Once synonymous with tragedy and conflict, Vietnam is experiencing a rebirth. Now decades after the U.S. pullout from South Vietnam, the country shows few remaining scars from that conflict or the protracted War of Independence from France that preceded it. Many historical sites have been fully restored, the country's economy is booming and the infrastructure for tourism is developing rapidly.
Visitors no longer worry about staying in contact with home—Internet cafes are everywhere. The ancient and modern coexist: Cell phones and gleaming motorbikes are ubiquitous in the towns and villages, but people still till the rice fields with the help of bullock plows.
The country's history of conflict—both internal and with others—could lead you to conclude that the Vietnamese thrive on a certain degree of contentiousness. That's just not the case. Although older Vietnamese may find the pace of change somewhat dizzying, there is overwhelming support for the advances the country is making. Tourism is helping Vietnam ride the crest of that wave, and the country has become one of the best travel bargains in Asia.
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