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Obviously, anyone traveling to Ho Chi Minh City and elsewhere in Vietnam would be advised to read an up-to-date guidebook on the region. Lonely Planet, Frommer's, etc., all are valuable resources.
Novels can also provide wonderful background information. For instance, Graham Greene's "The Quiet American" is an excellent novel set in the days leading up to the Vietnam War. For contemparary novels, read "Dragon House" and "The Wishing Trees" by John Shors. Both of these novels provide accurate and lovely portrayals of modern-day Vietnam.
Vietnam Heritage magazineis an interesting magazine for foreigners to get to know about Vietnam. Including true and fair articles of all about Vietnam, articles of Vietnam's nature, upcoming events in Vietnam and maps with directions of places you should visit. Light and portable. A good document for people to study about Vietnam. VND49,000 (about $2.33).