Vietnam is located in the southeastern portion of Asia. China is the country's northern neighbor. Vietnam also shares it borders with Laos and Cambodia.
The island's topography is mainly flat with a few low hills. The country was once covered with mangrove swamps and tropical rain forests until the country's push to rapidly modernize. Extensive land reclamation efforts in recent decades have actually increased the size of the country.
The geography of the country is extremely varied. Densely forested mountains yield to breathtaking passes then merge into low, flat deltas with their cultivated paddy fields. A long, narrow coastal strip follows the "S" shaped contour of the country culminating in thousands of islands and archipelagoes to explore. The country is divided into three distinct geographical regions. The terrain is hilly and mountains in the north. Central Vietnam is an area of highlands and the south is made up mostly of low, flat deltas.
Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park is home to some of the most dramatic landscapes including caves limestone formations, primitive tropical forest, unexplored mountain peaks, underground rivers with grottos and dozens of rare plant and animal species.
While there are dozens of cities throughout Vietnam that offer many beautiful attractions, two cities should definitely be included in any visit to Vietnam. Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) is near the delta of the Mekong River on the bank of the Saigon River. Ho Chi Minh City is Vietnam's largest city and the commercial center for Vietnam and many international companies. A lively, bustling city, it has wide boulevards and stately French colonial architecture that competes with modern skyscrapers. Good food and shopping opportunities are in endless supply, so take in the French Quarter, the delicacies of the Ben Thanh Market, and the mysterious Cholon area, Saigon's Chinatown.
Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam, has a distinctive European feel. Famous for its lush parks and peaceful lakes, it is laid-back and beautiful. At the center of this historical and cultural gem sits the tree-lined Hoan Kiem Lake. Famous for its parks and surrounding gardens, it has hundreds of pagodas and temples to explore. The Old Quarter to the north trades in specialty crafts difficult to find anywhere else. And to the west, many historical monuments, the most famous of which is Ho Chi Minh's Mausoleum, occupies the grounds of the former Imperial City. The French Quarter to the south is an elegant reminder of Vietnam's colonial past.
Hue is the ancient capital of Vietnam and home to imperial palaces, pagodas, temples, burial tombs and the scenic Perfume River. Ha Long Bay is an extraordinary natural wonder of emerald waters, sheer cliffs, and limestone & dolomite islands rising from the sea and shouldn't be missed.
Most visited cities: Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Hue