Gone is the day that Vietnam was the country of war, death, and despair. Although the period of time passed is long enough for grass to grow green on used-to-be battlefields and for forests that were supposedly to be destroyed permanently by the war to recover and develop with full vitality, the remains of war still exist as witnesses of history. Many veterans could not escape from war obsessions, which haunt them every night or even follow them for the rest of their life. They do not dare to come back to Vietnam, being afraid of confronting harsh recrimination from Vietnamese people.
Yet, perhaps, only by coming back to Vietnam can those veterans find peace in their soul and close their past chapter of life permanently. The fact is that most veterans return to Vietnam to heal and indeed they found it thanks to the Vietnamese hospitality and those lively changes in the country.
If you are veterans, you would certainly find it hard to resist the desire to come back Vietnam, to face the past and to have warming meeting with local soldiers, who once belonged to another side of the battlefield. For Vietnamese people who lived through the war, they would definitely never forget it. Even though it still reminds them of long-lasting pains, they are willing to let go of the past as they consider their long time autonomy worthy of such pains and they feel proud of it. They at least sacrificed for the future life of their children.
Yet, hardly can you find Vietnamese talking about the war with strutting bravado as they realize that they had to pay an exorbitant price for peace and freedom; victory is not something to be proud of; no war is better. For Vietnamese people who were born in the peaceful period, they even find it more easily to let the past go.
Thus, many veterans are bound to be surprised by how welcoming Vietnamese people are. As a veteran, you would choose to find your own way back to your old places and find your old people or to take humanitarian tours with veterans like you. Both ways promise amazing experience.
A meet and greet with North Vietnamese veterans at old wartime posts would certainly help you find solace. Taking part in activities that contribute to the development of rural areas that was being destroyed during the war also should be on your itinerary. Experiencing fast changes of old places is able to bring you refreshing felling and leave in your mind the image of a newly rising Vietnam, peaceful and bursting with vitality. Combining small trips to historical destinations with cultural tours would perfect your nostalgic journey to the past.
So, veterans, is there anything prevent you from returning to Vietnam? Just come to Vietnam to realize that fact that the war is over and we are not enemies anymore. If you need special advice to tailor your own tour, email and share with us your needs.
Places and activities for veterans traveling in Vietnam
Vietnam is a popular destination for veteran travelers, offering a mix of history, culture, and natural beauty. Here are some recommended places and activities for veterans traveling in Vietnam:
1. Ho Chi Minh City (formerly known as Saigon): Explore the War Remnants Museum to learn about the Vietnam War from a Vietnamese perspective. Visit the Cu Chi Tunnels, a vast network of underground tunnels used by the Viet Cong guerrilla fighters during the war.
2. Hanoi: Visit the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, where the former Vietnamese leader’s embalmed body is displayed. Explore the Vietnam Military History Museum, which showcases artifacts and exhibits related to the country’s military conflicts.
3. Hue: Discover the Imperial City, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which served as the capital of Vietnam during the Nguyen Dynasty. Explore the Citadel, the Emperor’s tombs, and take a boat cruise along the Perfume River.
4. Hoi An: This charming ancient town is known for its well-preserved architecture, colorful lanterns, and vibrant markets. Take a cooking class, visit the Japanese Covered Bridge, and enjoy the beaches nearby.
5. Halong Bay: Embark on a cruise to explore the breathtaking limestone karsts and emerald waters of Halong Bay. Enjoy activities like kayaking, swimming, and cave visits.
6. Da Nang: Pay your respects at the Marble Mountains, which served as a base for the Viet Cong during the war. Take a cable car ride up to the picturesque Ba Na Hills and visit historical sites like the Son My Memorial and Hue Imperial City.
7. Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park: Explore the vast cave systems, including the famous Son Doong Cave, the largest cave in the world. You can also go hiking, jungle trekking, and explore the stunning landscapes of the park.
8. Mekong Delta: Take a boat trip along the Mekong River, visit floating markets, and bike around the rural villages to experience the local way of life.
It’s important to note that some sites and experiences may be emotionally challenging for veterans due to the history and memories associated with the Vietnam War. Therefore, it’s crucial to be prepared and seek support if needed.