The reasons to love Vietnam are many, with it being a glorious assault on your sense, a culinary superpower, home to its own share of thrills and chills, and a great testament to the progress that can be made due to peace after war. You can choose to escape to the surrealistic limestone islands from Halong Bay, explore the world’s most spectacular cave systems or just hike around the place indulging in activities that are sure to get your adrenaline pumping. From the illimitable lengths of food stalls filled to the brim with quirky, local delicacies at Hanoi coupled with a stroll along the Lake Huu Tiep to the culture centric treks of the Muong Hoa Valley, Vietnam is an adventure haven. Visit the famous mausoleum of a former Saigon governor, Le Van Duyet, at the even more popular Ho Chi Minh City and enjoy a tour ending with sunsets at Turtle Lake. Discover for yourself the traditional handicrafts of Hoi An or just merge into the placidity of the seemingly empyreal beaches of Phu Quoc. Snorkel off into the sunset only to return for a delicious treat of seafood unique to this country. Vietnam is a miraculous experience waiting to unfold upon your senses, with the most breath-taking scenery and national parks in the north to the beautiful, pristine beaches of the Cham lands in the south. A cocktail of history, culture and adventure of near perfect blend, this nation offers a myriad of fun inducing things to do for an escape you may have never realized that you needed. And we have cherry-picked the best of the lot so that you get exactly what your heart yearns for.
Places to visit in Vietnam
Tour of Hanoi
After a quick breakfast, take a walk down to the Huu Tiep Lake, hidden amongst narrow alleyways and tall buildings. About the size of a backyard pool, this lake is a constant reminder of the courage shown by the Vietnamese soldiers for the noble cause of their liberation. You can’t help but feel touched when you see the wreck of the B52 bomber not moved since. Following this intense relapse into history, move on to visit the temples, Presidential Palace and the Botanical Gardens before exploring Hanoi and everything it has to offer.
Cuc Phuong National Park and Thanh Hoa
Cuc Phuong National Park
Leave for the Cuc Phuong National Park after breakfast and set off on a trek to discover the secrets of the region first hand. Gaze at the 1000 year old Wang Hsie trees, walk through a prehistoric cave comprising skeletons and tools used over 7000 years ago and get a whiff of the harsh reality at the Endangered Primate Rescue Centre. On the way to Thanh Hoa, take a detour at the Cam Luong fish stream to observe the meanderings of thousands of fish that the locals call the Holy fish. In the central province of Thanh Hoa, you find the Hieu waterfalls, standing out against green jungle backdrop inside Pu Luong Natural Reserve. The village houses a Thai ethnic minority, the Pho Doan market being a favourite tourist spot where you can enjoy a leisurely walk.
The south is where you see the heart and soul of the island brimming with local culture and history. Apart from geographical proof, another difference this island carries from its Mekong Delta counterparts is in the fact that it is not buried in rice export like we would expect. Phu Quoc owes its economic boost to its booming export of pepper. From dropping in at a pepper garden to paying your respects to their Goddess of fishermen and the sea, Tin Hau at Her temple which is also a lighthouse (just to fend off any tarrying doubts on who She is), this part of the island is a real knowledge centre when it comes to matters of its rich history and tradition.
Take a motorboat along the archipelago and choose from the two things you could do. Sit dumbstruck at the amazing view and relax with the backdrop of a lush scenery or you could involve yourself in a session of swimming, snorkelling and other activities. And before ending the tour for the day, make a stop to witness the simplicity yet the absolute beauty of the local life. Bid adieu to a picture that will stay in your minds for a long time. The picture of a fishing village cocooned ever so beautifully by sunlit skies, mountains and a medley of beaches and jungles.
Sampan ride from Cai Be
A sampan is a traditional Chinese boat with a relatively flat bottom. Get to the Cai Be Jetty to claim one of these for yourself and go on to explore the local life as you row along the riverbanks. Catch a feel of the local culture by visiting the houses and the cottages strewn across the bank all while munching on local snacks like puffed rice and coconut candy. For a more hands on kind of experience, bicycle across the vast countryside and have a day of discovery and peace. Return to your sampan for a cruise through the Mekong Delta and its narrow canals. A world of its own finding its roots in the waters of the innumerable rivers, canals and streams. With herds of buffalo wallowing in rice paddies that stretch across as far as your eyes can see, it is no wonder that the delta is nicknamed, ‘the rice bowl’ of Vietnam.
Vespa City Tour
How would you like to be tad adventurous and go through the narrow streets of the city on the back of a classy, vintage Vespa? Clutch on to your trusty rider as he takes you on a first hand tour of the city through even the narrow alleyways the big tourist buses can’t get through. It seems that every place should have a Chinatown, so following a Tai Chi presentation check out Saigon’s representation of China. Bring your strongest sightseeing game as you visit a seemingly endless list of monuments and temples like the Thien Hau Temple, Notre Dame Cathedral which was established by French colonists in the late 1800s, and the Mausoleum of Le Van Duyet who was the Vietnamese general who orchestrated the downfall of the Tay Son rebellion.
Best time to visit Vietnam
Okay, this is going to take a while owing to the fact that the weather in Vietnam is just really complicated. That said, we’ll still try to simplify it! Basically the weather in Vietnam is split by region. Let’s start with the north like Hanoi. Here, May to October is hot and humid with high rainfall. You could catch a break from Nov-April when it’s cooler and dry.
Central Vietnam is hot, dry and everything in between from Jan-Aug, and temperatures can hit the mid-30 degrees; although from Sep-Nov it rains like the heavenly doors opened! And the south is the reverse of the north where June, July and August yields high rainfall. So, the best time to visit the country depends on where you want to go and what you want to do. However, whatever the weather is, the charm of Vietnam persists and remains its endearing self!