Listed City Guide - V
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Vermont

Burlington Travel Guide

Situated in Chittenden County, Burlington is Vermont’s biggest city and is a lively university town with a creative spirit and growing tech industry. Ideally located on Lake Champlain’s eastern shore between the Adirondack and Green Mountains, the city boasts galleries, museums, historic architecture, top-class shopping and a host of outdoor activities.

Originally one of the leading ports in the country, with steamboat traffic on the lake boosting the local economy, the city was also the site of an important military hospital and army post during the War of 1812. Burlington continues to be voted one of the top cities to live in the USA and has a friendly, college-town atmosphere, which draws millions of visitors a year.

Attractions in Burlington include historic sites, produce and craft markets, lake cruises and chocolate shops, and the city has a beautiful riverside setting and surrounding landscapes that invite all kinds of outdoor recreation. As one would expect from a city which is home to tens of thousands of students, Burlington has a vibrant nightlife – undoubtedly the best in Vermont – making it a fun destination for youngsters in search of a party atmosphere.

The village of Shelburne, which has essentially become part of Burlington as the city expands, is a hotspot for tourists, and the well-loved ski resort of Stowe is only a short drive away.

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Virginia

Richmond Travel Guide

The stately Southern granddame of Richmond has been Virginia’s state capital since 1780, and although a bastion of history, it also has all the hallmarks of a lively and modern urban centre. Acting as an ideal gateway to the rest of the state, a range of attractions is within easy reach and visitors can enjoy the neighbouring sights and sounds of the ocean, mountains, battlefields, historic colonial Williamsburg, or can even drive into Washington DC to visit the nation’s capital.

Richmond has played an enormous role in American history, particularly as the capital of the Confederacy during the Civil War. Today visitors can enjoy a host of monuments, battlefields, cemeteries and museums that hark back to the days when Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee held out against the Union. This is not a city stuck in the past, however, and there are numerous modern attractions including an active nightlife, plenty of restaurants, bars and outdoor concerts. A stroll along the attractive Canal Walk, and along the restored Haxall and Kanawha Canals, provides a great way to relax and there is also the option to catch a boat; some tours include an historical narration or there is the ‘drive yourself’ option.

The cityscape is an interesting combination of modern high rise office complexes housing financial institutions, Fortune 500 Companies, government offices, hospitals and universities and the more charming cobblestone, gas-lit streets flanked by 19th-century warehouses and a 300-year old farmers’ market, filled with the scent of ripe fruit and fresh flowers.

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VENEZUELA

Caracas Travel Guide

Caracas, capital of Venezuela, hosts the country’s international airport and is therefore the gateway for most visitors. This immense metropolis, home to about five million people, is situated in the north of the country, between the sea and the foot of the Avila Mountain.

Caracas began as a Spanish colonial settlement, founded by Diego de Losada more than 400 years ago, its growth burgeoning since the 1970s oil boom. Today the sprawling, untidy city throbs with life, the landscape dominated by high-rise office and apartment buildings, threaded through with knots of motorways and junctions, all against the impressive backdrop of the lush, green mountain.

All sorts of cultures and creeds throng the streets of this concrete jungle, which contains gourmet restaurants, bustling shopping precincts, museums, concert halls, fine art galleries and the massive Bellas Artes cultural centre. There is plenty to see, from the 19th-century Neo-Gothic Santa Capilla church, the birthplace of Simon Bolivar, to the palace of Joaquin Crespo, and the Sofia Imber Museum of Contemporary Art (with works by Matisse, Picasso and Chagall as well as Venezuelan artists).

Those who need a break from the relentless urban energy can slip away for a hike on the nearby mountain slopes, or take a day trip to the surprising Bavarian-inspired town of La Colonia Tovar.

A holiday in Caracas is a rather daunting experience as this is a chaotic and intimidating city, seething with humanity. Those who are brave enough to travel to Caracas are rewarded with a chance to get a true perspective on Venezuela by exploring its capital city, and there are more than enough sights to fill a holiday. Caracas is a thrilling destination for intrepid travellers who are not averse to putting up with rougher conditions and the threat of crime in order to discover the treasures the city holds.

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VIETNAM

Hanoi Travel Guide

Vietnam’s small and vibrant capital lies at the heart of the northern Red River Delta, and is a city of lakes, leafy boulevards and open parks with a French colonial feel. Hanoi was founded in 1010, and became the centre of government for the Indochina Union under French rule in 1888. In 1954 it became the official capital of independent Vietnam.

Today ancient crumbling buildings dating from the 11th century lie scattered among grand French colonial residences, while shrines and monuments to Vietnam’s first president, Ho Chi Minh, sit in the shadow of modern high-rise buildings. The streets of the Old Quarter preserve age-old customs, where trade takes one back half a century and temples, pagodas and monuments reflect the historic character of Vietnam.

Although a city of historical importance, and the social and cultural centre of Vietnam, it is a surprisingly modest and charming place, far slower and less developed than Ho Chi Minh City in the south. Hanoi has retained its appealing sense of the old world, despite the onset of a brisk tourism trade in 1993, absorbing the boom of hotels, travellers’ hangouts and Internet cafes, and the gradual infiltration of western-style food and fashions into the once inaccessible city.

As the early morning mist rises from the serene Hoan Kiem Lake, tracksuit-clad elders perform the slow movements of tai chi, like park statues coming to life. Streets fill with activity, mopeds and bicycles weave among pedestrians, while cyclo drivers (three-wheeled bicycle taxis) clamour for attention, and postcard vendors cluster around tourists like bees sensing an open honey pot.

Hanoi is fast becoming one of the most enticing and interesting cities in Asia. As a cultural centre there are traditional water puppet shows, music and dance performances. It is also a good base for excursions to the beautiful Halong Bay, or into the Hoang Lien Mountains inhabited by several hill tribes.

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Ho Chi Minh City Travel Guide

Ho Chi Minh City, better known by its former name of Saigon, is an industrious and dense metropolis, the largest city in Vietnam and the business capital of the country. With a population of roughly seven million, it is crowded and noisy, yet also exciting, a historic city that encompasses the essence of the nation.

Located on the Saigon River on the edge of the Mekong Delta, Saigon became the capital of the Republic of South Vietnam and was the American headquarters during the Vietnam War. Two years later the Communist north took control of the country, the city’s name was changed to Ho Chi Minh City, and recession and poverty ensued.

Today Ho Chi Minh City has a cosmopolitan atmosphere, and having actively welcomed capitalism its citizens are clearly business-minded. Although relatively modern, it has still managed to hold onto its historical character, and fine restaurants, chic hotels and bars line the sidewalks. The buzzing of motorbikes and scooters merges with the calls of street vendors and the urgent business of stall owners, selling a range of delectable street food and exotic delicacies. The sight of a family of four balanced precariously on a scooter, a squealing pig strapped onto the back of a bicycle, bowed heads topped by pointed lampshade-style hats and orange-clothed monks are just some of the vibrant images the city has to offer.

Although overshadowed by modern and Asiatic influences, a little of Ho Chi Minh City’s French colonial charm still remains, evident in the graceful architecture, wide boulevards, and a sidewalk cafe society. It is not for the attractions that one visits Ho Chi Minh City however, but for the vibrancy of its street life, and its proximity to the Mekong Delta.

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Hue Travel Guide

Former capital of the emperors of the Nguyen Dynasty, the royal city of Hué is situated on the country’s central coast, midway between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. It is a serene place, a small city of canals boasting splendid historical sights, and is dominated by its massive Citadel, and the former Forbidden Purple City. Most of its beautiful imperial architecture was destroyed during the 1968 Tet Offensive, when the North Vietnamese launched an attack on the south, yet despite a tumultuous history it retains much of its cultural identity and has been recognised as a Cultural World Heritage Site.

Hué is also an important centre for Buddhism and hundreds of temples and pagodas exist around the city, such as the Thien Mu Pagoda, one of the most famous structures in the country. The Perfume River lies between the city and the remains of the mighty Citadel with many attractions along its banks. Sampan boat trips on the river offer an enchanting way to see the main sights in and around Hué, including the splendid tombs of the Nguyen emperors a few miles south of the city.

Along with its historical sights, Hué is also the main starting point for day tours to the DMZ (Demilitarised Zone), a historical area spanning both sides of the former border between north and south Vietnam, and the Vinh Moc underground tunnels.

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