Head-spinning contradictions and character

Any preconceived notion of Vietnam will quickly disintegrate upon arrival. The most enthralling country in southeast Asia is dynamic, diverse and full of head-spinning contradictions.

Long, narrow and boasting 3,444km of coastline, Vietnam’s character varies from one province to the next. The north has limestone mountains, hill tribes, world famous Halong Bay and the vibrant capital city of Hanoi. In the centre, the largest cave in the world, waterfalls and the charming UNESCO World Heritage town of Hoi An. The south has languid beaches, tropical islands, the fertile Mekong Delta and Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam’s largest metropolis.

Venture outside of the cities and it doesn’t take long to find yourself immersed in a traditional rural world of agriculture and fishing. Imperial dynasty, French colonial and war-time vestiges remain — and some citizens continue to suffer from the legacy of Agent Orange and unexploded ordinances. But Vietnam isn’t focused on its turbulent past; nearly 100 million citizens are busy hustling for a brighter future. The result is a fascinating mix of old and modernity.

Just when you think you have the country figured out, it’ll surprise like a cinematic plot twist. Unabating, unforgettable — that’s Vietnam.

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