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The southern third of Vietnam is what is most in the imaginations of Americans, and is where most American visitors go. At its heart is bustling, commercial Ho Chi Minh City, still known to most as Saigon. A backwater after the US/Vietnam war, only ten years ago the tallest building in town was the Caravelle Hotel at ten stories high. Since then, with economic restructuring, mighty towers are rising all over the city center. Yet still Saigon maintains its faraway tropical charm, and is the culinary center of the nation. The southerly Mekong delta region, despite new roads and bridges, keeps its timeless ways and rhythms of life. Its rice ...

The southern third of Vietnam is what is most in the imaginations of Americans, and is where most American visitors go. At its heart is bustling, commercial Ho Chi Minh City, still known to most as Saigon. A backwater after the US/Vietnam war, only ten years ago the tallest building in town was the Caravelle Hotel at ten stories high. Since then, with economic restructuring, mighty towers are rising all over the city center. Yet still Saigon maintains its faraway tropical charm, and is the culinary center of the nation. The southerly Mekong delta region, despite new roads and bridges, keeps its timeless ways and rhythms of life. Its rice farmers, boatmen, fishermen and peddlers are indistinguishable from their forebears. Bird sanctuaries are numerous in the delta region, with some of the rarest and most beautiful avian creatures on the planet. Up from the river lowlands are the central highlands with the precious little town of Dalat at the top. Surrounded by waterfalls, and farms producing every conceivable fruit and vegetable and a nascent wine industry, it is an easy retreat from the lowland heat. But, then, there are also 500 miles of unspoiled beaches and a string of islands just waiting for a vagabond soul.

Richard Sterling
About the Expert

Richard Sterling is the author of Lonely Planet's World Food: Greece, Eyewitness Travel Guide Vietnam, and many other books.

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Richard Sterling for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

  • Location: Southeastern Asia, includes four subregions bordered by Cambodia to the west and the South China Sea to the East.
  • Language: Vietnamese
  • Currency: Dong
  • Research: Wikipedia | Wikitravel
  • Weather: Rainfall | Daylight
  • Current Time:

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    The climate is very even. Crowds and prices go up December-February due to Christmas and Tet.