With sensational cuisine, warm people, stunning interiors and beautiful beaches, there’s a lot to cram into the perfect Vietnam travel itinerary. Marc Harris shares some highlights on behalf of Asia Odyssey…
Vietnam is one of the most inspiring travel destinations in southeast Asia. The whole Indochina region including Laos, Cambodia and Thailand is easy to explore and combine, but Vietnam is an elegant and exciting holiday destination in itself. Vietnam has a bewitching vibrancy, in its landscapes, history and current culture and cuisine.
The overarching feature of any Vietnam holiday is the reliably friendly welcome and the sensational cuisine that you will experience in every region. We firmly believe that the Vietnamese have a very special secret to their cooking which sets it apart from any other. The culture of cuisine here has evolved over centuries, taking subtle bites from its near neighbours and also its former colonisers. The Chinese and French have had a subtle influence creating unique Vietnamese delicacies. As a result, food in Vietnam is truly delicious, and will hopefully be one of the many things you will savour in years to come!
The people of Vietnam are remarkably positive, with an inspirationally upbeat temperament and cheerful attitude that is infectious. Southeast Asia has a lot of modern history sites that are worth exploring, and legacy sites from the Vietnam War are very moving to visit today. But despite this not so distant difficult past, the people of Vietnam maintain an impressive optimism for the future, and a wide-smiling welcome for visitors.
We recommend a simple but brilliant itinerary that begins with a fabulous hotel in an original town of ancient historical significance, then takes you up into the mountains to relish the sheer natural beauty of this place, and ends with a flourish on one of the most beautiful stretches of beach in the world.
So to start, head to the old trading port of Hoi An, a cobbled, ancient town near the historical ruins of My Son. It is easy to fall in love this charming World Heritage site, and to get lost in its small cobbled streets lined with boutique art galleries, craft shops and superb restaurants. Hire a bicycle from here to explore the nearby long, sandy beach that extends all down the coast, or pedal a little way inland to experience the natural charm of Vietnamese village life.
Vietnam is justly famous for the impressive landscapes of its beautiful coastline, but, hidden away in the remote northern mountain region, the small town of Sapa is a world apart, and surrounded by some of the most spectacular countryside and colourful weekly local markets.
Accessed from Hanoi via luxury overnight train you arrive into the hilly rice terraced landscaped dotted with small minority villages. This region is inhabited by the charismatic Hmong and Dao tribes, and you can trek through their villages in the valleys below, buying curios from smiling local sales people.
After any exploratory adventures through this exceptional country there is little more rewarding than escaping to a fabulous hotel on a one of the stunning beaches in the south, or to soaking up the sunshine on one of the idyllic islands here.
It would be a shame to omit Halong Bay in any Vietnam Itinerary. Perhaps Vietnam’s most famous natural wonder, another UNESCO heritage site and a delightful place to rest and watch the world go by from a traditional sailing junk, Halong Bay is a glorious place to pass the time.
Junks range wildly in size from small boutique boats, perfect for honeymooners, to larger boats suited to larger groups of families and friends. Holiday time in Halong Bay is not solely limited to sailing or soaking up the landscape, as you can jump off here and there, for a bit of swimming, kayaking or relaxing on deserted beaches, or visiting one of the many small fishing villages nearby.
There are various options for choices to suit different people and ideals, so for more information please see www.asiaodyssey.com/vietnam