Gavin Manerowski / Vietnam Vacation Vietnam has a long and war-torn history of rebellion and colonisation. Occupied by China no less than four times over the course of history, the country is now a one party authoritarian state. The brutality of the Vietnam War, known locally as the American War, had a devastating effect on the population, and now two thirds of natives were born after 1975. Despite the long and bloody history, Vietnam is a beautiful country which in recent years has attracted somewhere in the region of three million tourists each year. Gavin Manerowski is one such tourist who visited Vietnam to experience the darker and more picturesque aspects of the nation. The Cu Chi Tunnels were dug during the Vietnam War to act as secret living quarters, ammunition stores and command centres. Today tourists can explore the spooky tunnels to experience what life must have been like and to remember those who died in vain. The immense network of connecting underground tunnels is accessible at some of the safer regions and has been set up as a national war memorial site. Certain sections have been enlarged to accommodate western tourists, and above ground the area teems with attractions such as street vendors, caged monkeys and even a practice rifle range. Ho Chi Minh, previously known as Saigon, is one of the best known cities in Vietnam. Here tourists can visit the Saigon Zoo and Botanical Gardens, the War Remnants Museum or the Suoi Tien Amusement Park, take a stroll through the picturesque Dam Sen Cultural Park or take a breather at one of the many coffee shops serving the syrupy iced brew which comes either short and black or with condensed milk for added sweetness. The archipelago of Halong Bay is comprised of 3,000 limestone islands. Gavin Manerowski highly recommends taking a trip on an authentic junk boat around the scenic bay. Halong Bay literally translates as â€˜descending dragon bayâ€™, and the intriguing rock formations demonstrate clearly why this name was chosen. Vietnamese cuisine is rapidly becoming available across the globe as more and more westerners get to grips with the delicious dishes which incorporate one or more of the five fundamental elements. In Vietnamese culture sour translates in to wood, bitter into fire, sweet into earth, spicy into metal and salty into water. Tourists are encouraged to sample freshly-cooked dishes from kerbside stalls or to visit one of the many traditional restaurants.