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The Lonely Planet, Vietnam!

When I told one of my dear friend about my upcoming trip to Vietnam, she said, “What! Are you the next anchor of LONELY PLANET?” I said, “No woman, I am going on vacation.” The flight to Vietnam required three stops: Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand, and then from there you need to take a flight to Ho Chi Min City, which is Vietnam’s Mumbai. We went to Danang, so it took us another 2 hour flight from Ho Chi Min City to get there.

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Danang is like Vietnam’s Goa (in India). It’s in the center of Vietnam with pristine, unspoiled land, with everlasting white sand beaches. Danang is still developing and you can see big brand’s construction coming up. We stayed in Furama Resort which is so far the best in Danang, and is listed in world’s best hotel list of 2010 and 2011; it opens to China Beach which is among the “10 best beaches of the world”. The resort is very close to Danang International Airport, and the interior and exterior are very plush, furnished mainly of wood which gives a feeling of tranquility.

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It has three very famous restaurants, a cool lounge, and it also has a very modern Club 99 which has a decent casino. The resort provides water sports, and it has a shuttle for the market, and the resort also has taxis on call from a very reputable chain and is quite reasonable. For 4 to 5 hours of hired taxi we paid 4 lakh 50 thousand rupees. Don’t stare the screen, check out the conversion. You will feel rich :-)

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The best thing I like about the place is the people. They are very hard working, very well behaved, and very humble. One of our friend who stays in Ho Chi Min City was telling us each person works together and is very entrepreneurial.

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Danang has some nicely built pagodas, which means temples. The one which we visited was the recently built and was very beautiful. The city has typical Vietnamese markets which gives you the feel of Crawford market and super store just like big bazaar; you can also take a tour of the city in a typical Vietnamese rickshaw.

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In the 6th and 7th century the Cham dynasty was highly influenced with Hinduism so you can go to see the ruins of the great empire, and if you doesn’t want to burn your head and get tanned then take a trip to Cham museum :) You can see many types of stone carved statues of Ganesha, Shiva, lord Vishnu, temple pillars and many Shiv lings.

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After spending two and a half day in Danang we headed for Ho Chi Min City, and our friend who moved there in January came to meet us :)  Ho Chi Min City is the business hub of Vietnam, but it has the “best of both worlds”. You can see the high rises as well as individual small and big houses, local markets, fashion boutiques, super markets, fashion malls, and street markets.

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Luckily our friend is a country head of Vietnam for one of the most prominent banks in the world, and so he has a huge villa with two in-house maids. His house was in the most posh neighborhood in the city which is built on the bank of the river Saigon. I was feeling like I was visiting Panchsheel or the Greenfield areas of Dehli :)

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The city’s recent name is Ho Chi Min City; earlier it was Saigon, because it is situated on the bank of the river Saigon. Vietnam is very famous for art, and especially for paintings. Lacer style is very prominent.

The next day our friend took us to art galleries, where you can get paintings varying from 12 dollars to 40 dollars to 100 to 800 and to 1000 dollars. Of course I bought a 50 dollar painting, those 1000 ones I can paint myself :-) Hoi_An_Vietnam_fishing_boat_photo_tour_joel_collins

There are lovely massage centers in the city, and our friend’s wife, a very sweet lady, took me to one of the finest centers and believe me it was nirvana, though I never liked the concept of guys doing massage but the kind of pressure they use no girl can beat it. Important note for my friends —- don’t run your imagination too far, it was a foot massage I went for, not for any hearty massage ;)

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Vietnam is widely influenced by French and US culture, which you can see in fashion, art, food and also in lifestyle. You get to see many pizza and pasta joints, many big and small cafes, and being a coastal area you get ample sea food. I had lovely time eating, since 2009 I started eating more than chicken and fish that I really enjoyed, and also spicy beef curry, pork and shrimp dim sums, fried red snapper, crab cake, squid stir fry and many more mouth watering dishes.

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If you are in Vietnam you can’t miss the typical Vietnamese coffee which comes exactly like the filtered ones we drink in south, the only difference being you have to pour it in glass full of ice and also add condensed milk. The small stalls have very low tables and chairs to sit, which looks adorable and cute and the truth is comfortable too :)

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Over all our experience in the country was very good, people were really nice and very cool, and with fast growing economy the country gives you everything, including a very affordable price; what else do you need? A vacation which suits your wallet and mood, and that’s what makes you happy tourist. At least we can say we were the very happy and contented tourist in Vietnam :)

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Typical Vietnamese rickshaw here, you sit facing the front and he sits behind you, and it’s you who moves forward with driver behind you :).

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Article By Megha Shrivastava Khare.

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