travel guide Vietnam

7 Historical Landmarks to Visit in Vietnam

With a booming economy and heavy investments in infrastructure and the restoration of landmarks since 1990, Vietnam has become one of the most popular tourist destinations in Asia.

Sandwiched between China, Laos, Cambodia and the South China Sea, Vietnam is comparable in size to the state of New Mexico in the United States. Despite the small size, however, the country is full of cities and landmarks worth visiting. Unless visitors intend on staying an entire month, though, it’s near impossible to schedule visits to every site during a single trip. For help planning your trip, here’s a list of the top seven historical landmarks worth visiting in Vietnam.

1. Ha Long Bay

Located in the province of Quang Ninh, Ha Long Bay, or Bay of Descending Dragons, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Bay is comprised of over 2,000 islets, many of which were made from limestone that underwent millions of years of transformation from environmental conditions. Also located on many of the islands are caves, some of which are open for tourists to explore.

2. The Imperial City

Located in Huế, Vietnam, the Imperial City is enclosed by a fortress that’s surrounded by a moat, and was built in the early 17th century for the imperial family of the Nguyễn dynasty. Much of the city was destroyed during war but today restoration and reconstruction projects are well underway.

3. The Royal Tombs of Huế, Vietnam

Located along the Perfume River are the tombs of nine Nguyễn dynasty rulers. Each were individually designed, some by the rulers themselves.

4. Hoi An Ancient Town

Yet another UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Ancient Town is a beautiful preservation of a trading port that dates back to the 15th century. The architecture of the buildings dates as far back as two centuries and the city design itself reflects the broad multicultural influences common to port cities.

5. Ho Chi Minh City

There are too many sites within Ho Chi Minh City — formerly Saigon when it was the French colonial capital — to list them separately, so instead visitors should put aside a day or two to visit as many sites as possible. The most popular are the Reunification Palace, the Jade Emperor Table, which was built in 1909, and the Municipal Theater whose architecture reflects a French colonial influence. In fact, throughout the city the architecture reflects a French influence that dates back to colonial times.

6. The Temple of Literature, Hanoi, Vietnam

Originally built in 1070, the Temple of Literature is a temple of Confucius and the first university in Vietnam. The architecture and layout of the temple is a magnificent preservation of Vietnam’s culture and history.

7. One-Pillar Pagoda in Hanoi, Vietnam

One of the most iconic temples in Vietnam, the One-Pillar Pagoda is a Buddhist temple built in 1049 by the emperor Lý Thái Tông.

Photo by David McKelvey

England travel guide

Travel Through History in England

One of the biggest draws for visitors to England is the living history found throughout the country. From the mysterious pillars of Stonehenge  to the famous hands of Big Ben, the sights of England are those right out of our history books.  When it comes to World War II, England offers even more for the history buff.

Though the fighting of World War II took place all over Western Europe, for those with a keen interest in the war, England is a perfect base for seeing many of the most important sights. There are nearly a dozen important World War II sights in England and France so if you can stretch your trip to both countries with a eurail pass, you can see even more.

Check out the Churchill War Rooms in London and the sober Battle of Britain Memorial in Kent and then head over to France for a trip to the battle-scarred beaches of Normandy and the small town of Sainte-Mère-Église, where it is said that a soldier’s parachute became hooked on the town church, and he survived the battle by hanging there pretending to be dead as the fighting went on below.

Once you’ve had your fill of history for the trip, take in some of the more lighthearted activities in the area. There are plenty of things to do in Normandy, for example. Visit the beautiful Mont St. Michel, tour Monet’s gardens, and make your way along the cider route. Though the ugly past of World War II still haunts much of England and France, the present couldn’t be more beautiful.

Photo by: heatheronhertravels


Trainspotting and Trendsetting

Like any other metropolis, Edinburgh has its share of glitz and glamour, stoops and slums. The thing that has always intrigued me is the way that trend and fashion are often born in the precincts of the poor, only to be worn out by the machinations of popular culture and the lumbering action of the bandwagon. Edinburgh’s Leith district provides an illustration.


Edinburgh for Dummies Volume 2: Beaches and Coastal Villages

Edinburgh is surrounded by some of the most peaceful beaches in Scotland. And you don’t have to travel far from the city before you can enjoy a fresh sea breeze!