Despite its "in-depth" subtitle, this section only briefly skims the surface of a rather deep reservoir; literary and nonfiction works about the Vietnam War era alone are legion, and Vietnam's cultural heritage goes back thousands of years. The Vietnamese are careful to distinguish their cultural traditions from those of its neighbor China. With its distinct, very sophisticated traditions of painting (particularly lacquer painting), crafts such as weaving and woodcarving, theater, opera, dance, and water puppetry, Vietnam's own cultural landscape is as varied and colorful as its topography. And despite centuries of occupation by foreigners, Vietnamese cultural traditions have survived. Opportunities abound to explore trade villages, learn about Vietnamese cooking, witness the country's performing arts like water puppetry (in Hanoi), court dance (in Hue), catch a traditional opera, or look over the shoulder of artists at work in studios or at street side.

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