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Vietnam – new impressions


Hanoi Old Quarter.

The website of British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) has issued Graig Doyle’s notes about Vietnam tourism after his recent trip to the country. He said the Vietnamese tourism industry is developing and capable of attracting tourists. Nhan Dan Online introduces his notes as follow:

After an 18-hour journey, first impressions of Vietnam are bound to be somewhat bizarre. At 5.30am in Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam, most of the city's two million people seem to be up and about taking their morning constitutional. Hanoi was the starting point for a journey which took Craig around north and central Vietnam. The area saw some of the heaviest fighting during the war and has only relatively recently opened up to tourism.

Get mobile on a moped

Vietnam is one of the remaining Communist countries in the world, but if you didn't know it when you arrived, you would never have guessed it. Until recently there were only bicycles. Now, there are mopeds by the thousand. High-rise office blocks and hotels are beginning to invade Hanoi's traditional, low-rise skyline. The Hotel Melia in the centre of the city is one of only 18 western-style hotels in Hanoi and while it may be luxurious, it does feel out of place here.

Craig decided to head for the old city, a must if you've only got a few days in the city. It's a maze of 36 streets lined with Tamarind trees and named after the different trades and goods they specialise in. Times have changed too much to make the street names relevant; Bamboo Basket Street is now where the Vietnamese shop for haberdashery, whilst Herbal Medicine Street sells hardware. Goods are particularly cheap in the old city.

On to Hoi An

Leaving Hanoi, the next leg of the journey took Craig into the countryside where 90% of Vietnam's over 80 million people live. He headed south to the small town of Hoi An, an hour's flight away.

In Hoi An, the best way to explore the streets is by bike, they only cost about 60p for the day, although you'll find it impossible to hire a safety helmet. In rural areas, billiard halls are the place to be seen in once night falls. For the final leg of the trip, Craig took a car to Hue, over Cloudy Mountain, an area that saw some of the heaviest fighting during the Vietnam War. It's only 96.5km (60 miles) from Hoi An to Hanoi but the drive takes four to five hours. Despite being slow, the road over Cloudy Mountain was well worth the drive with beautiful views across the lush green mountains.

Hue is the cultural core

Hue is a big, bustling provincial town. Once Vietnam's capital, it's still at the country's cultural core. The centre of daily life in Hue is the market. Most people visit the market at least twice a day. Craig's guide, Tiger, advised him what to touch and what not to touch, which allowed him to enjoy the snacks that the market had to offer.

Buddhism is the main religion of Vietnam, and Hue is the spiritual centre. Once there were over 8 square kilometres (five square miles) of palaces and courtyards, but most were destroyed in 1968 when the Americans bombed the city. However, in a country that has relatively few formal sights like palaces and monuments, the Citadel is Vietnam's main tourist attraction_Nhan Dan

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