Reasons to Visit
There is so much more to do in Vietnam than just the odd city tour and museum. Kite making in Hue, a fisherman eco-tour in Hoi An, an educational talk in Hanoi, cycling through the rice terraces of Sapa - there are many wonderful ways to see the country, experience its culture and meet its people.
Famous for the Vietnam War, you can of course visit the War Remnants Museum and the Cu Chi tunnels in Saigon. However, the country's history has many other facets to be explored such as the old merchant town of Hoi An or the imperial city of Hue. The imprints of the former foreign rules of the Chinese and French are present wherever you go from iconic buildings to everyday life; past and present existing in harmony.
Vietnam offers great value for money from every angle. From hotels to transport to food, your US dollars or Vietnamese Dong will go far!
Vietnamese food is renowned for its freshness, bold flavours and presentation. It is an integral part of the local culture and each region has its own unique and wonderful dishes. This part of Southeast Asia is undoubtedly one of the best places in the world to eat. And if you want to learn the art of Vietnamese cooking yourself, there are also a number of fantastic cooking courses for you to enjoy.
The people of Vietnam are among the friendliest you will ever meet. They are also extremely resilient having survived foreign invasions by the Chinese and French, as well as famine and war with their cultural identity remaining intact. You only have to witness the National Flag Raising ceremony in Ba Dinh Square, Hanoi to witness a nation united not simply by patriotism, but by a very strong sense of community and respect.
From the UNESCO site of Halong Bay with its thousands of limestone outcrops to the Tonkinese Alps and lush green rice terraces of Sapa, Vietnam offers an abundance of stunning scenery and landscapes. Besides natural assets, there are plenty of other man-made photo opportunities such as the colourful floating markets of the Mekong Delta and the bustling streets of the Old Quarter in Hanoi.
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Our country specialists have travelled the length and breadth of Vietnam - here are a few of their favourite things to do
From the jagged mountains and verdant rice paddies in the far north to the lush south and the mighty Mekong River, Vietnam is hauntingly beautiful.
There is majestic scenery in abundance here, whether it is the towering limestone islands of Halong Bay, the jungle-clad peaks of the remote northwest or the sweeping deserted beaches along the central coast.
Historical interest is all around too, in the old imperial city of Hue, the battlefields and tunnels of the former Demilitarised Zone, the South China Sea port of Hoi An, frenetic Saigon and in the capital Hanoi, a proud city of wide boulevards and ancient temples. Though communism has all but disappeared, much of the French colonial influence remains in the exquisite architecture, baguettes for sale at roadside stalls and some gallic variations on Vietnam’s own delicious cuisine.
It is easy to see why Vietnam continues to enthrall, with remote areas such as the Ho Chi Minh trail and the central highlands now open to tourism and offering new experiences for the more intrepid traveller.
For many visitors it is the Vietnamese themselves, as rich and diverse as the land they live in, who transform the travel experience; charming, quietly resolute and amazingly open.
Vietnam’s mountainous midriff provide an enjoyable temperate alternative after a hot and humid stint in the south or on the coast. During the Vietnam War, considerable fighting took place around this area.
Dalat sprung up as a cool respite for the French from the stifling tropical heat of Saigon, and there are still hundreds of colonial villas dotted throughout the town. Dalat Palace is another highlight to see.
Whether shrouded in mist or bathed in sunshine, the sheer island mountains of Halong Bay are one of Asia’s finest landscapes. You can explore the bay by traditional junk or colonial-style cruiser.
There is plenty to see in Hanoi, including the mausoleum of Ho Chi Minh, the Museum of Ethnology, the Fine Art Museum, plus a host of temples and pagodas.
Hoi An is an ideal spot to stop for a few days, shopping in the market or having a silk dress or suit fitted. There are many restaurants, old houses, craft shops and art galleries.
This romantic city is the best place to experience the country’s imperial past. Other highlights include the atmospheric tunnels at Vinh Moc and the battle site of Khe Sanh.
Perhaps the most scenic river in Asia, the Mekong is also the most vibrant. There is so much to see along the river, including floating markets and villages as well as countless temples.
Best known to the Vietnamese as one of the country’s biggest fishing ports, it is however, the pristine waters and long sandy beaches that attract visitors from outside.
Situated close to the Cambodian border, the island of Phu Quoc offers an alternative beach option for those wishing to get off the beaten track.
Known by the Vietnamese as Ho Chi Minh City, this astonishing city, full of vitality, was the original "Pearl of the Orient". Nearby are the infamous Cu Chi Tunnels, which were used by the Viet Cong during the war.
13 1/2 hours (Hanoi, via Paris)
Cathay Pacific, Malaysia Airlines, Singapore Airlines & Thai Airways
The best time to travel.
A good time to travel, but there may be some factors to be aware of.
Travel is possible, but this is not the best time of year.
Travel is not recommended.
Snow or ski season.
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Further reading:Tours in VietnamWhen to GoItinerary IdeasPlaces to GoThings to DoAccommodationAbout VietnamCountry Guides
Other countries in Southeast Asia:BorneoBurmaCambodiaIndonesiaLaosMalaysiaPapua New GuineaThailandThe Philippines
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