Vietnam: a dream holiday destination

Vietnam is a dream destination for many tourists because of the rich culture of its ethnic groups and its captivating historical sites.
Today, Vietnam not only attracts tourists from around the world but also from the member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), including Laos.
Twenty Lao media personnel travelled to Vietnam earlier this month to visit tourist attractions in various provinces and learn about Vietnam’s heritage. 
This was the first time I had visited Vietnam on an official assignment. However, I’d travelled to Da Nang and Thua Thien-Hue six years ago on a leisure tour organised by my office.   

Lao journalists seen in front of Hue Palace in Thua Thien-Hue province, Vietnam.

The Lao group visited landmarks in Hanoi, Quang Binh, Thua Thien-Hue and Ho Chi Minh City. Vietnamese government agencies took good care of us and I went all day without feeling tired because all the places were so fascinating. I was happy and had good dreams while sleeping well at night.
Our tour started with a visit to the traditional Bat Trang village in Hanoi, located along the Red River.
A lot of people from the surrounding regions and abroad come to the village to buy ceramic products. There are many shops displaying items of different shapes and styles and the prices are quite reasonable.
“I want to buy something like many other people but unfortunately I don’t have much money. Next time, I should bring a lot of money with me,” one of the members of our group said.
In addition to items of daily use such as pots, cups and plates, people in our group bought souvenirs such as necklaces to give to their relatives and friends.
We then went to the Thang Long Imperial Citadel, which was recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2010. The site is important for its architecture, history and urban planning. As a key centre of the nation for more than 1,000 years, the site is a crucial part of Vietnam’s history.
The tour guide helped us learn more about Vietnam’s heritage and about the need to protect and preserve the values enshrined in heritage.
After three nights in Hanoi, we went to Noi Bai Airport to take a flight to Quang Binh province in the centre of Vietnam. This is a coastal province famous for its white sand beaches, and there is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site - Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park which has possibly the biggest cave in the world (Son Doong cave).
Recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2003 for its ancient karst formations and in 2015 for its biodiversity, Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park is part of Asia’s oldest karst mountains dating back 400 million years.
The National Park is located along the border between Quang Binh province in Vietnam and Khammuan province in Laos. The park is also connects to Hin Namno, otherwise known as the Stone Formation Forest Karst in Khammuan province’s National Protected Area, another beautiful place with breathtaking views.
The mountains here are part of the Annamite range, which runs between Laos and Vietnam. The area is also the single most abundant source of limestone in the country and has a high biodiversity of flora and fauna.
The Lao government is preparing to submit Hin Namno for listing by UNESCO as a world heritage site. The Lao and Vietnamese committees in charge have worked together to prepare the submission and have been on many trips to Khammuan province over the past few years.
Laos has to prepare all the documents needed to nominate the Hin Namno National Protected Area and officials are hopeful of completing the application by 2020.
Midway through our trip, we travelled to the central province of Thua Thien-Hue, one of the areas attracting investment in sectors such as tourism, IT, healthcare, education, high-tech agriculture and support industries.
The central city of Hue has a palace, which was the home of the dynasty’s last kings, Khai Dinh and Bao Dại.
We also visited Ho Chi Minh City’s museum, whose collection focuses on the liberation of southern Vietnam and national reunification on April 30, 1975.

BySamly Singhanath
(Latest Update December 31, 2018)

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