Vietnam is home to approximately 90 million people, and the country stretches over 1400 kilometers along the eastern coast of the Indochina Peninsula. Ho Chi Minh City is a bold, dynamic canvas on which a vibrant image is rapidly emerging; an image that is unique in the world and full of contradictions and surprises. In Hanoi, the capital, you sense the importance of how a country's past can inspire its future. Hanoi is often referred to as the political and cultural heart of Vietnam, whilst Ho Chi Minh City is the commercial hub.
This metropolitan is one of the most happening spots in South East Asia. The rapid development in the past 5 years has made this city uniquely charming, with Modern skyscrapers contrasting with beautifully-preserved French colonial architecture.
Known as the economic capital of Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh City has traded bicycles for motorbikes and roared its way into the 21st century, flags flying. Strolling – or if you're up for adventure, riding on a scooter - through the bustling streets, it's hard to imagine that only a generation earlier, this vivacious city was the scene of so much turmoil.
The people here welcome foreigners with a smile, in spite of their 4000-year struggle for autonomy. First the Chinese, then the French, and finally the Americans have all come and gone, leaving a cultural melting pot that steams with the spirit of progress.
Sometimes referred to as 'the grand old dame of the Orient', Hanoi is a city of intense tradition and robust culture. Unlike so many Asian capitals, Hanoi has maintained its historical authenticity. In 2010, Hanoi celebrated its 1000-year anniversary with a yearlong celebration to honour those Vietnamese who fought, in myriad ways, to develop Vietnam into the nation it has become, and to pass this proud history onto future generations. This quantifies what Hanoi is all about – looking to the past to inspire the future.
There is a quiet confidence about Hanoi that is seductive to those who stay still for long enough to find it; an edgy subculture that hums with creativity and artistic endeavour. Compared to their counterparts in the South, friendships in Hanoi are slower to kindle - but when they do they last a lifetime.