofty membership title, non-members who are up for the challenge can pay a one-time fee to use the pool and sauna.
4. Strap on your skates and visit the only beachside skating rink in Australia
If winter swimming is a step too far for you, why not skate instead? Bondi has Australia’s only beachside ice rink, and the ocean view in the background makes for a striking contrast. The ice rink is open from June 27 to July 13, and aside from hosting skating sessions that are open to the public, it also features spectacular ice shows from Stars On Ice.
5. Settle in for brunch at one of Bondi’s decadent cafes
Winter wouldn’t be the same without a few indulgences, and after all your skating and hiking, you’ve probably earned a hearty brunch anyway. Fortunately, Bondi is full of great brunch options, from Trio Café with delicacies like poached eggs with truffle oil and char-grilled halloumi; to the rustic Brown Sugar, where you can indulge in classic comfort food like buttermilk pancakes and English muffins with bacon.
6. Join a cooking class, dodge ball game, or salsa lesson
During the winter, it may seem like most people have gone off to hibernate, but if you know where to look, you can still find plenty of social things to do. Start by checking out the Bondi community page on Gumtree. You can find like-minded individuals to explore the area with or even join a group for fun activities like hiking, biking, or cooking.
7. Score some vintage fashion at Bondi Markets
The Bondi Markets, held every Sunday on Bondi Beach, are known in Sydney for being the best place to shop for vintage clothing and accessories and hip new fashions from emerging designers. Aside from style, you can also shop for art, furniture, flowers, books, local produce, and delicious street eats. Even if you don’t buy anything, it’s a great place to do some people-watching and see the Bondi locals in their element.
8. Stop by the Bondi Pavilion
The Bondi Pavilion is one of the suburb’s oldest landmarks dating back to 1928 when it first opened, featuring grand dining rooms, a lounge, a ballroom, and the Turkish and Hot Sea Water Baths. Today, it’s used as an art and cultural center and is home to a theatre group, recording studio, and art gallery. There’s always something going on here, from pottery classes to festivals to open-air cinemas, so check it out if you have a chance.
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