Historic Sites in Vietnam

Historic Sites in Vietnam

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1. Hoa Lo Prison

Built in stages between 1886 and 1901 in downtown Hanoi by the French, Hoa Lo Prison – translated as ‘fiery furnace’ or ‘Hell’s hole’ – was a place of incomprehensible brutality.

Save for the small southern section, the prison was demolished in the mid-1990s and today, the museum focuses predominantly on the French colonial era and has been described as a ‘bare-knuckles recreation of destitution’. See a gruesome array of chains, shackles, the guillotine and other torture instruments, the cells and the iron doors that were built and shipped over from France.

Top 4 Historical War Sites in Southern Vietnam

I visited Vietnam – an S-shaped country – for many times. For each time of visit, different experiences were left on my mind. Vietnam has many beautiful attractions, however, in this trip, I was more focused on the history of Vietnam. I was very impressed by Southerner people who have always been friendly, optimistic and hospitable. Along with the pace of the modern life, the South of the country remains its own tradition through a lot of battle sites. And visiting historic war sites in the region may be both emotional and educational.

The Vietnam War has had a major impact on millions of people’s lives. So, discovering these sites was indeed a memorable part of my trip to Vietnam, particularly the South. Whether you are a history buff, or you just satisfy your curiosity, just keep these 4 historic war sites in mind while making a trip to Vietnam.

The 2 places I’m talking about in this post are located inside Hochiminh city, so make sure you also check the top 10 places to visit in Saigon as well to make your trip complete.

24. Con Dao Islands

Under French rule, the Con Dao Islands were known as the Devil’s Island of Indochina, a place where thousands of prisoners of war were kept. Today, this group of 16 islands off the southern coast of Vietnam has a completely different purpose. Visitors come for the beautiful beaches and the abundance of scuba diving and snorkeling spots. However, the history of Con Dao can still be explored at some of the prison buildings that still stand.

Geography and Climate

Vietnam has an area of 331,210 sq km (127,881 sq miles), along with the eastern coastal strip of Southeast Asia. The majority of the land is hilly or mountainous and heavily forested, with only about 20% flatlands. Most cities and farms are concentrated around river valleys and deltas.

Vietnam borders China, Laos, and Cambodia. The highest point is Fan Si Pan, at 3,144 meters (10,315 feet) in elevation. The lowest point is sea level at the coast.

Vietnam's climate varies with both latitude and elevation, but generally, it is tropical and monsoonal. The weather tends to be humid year-round, with substantial rainfall during the summer rainy season and less during the winter "dry" season.

Temperatures do not vary much throughout the year, generally, with an average around 23°C (73°F). The highest temperature ever recorded was 42.8°C (109 °F), and the lowest was 2.7°C (37°F).

Hoi An Ancient Town

UNESCO declared the peaceful old town of Hoi An as a Heritage site thanks to the unique blend of local, foreign, and medieval influences in 1999. In the 15th to 19th century, the small town was a Southeast Asian trading port. Most of the buildings in the ancient city have a traditional architectural design of the 19th and 20th century. The site located in Quang Nam Province is a major tourist destination and foreign investors invest heavily here, thanks to the fused cultures in an international maritime commercial center.


The various people arrived on territory, that constitutes the modern state of Vietnam in many stages, often separated by thousands of years. Australo-Melanesians were the first to settle in numbers during the Paleolithic and by around 30,000 years ago are present in all regions of Southeast Asia. In most lands they were eventually displaced from the coastal lowlands and pushed to the uplands and hinterlands by later immigrants. [10] The territories of modern central and southern Vietnam, originally not belonging to the Vietnamese kingdom were only conquered between the 14th and 18th centuries. The indigenous peoples of those lands had developed a distinct culture from the ancient Vietnamese in the Red River Delta region. The ancient Sa Huỳnh culture of present-day central Vietnam is known for the quantities of iron objects and decorative items made from glass, semi-precious and precious stones such as agate, carnelian, rock crystal, amethyst, and nephrite. [11] The Sa Huỳnh, who maintained an extensive trade network were most likely the predecessors of the Cham people. [12]

The Cham people, who for over one thousand years settled in, controlled and civilized present-day central and southern coastal Vietnam from around the 2nd century AD are of Austronesian origin. The southernmost sector of modern Vietnam, the Mekong Delta and its surroundings was until the 18th century an integral part, yet of shifting significance of the Austroasiatic Proto-Khmer - and Khmer principalities, like Funan, Chenla, the Khmer Empire and the Khmer kingdom. [13] [14] [15]

The classic core population, the Lạc Việt of the rice-farming Phung Nguyen culture and future nation builders, who had found themselves in the Red River basin are predominantly descendants of ancient agricultural communities of the Yangtze and southern and central China region, who have arrived in Indochina around 2000 years BC. [ citation needed ] [16] [17]

Situated on the southeast edge of monsoon Asia, much of ancient Vietnam enjoyed a combination of high rainfall, humidity, heat, favorable winds, and fertile soil. These natural sources combined to generate an unusually prolific growth of rice and other plants and wildlife. This region's agricultural villages held well over 90 percent of the population. The high volume of rainy season water required villagers to concentrate their labor in managing floods, transplanting rice, and harvesting. These activities produced a cohesive village life with a religion in which one of the core values was the desire to live in harmony with nature and with other people. The way of life, centered in harmony, featured many enjoyable aspects that the people held beloved. Example included people not needing many material things, enjoyment of music and poetry, and living in harmony with nature. [18]

Fishing and hunting supplemented the main rice crop. Arrowheads and spears were dipped in poison to kill larger animals such as elephants. Betel nuts were widely chewed and the lower classes rarely wore clothing more substantial than a loincloth. Every spring, a fertility festival was held which featured huge parties and sexual abandon. Since around 2000 BC, stone hand tools and weapons improved extraordinarily in both quantity and variety. Pottery reached a higher level of technique and decoration style. The Vietnamese people were mainly agriculturists, growing the wet rice Oryza, which became the main staple of their diet. During the later stage of the first half of the 2nd millennium BC, the first appearance of bronze tools took place despite these tools still being rare. By about 1000 BC, bronze replaced stone for about 40 percent of edged tools and weapons, rising to about 60 percent. Here, there were not only bronze weapons, axes, and personal ornaments, but also sickles and other agriculture tools. Toward the closure of the Bronze Age, bronze accounts for more than 90 percent of tools and weapons, and there are exceptionally extravagant graves – the burial places of powerful chieftains – containing some hundreds of ritual and personal bronze artifacts such as musical instruments, bucket-shaped ladles, and ornament daggers. After 1000 BC, the ancient Vietnamese people became skilled agriculturalists as they grew rice and kept buffaloes and pigs. They were also skilled fishermen and bold sailors, whose long dug-out canoes traversed the eastern sea

Hồng Bàng dynasty Edit

According to a legend which first appeared in the 14th century book Lĩnh nam chích quái, the tribal chief Lộc Tục (c. 2919 – 2794 BC) proclaimed himself as Kinh Dương Vương and founded the state of Xích Quỷ in 2879 BC, that markes the beginning of the Hồng Bàng dynastic period. However, modern Vietnamese historians assume, that statehood was only developed in the Red River Delta by the second half of 1st millennium BC. Kinh Dương Vương was succeeded by Sùng Lãm (c. 2825 BC – ?). The next royal dynasty produced 18 monarchs, known as the Hùng Kings, who renamed their country Văn Lang. [19] The administrative system includes offices like Lạc tướng, Lạc hầu and Bố chính. [20] Great numbers of metal weapons and tools excavated at various Phung Nguyen culture sites in northern Indochina are associated with the beginning of the Copper Age in Southeast Asia. [21] Furthermore, the beginning of the Bronze Age has been verified for around 500 B.C. at Đông Sơn. The local Lạc Việt community had developed a highly sophisticated industry of quality bronze production, processing and the manufacturing of tools, weapons and exquisite Bronze drums. Certainly of symbolic value they were intended to be used for religious or ceremonial purposes. The craftsmen of these objects required refined skills in melting techniques, in the Lost-wax casting technique and acquired master skills of composition and execution for the elaborate engravings. [22] [23]

The Legend of Thánh Gióng tells of a youth, who leads the Văn Lang kingdom to victory against the Chinese invaders, saves the country and goes straight to heaven. [24] [25] He wears iron armor, rides an armored horse and wields an iron sword. [26] The image implies a society of a certain sophistication in metallurgy as well as An Dương Vương's Legend of the Magic Crossbow, a weapon, that can fire thousands of bolts simultaneously, seems to hint at the extensive use of archery in warfare. The about 1,000 traditional craft villages of the Hồng River Delta near and around Hanoi represented throughout more than 2,000 years of Vietnamese history the national industrial and economic backbone. [27] Countless, mostly small family run manufacturers have over the centuries preserved their ethnic ideas by producing highly sophisticated goods, built temples and dedicated ceremonies and festivals in an unbroken culture of veneration for these legendary popular spirits. [28] [29] [30]

Âu Lạc kingdom (257–179 BC) Edit

By the 3rd century BC, another Viet group, the Âu Việt, emigrated from present-day southern China to the Hồng River delta and mixed with the indigenous Văn Lang population. In 257 BC, a new kingdom, Âu Lạc, emerged as the union of the Âu Việt and the Lạc Việt, with Thục Phán proclaiming himself "An Dương Vương" ("King An Dương"). Some modern Vietnamese believe that Thục Phán came upon the Âu Việt territory (modern-day northernmost Vietnam, western Guangdong, and southern Guangxi province, with its capital in what is today Cao Bằng Province). [31]

After assembling an army, he defeated and overthrew the eighteenth dynasty of the Hùng kings, around 258 BC. He then renamed his newly acquired state from Văn Lang to Âu Lạc and established the new capital at Phong Khê in the present-day Phú Thọ town in northern Vietnam, where he tried to build the Cổ Loa Citadel (Cổ Loa Thành), the spiral fortress approximately ten miles north of that new capital. However, records showed that espionage resulted in the downfall of An Dương Vương. At his capital, Cổ Loa, he built many concentric walls around the city for defensive purposes. These walls, together with skilled Âu Lạc archers, kept the capital safe from invaders.

Nanyue (180 BC–111 BC) Edit

In 207 BC, the former Qin general Chao T'o (pinyin: Zhao Tuo) established an independent kingdom in the present-day Guangdong/Guangxi area of China's southern coast. [32] He proclaimed his new kingdom as Nam Việt (pinyin: Nanyue), to be ruled by the Triệu dynasty. [32] Triệu Đà later appointed himself a commandant of central Guangdong, closing the borders and conquering neighboring districts and titled himself "King of Nam Viet". [32] In 179 BC, he defeated King An Dương Vương and annexed Âu Lạc. [33]

The period has been given some controversial conclusions by Vietnamese historians, as some consider Triệu's rule as the starting point of the Chinese domination, since Triệu Đà was a former Qin general whereas others consider it still an era of Vietnamese independence as the Triệu family in Nam Việt were assimilated into local culture. [34] They ruled independently of what then constituted the Han Empire. At one point, Triệu Đà even declared himself Emperor, equal to the Han Emperor in the north. [32]

First Chinese domination (111 BC–40 AD) Edit

In 111 BC, Han China invaded Nam Việt and established new territories, dividing Vietnam into Giao Chỉ (pinyin: Jiaozhi), now the Red River delta Cửu Chân from modern-day Thanh Hóa to Hà Tĩnh and Nhật Nam (pinyin: Rinan), from modern-day Quảng Bình to Huế. While governors and top officials were Chinese, the original Vietnamese nobles (Lạc Hầu, Lạc Tướng) from the Hồng Bàng period still managed in some of the highlands. During this period, Buddhism was introduced into Vietnam from India via the Maritime Silk Road, while Taoism and Confucianism spread to Vietnam through the Chinese rules. [35]

Trưng Sisters' rebellion (40–43) Edit

In February 40 AD, the Trưng Sisters led a successful revolt against Han Governor Su Dung (Vietnamese: Tô Định) and recaptured 65 states (including modern Guangxi).Trưng Trắc, angered by the killing of her husband by Su Dung, led the revolt together with her sister, Trưng Nhị. Trưng Trắc later became the Queen (Trưng Nữ Vương). In 43 AD, Emperor Guangwu of Han sent his famous general Ma Yuan (Vietnamese: Mã Viện) with a large army to quell the revolt. After a long, difficult campaign, Ma Yuan suppressed the uprising and the Trung Sisters committed suicide to avoid capture. To this day, the Trưng Sisters are revered in Vietnam as the national symbol of Vietnamese women. [36]

Second Chinese domination (43–544) Edit

Learning a lesson from the Trưng revolt, the Han and other successful Chinese dynasties took measures to eliminate the power of the Vietnamese nobles. [37] The Vietnamese elites were educated in Chinese culture and politics. A Giao Chỉ prefect, Shi Xie, ruled Vietnam as an autonomous warlord for forty years and was posthumously deified by later Vietnamese monarchs. [38] [39] Shi Xie pledged loyalty to Eastern Wu of the Three Kingdoms era of China. The Eastern Wu was a formative period in Vietnamese history. According to Stephen O'Harrow, Shi Xie was essentially "the first Vietnamese." [40] Nearly 200 years passed before the Vietnamese attempted another revolt. In 248 a Yue woman, Triệu Thị Trinh with her brother Triệu Quốc Đạt, popularly known as Lady Triệu (Bà Triệu), led a revolt against the Wu dynasty. Once again, the uprising failed. Eastern Wu sent Lu Yin and 8,000 elite soldiers to suppress the rebels. [41] He managed to pacify the rebels with a combination of threats and persuasion. According to the Đại Việt sử ký toàn thư (Complete Annals of Đại Việt), Lady Triệu had long hair that reached her shoulders and rode into battle on an elephant. After several months of warfare she was defeated and committed suicide. [42]

First Cham kingdom (192–629) Edit

At the same time, in present-day Central Vietnam, there was a successful revolt of Cham nations in 192. Chinese dynasties called it Lin-Yi (Lin village Vietnamese: Lâm Ấp). It later became a powerful kingdom, Champa, stretching from Quảng Bình to Phan Thiết (Bình Thuận).

Funan kingdom (68–550) Edit

In early first century AD, on the lower Mekong, the first Indianized kingdom of Southeast Asia which the Chinese called them Funan emerged and became the great economic power in the region, its capital Óc Eo attracted merchants from China, India and even Rome. The first ruler of Funan, Kaundinya I established relations with Imperial China. Funan is said to be the first Khmer state, otherwise Austronesian, or multiethnic. According to Chinese annals, the last king of Funan, Rudravarman (r. 514–545) sent many embassy to China. Also according to Chinese annals, Funan might have been conquered by another kingdom called Chenla around 627 AD, ended the kingdom of Funan. [43]

Kingdom of Vạn Xuân (544–602) Edit

In the period between the beginning of the Chinese Age of Fragmentation and the end of the Tang dynasty, several revolts against Chinese rule took place, such as those of Lý Bôn and his general and heir Triệu Quang Phục. All of them ultimately failed, yet most notable were those led by Lý Bôn and Triệu Quang Phục, who ruled the briefly independent Van Xuan kingdom for almost half a century, from 544 to 602, before Sui China reconquered the kingdom. [44]

Third Chinese domination (602–905 AD) Edit

During the Tang dynasty, northern Vietnam was put under Annan Protectorate from 679 AD to 866 AD. With its capital around modern Bắc Ninh, Annan became a flourishing trading outpost, receiving goods from the southern seas. Around the 7th century, the Vietic peoples (ancestors of the Vietnamese) probably migrated from the Annamites to the Red River Delta. From 858 to 864, Nanzhao army from Yunnan aided with local Vietnamese rebels attacked the Tang Annan and destroyed the Chinese army of 150,000. In 866, Chinese jiedushi Gao Pian recaptured the city and drove out the Nanzhao army. He renamed the city to Daluocheng (大羅城, Đại La thành).

In 866, Annan was renamed Tĩnh Hải quân. Early in the 10th century, as China became politically fragmented, successive lords from the Khúc clan, followed by Dương Đình Nghệ, ruled Tĩnh Hải quân autonomously under the Tang title of Jiedushi (Vietnamese: Tiết Độ Sứ), (governor), but stopped short of proclaiming themselves kings.

Autonomous era (905–938) Edit

Since 905, Tĩnh Hải circuit had been ruled by local Vietnamese governors like an autonomous state. [45] Tĩnh Hải circuit had to paid tributes for Later Liang dynasty to exchange political protection. [46] In 923, the nearby Southern Han invaded Jinghai but was repelled by Vietnamese leader Dương Đình Nghệ. [47] In 938, the Chinese state Southern Han once again sent a fleet to subdue the Vietnamese. General Ngô Quyền (r. 939–944), Dương Đình Nghệ's son-in-law, defeated the Southern Han fleet at the Battle of Bạch Đằng (938). He then proclaimed himself King Ngô, established a monarchy government in Cổ Loa and effectively began the age of independence for Vietnam.

The basic nature of Vietnamese society changed little during the nearly 1,000 years between independence from China in the 10th century and the French conquest in the 19th century. Viet Nam, named Dai Viet (Great Viet) was a stable nation, but village autonomy was a key feature. Villages had a unified culture centered around harmony related to the religion of the spirits of nature and the peaceful nature of Buddhism. While the king was the ultimate source of political authority, a saying was, "The King's Laws end at the village gate". The king was the final dispenser of justice, law, and supreme commander-in-chief of the armed forces, as well as overseer of religious rituals. Administration was carried out by mandarins who were trained exactly like their Chinese counterparts (i.e. by rigorous study of Confucian texts). Overall, Vietnam remained very efficiently and stably governed except in times of war and dynastic breakdown. Its administrative system was probably far more advanced than that of any other Southeast Asian states and was more highly centralized and stably governed among Asian states. No serious challenge to the king's authority ever arose, as titles of nobility were bestowed purely as honors and were not hereditary. Periodic land reforms broke up large estates and ensured that powerful landowners could not emerge. No religious/priestly class ever arose outside of the mandarins either. This stagnant absolutism ensured a stable, well-ordered society, but also resistance to social, cultural, or technological innovations. Reformers looked only to the past for inspiration. [48]

Literacy remained the province of the upper classes. Initially, Chinese was used for writing purposes, but by the 11th century, a set of derivative characters known as Chữ Nôm emerged that allowed native Vietnamese words to be written. However, it remained limited to poetry, literature, and practical texts like medicine while all state and official documents were written in Classical Chinese. Aside from some mining and fishing, agriculture was the primary activity of most Vietnamese, and economic development and trade were not promoted or encouraged by the state. [49]

Independent era (939–1407) Edit

Ngô, Đinh, & Early Lê dynasties (938–1009) Edit

Ngô Quyền in 939 declared himself king but died after only 5 years. His untimely death after a short reign resulted in a power struggle for the throne, resulting in the country's first major civil war, the upheaval of the Twelve Warlords (Loạn Thập Nhị Sứ Quân). The war lasted from 944 to 968 until the clan led by Đinh Bộ Lĩnh defeated the other warlords, unifying the country. [50] Đinh Bộ Lĩnh founded the Đinh dynasty and proclaimed himself Đinh Tiên Hoàng (Đinh the Majestic Emperor) and renamed the country from Tĩnh Hải quân to Đại Cồ Việt (literally "Great Viet"), with its capital in the city of Hoa Lư (modern-day Ninh Bình Province). The new emperor introduced strict penal codes to prevent chaos from happening again. He then tried to form alliances by granting the title of Queen to five women from the five most influential families. Đại La became the

In 979, Emperor Đinh Tiên Hoàng and his crown prince Đinh Liễn were assassinated by Đỗ Thích, a government official, leaving his lone surviving son, the 6-year-old Đinh Toàn, to assume the throne. Taking advantage of the situation, Song China invaded Đại Cồ Việt. Facing such a grave threat to national independence, the commander of the armed forces, (Thập Đạo Tướng Quân) Lê Hoàn took the throne, replaced the house of Đinh and established the house of Lê. A capable military tactician, Lê Hoan realized the risks of engaging the mighty Song troops head on thus he tricked the invading army into Chi Lăng Pass, then ambushed and killed their commander, quickly ending the threat to his young nation in 981. The Song dynasty withdrew their troops and Lê Hoàn was referred to in his realm as Emperor Đại Hành (Đại Hành Hoàng Đế). [51] Emperor Lê Đại Hành was also the first Vietnamese monarch who began the southward expansion process against the kingdom of Champa.

Emperor Lê Đại Hành's death in 1005 resulted in infighting for the throne amongst his sons. The eventual winner, Lê Long Đĩnh, became the most notorious tyrant in Vietnamese history. He devised sadistic punishments of prisoners for his own entertainment and indulged in deviant sexual activities. Toward the end of his short life – he died at the age of 24. Lê Long Đĩnh had become so ill that he had to lie down when meeting with his officials in court. [52]

Lý dynasty, Trần dynasty & Hồ dynasty (1009–1407) Edit

When the king Lê Long Đĩnh died in 1009, a palace guard commander named Lý Công Uẩn was nominated by the court to take over the throne, and founded the Lý dynasty. [53] This event is regarded as the beginning of another golden era in Vietnamese history, with the following dynasties inheriting the Lý dynasty's prosperity and doing much to maintain and expand it. The way Lý Công Uẩn ascended to the throne was rather uncommon in Vietnamese history. As a high-ranking military commander residing in the capital, he had all opportunities to seize power during the tumultuous years after Emperor Lê Hoàn's death, yet preferring not to do so out of his sense of duty. He was in a way being "elected" by the court after some debate before a consensus was reached. [54]

The Lý monarchs are credited for laying down a concrete foundation for the nation of Vietnam. In 1010, Lý Công Uẩn issued the Edict on the Transfer of the Capital, moving the capital Đại Cồ Việt from Hoa Lư, a natural fortification surrounded by mountains and rivers, to the new capital in present-day Hanoi, Đại La, which was later renamed Thăng Long (Ascending Dragon) by Lý Công Uẩn, after allegedly seeing a dragon flying upwards when he arrived at the capital. [55] [56] Moving the capital, Lý Công Uẩn thus departed from the militarily defensive mentality of his predecessors and envisioned a strong economy as the key to national survival. The third emperor of the dynasty, Lý Thánh Tông renamed the country "Đại Việt" (大越, Great Viet). [57] Successive Lý emperors continued to accomplish far-reaching feats: building a dike system to protect rice farms founding the Quốc Tử Giám [58] the first noble university and establishing court examination systemm to select capable commoners for government positions once every three years organizing a new system of taxation [59] establishing humane treatment of prisoners. Women were holding important roles in Lý society as the court ladies were in charge of tax collection. Neighboring Dali kingdom's Vajrayana Buddhism traditions also had influences on Vietnamese beliefs at the time. Lý kings adopted both Buddhism and Taoism as state religions. [60]

The Vietnamese during Lý dynasty had one major war with Song China, and a few invasive campaigns against neighboring Champa in the south. [61] [62] The most notable conflict took place on Chinese territory Guangxi in Late 1075. Upon learning that a Song invasion was imminent, the Vietnamese army under the command of Lý Thường Kiệt, and Tông Đản used amphibious operations to preemptively destroy three Song military installations at Yongzhou, Qinzhou, and Lianzhou in present-day Guangdong and Guangxi, and killed 100,000 Chinese. [63] [64] The Song dynasty took revenge and invaded Đại Việt in 1076, but the Song troops were held back at the Battle of Như Nguyệt River commonly known as the Cầu river, now in Bắc Ninh province about 40 km from the current capital, Hanoi. Neither side was able to force a victory, so the Vietnamese court proposed a truce, which the Song emperor accepted. [65] Champa and the powerful Khmer Empire took advantage of Đại Việt's distraction with the Song to pillage Đại Việt's southern provinces. Together they invaded Đại Việt in 1128 and 1132. [66] Further invasions followed in the subsequent decades. [67]

Toward the declining Lý monarch's power in late 12th century, the Trần clan from Nam Định eventually rise to power. [68] In 1224, powerful court minister Trần Thủ Độ forced the emperor Lý Huệ Tông to become a Buddhist monk and Lý Chiêu Hoàng, Huệ Tông's 8-year-old young daughter, to become ruler of the country. [69] Trần Thủ Độ then arranged the marriage of Chiêu Hoàng to his nephew Trần Cảnh and eventually had the throne transferred to Trần Cảnh, thus begun the Trần dynasty. [70]

Trần Thủ Độ viciously purged members of the Lý nobility some Lý princes escaped to Korea, including Lý Long Tường. After the purge, the Trần emperors ruled the country in similar manner to the Lý kings. Noted Trần monarch accomplishments include the creation of a system of population records based at the village level, the compilation of a formal 30-volume history of Đại Việt (Đại Việt Sử Ký) by Lê Văn Hưu, and the rising in status of the Nôm script, a system of writing for Vietnamese language. The Trần dynasty also adopted a unique way to train new emperors: when a crown prince reached the age of 18, his predecessor would abdicate and turn the throne over to him, yet holding the title of Retired Emperor (Thái Thượng Hoàng), acting as a mentor to the new Emperor.

During the Trần dynasty, the armies of the Mongol Empire under Möngke Khan and Kublai Khan invaded Annam in 1258, 1285, and 1287-88. Annam repelled all attacks of the Yuan Mongols during the reign of Kublai Khan. Three Mongol armies said to have numbered from 300,000 to 500,000 men were defeated. [ disputed – discuss ] The key to Annam's successes was to avoid the Mongols' strength in open field battles and city sieges—the Trần court abandoned the capital and the cities. The Mongols were then countered decisively at their weak points, which were battles in swampy areas such as Chương Dương, Hàm Tử, Vạn Kiếp and on rivers such as Vân Đồn and Bạch Đằng. The Mongols also suffered from tropical diseases and loss of supplies to Trần army's raids. The Yuan-Trần war reached its climax when the retreating Yuan fleet was decimated at the Battle of Bạch Đằng (1288). The military architect behind Annam's victories was Commander Trần Quốc Tuấn, more popularly known as Trần Hưng Đạo. In order to avoid further disastrous campaigns, the Tran and Champa acknowledged Mongol supremacy. [ citation needed ]

In 1288, Venetian explorer Marco Polo visited Champa and Đại Việt.

It was also during this period that the Vietnamese waged war against the southern kingdom of Champa, continuing the Vietnamese long history of southern expansion (known as Nam tiến) that had begun shortly after gaining independence in the 10th century. Often, they encountered strong resistance from the Chams. After the successful alliance with Champa during the Mongol invasion, king Trần Nhân Tông of Đại Việt gained two Champa provinces, located around present-day Huế, through the peaceful means of the political marriage of Princess Huyền Trân to Cham king Jaya Simhavarman III. Not long after the nuptials, the king died, and the princess returned to her northern home in order to avoid a Cham custom that would have required her to join her husband in death. [71] Champa was made a tributary state of Vietnam in 1312, but ten years later they regained independence and eventually waged a 30-years long war against the Vietnamese, in order to regain these lands and encouraged by the decline of Đại Việt in the course of the 14th century. Cham troops led by king Chế Bồng Nga (Cham: Po Binasuor or Che Bonguar, r. 1360 - 1390) killed king Trần Duệ Tông through a battle in Vijaya (1377). [72] Multiple Cham northward invasions from 1371 to 1390 put Vietnamese capital Thăng Long and Vietnamese economy in destruction. [73] However, in 1390 the Cham naval offensive against Hanoi was halted by the Vietnamese general Trần Khát Chân, whose soldiers made use of cannons. [74]

The wars with Champa and the Mongols left Đại Việt exhausted and bankrupt. The Trần family was in turn overthrown by one of its own court officials, Hồ Quý Ly. Hồ Quý Ly forced the last Trần emperor to abdicate and assumed the throne in 1400. He changed the country name to Đại Ngu and moved the capital to Tây Đô, Western Capital, now Thanh Hóa. Thăng Long was renamed Đông Đô, Eastern Capital. Although widely blamed for causing national disunity and losing the country later to the Ming Empire, Hồ Quý Ly's reign actually introduced a lot of progressive, ambitious reforms, including the addition of mathematics to the national examinations, the open critique of Confucian philosophy, the use of paper currency in place of coins, investment in building large warships and cannons, and land reform. He ceded the throne to his son, Hồ Hán Thương, in 1401 and assumed the title Thái Thượng Hoàng, in similar manner to the Trần kings. [75]

Fourth Chinese domination (1407–1427) Edit

In 1407, under the pretext of helping to restore the Trần monarchs, Chinese Ming troops invaded Đại Ngu and captured Hồ Quý Ly and Hồ Hán Thương. [76] The Hồ family came to an end after only 7 years in power. The Ming occupying force annexed Đại Ngu into the Ming Empire after claiming that there was no heir to Trần throne. Vietnam, weakened by dynastic feuds and the wars with Champa, quickly succumbed. The Ming conquest was harsh. Vietnam was annexed directly as a province of China, the old policy of cultural assimilation again imposed forcibly, and the country was ruthlessly exploited. [77] However, by this time, Vietnamese nationalism had reached a point where attempts to sinicize them could only strengthen further resistance. Almost immediately, Trần loyalists started a resistance war. The resistance, under the leadership of Trần Quý Khoáng at first gained some advances, yet as Trần Quý Khoáng executed two top commanders out of suspicion, a rift widened within his ranks and resulted in his defeat in 1413. [78]

Restored era (1428–1527) Edit

Later Lê dynasty – primitive period (1427–1527) Edit

In 1418, Lê Lợi was the son of a wealthy aristocrat in Thanh Hóa, led the Lam Sơn uprising against the Ming from his base of Lam Sơn (Thanh Hóa province). Overcoming many early setbacks and with strategic advice from Nguyễn Trãi, Lê Lợi's movement finally gathered momentum. In September 1426, the Lam Sơn rebellion marched northward, ultimately defeated the Ming army in the Battle of Tốt Động – Chúc Động in south of Hanoi by using cannons. [79] Then Lê Lợi's forces launched a siege at Đông Quan (now Hanoi), the capital of the Ming occupation. The Xuande Emperor of Ming China responded by sent two reinforcement forces of 122,000 men, but Lê Lợi staged an ambush and killed the Ming commander Liu Shan in Chi Lăng. [78] Ming troops at Đông Quan surrendered. The Lam Sơn rebels defeated 200,000 Ming soldiers. [80]

In 1428, Lê Lợi reestablished the independent of Vietnam under his House of Lê. Lê Lợi renamed the country back to Đại Việt and moved the capital back to Thăng Long, renamed it Đông Kinh. In 1429, he introduced the Thuận Thiên code, largely based on the Tang Code, with severe charges for gambling, bribery and corruption. [81] [82] Lê Lợi granted a land reform in 1429 that took lands from people who collaborated with the Chinese and distributed them among landless peasants and soldiers. With his reform, national economy, commerce, trade and private industries were well-revived. Vietnamese merchants were actively in the South China sea maritime trading networks with their bases in Chu Đậu and Vân Đồn. Modern archaeological evidence of 14th-17th century Vietnamese goods in the Southeast Asian countries of Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia, even in Japan and Turkey, proven the presences of these trading networks as Vietnam was a regional and international ceramic and silk manufacturer at the time. [83] [84] [85] From 1428, Vietnam entered the Early modern Era. [86]

The Lê emperors carried out land reforms to revitalize the economy after the war. Unlike the Lý and Trần kings, who were more influenced by Buddhism, the Lê emperors leaned toward Confucianism. A comprehensive set of laws, the Hồng Đức code was introduced in 1483 with some strong Confucian elements, yet also included some progressive rules, such as the rights of women. Art and architecture during the Lê dynasty also became more influenced by Chinese styles than during previous Lý and Trần dynasties. The Lê dynasty commissioned the drawing of national maps and had Ngô Sĩ Liên continue the task of writing Đại Việt's history up to the time of Lê Lợi. Emperor Lê Thánh Tông opened hospitals and had officials distribute medicines to areas affected with epidemics.

Overpopulation and land shortages stimulated a Vietnamese expansion south. In 1471, Le troops led by Emperor Lê Thánh Tông invaded Champa and captured its capital Vijaya. This event effectively ended Champa as a powerful kingdom, although some smaller surviving Cham states lasted for a few centuries more. It initiated the dispersal of the Cham people across Southeast Asia. With the kingdom of Champa mostly destroyed and the Cham people exiled or suppressed, Vietnamese colonization of what is now central Vietnam proceeded without substantial resistance. However, despite becoming greatly outnumbered by Vietnamese settlers and the integration of formerly Cham territory into the Vietnamese nation, the majority of Cham people nevertheless remained in Vietnam and they are now considered one of the key minorities in modern Vietnam. Vietnamese armies also raided the Mekong Delta, which the decaying Khmer Empire could no longer defend. The city of Huế, founded in 1600 lies close to where the Champa capital of Indrapura once stood. In 1479, Lê Thánh Tông also campaigned against Laos in the Vietnamese–Lao War and captured its capital Luang Prabang, in which later the city was totally ransacked and destroyed by the Vietnamese. He made further incursions westwards into the Irrawaddy River region in modern-day Burma before withdrawing. After the death of Lê Thánh Tông, Vietnam fell into a swift decline (1497–1527), with 6 rulers in within 30 years of failing economy, natural disasters and rebellions raged through the country. European traders and missionaries, reaching Vietnam in the midst of the Age of Discovery, were at first Portuguese, and started spreading Christianity since 1533. [87]

Decentralized period (1527–1802) Edit

Mạc & Later Lê dynasties – restored period (1527–1788) Edit

The Lê dynasty was overthrown by its general named Mạc Đăng Dung in 1527. He killed the Lê emperor and proclaimed himself emperor, starting the Mạc dynasty. After defeating many revolutions for two years, Mạc Đăng Dung adopted the Trần dynasty's practice and ceded the throne to his son, Mạc Đăng Doanh, and he became Thái Thượng Hoàng.

Meanwhile, Nguyễn Kim, a former official in the Lê court, revolted against the Mạc and helped king Lê Trang Tông restore the Lê court in the Thanh Hóa area. Thus a civil war began between the Northern Court (Mạc) and the Southern Court (Restored Lê). Nguyễn Kim's side controlled the southern part of Annam (from Thanhhoa to the south), leaving the north (including Đông Kinh-Hanoi) under Mạc control. [88] When Nguyễn Kim was assassinated in 1545, military power fell into the hands of his son-in-law, Trịnh Kiểm. In 1558, Nguyễn Kim's son, Nguyễn Hoàng, suspecting that Trịnh Kiểm might kill him as he had done to his brother to secure power, asked to be governor of the far south provinces around present-day Quảng Bình to Bình Định. Hoàng pretended to be insane, so Kiểm was fooled into thinking that sending Hoàng south was a good move as Hoàng would be quickly killed in the lawless border regions. [89] However, Hoàng governed the south effectively while Trịnh Kiểm, and then his son Trịnh Tùng, carried on the war against the Mạc. Nguyễn Hoàng sent money and soldiers north to help the war but gradually he became more and more independent, transforming their realm's economic fortunes by turning it into an international trading post. [89]

The civil war between the Lê-Trịnh and Mạc dynasties ended in 1592, when the army of Trịnh Tùng conquered Hanoi and executed king Mạc Mậu Hợp. Survivors of the Mạc royal family fled to the northern mountains in the province of Cao Bằng and continued to rule there until 1677 when Trịnh Tạc conquered this last Mạc territory. The Lê monarchs, ever since Nguyễn Kim's restoration, only acted as figureheads. After the fall of the Mạc dynasty, all real power in the north belonged to the Trịnh lords. Meanwhile, the Ming court reluctantly decided on a military intervention into the Vietnamese civil war, but Mạc Đăng Dung offered ritual submission to the Ming Empire, which was accepted. Since late 16th century, trades and contacts between Japan and Vietnam increased as they established relationship in 1591. [90] The Tokugawa Shogunate of Japan and governor Nguyễn Hoàng of Quảng Nam exchanged total 34 letters from 1589 to 1612, and a Japanese town was established in the city of Hội An in 1604. [90]

Trịnh & Nguyễn lords Edit

In the year 1600, Nguyễn Hoàng also declared himself Lord (officially "Vương", popularly "Chúa") and refused to send more money or soldiers to help the Trịnh. He also moved his capital to Phú Xuân, modern-day Huế. Nguyễn Hoàng died in 1613 after having ruled the south for 55 years. He was succeeded by his 6th son, Nguyễn Phúc Nguyên, who likewise refused to acknowledge the power of the Trịnh, yet still pledged allegiance to the Lê monarch. [91]

Trịnh Tráng succeeded Trịnh Tùng, his father, upon his death in 1623. Tráng ordered Nguyễn Phúc Nguyên to submit to his authority. The order was refused twice. In 1627, Trịnh Tráng sent 150,000 troops southward in an unsuccessful military campaign. The Trịnh were much stronger, with a larger population, economy and army, but they were unable to vanquish the Nguyễn, who had built two defensive stone walls and invested in Portuguese artillery.

The Trịnh–Nguyễn War lasted from 1627 until 1672. The Trịnh army staged at least seven offensives, all of which failed to capture Phú Xuân. For a time, starting in 1651, the Nguyễn themselves went on the offensive and attacked parts of Trịnh territory. However, the Trịnh, under a new leader, Trịnh Tạc, forced the Nguyễn back by 1655. After one last offensive in 1672, Trịnh Tạc agreed to a truce with the Nguyễn Lord Nguyễn Phúc Tần. The country was effectively divided in two.

Advent of Europeans & southward expansion Edit

The West's exposure to Annam and Annamese exposure to Westerners dated back to 166 AD [92] with the arrival of merchants from the Roman Empire, to 1292 with the visit of Marco Polo, and the early 16th century with the arrival of Portuguese in 1516 and other European traders and missionaries. [92] Alexandre de Rhodes, a Jesuit priest from the Papal States, improved on earlier work by Portuguese missionaries and developed the Vietnamese romanized alphabet chữ Quốc ngữ in Dictionarium Annamiticum Lusitanum et Latinum in 1651. [93] Jesuits in the 17th century established a firm foundation of Christianity in both domains of Đàng Ngoài (Tonkin) and Đàng Trong (Cochinchina). [94] Various European efforts to establish trading posts in Vietnam failed, but missionaries were allowed to operate for some time until the mandarins began concluding that Christianity (which had succeeded in converting up to a tenth of the population by 1700) was a threat to the Confucian social order since it condemned ancestor worship as idolatry. Vietnamese authorities' attitudes to Europeans and Christianity hardened as they began to increasingly see it as a way of undermining society.

Between 1627 and 1775, two powerful families had partitioned the country: the Nguyễn lords ruled the South and the Trịnh lords ruled the North. The Trịnh–Nguyễn War gave European traders the opportunities to support each side with weapons and technology: the Portuguese assisted the Nguyễn in the South while the Dutch helped the Trịnh in the North. The Trịnh and the Nguyễn maintained a relative peace for the next hundred years, during which both sides made significant accomplishments. The Trịnh created centralized government offices in charge of state budget and producing currency, unified the weight units into a decimal system, established printing shops to reduce the need to import printed materials from China, opened a military academy, and compiled history books.

Meanwhile, the Nguyễn lords continued the southward expansion by the conquest of the remaining Cham land. Việt settlers also arrived in the sparsely populated area known as "Water Chenla", which was the lower Mekong Delta portion of the former Khmer Empire. Between the mid-17th century to mid-18th century, as the former Khmer Empire was weakened by internal strife and Siamese invasions, the Nguyễn Lords used various means, political marriage, diplomatic pressure, political and military favors, to gain the area around present-day Saigon and the Mekong Delta. The Nguyễn army at times also clashed with the Siamese army to establish influence over the former Khmer Empire.

Tây Sơn dynasty (1778–1802) Edit

In 1771, the Tây Sơn revolution broke out in Quy Nhơn, which was under the control of the Nguyễn lord. [95] The leaders of this revolution were three brothers named Nguyễn Nhạc, Nguyễn Lữ, and Nguyễn Huệ, not related to the Nguyễn lord's family. In 1773, Tây Sơn rebels took Quy Nhơn as the capital of the revolution. Tây Sơn brothers' forces attracted many poor peasants, workers, Christians, ethnic minorities in the Central Highlands and Cham people who had been oppressed by the Nguyễn Lord for a long time, [96] and also attracted to ethnic Chinese merchant class, who hope the Tây Sơn revolt will spare down the heavy tax policy of the Nguyễn Lord, however their contributions later were limited due to Tây Sơn's nationalist anti-Chinese sentiment. [95] By 1776, the Tây Sơn had occupied all of the Nguyễn Lord's land and killed almost the entire royal family. The surviving prince Nguyễn Phúc Ánh (often called Nguyễn Ánh) fled to Siam, and obtained military support from the Siamese king. Nguyễn Ánh came back with 50,000 Siamese troops to regain power, but was defeated at the Battle of Rạch Gầm–Xoài Mút and almost killed. Nguyễn Ánh fled Vietnam, but he did not give up. [97]

The Tây Sơn army commanded by Nguyễn Huệ marched north in 1786 to fight the Trịnh Lord, Trịnh Khải. The Trịnh army failed and Trịnh Khải committed suicide. The Tây Sơn army captured the capital in less than two months. The last Lê emperor, Lê Chiêu Thống, fled to Qing China and petitioned the Qianlong Emperor in 1788 for help. The Qianlong Emperor supplied Lê Chiêu Thống with a massive army of around 200,000 troops to regain his throne from the usurper. In December 1788, Nguyễn Huệ–the third Tây Sơn brother–proclaimed himself Emperor Quang Trung and defeated the Qing troops with 100,000 men in a surprise 7 day campaign during the lunar new year (Tết). There was even a rumor saying that Quang Trung had also planned to conquer China, although it was unclear. During his reign, Quang Trung envisioned many reforms but died by unknown reason on the way march south in 1792, at the age of 40. During the reign of Emperor Quang Trung, Đại Việt was in fact divided into three political entities. [98] The Tây Sơn leader, Nguyễn Nhạc, ruled the centre of the country from his capital Qui Nhơn. Emperor Quang Trung ruled the north from the capital Phú Xuân Huế. In the South. He officially funded and trained the Pirates of the South China Coast – one of the most strongest and feared pirate army in the world late 18th century–early 19th century. [99] Nguyễn Ánh, assisted by many talented recruits from the South, captured Gia Định (present-day Saigon) in 1788 and established a strong base for his force. [100]

In 1784, during the conflict between Nguyễn Ánh, the surviving heir of the Nguyễn lords, and the Tây Sơn dynasty, a French Roman Catholic prelate, Pigneaux de Behaine, sailed to France to seek military backing for Nguyễn Ánh. At Louis XVI's court, Pigneaux brokered the Little Treaty of Versailles which promised French military aid in exchange for Vietnamese concessions. However, because of the French Revolution, Pigneaux's plan failed to materialize. He went to the French territory of Pondichéry (India), and secured two ships, a regiment of Indian troops, and a handful of volunteers and returned to Vietnam in 1788. One of Pigneaux's volunteers, Jean-Marie Dayot, reorganized Nguyễn Ánh's navy along European lines and defeated the Tây Sơn at Qui Nhơn in 1792. A few years later, Nguyễn Ánh's forces captured Saigon, where Pigneaux died in 1799. Another volunteer, Victor Olivier de Puymanel would later build the Gia Định fort in central Saigon. [ citation needed ]

After Quang Trung's death in September 1792, the Tây Sơn court became unstable as the remaining brothers fought against each other and against the people who were loyal to Nguyễn Huệ's young son. Quang Trung's 10-years-old son Nguyễn Quang Toản succeeded the throne, became Cảnh Thịnh Emperor, the third ruler of the Tây Sơn dynasty. In the South, lord Nguyễn Ánh and the Nguyễn royalists were assisted with French, Chinese, Siamese and Christian supports, sailed north in 1799, capturing Tây Sơn's stronghold Qui Nhơn. [102] In 1801, his force took Phú Xuân, the Tây Sơn capital. Nguyễn Ánh finally won the war in 1802, when he sieged Thăng Long (Hanoi) and executed Nguyễn Quang Toản, along with many Tây Sơn royals, generals and officials. Nguyễn Ánh ascended the throne and called himself Emperor Gia Long. Gia is for Gia Định, the old name of Saigon Long is for Thăng Long, the old name of Hanoi. Hence Gia Long implied the unification of the country. The Nguyễn dynasty lasted until Bảo Đại's abdication in 1945. As China for centuries had referred to Đại Việt as Annam, Gia Long asked the Manchu Qing emperor to rename the country, from Annam to Nam Việt. To prevent any confusion of Gia Long's kingdom with Triệu Đà's ancient kingdom, the Manchu emperor reversed the order of the two words to Việt Nam. The name Vietnam is thus known to be used since Emperor Gia Long's reign. Recently historians have found that this name had existed in older books in which Vietnamese referred to their country as Vietnam. [ citation needed ] [ when? ]

The Period of Division with its many tragedies and dramatic historical developments inspired many poets and gave rise to some Vietnamese masterpieces in verse, including the epic poem The Tale of Kiều (Truyện Kiều) by Nguyễn Du, Song of a Soldier's Wife (Chinh Phụ Ngâm) by Đặng Trần Côn and Đoàn Thị Điểm, and a collection of satirical, erotically charged poems by a female poet, Hồ Xuân Hương.

Unified era (1802–1858) Edit

Nguyễn dynasty (1802–1945) Edit

After Nguyễn Ánh established the Nguyễn dynasty in 1802, he tolerated Catholicism and employed some Europeans in his court as advisors. His successors were more conservative Confucians and resisted Westernization. The next Nguyễn emperors, Minh Mạng, Thiệu Trị, and Tự Đức brutally suppressed Catholicism and pursued a 'closed door' policy, perceiving the Westerners as a threat, following events such as the Lê Văn Khôi revolt when a French missionary, Fr. Joseph Marchand, was accused of encouraging local Catholics to revolt in an attempt to install a Catholic emperor. Catholics, both Vietnamese and foreign-born, were persecuted in retaliation. Trade with the West slowed during this period. There were frequent uprisings against the Nguyễns, with hundreds of such events being recorded in the annals. These acts were soon being used as excuses for France to invade Vietnam. The early Nguyễn dynasty had engaged in many of the constructive activities of its predecessors, building roads, digging canals, issuing a legal code, holding examinations, sponsoring care facilities for the sick, compiling maps and history books, and exerting influence over Cambodia and Laos. [ citation needed ]

Relations with China Edit

According to a 2018 study in the Journal of Conflict Resolution covering Vietnam-China relations from 1365 to 1841, the relations could be characterized as a "hierarchic tributary system". [103] The study found that "the Vietnamese court explicitly recognized its unequal status in its relations with China through a number of institutions and norms. Vietnamese rulers also displayed very little military attention to their relations with China. Rather, Vietnamese leaders were clearly more concerned with quelling chronic domestic instability and managing relations with kingdoms to their south and west." [103]

French invasions and decline Edit

The French colonial empire was heavily involved in Vietnam in the 19th century often French intervention was undertaken in order to protect the work of the Paris Foreign Missions Society in the country. In response to many incidents in which Catholic missionaries were persecuted, harassed and in some executed, and also to expand French influence in Asia, Napoleon III of France ordered Rigault de Genouilly with 14 French gunships to attack the port of Đà Nẵng (Tourane) in 1858. The attack caused significant damage, yet failed to gain any foothold, in the process being afflicted by the humidity and tropical diseases. De Genouilly decided to sail south and captured the poorly defended city of Gia Định (present-day Ho Chi Minh City). From 1859 to 1867, French troops expanded their control over all six provinces on the Mekong delta and formed a colony known as Cochinchina.

A few years later, French troops landed in northern Vietnam (which they called Tonkin) and captured Hà Nội twice in 1873 and 1882. The French managed to keep their grip on Tonkin although, twice, their top commanders Francis Garnier and Henri Rivière, were ambushed and killed fighting pirates of the Black Flag Army hired by the mandarins. France assumed control over the whole of Vietnam after the Tonkin Campaign (1883–1886). French Indochina was formed in October 1887 from Annam (Trung Kỳ, central Vietnam), Tonkin (Bắc Kỳ, northern Vietnam), Cochinchina (Nam Kỳ, southern Vietnam, and Cambodia, with Laos added in 1893). Within French Indochina, Cochinchina had the status of a colony, Annam was nominally a protectorate where the Nguyễn dynasty still ruled, and Tonkin had a French governor with local governments run by Vietnamese officials. [ citation needed ]

Colonial era (1858–1945) Edit

After Gia Định fell to French troops, many resistance movements broke out in occupied areas, some led by former court officers, such as Trương Định, some by farmers and other rural people, such as Nguyễn Trung Trực, who sank the French gunship L'Esperance using guerilla tactics. In the north, most movements were led by former court officers, and fighters were from the rural population. Sentiment against the invasion ran deep in the countryside—well over 90 percent of the population—because the French seized and exported most of the rice, creating widespread malnutrition from the 1880s onward. And, an ancient tradition existed of repelling all invaders. These were two reasons that the vast majority opposed the French invasion. [104] [105]

Some of the resistance movements lasted decades, with Phan Đình Phùng fighting in central Vietnam until 1895, and in the northern mountains, former bandit leader Hoàng Hoa Thám fought until 1911. Even the teenage Nguyễn Emperor Hàm Nghi left the Imperial Palace of Huế in 1885 with regent Tôn Thất Thuyết and started the Cần Vương ("Save the King") movement, trying to rally the people to resist the French. He was captured in 1888 and exiled to French Algeria.

During this period, many Catholic converts collaborated with the French. This gave Catholics “an aura of subversion and treachery,” stated Neil Sheehan in A Bright Shining Lie, and people who sided with the French were called “country sellers.” By siding with the invaders, Catholics gained “the impression of being a foreign body,” said cultural expert Huu Ngoc. Catholics assisted, Jean Chesneaux wrote, in “breaking tihe isolation of the French troops.” Likewise, Paul Isoart reported: “The insurrection in Annam was liquidated thanks to the information the French received from the Vietnamese Catholics.” Some information was obtained in confessionals. Vicar Paul Francois Puginier of Ha Noi sent regular reports to secular authorities, including information about unrest and possible uprisings. [106]

The invaders seized many farmlands and gave them to Frenchmen and collaborators, who were usually Catholics. By 1898, these seizures created a large class of poor people with little or no land, and a small class of wealthy landowners dependent on the French. In 1905, a Frenchman observed that “Traditional Annamite society, so well organized to satisfy the needs of the people has, in the final analysis, been destroyed by us.” This split in society lasted into the war in the 1960s. [107]

Guerrillas of the Cần Vương movement killed around a third of Vietnam's Christian population during the resistance war. [108] Decades later, two more Nguyễn kings, Thành Thái and Duy Tân were also exiled to Africa for having anti-French tendencies. The former was deposed on the pretext of insanity and Duy Tân was caught in a conspiracy with the mandarin Trần Cao Vân trying to start an uprising. However, lack of modern weapons and equipment prevented these resistance movements from being able to engage the French in open combat. The various anti-French started by mandarins were carried out with the primary goal of restoring the old feudal society. However, by 1900 a new generation of Vietnamese were coming of age who had never lived in precolonial Vietnam. These young activists were as eager as their grandparents to see independence restored, but they realized that returning to the feudal order was not feasible and that modern technology and governmental systems were needed. Having been exposed to Western philosophy, they aimed to establish a republic upon independence, departing from the royalist sentiments of the Cần Vương movements. Some of them set up Vietnamese independence societies in Japan, which many viewed as a model society (i.e. an Asian nation that had modernized, but retained its own culture and institutions). [ citation needed ]

There emerged two parallel movements of modernization. The first was the Đông Du ("Travel to the East") Movement started in 1905 by Phan Bội Châu. Châu's plan was to send Vietnamese students to Japan to learn modern skills, so that in the future they could lead a successful armed revolt against the French. With Prince Cường Để, he started two organizations in Japan: Duy Tân Hội and Việt Nam Công Hiến Hội. Due to French diplomatic pressure, Japan later deported Châu. Phan Châu Trinh, who favored a peaceful, non-violent struggle to gain independence, led a second movement, Duy Tân (Modernization), which stressed education for the masses, modernizing the country, fostering understanding and tolerance between the French and the Vietnamese, and peaceful transitions of power. The early part of the 20th century saw the growing in status of the Romanized Quốc Ngữ alphabet for the Vietnamese language. Vietnamese patriots realized the potential of Quốc Ngữ as a useful tool to quickly reduce illiteracy and to educate the masses. The traditional Chinese scripts or the Nôm script were seen as too cumbersome and too difficult to learn. The use of prose in literature also became popular with the appearance of many novels most famous were those from the Tự Lực Văn Đoàn literary circle. [ citation needed ]

As the French suppressed both movements, and after witnessing revolutionaries in action in China and Russia, Vietnamese revolutionaries began to turn to more radical paths. Phan Bội Châu created the Việt Nam Quang Phục Hội in Guangzhou, planning armed resistance against the French. In 1925, French agents captured him in Shanghai and spirited him to Vietnam. Due to his popularity, Châu was spared from execution and placed under house arrest until his death in 1940. In 1927, the Việt Nam Quốc Dân Đảng (Vietnamese Nationalist Party), modeled after the Kuomintang in China, was founded, and the party launched the armed Yên Bái mutiny in 1930 in Tonkin which resulted in its chairman, Nguyễn Thái Học and many other leaders captured and executed by the guillotine. [ citation needed ]

Marxism was also introduced into Vietnam with the emergence of three separate Communist parties the Indochinese Communist Party, Annamese Communist Party and the Indochinese Communist Union, joined later by a Trotskyist movement led by Tạ Thu Thâu. In 1930, the Communist International (Comintern) sent Nguyễn Ái Quốc to Hong Kong to coordinate the unification of the parties into the Vietnamese Communist Party (CPV) with Trần Phú as the first Secretary General. Later the party changed its name to the Indochinese Communist Party as the Comintern, under Stalin, did not favor nationalistic sentiments. Being a leftist revolutionary living in France since 1911, Nguyễn Ái Quốc participated in founding the French Communist Party and in 1924 traveled to the Soviet Union to join the Comintern. Through the late 1920s, he acted as a Comintern agent to help build Communist movements in Southeast Asia. During the 1930s, the CPV was nearly wiped out under French suppression with the execution of top leaders such as Phú, Lê Hồng Phong, and Nguyễn Văn Cừ. [ citation needed ]

During World War II, Japan invaded Indochina in 1940, keeping the Vichy French colonial administration in place as a puppet. In 1941 Nguyễn Ái Quốc, now known as Hồ Chí Minh, arrived in northern Vietnam to form the Việt Minh Front, and it was supposed to be an umbrella group for all parties fighting for Vietnam's independence, but was dominated by the Communist Party. The Việt Minh had a modest armed force and during the war worked with the American Office of Strategic Services to collect intelligence on the Japanese.

On March 9, 1945, the Japanese removed Vichy France's control of Indochina, and created the short-lived Empire of Vietnam with Bảo Đại as the emperor. A famine broke out in 1944–45, leaving from 600,000 to 2,000,000 dead. [109]

Japan's defeat by the World War II Allies created a power vacuum for Vietnamese nationalists of all parties to seize power in August 1945, forcing Emperor Bảo Đại to abdicate and ending the Nguyễn dynasty. On September 2, 1945, Hồ Chí Minh read the Proclamation of Independence of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam in Ba Đình flower garden, now known as Ba Đình square, officially creating the Democratic Republic of Vietnam. Their success in staging uprisings and in seizing control of most of the country by September 1945 was partially undone, however, by the return of the French a few months later.

Republican era (1945–present) Edit

Warring era (1945–76) Edit

In September 1945, Hồ Chí Minh proclaimed the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (DRV) and held the position of chairman (Chủ Tịch). Communist rule was cut short, however, by Allied occupation forces whose presence tended to support the Communist Party's political opponents. In 1946, Vietnam had its first National Assembly election (won by the Viet Minh in central and northern Vietnam [110] ), which drafted the first constitution, but the situation was still precarious: the French tried to regain power by force some Cochinchinese politicians formed a seceding government the Republic of Cochinchina (Cộng hòa Nam Kỳ) while the non-Communist and Communist forces were engaging each other in sporadic battle. Stalinists purged Trotskyists. Religious sects and resistance groups formed their own militias. The Communists eventually suppressed all non-Communist parties but failed to secure a peace deal with France. [ citation needed ]

Full-scale war broke out between the Việt Minh and France in late 1946 and the First Indochina War officially began. Realizing that colonialism was coming to an end worldwide, France decided to bring former emperor Bảo Đại back to power, as a political alternative to Ho Chi Minh. A Provisional Central Government was formed in 1948, reuniting Annam and Tonkin, but the complete reunification of Vietnam was delayed for a year because of the problems posed by Cochinchina's legal status. In July 1949, the State of Vietnam was officially proclaimed, as a semi-independent country within the French Union, with Bảo Đại as Head of State. France was finally persuaded to relinquish its colonies in Indochina in 1954 when Viet Minh forces defeated the French at Dien Bien Phu. The 1954 Geneva Conference left Vietnam a divided nation, with Hồ Chí Minh's communist DRV government ruling the North from Hanoi and Ngô Đình Diệm's Republic of Vietnam, supported by the United States, ruling the South from Saigon. Between 1953 and 1956, the North Vietnamese government instituted various agrarian reforms, including "rent reduction" and "land reform", which resulted in significant political oppression. During the land reform, testimony from North Vietnamese witnesses suggested a ratio of one execution for every 160 village residents, which extrapolated nationwide would indicate nearly 100,000 executions. Because the campaign was concentrated mainly in the Red River Delta area, a lower estimate of 50,000 executions became widely accepted by scholars at the time. [111] [112] [113] [114] However, declassified documents from the Vietnamese and Hungarian archives indicate that the number of executions was much lower than reported at the time, although likely greater than 13,500. [115] In the South, Diem went about crushing political and religious opposition, imprisoning or killing of thousands. [116]

Along with the split between northern and southern Vietnam in geographical territory came the divergence in their distinctive choices for institutional political structure. Northern Vietnam (Dai Viet) opted for a centralized bureaucratic regime while the southern is based on a patron-client mechanism heavily relied on personalized rule. During this period, due to this structural difference, the north and south revealed different patterns in their economic activities, the long-term effect of which still persist up to today. Citizens that have previously lived in the bureaucratic state are more likely to have higher household consumption and get more engaged in civic activities the state itself tends to have the stronger fiscal capacity for taxation inherited from the previous institution.

As a result of the Vietnam (Second Indochina) War (1954–75), Viet Cong and regular People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN) forces of the DRV unified the country under communist rule. [117] In this conflict, the North and the Viet Cong—with logistical support from the Soviet Union—defeated the Army of the Republic of Vietnam, which sought to maintain South Vietnamese independence with the support of the U.S. military, whose troop strength peaked at 540,000 during the communist-led Tet Offensive in 1968. The North did not abide by the terms of the 1973 Paris Agreement, which officially settled the war by calling for free elections in the South and peaceful reunification. Two years after the withdrawal of the last U.S. forces in 1973, Saigon, the capital of South Vietnam, fell to the communists, and the South Vietnamese army surrendered in 1975. In 1976, the government of united Vietnam renamed Saigon as Hồ Chí Minh City in honor of Hồ, who died in 1969. The war left Vietnam devastated, with the total death toll standing at between 966,000 and 3.8 million, [118] [119] [120] and many thousands more crippled by weapons and substances such as napalm and Agent Orange. The government of Vietnam says that 4 million of its citizens were exposed to Agent Orange, and as many as 3 million have suffered illnesses because of it these figures include the children of people who were exposed. [121] The Red Cross of Vietnam estimates that up to 1 million people are disabled or have health problems due to contaminated Agent Orange. [122] The United States government has challenged these figures as being unreliable. [123]

Unified era (1976–1986) Edit

In the post-1975 period, it was immediately apparent that the effectiveness of Communist Party (CPV) policies did not necessarily extend to the party's peacetime nation-building plans. Having unified North and South politically, the CPV still had to integrate them socially and economically. In this task, CPV policy makers were confronted with the South's resistance to communist transformation, as well as traditional animosities arising from cultural and historical differences between North and South. In the aftermath of the war, under Lê Duẩn's administration, there were no mass executions of South Vietnamese who had collaborated with the U.S. or the Saigon government, confounding Western fears. [124] However, up to 300,000 South Vietnamese were sent to re-education camps, where many endured torture, starvation, and disease while being forced to perform hard labor. [125] The New Economic Zones program was implemented by the Vietnamese communist government after the Fall of Saigon. Between 1975 and 1980, more than 1 million northerners migrated to the south and central regions formerly under the Republic of Vietnam. [126] This program, in turn, displaced around 750,000 to over 1 million Southerners from their homes and forcibly relocated them to uninhabited mountainous forested areas. [126]

Compounding economic difficulties were new military challenges. In the late 1970s, Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge regime started harassing and raiding Vietnamese villages at the common border. To neutralize the threat, PAVN invaded Cambodia in 1978 and overran its capital of Phnom Penh, driving out the incumbent Khmer Rouge regime. In response, as an action to support the pro-Beijing Khmer Rouge regime, China increased its pressure on Vietnam, and sent troops into Northern Vietnam in 1979 to "punish" Vietnam. Relations between the two countries had been deteriorating for some time. Territorial disagreements along the border and in the South China Sea that had remained dormant during the Vietnam War were revived at the war's end, and a postwar campaign engineered by Hanoi against the ethnic Chinese Hoa community elicited a strong protest from Beijing. China was displeased with Vietnam's alliance with the Soviet Union. [127] During its prolonged military occupation of Cambodia in 1979–89, Vietnam's international isolation extended to relations with the United States. The United States, in addition to citing Vietnam's minimal cooperation in accounting for Americans who were missing in action (MIAs) as an obstacle to normal relations, barred normal ties as long as Vietnamese troops occupied Cambodia. Washington also continued to enforce the trade embargo imposed on Hanoi at the conclusion of the war in 1975.

The harsh postwar crackdown on remnants of capitalism in the South led to the collapse of the economy during the 1980s. With the economy in shambles, the communist government altered its course and adopted consensus policies that bridged the divergent views of pragmatists and communist traditionalists. Throughout the 1980s, Vietnam received nearly $3 billion a year in economic and military aid from the Soviet Union and conducted most of its trade with the USSR and other Comecon countries. In 1986, Nguyễn Văn Linh, who was elevated to CPV general secretary the following year, launched a campaign for political and economic renewal (Đổi Mới). His policies were characterized by political and economic experimentation that was similar to simultaneous reform agenda undertaken in the Soviet Union. Reflecting the spirit of political compromise, Vietnam phased out its re-education effort. The communist government stopped promoting agricultural and industrial cooperatives. Farmers were permitted to till private plots alongside state-owned land, and in 1990 the communist government passed a law encouraging the establishment of private businesses. [ citation needed ]

Renovated era (1986–present) Edit

After President Bill Clinton visited Vietnam in 2000, it virtually marked the new era of Vietnam. Vietnam has become an increasingly attractive destination of economic development. Throughout that time, Vietnam has played more significant role in the world's stage. Its economic reforms successfully changed Vietnam and making Vietnam more relevant in the ASEAN and international stage. Also, due to Vietnam's importance, many powers turn to be favoring Vietnam for their circumstances.

However, Vietnam also faces disputes, mostly with Cambodia over the border, and especially, China, over the South China Sea. In 2016, President Barack Obama became the 3rd U.S. Head of State to visit Vietnam, helping normalize relations into a higher level, by lifting embargo of lethal weapons, allowing Vietnam to buy lethal weapons and modernize its military.

Vietnam is expected to be a newly industrialized country, and also, a regional power in the future. Vietnam is one of Next Eleven countries.

War Remnants Museum

The War Remnants Museum in Saigon should be a priority stop for anyone interested in the history of the Vietnam War. The three floors inside of the museum house exhibits of war artifacts, unexploded ordinance, and photo galleries portraying the horrors of war. Armored vehicles, planes, helicopters, and other implements of war are on display outside around the museum.

The War Remnants Museum was called the Museum of American War Crimes until 1993. Rather than remain objective, the museum sadly portrays a one-sided theme in most of the exhibits. Even still, a visit to the museum is an educational and sobering experience.

6 famous historical sites to visit in Thailand

Thailand’s rich history dates back to thousands of years. The impressive landmarks we see today are remnants of the ancient temples and Buddhist architecture built by several emperors that ruled the country at the time. Thailand is a great place to visit especially if you’re a history enthusiast as you’ll get to see breathtakingly beautiful historical sites, some of which are preserved and recognized as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

If you’re interested in exploring Thailand’s famous historical landmarks, let me walk you through some of Thailand’s frequently visited historical sites by tourists and travellers from around the world.

Phra Pathom Chedi

The picturesque ruins of the oldest Buddhist structure Phra Pathom Chedi is located in Nakhon Pathom. This Buddhist structure is said to have been built when Buddhism had just been introduced in Southeast Asia in the 3rd century BC. The Indian ruler at the time Asoka, sent out a community of monks to spread the new religion over large parts of Asia. This historical landmark is also revered by locals and history enthusiasts alike due to the relics of the Buddha that are enshrined at the Phra Pathom Chedi.

Khmer Temples

As the name suggests, the Khmer Temples were built in Thailand under the rule of the Khmer kingdom around ten centuries ago. You’ll be surprised to see how well-preserved the temples are even after 1000 years. Dozens of Khmer temples are scattered across Northern Thailand. While most of the temples are located in far flung areas less frequently visited by tourists, there are three well-preserved temples that are flocked by tourists all year round – Phanom Rung, Muang Tum and Phimai.

Each of these temples were roughly built one thousand years ago and have been put on the tentative list of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites in Thailand. The beautiful, carved structure of the temples will leave you completely awestruck.

Si Satchanalai Historical Park

The 45 km 2 Satchanalai Historical Park contains the ruins of Si Satchanalai, a small town that flourished during the 13th and 14th century under the rule of Sukhothai kingdom. The park stands on the banks of Yom river surrounded by a natural forested area. The ancient city of Si Satchanalai was known for its exquisite glazed ceramic ware known as Sangkhalok ware.

To take a look at the remains of the excavated kilns, visit the local museum that opens daily from 9am till 4pm. You can get to the Si Satchanalai Park via air or by car. The quickest way to get to the park is by car it’ll only take 30 minutes to reach.

Kamphaeng Phet Historical Park

Containing the remnants of the Kamphaeng Phet, the Kamphaeng Phet Historical Park has been added to the UNESCO World Heritage Site list. This little town held great significance during the Sukhothai rule and contains ancient ruins of Buddhist monuments build from 13-17th century.

Kamphaeng Phet was a garrison town, an important link to the Sukhothai Kingdom defence system due to its strategic location. The Kamphaeng Phet Historical Park is located approximately 355 km to the north of Bangkok.

The local museum contains excavated relics dating back to prehistoric times like the early 16th century bronze statue of Lord Shiva, ceramic wares and carved images of Buddha. The museum remains open from Wednesday through Sunday from 9am – 4pm.

Historic City of Ayutthaya

Once the capital city of Thailand, the historic city of Ayutthaya today is reduced to remains. The old city will transport you to an ancient era with its haunting but romantic ruins including old palaces and temples that still stand erect today in a fairly well preserved state.

Ayutthaya is close to Bangkok so you can travel by bus or car comfortably to explore the ancient city at leisure. A must visit tourist attraction for history buffs, a visit of Ayutthaya will help you develop a greater understanding of Thailand’s historical and cultural background.

Perhaps the most beautiful temple in all Chiang Mai sits atop Doi Suthep. Visiting Doi Suthep is definitely an experience of a lifetime. You’ll get to see intricate religious carvings, Buddhist monks performing religious rituals and local vendors selling delicious street food and local handicrafts.

Doi Suthep is also the perfect place to shop for keepsakes and give-aways including elephant carvings, masks and home furnishings. If you’ve got a couple of hours to spare, combine your excursion to Doi Suthep with a small Hmong village in the mountains called Doi Pui.

Believe you me when I say this little town is far more touristy than other villages you may have visited earlier. Not only will you get a taste of the Hmong culture and hill tribe communities existing in the region, but also get a chance to purchase exquisite handwoven textiles.

These are some of the most famous historical sites to visit in Thailand especially if you are interested in learning about the culture and historical background of the country. There’s really no comparison as each historical landmark I’ve mentioned is beautiful in its own rite and has it own significance in history.

Mark Tulloch is Co-Founder at Asia Holiday Retreats. Asia Holiday Retreats a 5-star travel booking agency offering luxury villa rentals across Bali, Thailand, and Sri Lanka.

If you would like to be a guest blogger on A Luxury Travel Blog in order to raise your profile, please contact us.

Top Ten War Sites

While we in the team that run this site have spent years discovering this beautiful country and countless of hours doing research on the war and those who fought it, we hope that we have created a top 10 list of Vietnam War Sites you can visit that will appeal not only to history buffs but travelers seeking to discover the country and its history.

Being passionate about history also means we want as many as possible to learn more about it and discover where and how the war was really fought.

Some say that the Vietnam War was not one war, but actually a thousand different wars fought in a thousand different places. Veterans’ stories will vary depending on where they were, which unit they were in and when they were there, so it’s hard to pick a definitive list of must-see sites.

For our list we have selected some of the most relevant places that we think represents a good variety of locations and periods in the war that will ultimately help the visitor understand how diverse and complex it was.

So in alphabetical order they are:

Ap Bac Battlefield

The battle at Ap Bac took place early in the conflict and was fought mainly between the Viet Cong and the Saigon Army (ARVN). More than anything, the battle can be described as the Viet Cong outsmarting the RVN forces and achieving a significant win.

Ashau Valley with Hamburger Hill

The Ashau Valley, stretching some 45 kilometers along the Laotian border west of Hue, is today well traveled by both tourists and locals. For the many people visiting Khe Sanh Combat Base along the DMZ tours, this is a small detour on the way back to Hue and a visit here will give a deeper understanding of how the war was fought.

More or less the whole valley was a battlefield at some point in time. It was a very important logistics lifeline for the North Vietnamese Army as they made their way towards the coastal lowlands including Hue and Da Nang.

Of course the battle of Hamburger Hill also took place here. If you want to visit, then take some time to read more on this website about some of the most significant places of interest to visit in the valley. Click here>>>

Ben Het Special Forces Camp

Ben Het Special Forces Base

Located just off the main Ho Chi Minh Highway that stretches through the Central Highlands. Ben Het Special Forces Base makes a great visit for the traveler who wants to see the sites of some of the most intense battles fought during the war as well as getting the first hand understanding of how remote these bases were.

Take a walk down the old runway or hike up on the hills where the camp was located. Just make sure to stay on the trails to avoid any unexploded ordnance. Read more on Ben Het Special Forces Camp here>>>

Cu Chi Tunnels

Yes, we do recommend a visit to the Cu Chi Tunnels. Visiting the tunnels will give a first hand understanding of how the Viet Cong soldiers lived sometimes for months under ground. It’s not only the site itself, while going to and from the tunnels, make sure to look out the window of the car or bus you are traveling with. The landscape has changed over the years but the general flat terrain is the same giving you an idea of what the infantry soldiers faced. Driving to Cu Chi Tunnels you will also pass several large or medium former bases on the way, Cu Chi being the largest.

In between, and sometimes on, those bases, the war was fought intensely. Places like the Ho Bo Woods and the Iron Triangle are within kilometers. You will also come to realize how close this huge tunnel complex was to Saigon and how relatively easy V.C. infiltrators could enter the town itself. Read more on Cu Chi Tunnels here>>>

DMZ - Quang Tri province

The Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) was the area north and south of the 17th parallel which divided North and South Vietnam. The DMZ is today a very popular destination for all kinds of tourists coming to Vietnam — and for good reasons. During the war years some of the most intense fighting took place here. Along Route 9, the main road on the southern side of the DMZ there were several military bases, a few of them still offering the visitors an idea of what it was like then.

A tour here is probably the most popular activity together with the Cu Chi tunnels for tourists who wants to visit a war site. Read more about the DMZ here>>>

Hue Citadel

Hue City has over the years become one of the most visited tourist sites in Vietnam, especially along the central coast. Some of the country's most compelling and significant historical events has taken place here over the last few centuries and then during the war, this beautiful ancient city was the site of one of the fiercest battles of the war.

As the NVA and VC launched the 1968 Tet offensive, one of their main focuses was Hue as they sent thousands of their men to take over the city. It took weeks of door to door fighting by the U.S. Marines and ARVN forces to push them out.

Unfortunately most of the old citadel was destroyed during the battle but there is still much to see and discover in this historical town. Read more about Hue City and the Citadel here>>>

Khe Sanh Combat Base

C130 at Khe Sanh Combat Base

Starting out as a small Special Forces Camp, Khe Sanh was later turned over to the U.S. Marines and became the scene of one of the most significant battles during the war as the North Vietnamese army laid siege to the camp during the 1968 Tet-offensive. The siege lasted 77 days and was reported in the news all over the world. It also served as one of the major launch points during the 1971 Lam Son 719 offensive in to Laos.

Apart from its historical significance, the base also has a very interesting museum on the site as well as several vehicles and aircraft on display. Read more about visiting the Khe Sanh Combat Base here>>>

Lai Khe Base Camp


Once known as Prey Nokor, then Saigon and now Ho Chi Minh City, the former capital of South Vietnam is a must for any tourist coming to Vietnam. In terms of historical war sites it will leave few disappointed.

Not only are there many places of historical interest but just walking around the old downtown areas can give visitors a chance to soak up the atmosphere and get an idea what this bustling metropolis was like 50 years ago.

We do recommend a visit to the War Remnants Museum and other sites that we mention in our Saigon article on this website, read more here>>>

Vinh Long Army Airfield

Vinh Long Airfield looking west

A major part of the Vietnam War was the fighting in the Mekong Delta, both on the rivers and canals and the flat often swampy land. Vinh Long Army Airfield was one of the larger bases along the Mekong River, where thousands of troops were stationed. In the small town there was also a dock for the so-called Brown Water Navy

This is the best place to get an understanding of what the delta bases looked like. Although nothing is really left of the base, one can drive on the runway and the taxi ways as well as the old base area. Vinh Long Army Airfield was very typical for the American presence in the delta. Other bases were located in Soc Trang, Dong Tam and Can Tho.

We recommend a stay over in this often overlooked town. Combining an early morning boat tour on the Mekong with a visit to the old base makes for a very nice and interesting day. Read more about visiting Vinh Long Army Airfield here>>>

Marble Mountains, Da Nang

Explored by Disha from Disha Discovers

Vietnam has so many incredible places to visit and natural landmark, with the Marble Mountains being one of them.

The Marble Mountains are a popular day trip from Hoi An or Da Nang. Essentially, they’re a group of five hills made out of limestone and marble. Each mountain is named after a natural element: fire, water, wood, metal or gold, and earth. The story behind the Marble Mountains is that a dragon emerged from the water and laid an egg. The mountains were created from the fragments of the egg when a girl hatched from it.

There are several caves, temples, and tunnels that you can explore. There is an entry fee, but it’s relatively cheap. There is an additional surcharge for using the elevator if you’re not keen on walking up the stairs. I used the elevator, but my husband said that the stairs weren’t too bad. With that being said, be sure to wear breathable and comfortable clothing it can be extremely hot.

I highly recommend spending around four or five hours here to be able to fully explore and starting earlier in the morning to avoid the heat. If you go during the rainy season, be careful because the stairs can get slippery.

So what do you think of our list of iconic building and landmarks in Vietnam? Are there any that we have missed? Let us know in the comments below if you have any alternative suggestions.

If you’re interested about other famous landmarks in Asia, we’ve created a number of guides, have a look through to see what iconic places made the lists!

  • 21 Iconic building and landmarks in Singapore
  • 15 Iconic Sri Lankan Landmarks
  • Famous places in Myanmar
  • Top 10 landmarks in China
  • The ultimate Indonesia landmarks
  • Thailand’s 21 most iconic places
  • Iconic places and famous landmarks in Malaysia

And if you’re inspired to visit some of these sites, why not check out our 3 week itinerary on the country – with everything you need to know about planning a trip to Vietnam.

Watch the video: HISTORICAL PLACES IN VIETNAM (January 2023).

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