Whether planning a honeymoon or a family holiday, looking to lay back or go head throttle into history, Vietnam is an ideal option! Why? Take a look at just a few the best destinations and attractions to choose from.
1. Ho Chi Minh
Hope you’ve packed your stamina with you, as Ho Chi Minh is a nonstop stream of sights, smells and sensational adventure. Culture meets commerce in this Asian metropolis, which is a must-stop for any traveller. Shop at street markets and designer malls, or touch on the cultural history within the tapestry of government buildings and temples alike. Bookended by a pulsating bar and restaurant scene, Saigon alone can take you from morning, to night, and back to morning in the blink of an eye!
2. Halong Bay:
The Gulf of Tonkin is a sight to behold, with over 2000 islands poking their peaks from its crystal waters. The stuff that travel dreams are made of, this world heritage sight is a spectacular melting pot of nature and nautical wonders, all of which can be taken in via boat cruises threading around the time-eroded grottoes and caves.
3. Cuc Phuong National Park:
For nature lovers, this is one for the travel bucket list. One of the countries most prioritized protected expanses; Cuc Phuong National Park is home to hundreds of reptile, plant, mammal and bird species. A haven for the minority Muong people, the national park covers three provinces, but all is not as tranquil as it seems, with this area suffering immeasurable scarring from poaching and man-managed destruction. All the more reason to visit posthaste!
4. Con Dao Islands:
Can Dao Islands once housed political prisoners, but today, it is a mecca for many a traveller seeking their own island anonymity – with 15 islands and islets to choose from. Coral reefs, beguiling beaches and still-water bays pepper the thick forest surrounds with most of the land area providing a refuge for the protected sea turtle of the region. But be warned, this area is now on the Jet-Set radar so be prepared to pack a little – or a lot – more Vietnamese Dong for this destination!
Established almost 100 years ago by the French, Sapa is the destination de jour for European and North American tourists at the minute. This may be due to the breathtaking views, or the well-tailored treks, either way the scooping valleys bordered by vast mountain peaks is a sight for all to behold. Local hill tribes splash the horizon with colour on their regular pilgrimages, giving this ever-evolving area a heavy dose of history and wonderment.
6. French Colonial Architecture:
Generally, Vietnam is sought for its natural wonders, but the manmade ones are incredible to behold as well. Strongly French influenced, the colonial architecture landscape is crumbling in parts, but remains just as exquisite for it, with hotels and restaurants now breathing new life into these iconic and unique quarters. The food within? French of course, and done oh so well. A taste of Vietnam you may not have expected, but one to put on the To Do list no less!
7. Hill Tribes:
Although the future is taking a firm hold on Vietnam, the ethereality of the past still holds true within the hill tribes that inhabit many of the mountainous regions. Hiking through hill tribe markets is one of those life-affirming experiences no postcard can translate, with the most distinctively colourful tribes found within the lush mountain landscapes of far North Vietnam.
8. War Remnants Museum:
The brutality of the Vietnam War is on full display within this historical building. If you have a weak stomach, you may want to skip this one as the photographs of various US-inflicted atrocities are confronting – especially as many of them involve civilians. A history lesson in itself, the armored vehicles and artillery on display – as well as the torture devises – drive home how far this country and its people have come to rebuild themselves from the ruin and ravages of war. It’s not all doom and gloom however, as the museum also proudly boasts an entire floor dedicated to the anti-war movement. A reminder that War is in fact over within Vietnam.
Take a look at our Destination Guide for Hanoi