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Plan your perfect trip to the top destinations in Vietnam – Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC), formerly Saigon; and the capital, Hanoi. In HCMC you’d be able to see the Reunification/Independence Palace that used to be the presidential residence during the US/Vietnam War until 1975 when Saigon fell. There are also buildings in HCMC that have been made during the French occupation of Vietnam. One of them is the General Post Office with its neoclassical design and that stunning ceiling. Another point of interest in HCMC is the Basilica of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception aka the Notre-Dame. Other places to go to while in HCMC are the War Remnant Museum and the Cu Chi Tunnels. The museum shows the tragedy of the US/Vietnam war while the Cu Chi Tunnels, about an hour outside HCMC, are 200km long 3-8m deep tunnel network that were used by the Viet Cong to elude the Americans. On the way to the Cu Chi Tunnels from HCMC you can visit the Cao Dai cathedral, the main shrine of Caodaism in Vietnam. This religion merges Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism and Catholicism.
Besides HCMC, you can also go to Hanoi, Vietnam’s capital. One of the places to go to in Hanoi is the But Thap Pagoda. Inside, you’d see classical Vietnamese Buddhist wood carvings and sculptures. The masterpiece you’d see is quite extraordinary – the thousand-handed and thousand-eyed Guanyin. There’s also the Tran Quoc Pagoda which is the oldest in the city at around 1,400 years. On the grounds of the pagods is a Bodhi tree that came from the original Bodha Gaya in India where Buddha sat and achieved enlightenment. The best time to visit the Tran Quoc is during sunset when the light touches the water around and illuminates the whole area in breathtaking orange glow. Then there’s the Hoan Kiem Lake and the Ngoc Son Temple beside it. The temple is dedicated to the Confucian and Taoist philosopher and national hero Tran Hung Dao. You’d see the preserved remains of a giant soft-shelled turtle inside; one of the very few resident giant turtles in the lake.