The country where the pho (a type of rice vermicelli cooked in soup) originates from, Vietnam is a country at odds, a place of simple living and yet a troubled past. Vietnamese are commonly dressed in robes called the áo dài and sport the traditional conical headwear nón lá.
Ho Chi Minh
The Jade Emperor Pagoda is not the typical pagoda with octagon-shaped roofs and multiple stories, but the temple is renowned for the details – but note that the air will be thick with incense smoke and could obscure your sight. Listen to survivors’ accounts of the war at the War Remnants Museum, and browse through the numerous displays. Brace yourself to haggle for your souvenirs at the Ben Thanh market, and get to bring home the goods.
The Citadel is a walled city, housing the likes of Forbidden Purple City and the ruins of the Imperial Enclosure used to house the emperor’s abode with the rest of the citadel in its glory days – but badly bombed, the structure is now simply a compound that has fallen into disrepair but is still interesting to explore. Thien Mu Pagoda stands at a height of more than 20m, an icon of Vietnam and also popular for political demonstrations.
Cat Ba Island
Visit the Cat Ba Island, more than half of which is a national park, to cast eyes upon the Ech Lake and explore the fascinating limestone hills, swamps, forests and waterfalls. Sail or kayak from Lan Ha Bay to see the coral reefs of the island up close, set up tent under the stars on the sands of Hai Pai Beach, and be sure to try out rock climbing at the Bay before leaving the island.
After completing your to-do list in Vietnam, consider creating a new one for the following destinations:
When you take the Moscow Metro about, don’t be rushing all over – instead, take a moment on the platform to appreciate the beautiful marbled stations. The Kremlin, home to five churches and the Patriach’s Palace, is the heart of political prowess in Russia. When visiting, however, remember that visitors in shorts will not be admitted. Last stop should be Izmaylozo Market, where all kinds of Soviet souvenirs can be found – pick up posters, jewelleries and crafts before heading home.
Las Vegas, USA
Take a break from the endless pull of the slot machines, table games of Black Jack and visit the Neon Museum on a guided tour. The Neon Boneyard – where the old neon signs go into retirement – is dazzling in the night when all lit-up. Come past the Atomic Testing Museum to a time when nuclear testing was still legal and practiced in Nevada, and take a trip out of Las Vegas to the magnificent Red Rock Canyon, where one of the most beautiful red rock valleys lie – there’s a drive-by or you could take a hike or climb.
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Ice-skate like a pro (or fall on your derriere) at the Dubai Mall, and be entranced by the sheer size of the mall that houses an aquarium, indoor theme parks and retail outlets. Burj Khalifa is a giant of architecture, proudly standing at more than 800m tall. The observation deck is on the 124th floor (To the acrophobic, you have been warned!), and an amazing view can be secured from there.
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