Vietnam is a country of villages. Some are dedicated to a single industry, others are distinguished by stunning landscape. Regardless of where you go, the Vietnamese people are resourceful, hard working, and they smile easily. And the food ain’t bad either.

Hundreds of years ago, the traditional blacksmithing village Da Sy became famous for advanced forging skills. Residents produced steel weapons for the military as well as farming tools. Today, a handful of local families are keeping the craft alive. Each household specializes in one type of product and has its own trade secrets.

The cultural significance of Bat Trang pottery village comes from 500+ years of producing superior quality porcelain and ceramic products. Skilled craftsmen and local artisans create both traditional and modern pieces. Designs are divided by functionality, such as household items, worship items, fine art pottery, and decorative ceramics. High value is placed on artistic production and reputation, regardless of whether you’re buying a fat buddha, a waving cat, or an urn.

In the mountain town of Sapa, village work is all women’s work. Managing rice terraces, farming, producing textiles, making clothes and household goods, and tending the home are taught to girls at a young age.

Sapa is known for its towering peaks and Mount Fansipan is famous among them. With an elevation of  3,143 meters (10,326 ft), it’s the highest mountain in the region and nicknamed “the Roof of Indochina,” comprising Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. A Buddhist temple complex occupies the summit.

Mount Fansipan, Sapa, Vietnam ©2019, Cyndie Burkhardt.

In Hanoi, the lines between public and private life are blurry, if they exist at all. Life and businesses are conducted on the street in full view.

Top three “must try” foods: Pho—the national dish; Durian— a delicious, illegal fruit; Egg coffee—invented in Hanoi.

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