With its stunning scenery, beautiful beaches and tasty food, Vietnam has a lot to offer. The South-East Asian country adjoins China in the north, curves around Laos, Thailand and Cambodia in the west, and has more than 2,000 miles of coastline on the South China Sea. Vietnam’s long, slim shape also means it has three distinct climates – in the north, centre and south.
Elegant Hanoi in the north has French colonial architecture and tree-lined boulevards mixed with ancient alleys and Chinese shophouses. Some three hours away is Halong Bay, the ultra-photogenic collection of limestone islands soaring out of the emerald-green sea. You’ll want to spend a night onboard a boat here, but don’t expect to have the bay to yourself.
Central Vietnam offers picture-perfect towns such as Hue, the former imperial centre on the Perfume river, and Hoi An with its narrow streets full of merchant buildings strewn with lanterns. The beaches in this area are beautiful, and there are numerous luxurious resort hotels to choose from, particularly near Nha Trang.
Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) in the south is as bustling as it gets, but you can find refuge from the crowds in the burgeoning crop of fashion and interiors stores and galleries.
All across Vietnam food is a big draw, characterised by refreshing flavours of lime juice, lemongrass, chilli, fish sauce and palm sugar. An authentic way to try the cuisine is from street stalls. Popular dishes are spring rolls – fresh and soft, or crispy and deep-fried; banh mi (baguettes, a legacy from the French); and the nation’s most famous dish, pho (pronounced fir), a noodle soup.
Further south, the Mekong Delta is dominated by the mighty Mekong river. Book a luxury boutique cruise to get a glimpse of the tiny waterside villages on stilts and floating markets – a world away from the cities.
Tempted by what you’ve read? Need a few more ideas about where to go, what to see and how to go about it? Contact us – we’re always happy to help you choose your dream stay.