Nature has blessed Vietnam with a bountiful harvest of soaring mountains, a killer coastline and radiant rice fields, Vietnam is a Top tourist destination
Welcome to a world where the colours are more vivid, where the landscapes are bolder, the coastline more dramatic, where the history is more compelling, where the tastes are more divine, where life is lived in the fast lane. This world is Vietnam, the latest Asian dragon to awake from its slumber.
Nature has blessed Vietnam with a bountiful harvest of soaring mountains, a killer coastline and radiant rice fields, Vietnam is a cracker. Inland, peasant women in conical hats still tend to their fields, children ride buffalos along country paths and minority people scratch out a living from impossible gradients.
Vietnam is a nation of determined optimists who have weathered war after war, survived colonialism and communism, and are now getting to grips with the wheeler-dealer world of capitalism. Fiercely protective of their independence and sovereignty, the Vietnamese are graciously welcoming of foreigners who come as guests not conquerors.
Don’t believe the hype. Or the propagandist party billboards that are as common as statues of ‘Uncle Ho’. Believe your senses, as you discover one of the most enriching, enlivening and exotic countries on earth.
To escape the buzz of millions of motorbikes, head west to the watery landscape of green fields and sleepy villages in the Mekong Delta. There’s adventure galore to be had on Phu Quoc Island and stunning white-sand beaches to relax on. Back on the east coast at Mui Ne Beach, you’ll be faced with a similar dilemma: action or inertia?
Hoi An might weigh you down – but in a good way – you’re bound to add kilos of made-to-order clothing to your luggage. With an estimated 300 to 500 tailors working in this beautiful city, this is fashionista heaven.
To feel the intellectual, cultural and spiritual heartbeat of Vietnam, make a stop in the old imperial capital, Hué. Home to palaces and pagodas, tombs and temples, and host of the biennial arts festival, the Festival of Hué (http://www.huefestival.com/), it’s the place to go for historical, cultural and culinary stimulation.
In Hanoi, the country’s captivating capital, rise early to watch the city exercise by Hoan Kiem Lake, then pay your respects in person to Uncle Ho at the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum (a truly surreal experience). See if you can locate ‘pickled fish street’ in the Old Quarter (it’s somewhere near ‘wooden bowls street’), and cool off with draught beer at ‘bia hoi junction’ (a truly rewarding experience).
Eventually you’ll be enticed out of the city by the stunning offerings of the country’s northern provinces. Nothing can prepare you for the beauty of Halong Bay and its 2000 limestone karsts, nor the experience of trekking around mountainous Sapa.
Vietnam has it all. Go expecting the unexpected, be ready for an adventure as much as a holiday, and Vietnam will deliver.
Learn a little history, and how to cross the street (!) with our 226 Days in Nam video. Or see the capital in a different light with our Hanoi Hustle video.
Ready to go? Our recommended tours make it easy:
Travel from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City in 11 days
Travel from Ho Chi Minh City to Bangkok in 9 days
Trek the beautiful Sapa Valley in Vietnam’s remote northwest
Top Picks For Vietnam
1 Kayak Halong Bay
Explore hidden caves and secret lagoons among the limestone peaks of Halong Bay using paddle power – one of Vietnam’s many activities for adrenalin junkies
2 Hit the beach at Nha Trang
Lap up the beach culture, and decide for yourself if this heavyweight champion deserves its place on our best beaches list
3 Tantalise your tastebuds in Hoi An
Try a modern spin on traditional Vietnamese cuisine at Mango Rooms in historic Hoi An
4 Have a Hanoi art attack
Head straight to our faves: Apricot Gallery and Mai Tai Gallery in the Old Quarter, the Oriental Gallery in the Nha Tao Area, Dong Phong Art Gallery in the French Quarter, and perhaps the best in Hanoi: Art Vietnam in the West Lake area.
5 Karst your eye over Phong Nha Cave
Go underground and explore the nooks and crannies of Phong Nha Cave, the largest and most stunning cave in the country
6 Cycle Ho Chi Minh City
Grab a bike and take the ride of your life through the streets of this riverside metropolis
7 Mai Chau
Go native with an overnight stay in a traditional Thai stilt house, amid the lush valleys
8 Quy Nhon
Access beautiful beaches and amazing Cham architecture from one of the coast’s less touristy cities
Swoon at the valley views from this rugged mountain retreat, a home to a wealth of minority peoples and a base for exploring the Tonkinese Alps.
A completely different view of Vietnam, this mountain town combines the French Alps with plenty of Bohemian cool
11 Cat Tien National Park
Lush refuge for city dwellers with ample hiking and bird-watching opportunities, plus elephants, crocodiles and the endangered Javan rhino
12 Mui Ne
Action or inertia, take your pick, this place is made for surfing (wind, board or kite) or blobbing on the beach
13 Mekong Delta
Watery world of bustling river towns and sleepy villages, floating markets and tasty fish served by uber-friendly locals
14 Phu Quoc
White-sand beaches and little development make for a magical tropical getaway on this forested island gem
Intellectual, cultural and spiritual heartbeat of Vietnam, the old imperial capital offers historical, spiritual and culinary stimulation