A breathtakingly beautiful country, Vietnam is at once incredibly exotic and utterly compelling. Gaze over the surreal limestone islands of Halong Bay, walk or cycle through rice paddies, soak up the street scenes in Hanoi’s Old Quarter, get clothing tailored in Hoi An, dodge traffic in Saigon, enjoy delicious food, laze on long sandy beaches and mingle and laugh with the engaging locals. Vietnam is all that and more.
best time to travel
With such a varied geography and the country spanning such a great distance, there is a wide variety of climatic zones in Vietnam. The south as far as Hue has a distinct dry season between December and April and a wet season from May to November when rain falls in quick heavy showers with bright sunshine in between. Hanoi is cool in fall and can get chilly in winter. Overall November to March are the best months to visit Vietnam.
places to go
While rapidly catching up to modern days the Old Quarter of Hanoi still has a timeless, colonial quality to it. Shopkeepers and hawkers praise their wares, locals munch on noodles in restaurants, or do their morning exercise in the quiet parks around Hoan Kiem Lake. Further afield lie temples and monuments long forgotten by time but waiting to be discovered by you.
Like the scales on a dragon's back, this surreal jumble of limestone cliffs rises up from the ocean's surface high into the sky. Board a traditional junk, sit back and enjoy the amazing scenery.
Sitting at the head of a deep valley, the old French hill station of Sapa is the perfect place from which to explore traditional markets and hilltribe villages. Hike through a landscape stunning beyond belief, where rice paddies tumble down the mountain like so many cascading waterfalls, the return to town to enjoy a good meal and the stupendous views.
Situated on the banks of the pretty Perfume River, the old imperial capital of Vietnam invites you to explore its palaces, temples and citadel. Take a boat trip up the river, or cycle its tranquil riverbanks.
Historic and tranquil, the old town of Hoi An is the perfect place to spend a few days relaxing in street-side cafes, enjoying the culinary delights on offer or perhaps having some clothes tailored for you. Cycle outside of town and discover beaches and a way of life unchanged in centuries.
Bustling Na Thrang may seem an unlikely beach destination at first, but hit the town's promenade and beautiful beaches, or take a boat trip out to the islands off shore, and you'll soon realize what all the talk is about.
Providing an escape from the hot lowlands, Dalat was the holiday resort of choice for French colonialist. It still retains a French feel and is the honeymoon capital of the country. The surrounding countryside is sprinkled with forests, lakes and waterfalls.
Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC or Saigon)
A city racing ever forward in its pursuit of trade and commerce, Saigon is a mix of classy restaurants and swanky bars, street stalls and local markets, high-end boutiques, hotels and mansions. Dive into the chaos and discover a city unique in Asia if not the world.
Cu Chi tunnels
This huge network of tunnels helped the Viet Cong take control of large swaths of the Saigon countryside.
Myriad waterways make up this, the rice bowl of Vietnam. Take a trip out on to the lazy waters and visit floating markets where vendor's boats overflow with the freshest of produce. Cycle along narrow trails or stay at a village home, and discover a local way of life forgotten by time.
Sail a junk
Sail among the limestone karst cliffs of Halong Bay and watch the scenery glide by. Paddle out on a kayak, discover a hidden cave, or simply relax and enjoy the sunset.
Travel back in time
Whether you visit the faded grandeur of the imperial city at Hue, the Old Quarter in Hanoi, a French hill station or the Mekong Delta, at some point on your trip to Vietnam you will feel transported back to the days of old.
Shop at a market
From the Old Quarter of Hanoi to the Central Market in Saigon, to the hilltribe markets in the mountainous north, browsing around the many different markets in Vietnam is an experience to be had.
The mountains bordering Laos and China are home to many hill tribes still living their traditional way of life. Witness it while visiting local markets or hiking the hills of Sapa.
Bike like a local
Saddle up and follow the highways and byways of this beautiful country. Cycling is still the transportation of choice for many locals and you and them will delight in each other's company.
Mekong Delta Home stay
A home stay in the Mekong Delta is a great way to learn more about local life. Be welcomed by your hosts, explore the villages, floating markets and waterways and enjoy some delicious food.
Street food & phở
Vietnam is well known for its delicious food and nowhere will it be fresher than from a street-side stall. Try the ubiquitous phở noodle soups or some fragrant marinated pork.
Accompany a Vietnamese chef to the market, shop for fresh ingredients and try your hand at some of the best recipes this country has to offer. Then, feast on your own creations!
Crossing a street
The traffic is mad, but cross you must. "When in Rome" should be your motto - just start crossing and traffic will miraculously flow around you.
Vietnam War legacy
The vast Cu Chi tunnels are a monument to the tenacity of the Vietnamese people during the onslaught of the US military.
You can have clothing tailored all over Vietnam, but the best place to do it is Hoi An. In between fittings enjoy the street-side cafes and restaurants, or take a bike ride into the surrounding countryside or to the beach.
With a coastline 2000 kms long, pure white-sand unspoiled beaches are never far away.