Planning a Vietnam tour and not sure what to include, what to leave out? Look no further, for here is your guide to the 5 must visit places on your maiden Vietnam tour. For so many years the country was shrouded in gloom and suffering owing to the American War. But all of that is in the past now, and Vietnam has risen like a phoenix from the ashes. So far you must have seen the country only in war movies and documentaries. It’s time now to embark on a Vietnam tour to explore the extraordinary beauty and relaxed culture of this Southeast Asian wonder.
Hanoi has been the capital of Vietnam for more than a thousand years. The city is as high on energy as its people are high on ambition. Hanoi is home to a bubbling cauldron of the young, educated, and cosmopolitan Vietnamese. People move around on scooters and bikes, dining in upscale bars and restaurants. The historic Old Quarter of the city is a criss-cross of 2000-year-old streets with French colonial architecture, shops, and budget eating joints. Spend a tranquil day at the Hoan Kiem Lake, populated by the world-famous giant tortoises. At the centre of the lake is the Tortoise Pagoda and at its north end is a magnificent temple. Pay a visit to the Ho Chi Minh Museum to get a glimpse of the famous communist leader’s embalmed body. There are also a number of alluring pagodas and museums all around Hanoi. Visiting them would add an incredible element of history and culture to your Vietnam tour.
Ho Chi Minh City
The capital of Southern Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh City is a fast-paced and highly commercial place on the banks of Saigon river. Imposing colonial structures line its narrow boulevards, interspersed here and there with skyscrapers and hotels. Once the homestead of American soldiers, British writers, and French ambassadors, the city is now a commercial hub. Here you will get the best of restaurants and the cheapest of street food on your Vietnam tour. Shopping malls, designer boutiques, and local markets also make sure you don’t feel cut off. The city is a true study in contrast, as traditional in its roots as it is modern in its approach. Its charming sights and sounds will surely make you fall in love.
Hoi An is a laid-back town most famous for its culinary treasures. Perched on the bank of a serene backwater, the town takes its food very seriously. Head to Thai Phien street in the morning to treat yourself to the most sumptuous breakfast. Follow it up with a strong cup of Vietnamese coffee. A bustling seaport back in the 17th and 18th centuries, Hoi An has been a hub for food tourism for ages. The most unique element of its cuisine is a blend of contrasting flavours: sharp sauces with fresh herbs, cool lemongrass to set off the sting of chilli. Food from all over the world is also readily available, but with the distinct flavour of Hoi An. To walk off all those happy calories, you can visit the Chinese temple of Thien Hau in the centre of the town. Walk a few more kilometres and you’ll discover a slew of boat, bike, and bicycle tours being offered. To escape traffic noises and pollution on your Vietnam tour, Hoi An is an ideal destination.
Halong Bay is a natural wonder of immense and unparalleled beauty. It consists of 5000 limestone islands scattered above the aquamarine surface of the Gulf of Tonkin. “Halong” in Vietnamese means “where the dragon descends into the sea”. Legend has it that the islands were created by the flailing tail of a dragon that descended from the mountains onto the coast. This dazzling complex of islands is a designated World Heritage Site by UNESCO. You can take a boat cruise around the islands or explore the caves located on some of them. Beach bodies may sit back on the coast and take this time to enjoy the sun on their splendid Vietnam tour. It is recommended to take up lodgings at Cat Ba Town, or spend the night on the boat for an even more enchanting experience. May to September often sees tropical storms in this region, hence may be avoided.
A quaint little hill station in north-western Vietnam, Sapa was established by the French colonists in 1922. It is a picturesque town surrounded by the densely vegetated Hoang Lien mountains in the Red River Delta. Sapa can often expose you to four seasons in a single day, given how unpredictable its weather is. Bright sunshine may suddenly give in to fog, to be soon replaced by pounding rain and sometimes snow. All in the span of a few minutes too! The town is popular as a trail head for trekkers embarking on hikes in the surrounding mountains or the jungles. Take a stroll through the highlands, absorbing the dazzling beauty of lush hillsides and rice terraces. You will often come across locals from native hill-tribes grazing their cattle or huddling around bonfires. Talk to them on your Vietnam tour and discover how whole-heartedly they welcome you into their fold.
From lush green paddy fields to revered pagodas, white sand beaches to glitzy shopping malls, Vietnam has it all. The country is in a state of continuous change – from rural to urban, traditional to modern, devastated economy to a commercial haven. Now is probably the best time for tourists to set out on a Vietnam tour to discover the hidden treasures of this elusive nation. You wouldn’t want to wait too long, lest the place becomes all touristy and crowded. Seize the moment, plan your Vietnam tour today!
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