Thailand might take all the glory when it comes to beaches in South East Asia, but Vietnam has its fair share of golden shores. From castaway islands with waving palm trees and pearly-white sands to handy beaches just beyond the city limits, Vietnam has somewhere perfect to stretch out in the sunshine. Be sure to budget in some time for some blissful days of relaxation in a tropical paradise.
Vietnam’s cities wage a shocking assault on the senses. A jumble of never-ending scooter swarms, bright neon lights, hectic markets and herb-rich aromas, they pulse with atmosphere and life. The twisty cobbled streets of Hanoi’s Old Quarter are steeped in old world charm, while forward-thinking Ho Chi Minh City moves at a hundred miles an hour.
Vietnam’s cuisine is a mouth-watering mix of fresh herbs, fiery chilies, salty condiments and sweet local fruit. Pho, the country’s most famous dish, is a steaming bowl of noodle soup peppered with aromatic herbs, hot chilli, beef brisket or chicken. As with all Vietnamese soup, it’s best eaten on the street with the locals so we’ve put together an exhilarating vespa tour zipping through Saigon and stopping off in various hot spots to try out local dishes.
Halong Bay is Vietnam’s crowning glory. A bright blue lagoon scattered with jungle-clad limestone islands, it’s a surreal, dreamy landscape. You can stay overnight on a traditional Chinese junk boat, drifting through the bay under starry skies. Alternatively, escape the crowds by opting for Bai Tu Long Bay, an equally beautiful neighbouring lagoon with rarely a tour group in sight.
Trek your way through Northern Vietnam
Northern Vietnam is a daydreamy muddle of rolling hills, mist-swirled mountains and tiered rice terraces. Minority hill tribes roam these highlands, each with unique traditions and eye-opening tales. Trek in these hills, stay with local hill tribes, learn about daily life and soak up the staggering scenery.