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A luxury holiday journey through beautiful Vietnam

Vietnam is one of our favourite countries, packed with history, stunning landscapes, cultural highlights and amazing food. It’s one of the most exciting destinations in Southeast Asia. The Vietnamese can be some of the nicest, friendliest, kindest, and happiest people you could meet. They’re charming without being pushy, helpful, lovers of children, and just genuinely nice.

You need to be travel smart as you do in any country where haggling over prices is just the normal way to do things. Smile, try to use some Vietnamese, the Vietnamese are good people.

Vietnam has at least 8 UNESCO-listed sites, including Ha Long Bay, Hue’s historic sites, the old town of Hoi An, and the Champa complex at My Son sanctuary. Vietnam also has beaches, islands and resort hotels. Vietnam has mountains, paddy fields and waterways, bustling cities and the sleepiest traditional villages.

Where is Vietnam located and how to get there?

Sitting across China in the north and Laos and Cambodia in the west, Vietnam is located in Southeast Asia. Hanoi, Danang and Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) are the primary gateways with excellent connectivity with major travel hubs such as Bangkok, Singapore and Hong Kong. Vietnam Airlines flies direct from London to Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi, and Qatar Airways (via Doha) and Emirates (via Dubai) also offer excellent connectivity with Europe and the US.

Vietnam combines well with Cambodia and Laos and for those who enjoy river cruises, the journey on the Mekong between the Mekong Delta in Vietnam and Phnom Penh in Cambodia makes for a hugely interesting and rewarding experience.

Where are Vietnam’s top places and experiences?

There are a million places to visit in Vietnam and I can’t possibly put them all on this page. Let’s just start here with a few popular destinations. For more detail you’ll have to find the dedicated post on this site. Just follow the links or use the search box at the top of our sidebar. A new addition and one that we highly recommend is Phong Nha National Park and caves in Central Vietnam.

  • Saigon (Ho Chi Minh) - Saigon refers to the inner-city area of Ho Chi Minh City. Renamed after the war in honour of the North Vietnamese leader. One of the best tours from Saigon would be to the Chu Chi tunnels which are located about 50 km west. This tour can include a Cau Dai temple visit, this religion is unique to Vietnam and was founded in 1912. The biggest draw card in Saigon itself is the War Remnants Museum and the Old Palace build by the South Vietnamese rulers but not used since tanks drove through its gates in 1975 to officially end the war. Saigon also boasts French Period architecture, abundant great food and fascinating markets.
  • Hoi An - Hoi An is marked by kumquat trees, a kumquat festival, and seas of flowers. This incredibly picturesque riverside city is something of a tourist hot spot these days, combing the charms of the Old Town with its ancient buildings, tailor’s shops, and Hoi An central market with nearby rice paddies and beaches. Hoi An food is world-famous and central Vietnam is a big producer of quality seafood. Dining in Hoi An is diverse and delicious, expect traditional local foods alongside western restaurants and top-class hotels. Around town, there are various places of interest to keep you busy, throw a pot at the pottery village, take a free Vietnamese lesson or one of the many local eco tours. My Son Sanctuary, Danang, and Marble Mountain are a short-day trip from Hoi An and Hue is accessible by tour, bus or train. The nearest large city, Danang, is about 45 minutes away and is another beach-side tourist draw, popular with family holidaymakers visiting Hoi An with children.
  • Hanoi - You haven’t experienced Vietnam until you’ve visited its noisy, vibrant capital city, Hanoi. Navigate the traffic-choked streets of the Old Quarter to discover crumbling colonial buildings, street vendors and traditional tubular shops. Hanoi is filled with historic buildings but don’t miss the ornate Temple of Literature, St Joseph’s Cathedral and the UNESCO listed Imperial Citadel of Thang Long. Learn about the country’s revolutionary leader at the Ho Chi Minh mausoleum and palace complex and take a stroll around Hoan Kiem Lake where locals come to exercise and relax. No trip to Hanoi would be complete without sampling its famous food delights such as a Banh Mi sandwich or the city’s signature dish, Bun Cha. Stop in at Café Giang for a Ca Phe Trung (egg coffee), they’ve been serving this traditional brew for over 70 years. “
  • Ha Long Bay - If you are looking for a magical location in Vietnam, then you cannot go past Ha Long Bay in the north of the country. With emerald-green waters, limestone islands and mystical caves, all while touring on Junk Boats, Ha Long Bay draws travellers to her every day and is certainly one of our favourites in Southeast Asia. From day tours through to tours that keep you entertained for 2 days 3 nights; we highly recommend the latter. Sleeping on a Junk Boat, while doing day visits to floating villages, taking rowing tours, and getting to jump off the boat into the cool refreshing water, is so relaxing and fun plus gives you a great insight to local living and seeing nature’s beauty up close. We highly recommend you choose your junk boat tour wisely and spend a few extra dollars to get a better experience and higher quality boat.
  • Sapa - Home to Vietnam’s highest peak (Fan Si Pan, which soars 3143m above sea level) Sapa is a must-see destination for nature lovers. The people of Sapa started welcoming tourists as far back as the early 1900s, when French colonists used it to escape the searing heat of Vietnam’s lowlands. During the 1940s, Vietnamese independence fighters drove the French from the region, and it wasn’t until a few decades ago that tourists started to return to Sapa. Within easy reach of Hanoi, by overnight bus or train, Sapa is now one of Vietnam’s most popular tourist destinations. In Sapa, the magnificent purple mountains sink away into deep valleys, where terraced rice paddies feed the imagination - and the local population. Many ethnic minorities, including the H’Mong, the Dao and the Dai, make their homes in small hidden villages among these hills. For tourists, the big draw is the chance to trek along Sapa’s stunning valleys and mountains. It makes an excellent antidote to the hectic pace of life in Hanoi and is still a great place to escape the heat. Taking a multi-day trek between village homestays will give you the chance to immerse yourself in a slower pace of life, stretch your legs on the mountain tracks, and indulge in shots of the locally made rice wine.
  • Hue - Hue is such a stand-out destination. Despite the fast-paced urbanisation and cultural assimilation that are raging on in other parts of this Southeast Asian nation, best described as old Vietnam, Hue, as a former capital of Vietnam, takes pride in its long history, atmospheric temples, sublime royal palaces and unique cultural traits that can hardly be found elsewhere in Vietnam. Besides exotic elements of the Imperial City, a walled enclosure within the citadel, Hue is extremely well-known for its cultural heritage elements recognized by UNESCO, one of which is Nhã Nhạc (Vietnamese court music).

When is the best time to visit Vietnam?

Vietnam experiences three different weather systems. Like most tropical countries, the weather in Vietnam is generally warm and humid, but it can vary significantly from one region to another depending on the time of the year due to the size of the country. In the north, the weather is typically cooler and dry between November and April. Central Vietnam is dry and hot between February and August, and the south of Vietnam is usually dry and hot between November and April. Overall, for those planning a comprehensive tour of Vietnam covering all the three regions, February to April tends to best period, as the weather will be dry and warm throughout.

Vietnam with Kids and for Families

So, Vietnam with kids - there are loads of interesting things for them to do like the pottery classes, the Cu Chi tunnels tour, or coconut boat rides, and crab catching. There is much to learn about culture and history and Vietnamese food is generally lacking in spice or chili. You can also get just about any western food there.

There are plenty of accommodation options and likewise plenty of transportation options. There are beaches if that is you want. It’s as easy to take your kids to Vietnam as to any other country but be mindful of the weather and if you plan to use bikes bring your own helmets.

Vietnam is a massively popular family holiday hot spot particularly for Australians. For that reason, maybe avoid school holidays.

For further information, please do feel free to contact Nicola directly or at The Explorations Company for further inspiration and unforgettable safaris and holidays to Africa, Asia, and Latin America

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