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Northern Vietnam

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Northern Vietnam gets fewer visitors than Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) and the coastal cities in the south, but it's full of culture. Historically, and to this day, it has been significantly poorer than the southern part of the country. Cultural and political differences remain strong - the language is pronounced differently in some ways, and there's definitely a more authoritarian feel in the cities.

The largest city in northern Vietnam is the capital of Hanoi, and it's the only attractive one. But there are numerous other sites, such as Ha Long Bay, the mountain resort of Sapa, and the historical battlefield of Dien Bien Phu.

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The Khe Ro forest and An Lac community. A community based ecotourism program runs out of the local village and aims to protect the pristine forest and preserve the cultural heritage of the local ethnic minorities. Visits can be organised to go trekking up the Khau Tron Peak and through the forest to the Vung Tron Lake, Khe Vang waterfall and Dao Village. Home stays with authentic local food are available too. Web site: eng.anlac-khero.com

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