Independence Day in Vietnam is celebrated each September. Amongst the celebrations fireworks are shot in the sky and marches are organised on the streets. Many people visit Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum or Ba Dinh Square in order to ponder over the historical events that took place years ago. Ho Chi Minh comes alive with its dynamic historic sites and its hectic streets. Learn about its fascinating and rich history at the war remnants museum and the world famous Cu Chi tunnels.
Alternatively, visit the medieval capital of Thimpu in Bhutan and enjoy the many Buddhist festivals which take place around this time of year. The juxtapositions of old and new remain part of Thimpu's charm. Crimson-robed monks, Indian labourers, government ministers clad in ghos and kiras (traditional dress) and camera-wielding tourists all share the pot-holed pavements. In addition, it offers cafes, bars, nightclubs and restaurants. Finding a balance between the old and new is the key to getting the most out of this city.
During the month of Kartik (late September and early October), the Nepalese people celebrate, Dashain. It is the longest and the most auspicious festival in the Nepalese annual calendar. The goddess Durga in all her manifestations is worshiped with innumerable pujas, abundant offerings and thousands of animal sacrifices for the ritual holy bathing. Nepal is the gateway to the Himalayas and the highest point on earth. You will be encapsulated by snow-capped mountains, diamond sparkling streams, villages that haven’t changed for centuries, forests of rhododendrons, tranquil lakes, ancient monasteries, Bengal tigers and of course the highest mountain on earth.
A country steeped in drama and excitement from its craggy coastline to lush interior, a country that has survived wars, invasions and colonisation with grace, grit and good humour; a country which embraces the future and yet never forgets its past. It is a nation of colours, from the vivid green of the rice terraces to the white sand of the beaches and the deep turquoise of the sea which edges it. It has much to flaunt from temples and pagodas to scenery.
The kingdom of the thunder dragon, where everyone wears national dress and the King has decreed that Gross National Happiness is much more important than GNP. A land of temples and fortress monasteries which has only just in recent years begun to welcome tourists, Bhutan is now home to some seriously luxurious lodges. Everything starts in Paro, home to the country’s only airport, where legend has it that Guru Rinpoche, the founder of Bhutanese Buddhism, flew in on the back of a tigress. He made his home at Taktsang Lhakhang, a precarious ledge high above the town where he meditated for three months. Now known as the Tiger’s Nest Monastery, it is one of the more popular attractions in the area and a good strenuous hike. For a gentler experience visit the National Museum or head for Thimphu, the capital. Along the way enjoy treks and walks for all abilities, as well as breathtaking scenery and the clearest mountain air.
Gateway to the Himalayas and the highest point on earth. Snow-capped mountains and sparkling streams, villages that haven’t changed for centuries, forests of rhododendrons, tranquil lakes, ancient monasteries, Bengal tigers, leopards, bears, smiling monks, and of course the highest mountain on earth; Nepal has it all. Unforgettable, proud and enchanting, it is home to both the only living goddess on earth and to the Gurkhas. Everything begins and ends in Kathmandu, the capital city – rackety, noisy, and full of life, a melange of monks, hippies, travellers, hikers and mountaineers. It is dotted with Hindu temples and Buddhist stupas and is home to the Royal Palaces, hidden gardens, tiny workshops filled with craftsmen, and three magnificent Durbar Squares which are designated UNESCO World Heritage sites. It’s where the trek to Everest begins.