Treasures and Pleasures of Vietnam and Cambodia

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This guidebook examines the many travel pleasures and shopping treasures found in Vietnam with special emphasis on Hanoi, Danang/Hoi An, and Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City).

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Description

ISBN: 1-57023-156-7

NOTE: THIS BOOK IS OUT OF PRINT.

By Ron and Caryl Krannich, Ph.Ds

“You learn more about a place you are visiting when Impact is pointing the way.”

Washington Post

“Books in the series help travelers recognize quality and gain insight into local customs.”

Travel-Holiday

“An amazing, ‘user friendly’ touring, travel, and shopping guide [Vietnam and Cambodia]. Filled with sensible advice, maps, addresses, tips, great places to go and an easy index. Highly recommended for anyone planning a trip to these exotic and beautiful lands…a ‘must’ for getting the most out of a business or vacation trip to these exotic lands.”

The Midwest Book Review

“The ‘Treasures and Pleasures’ series is a wonderful concept. I’m ashamed to say that you know more about Saigon than this four-year resident!”

–Reader, Amazon.com

“I JUST WANTED TO THANK YOU for your shopping guide to Vietnam and Cambodia. We just spent our month-long honeymoon in Vietnam and it was very helpful to have read your book and to use it as a reference as we went along.”

–H.F., San Francisco

“A MUST HAVE read for our travel group to Vietnam.”

–S.B., Maryland

 

Welcome to the new Vietnam and Cambodia, where tourism and the global economy are taking center stage. Beautiful, friendly, optimistic, and ever resilient, these are two of the world’s best kept travel secrets.

Emphasizing the best of the best, this trail-blazing guide, part of our highly acclaimed Impact Guides travel series, will forever change your image of Vietnam and Cambodia.

Focusing on Hanoi, Hoi An, Saigon, Phnom Penh, and Siem Reap, two seasoned travel-shopping sleuths reveal in extraordinary detail the who, what, where, and how of acquiring fabulous art, antiques, jewelry, textiles, clothes, accessories, handicrafts, lacquerware, and pirated goods in the markets and street shops of these intriguing cities.

The authors include everything from pre-trip planning to 31 shopping rules and 10 great bargaining strategies. Jam-packed with contact information, including many key websites, for turning a trip into a wonderful travel-shopping adventure. 256 pages. 2002.

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

  1. Welcome to Surprising Vietnam and Cambodia
  2. Know Before You Go
  3. The Shopping Treasures and Rules for Success
  4. Hanoi
  5. Hoi An and Central Vietnam
  6. Saigon
  7. Cambodia

 

EXCERPT FROM CHAPTER 1: Tales of Three Cities

If this is your first trip to Vietnam, you’ll definitely want to visit our three regions and cities Hanoi, Danang/Hoi An, and Saigon.

Hanoi in the North remains one of Southeast Asia’s most unique cities with tree-lined boulevards, quaint French colonial architecture, and a pleasant outdoor ambience for walking, dining, and shopping.

This is also one of Asia’s major centers for art, with most of Vietnam’s famous painters working from studios in and around the city. From a cultural perspective, Hanoi is one huge art colony with gallery after gallery representing the very best of Vietnamese oil, watercolor, and lacquer paintings. If you enjoy contemporary and abstract art, especially with many local Vietnamese themes, youll fall in love with Hanoi – an art connoisseur’s paradise.

The political and cultural center for Vietnam, Hanoi will undoubtedly become your favorite city in Vietnam.

Its population of over 3 million mostly on foot, bicycles, or motorbikes crowd the city’s many narrow streets.

In addition to shopping, which has recently come of age in Hanoi, there’s plenty to see and do here, from museums, monuments, parks, and water puppet shows to side trips to villages and beautiful Halong Bay. Some of Vietnam’s best hotels and restaurants are found in the center of Hanoi, a convenient location from which to shop and sightsee.

Give yourself plenty of time to absorb this delightful city. In fact, you may want to start your Vietnam journey in Hanoi and work your way south to Saigon.

We recommend this approach because it’s a pleasant and manageable place from which to experience the best of Vietnam. The art alone is worth making Hanoi your first stop in Vietnam.

Danang and Hoi An along the Central coast, which also includes China Beach, was the great American staging area during the war of the 1960s and early 1970s.

But historically and culturally, this is the area of the ancient Chams who controlled this region from the 4th to the mid-19th centuries and left behind numerous brick and stone structures of particular interest to archaeologists and historians at the major Cham site of My Son as well as dozens of other sites along the coast.

After visiting the Cham Museum in Danang and perhaps the ruins at My Son, most visitors head for the charming riverside town of Hoi An and to the nearby stone carving center at the base of Marble Mountain to shop, dine, and enjoy the ambience of this fun area.

Hoi An is a unique art colony, textile center, and architectural community. Often crowded with visitors, the town is lined with numerous art galleries, tailoring shops, temples, museums, historical homes, and architectural delights to easily spend a full day absorbing its many treasures and pleasures.

Very different from the rest of the country, Hoi An may well become one of the highlights of your visit to Vietnam.

Saigon in the South is big and sprawling, boasting a population of over 7 million. It often gets a comparatively bad reputation because it lacks the ostensible beauty and character of Hanoi. But by any stretch of the imagination, Hanoi is not beautiful – it exudes crumbling Third World elegance and charm, a lumbering big town with a population of 3+ million that especially looks and feels great in the lights of night or along its lake shores in spring.

While not as leisurely and charming as Hanoi, nonetheless, Saigon is a very vibrant, colorful, and noisy city that offers many of Vietnam’s best travel and shopping amenities.

This high-energy city is undergoing dramatic economic changes with numerous new hotels, restaurants, shops, office buildings, bars, and nightclubs crowding for visibility in the downtown section that runs west from the Saigon River along Dong Khoi Street and adjacent thoroughfares.

Especially known for their entrepreneurism, the Saigonese offer some of the best shopping opportunities in Vietnam for everything from arts and handicrafts to tailored clothing, jewelry, and pirated videos and CDs.

Its city markets are second to none, especially in the adjacent city of Colon, which is Saigon’s famous Chinatown where capitalism is very much well and alive despite taking a beating for more than a decade.

Saigon is one of those cities that can be initially disorienting and unattractive compared to more laid-back and charming Hanoi.

But after two or three days, Saigon begins to grow on you as you discover its many hidden treasures and pleasures, including vibrant markets, temples, churches, cultural performances, art exhibits, and great views of the Saigon River. Energetic and optimistic, it’s a city that requires patience and perseverance.

Rising like a phoenix from its recent disgraced past, Saigon is becoming increasingly important to the overall economic development of Vietnam. It is to Hanoi what Shanghai is to Beijing – the country’s entrepreneurial center and economic powerhouse which occasionally needs to be reined in by the country’s political center.

Undergoing a major transformation, Saigon will most likely once again become one of Asia’s most important cities for business and tourism.

For tourists, this city has lots to offer, despite its many uninspired, tasteless, and boring monuments and propaganda museums emphasizing the fall of Saigon and the defeat of the Americans during the last great struggle – shopping is much more interesting than this institutional self-aggrandizement.

Take the obligatory propaganda tours, but get into the streets where Saigon really shines with its architecture, shops, restaurants, hotels, and living chaos of people. Nearby attractions include the fascinating Cu Chi Tunnels and the whole Mekong delta region.

Plan to spend at least a few days here – preferably more. Despite what others might say negative about Saigon, as compared to Hanoi, you won’t be disappointed if you approach it right.

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