With miles upon miles of stunning coastline, the myriad of waterways of the Mekong Delta, pristine islands and the diversity of the Central Highlands, Vietnam is rapidly becoming one of the must visited destinations within Southeast Asia.
Beginning in the south, take a leisurely two day cruise through the tranquil waterways of the Mekong Delta, the lifeblood of almost twenty two percent of the population, sustaining almost seventeen million people through fishing and agriculture. You can also visit many of the floating villages and watch locals preparing traditional Vietnamese rice flour pancakes, used to make delicious fresh spring rolls.
From the Delta, head to the hustle and bustle of Ho Chi Minh city, formerly Saigon and the old capital of South Vietnam. With its varied mix of both the modern and the old, Ho Chi Minh City still retains much of its previous French colonial period architecture and of course, strong reminders of the country’s war with the North during the 1960’s and 70’s. There are two museums worth visiting, one Vietnamese and the other American which both sharply contrast each other. Just a small distance from the town are the famous Cu Chi tunnels, the underground network used by the Viet Cong to infiltrate Saigon and escape American bombing raids.
When you’ve had enough of the city, take a trip to Dalat in the highlands. Developed as a tourist resort during the French colonial period, the area boasts some stunning views and some spectacular waterfalls such as Elephant Falls and Datanla Falls. The climate is temperate and usually a lot cooler than the coastal regions and cities.
If you’re looking more for some beach time then maybe Nha Trang is the place to head. With its miles of coastline and clear waters, Nha Trang has also become a hotspot for experienced divers or those wishing to learn scuba diving. Further up the coast just before the main city of Danang is China Beach, made famous as a place for rest, recuperation and surfing by American servicemen during the war.
For a more cultural experience, a visit to the UNESCO world heritage site in Hoi An on the mouth of the Thu Bon River is essential. With an eclectic mix of French, Chinese, Vietnamese and Japanese architecture, Hoi An is a truly cultural melting pot. A visit to the famous Japanese covered bridge and pagoda is also not to be missed.
Your final destination, Hanoi, will end a memorable journey through culture and history. One of the most important sites in Vietnam here is the mausoleum of the revered father of Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh himself. Visited daily by both tourists and Vietnamese alike, the mausoleum receives thousands of visitors yearly. A short distance away is Halong Bay, well known for its amazing natural beauty and hundreds of islands and floating villages where you can meet people who have never actually stepped foot on dry land!
eShores offer a similar itinerary to the above, their ‘Complete Vietnam Experience’ with prices for a 14 night package starting at £1790pp. They also have a simpler itinerary at just £1195pp so it’s more affordable than you may think. So get planning and when you do decide to go, you will have a memorable experience.