A land of staggering natural beauty and cultural complexities, of dynamic megacities and hill-tribe villages.
The ground floor of the museum is devoted to a collection of posters and photographs showing support for the antiwar movement internationally. This somewhat upbeat display provides a counterbalance to the horrors upstairs.
US armoured vehicles, artillery pieces, bombs and infantry weapons are on display outside. One corner of the grounds is devoted to the notorious French and South Vietnamese prisons on Phu Quoc and Con Son Islands. Artefacts include that most iconic of French appliances, the guillotine, and the notoriously inhumane tiger cages used to house war prisoners.
Designated a Unesco World Heritage Site in 2003, the remarkable Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park contains the oldest karst mountains in Asia, formed approximately 400 million years ago. Riddled with hundreds of cave systems many of extraordinary scale and length and spectacular underground rivers, Phong Nha is a speleologists heaven on earth.
The caves are the region's absolute highlights, but the above-ground attractions of forest trekking, the area's war history, and rural mountain biking means it deserves a stay of around three days.
The city's main historical museum charts Dubai's turbo-evolution from fishing and pearling village to global centre of commerce, finance and tourism. It has an atmospheric setting in the compact Al Fahidi Fort, built around 1800 and considered Dubai's oldest remaining structure.
Under the crab-shell ceiling are carvings of crossed sabres wrapped in silk ribbon. The sabres symbolise force; the silk represents flexibility.
This tranquil rural spot was the setting for one of the most horrific crimes of the American War, a massacre committed by US troops that killed 504 villagers, many of them elderly and children on 16 March 1968. The deeply poignant Son My Memorial was constructed as a monument to their memory.
Centred on a dramatic stone sculpture of an elderly woman holding up her fist in defiance, a dead child in her arms, the monument rises high above the landscape.
The Imperial Enclosure is a citadel-within-a-citadel, housing the emperor's residence, temples and palaces, and the main buildings of state, within 6m-high, 2.5km-long walls. What's left is only a fraction of the original the enclosure was badly bombed during the French and American Wars, and only 20 of its 148 buildings survived.
This is a fascinating site easily worth half a day, but poor signage can make navigation a bit difficult. Restoration and reconstruction is ongoing.
This thought-provoking site is all that remains of the former Hoa Lo Prison, ironically nicknamed the Hanoi Hilton by US prisoners of war (POWs) during the American War. Most exhibits relate to the prison's use up to the mid-1950s, focusing on the Vietnamese struggle for independence from France.
A gruesome relic is the ominous French guillotine, used to behead Vietnamese revolutionaries. There are also displays focusing on the American pilots who were incarcerated at Hoa Lo during the American War.
Hang Son Doong (Mountain River Cave) is known as the world's largest cave, and is one of the most spectacular sights in Southeast Asia. The government approved (very restricted) access to the cave system in June 2013. The only specialist operator permitted (by the Vietnamese president no less) to lead tours here is Son Trach based Oxalis.
Son Doong is no day-trip destination; it's in an extremely remote area and the only way to visit is by booking a four-night/three-day expedition with around 16 porters. It costs US$3000 per person, with a maximum of 10 trekkers on each trip.