PRESENTATION OF SOUTHERN VIETNAM, ITS HISTORY AND MAIN DESTINATIONS
Southern Vietnam is characterized by a warm climate all year round, and a great diversity of destinations. Indeed, in the South of Vietnam, we can find the Mekong Delta region, with its rice fields and floating markets, but also Ho Chi Minh City, which is the largest city and the economic heart of the country, as well as various seaside destinations.
History of Southern Vietnam
The history of Southern Vietnam is mainly marked by the Funan kingdom. This kingdom would have existed between the 1st and 6th centuries and would have mainly covered the Mekong Delta. In general, official information on the Funan kingdom is relatively rare.
However, some data seem to be more or less reliable and come from several sources. Thus, it would seem that the capital of the kingdom was located between Chau Doc in Vietnam and Phnom Penh which is the current capital of Cambodia. Some possible names stand out, such as Oc Eo, Angkor Borei, Ba Phnom or Vyadhapura.
The etymology of the name of the kingdom has several versions and several theories. The most popular seems to be the one that says that the name Funan comes from the Chinese language, in which the suffix "nan" refers to regions in the south.
Regarding the ethnic origin of the members of the kingdom is also still uncertain today. The names of the Austronesians, Chams and Khmers often come up, but nothing is certified and some even think it was a kingdom composed of several different ethnic groups.
Even the location and size of the kingdom is not certain, but following numerous testimonies it would seem that it was centred mainly on the Mekong Delta and its surroundings.
As mentioned above, reliable information about the kingdom is quite scarce and so are the sources from which this information comes. The main sources are Chinese annals (which would affirm that the kingdom was founded in the 1st century), inscriptions in Khmer and Sanskrit (which would be at the origin of various additional information), and archaeological research that has been carried out in the vicinity of the probable location of the kingdom.
Finally, it would seem that the kingdom was organized into several principalities, at war with each other. Within the kingdom there are reported to have been a tax system, trade exchanges or palaces protected by walls.
The main destinations in Southern Vietnam
As mentioned above, the popular destinations in Southern vietnam are many and very different from each other.
Ho Chi Minh City is the economic heart of Vietnam, as well as the largest city in the country. It is a modern and dynamic destination, once called Saigon. The name Ho Chi Minh City was adopted on July 2, 1976 by the communists, winners of the Vietnam War, in tribute to Ho Chi Minh who was the founder of the Vietnamese Communist Party. Today, this very active city is full of places to visit.
The War Remains Museum traces the history of the Indochina War and the Vietnam War, two periods that have marked the country's history. The museum gives a very negative image of the war, with exhibits that can be shocking because the reality of the war was so harsh and cruel. A very moving and essential visit during your visit to Southern vietnam.
Notre-Dame de Saigon Cathedral, inspired as its name suggests by Notre-Dame de Paris, was built by the French between 1877 and 1880 with materials imported from France. The cathedral was at the time considered to be the most beautiful structure built by the French during the period of colonization. Below Notre-Dame de Paris in size, this cathedral still resembles it strongly and displays a mixture of Romanesque and Gothic style.
The Reunification Palace is another building that was important during the French presence in Vietnam. The palace was indeed used as an office by the Governor-General of French Indochina, but was also later used as a presidential palace by Ngo Dinh Diem.
Mekong Delta countryside
Can Tho is the largest city in the Mekong Delta. Tourism in Can Tho has been growing rapidly for several years, thanks in particular to the popularity of floating markets. Can Tho first appeared on the map of the country in 1739. The city has since undergone many transformations concerning its name but also its administrative boundaries, before becoming today a popular destination in Southern vietnam.
Can Tho's floating markets are the city's main attraction. Every day, hundreds of boats sail the river with goods for sale on board. You can find fruits, vegetables, coffee, typical Southern vietnamese dishes prepared directly on board,... These markets are very popular with locals who get up early in the morning to buy the most beautiful goods, but also more and more with tourists. Indeed, all these boats with all these products on board create a magical and extremely colourful spectacle. On board a boat, it is thus possible for tourists to travel on the river through the merchant ships, which are small for some and impressive for others. A total immersion in the heart of the daily life of the premises, even more interesting if you do it very early in the morning, when the floating markets are the most active and liveliest, with a much larger number of premises than tourists, a trend that can change later in the day.
Visiting the Can Tho Provincial Prison, built by the French between 1876 and 1886, promises to be a moving experience. This prison was indeed a place of detention and torture, and was recognized as a national historic relic by the Ministry of Culture and Communication in 1996.
Temples and pagodas are also one of Can Tho's tourist attractions. For example, the Munirangsyaram pagoda is a Khmer pagoda in which several monks still live, with whom you can discuss during your visit.
Chau Doc is a city located in the Mekong Delta, just like Can Tho. Border with Cambodia, the region in which Chau Doc is located is Vietnamese for only 300 years. Today, however, it is a very interesting destination in Southern vietnam for lovers of nature but also culture.
The Tra Su Cajeputier Forest is home to incredible biodiversity and it is possible to cross this forest in a boat navigating on a waterway known as the "green path". It is thus a magical moment of relaxation and discovery.
Mount Sam, a recognized national tourist area, is surrounded by splendid natural landscapes and is also home to more than a hundred religious sites, making it a very popular place of worship. At the foot of Mount Sam, for example, you can find the Tay An Pagoda, the first building in the country to combine Buddhist and Hindu influences, or the Mausoleum of Thoai Ngoc Hau, a mausoleum dedicated to a Mandarin from the Hue court, which was responsible for building a canal that marks the border between Vietnam and Cambodia.
The floating village in Chau Doc is home to floating houses and fish cages, with hundreds of rafts passing through it every morning.
The sea in South Vietnam
Nicknamed the "emerald island", Phu Quoc is the largest island in Vietnam. It is closer to the Cambodian coast than to the Vietnamese coast.
The beaches of Phu Quoc are paradisiacal. White sand, turquoise water or palm leaf fishing huts are elements that you can easily find on the beaches of Phu Quoc. You will also be able to practice many activities on site. Some are classic, such as the various water sports, scuba diving or swimming, but others are more original, such as night fishing for squid.
The Duong Dong Night Market offers many species of fish and shellfish as well as souvenirs made from pearls, shells,...
The Phu Quoc Prison was reopened during the Vietnam War after it had initially closed in 1954. More than 40,000 people have been detained in this prison and many cases of torture have been committed. Visiting the prison today provides an opportunity to learn more about the wars in Vietnam and the lives of the people during these wars.
Southern Vietnam has nothing to envy the rest of the country. The region has many different facets. The climate is pleasant and the list of interesting destinations is long. There is no doubt that you will find what you are looking for, whether you are a lover of nature, history, culture, gastronomy or sport.