5 Great Places to visit in Vietnam

Image: Wikimedia / Genghiskhanviet - Public Domain

Known for its natural beauty and dizzying cultural experiences, there’s so much to experience in Vietnam. There’s so much to take in and eat in Vietnam. Many experts believe that Vietnamese food is second-to-none, and they also think that the best way to experience the land is to eat and drink with the locals. There is plenty of opportunities to do so while visiting the top destinations in Vietnam.

War Remnants Museum

War Remnants Museum
Image: Wikimedia / Prenn – CC BY-SA 3.0

Vietnam is no stranger to war. Located in the former US Information Service building, this site was formerly called the Museum of Chinese and American War Crimes. Today it is known as the War Remnants Museum. It’s a popular destination, particularly with Western tourists. This museum is known for depicting war atrocities vividly and powerfully. Displayed outside are armored vehicles, bombs and weapons from the U.S. Displayed on one side of the museum are the artifacts from French and South Vietnamese prisons, French appliances, tiger cages that were used to hold prisoners and the guillotine.
The international anti-war movement is displayed on the museum’s ground floor, and many say that it’s a nice balance to the horrible scenes shown in the other areas. Experimental war weapons and photos showing the atrocities of war can be seen on the upper floors. The Requiem Exhibition, which can be found on the upper floor, displays a collection of photographs that were taken by photographers who were killed during the war.

Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park

Phong Nha-Kẻ Bàng
Image: Wikimedia / Genghiskhanviet – Public Domain

In 2003, this national park was designated a Unesco World Heritage Site. This park features the karst mountains in Asia, which were formed approximately 400 million years ago. The caves found within the mountains are the highlights of the regions. In 2009, a diving team found the world’s largest cave, Son Doong. Because of the serious exploration of caves being in the 1990s, there aren’t very many sites that are approved for public access.
The above-ground forest trekking, rural mountain biking and war history are pretty popular too. There are 885 square kilometers of a tropical evergreen jungle to explore in this national park. The protected habitat borders the Hin Namno reserve in Laos. Nearly 100 types of mammals, 81 types of reptile and amphibians and 300 varieties of birds can be found here. While you can explore the national park, visits are strictly regulated.

Son My Memorial

Son My Memorial
Image: Wikimedia / -JvL- – CC BY 2.0

On March 16, 1968, U.S. troops committed a massacre that killed 504 villagers. The majority of those who were killed were children and the elderly. What’s now a tranquil, rural destination was the setting for this horrific war crime. To commemorate their memory, the Son My Memorial was constructed.
The memorial features an elderly woman with a dead child in her arms, holding up her fist in defiance. This monument rises above the rest of the landscape and is the centerpiece of the site. The rest of the monument depicts scenes of the awful events that took place on that day. However, the monument ends on a hopeful note as it details the local people’s efforts to rebuild their lives after the massacre. The display ends on a hopeful note, chronicling the efforts of the local people to rebuild their lives afterward.

Imperial Enclosure

Imperial Enclosure Vietnam
Image: Flickr / David McKelvey – CC BY 2.0

From mid-April to mid-September, the Imperial Enclosure remains open until 10 pm. This location is a citadel-within-a-citadel. It houses the emperor’s residence, as well as palaces, temples, and state buildings. Unfortunately, the remaining 20 structures are what’s left after the French and American wars resulted in the bombing of the structure. There are many restoration efforts underway. Despite the reconstruction efforts, you can expect a lot of broken rubble and stone. There are many opportunities to take a leisurely stroll and enjoy food in small cafes.

Hoa Lo Prison Museum

Hoa Lo Prison Museum
Image: Flickr / dronepicr – CC BY 2.0

Commonly referred to as the ‘Hanoi Hilton’ by US prisoners of war during the American War. This site is all that remains of the former Hoa Lo Prison. The prison, which was built in 1896, was designed to house 450 inmates. Despite this, records indicate that, at times, nearly 2,000 prisoners were held here. The majority of this museum’s exhibit describes how the prison was used. It mainly focuses on how the Vietnamese struggled to gain independence from France and features a relic of the guillotine.
Another feature in this museum discusses American pilots who were jailed here during the American War. Most exhibits relate to the prison’s use up to the mid-1950s, focusing on the Vietnamese struggle for independence from France. A gruesome relic is the ominous French guillotine, used to behead Vietnamese revolutionaries. There are also displays focusing on the American pilots like Pete Peterson and John McCain who were incarcerated at Hoa Lo during the American War.

Summary

Vietnam has so many rich historical and cultural sites to offer its visitors. Despite being fraught with gruesome history, Vietnam still has beauty in its scenery and its local peoples. From exploring the jungles and caves to walking the local streets to visiting museums to learn more, there is so much to do and take in a while on your trip to Vietnam.

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