Vietnam encompasses bustling cities, colonial towns and rural landscapes. Head to the north to discover serene lakes, scenic bays and rice terraces. Down south, order custom-made clothes, stroll through riverside towns and absorb the energy of the capital, Ho Chi Minh City. Top up your tan on Nha Trang’s beaches and explore the shopping streets of Hanoi.
In central Vietnam, marvel at the vast complex of temples and palaces within the Imperial City of Hue, which served as Vietnam’s capital in the early 19th century. Explore what remains of the citadel’s original buildings. Remnants from Vietnam’s time as a French colony survive in the town of Hoi An, where charming colonial buildings and mouthwatering patisseries abound.
Further south, learn about the life of the Viet Cong soldiers in the Cu Chi Tunnels, located aboutan hour’s drive northwest of Ho Chi Minh City. This network of underground tunnels was used as living quarters and hideouts during the Vietnam War.
Head further north to take a boat tour out to Halong Bay and behold the stunning beauty of its limestone karsts and floating villages. Enjoy lunch aboard an old-fashioned junk boat, then board a kayak to explore the caves.
No trip to Hanoi is complete without a visit to Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum. Dress modestly and leave your camera behind before entering the impressive marble building to see the leader’s embalmed remains. Scenic and calm Hoàn Kiếm Lake is located in the heart of Hanoi. Have dinner or drinks in one of the hotels or cafés that overlook the water.
Savor regional food favorites such as cau lau, a noodle dish made with pork and greens, and bun cha, grilled pork patties served with noodles, along with a steaming bowl of pho, the country’s famous noodle soup. Trains, buses and domestic flights can help you travel around Vietnam, while motorcycle taxis are widely available in Vietnam’s towns and cities.
With a fascinating history, picturesque towns and relaxed coastal regions, Vietnam is a Southeast Asian gem.