Much like its sweet-and-sour cuisine, Vietnam is a country of contrasts. This narrow slither of south-east Asia stretches from China in the north, to Thailand in the south. And it’s a bit of a natural beauty. The dramatic landscapes are a medley of vertigo-inducing mountains, bright-green rice fields and powdery beaches.
The big name in northern Vietnam is colonial capital, Hanoi. Though more laidback than its big sister, Ho Chi Minh City, this place won’t go down quietly. Its DNA is a mix of Asia and France, so it’s got a European feel with a lively old quarter. But that’s not the only draw. Trips to other-worldly villages like Sapa and world-famous Halong Bay are also high on the list.
From one picture-perfect scene to the next, most of southern Vietnam is dream beach territory. Take Phu Quoc Island, for instance – this well-kept secret is home to sands so fine and waters so clear, that it easily matches its Thai equivalents. And when it comes to bright lights, it’s all about Ho Chi Minh City. This chaotic city is abuzz with cloud-high skyscapers, timeless markets and mesmerising traffic.
- Ho Chi Minh's Stilt House This humble, two-storey house is just as the Vietnamese leader left it.
- Halong Bay overnight cruise Sail to the surreal and beautiful forest-island setting.
- Perfume River Boat trip to the elegant Thien Mu Pagoda and the Imperial Tomb of Minh Mang.
- War Remnants Museum View the moving Vietnam War displays and exhibitions.
- Killing Fields Visit the sobering Khmer Rouge Killing Fields.
- Angkor Wat See the exquisite 10th century Banteay Srei Temple of this remarkable ancient kingdom.
Vietnam is a wonderful country to visit.