Vietnam

Vietnam is the vibrant core of Indochina, from buzzing Hanoi through charming Hoi-An and Hue, stunning Halong Bay and the excitement of Ho Chi Minh, this fascinating country has something for everyone.

Stretching from the mountainous North down to the mouth of the mighty Mekong in the South, Vietnam appears like multiple countries rolled into one. From stunning beach hideaways along the endless coastline to colourful markets in the North; from traditional family life along the banks of the Mekong to thousands of years of history at the former imperial place of Hue – Vietnam has it all.

Those with romantic notions of Indo-China should visit Hanoi – charming, quaint and historic. Wander through the colonial Old Quarter, marvel at the mastery of the Vietnamese Water Puppets at the Opera House or take an evening stroll around the West Lake. A day trip from Hanoi is the Perfume Pagoda, viewed as one of the most beautiful spots in Vietnam. Not far from Hanoi is Halong Bay, a World Heritage Site and listed amongst the most beautiful bays in the world. The karst scenery is simply stunning and provides a fabulous backdrop for a luxurious cruise, made famous in the James Bond movie ‘Tomorrow Never Dies’.

Another UNESCO World Heritage site is the lovely, sleepy town of Hoi An. Situated south of Hanoi, on the edge of a shallow river, Hoi An was established 200 years ago as a trading port with Japan and China. It is the perfect place to have clothes made, enjoy the art galleries and appreciate wonderfully preserved Chinese Clan houses. For those interested in Vietnam’s Imperial past, Hue, with its sense of majesty and its powerful links to the past cannot be escaped. The Imperial citadel dominates the town, and all around are pagodas and tombs to courtiers and successful mandarins.

Ho Chi Minh is the epitome of a South-East Asian city; noisy, young, bustling and a bit brash, but scratch beneath the surface and you will quickly discover its past. There are still some wonderful old colonial buildings standing proud despite their faded grandeur. Take a cyclo to what was Paris Square, home to the imposing, red bricked Notre Dame Cathedral and the grand Old General Post Office. For a more modern take on history, explore the Cu Chi Tunnels, the Viet Cong stronghold during the Vietnam War.

If you are keen on hiking and mountains, a trip to the vibrant markets of Sapa is a must. Equally colourful is a trip to the Mekong Delta, where your picture book image of Vietnam becomes a reality. Watch tiny children skip alongside the delicate green coloured paddy fields followed by seemingly docile water buffalos. See how the river is the community’s lifeline; for bathing, for washing clothes and dishes, for cooking water or simply for having fun at the end of yet another hot and steamy day.

The lush Red River Delta and the highlands in the north, known for their magnificent scenery and colourful hill tribes.

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