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For anyone raised on stories of faraway adventures and beguiling cultures, a journey to Vietnam & Cambodia is a chance to at last unravel those mysteries and be immersed in a truly enchanting new corner of the world. It’s a place that feels as welcoming and familiar as it does captivating and foreign; a place full of endless natural wonders and astonishing cultural history. One thing is certain: your mind will linger here long after you’ve left its magic behind.
Meaning “Bay of the Descending Dragon,” Halong Bay’s water is calm and undisturbed despite the jutting limestone mountains that soar out of the water and toward the sky. As if a tail of a Dragon plunged into the earth, the mountains are craggy, sharp, and barren, and are dotted with thousands of small caves of various depths and heights. At dusk, they all take on mysterious shades of gray, mauve and olive, lending credence to the local legends.
Hanoi is a city with a history that dates back to the 7th century. In 1954 Hanoi was declared the capital of the Democratic Republic of North Vietnam, and in 1976, following the Vietnam War, it became the capital of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. This political history has made Hanoi one of the country's most fascinating cities to explore. The most renowned of all the monuments is the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum. It is dedicated to Vietnam's most well-respected President, who in 1945, led his country to independence. Other highlights include the Museum of History, containing ancient artifacts from Cambodia, Thailand, Japan and China, the 11th century One Pillar Pagoda and legendary Sword Lake.
The small provincial capital of Siem Reap stretches along the Siem Reap river – surrounded by rice paddies and serving as the gateway to centuries-old temple ruins of the Khmer Empire. Designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, Angkor Archaeological Park contains numerous temple ruins including Bayon, Banteay Srey and legendary Angkor Wat. Those visiting the site stay in Siem Reap. Experience some local flavor, attend a dance performance, or shop in some local craft shops. Angkor Wat’s artistic and archaeological significance rivals the Pyramids in Egypt, Machu Picchu in Peru and the Taj Mahal in India. Unspoiled by over-development, many areas of the area are possible to explore away from crowds. Its three-tiered massive pyramid is crowned by five beehive-like towers on the ground. It is the centerpiece of any visit to temples in Angkor. This amazing structure is thought to be dedicated to the Hindu god, Vishnu.
Hue is at the heart of central Vietnam. The landscape – with its misty Perfume River and pagodas – has long been a source of poetry and paintings. Always an important cultural, intellectual and historical city, Hue remains one of Vietnam’s main attractions.
Hoi An is an ancient port town that was designated an UNESCO World Heritage site. It is one of the rare places in Vietnam to discover genuine Vietnamese architecture. Walk through the Old Quarter and get a glimpse of a medieval Vietnam that no longer exists in the other areas of the country. Visit the Phuc Kien Pagoda, the 400-year-old Japanese Covered Bridge and the colorful bazaar
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