A visit to Vietnam reveals faded colonial grandeur, stylish luxury retreats, lush green jungles, mountains and rice paddies, translucent bays, fragrant cuisine and smiling locals. Nestled between Laos and Cambodia to the west and the South China Sea to the east, Vietnam also boasts a spectacular coastline dotted with delightful beaches and towering limestone islands.
Vibrant Ho Chi Minh City buzzes to a soundtrack of a million scooters, retaining its local charm in timeless alleys, ancient pagodas and markets. Visit the nearby Cu Chi tunnels, 250 kilometres of complex secret underground passages, used by the Viet Cong during wartime. Along the old Rue Catinat the country’s French history is evident in the Notre Dame Cathedral, Opera House, Post Office and the Reunification Palace.
Visit the markets, palaces and museums of Capital Hanoi. Further afield, the limestone karsts of Halong Bay are truly spectacular. Take an overnight cruise on a private junk and kayak through caves and floating villages, or board the luxurious Victoria Express train from Hanoi to Lao Cai, to view the picturesque rolling hills and rice terraces of Sapa.
Central Vietnam’s coast offers golden beaches and historic small towns. Wander around Hoi An, soaking up the area’s café culture, colourful lanterns and bustling markets.
Further inland, explore the ancient palaces and temples along the Perfume River, where Hue was once the centre of politics and spiritual life in Vietnam. Looking for downtime? Head to Nha Trang, a seaside village with resorts offering barefoot luxury and pristine waters.