A trip to Vietnam is a treat for your senses. Its people are friendly and extremely generous, and exploring this country is an absolute delight. Hanoi is its capital and cultural centre, while Ho Chi Minh City (still often called Saigon) is the business hub, but is just as interesting. Meantime, the imperial city of Hue provides well-preserved insight in to Vietnam's proud past. Closed to the average traveller for decades, the many flavours and features of Vietnam is now yours to discover!
Hanoi (Halong Bay)
Vietnam's capital city for almost a thousand years, Hanoi has long been considered the country's cultural centre. This charming, slow-paced hub is close to many of Vietnam's natural wonders, such as the spectacular Halong Bay. Hanoi's many museums, embassies and holy shrines to the late Ho Chi Minh reveal Vietnam’s rich legacy. Of course, with highrises, cars and motorcycles increasing each day, expect life in Hanoi to get just a little bit faster.
- Halong Bay, considered Vietnam’s best-known natural wonder and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. With 3,000 stunning limestone islands sprinkled among emerald-green seas, Halong Bay also has illuminated caves, emerald grottos and sandy beaches.
- Dong Xuan Market, a wholesale centre for beautiful silk embroidered bags, neckties and scarves.
- The cha ca (grilled minced fish), a dish invented by Hanoi's own Doan family more than 100 years ago. It will give you a taste of the real Hanoi.
Ho Chi Minh City
Located on the edge of the Mekong Delta, this dynamic metropolis formerly known as Saigon also features the ageless beauty of an ancient culture. French colonial architecture mixed with modern and Asian influences presents a diverse backdrop for busy streets filled with motorbikes, pagodas and street markets. Stroll the city’s wide boulevards, and visit The History Museum, which houses artifacts from two thousand years of Vietnamese history.
- The port city of Vung Tau, a seaside beach resort about two hours east of Ho Chi Minh City, with shopping, discos and a range of eateries.
- Tay Son Lacquer Factory, for a demonstration of the lacquering process and shop for lacquerware ranging from small boxes to large pieces of furniture.
- Lang Ca Ong Temple, which is dedicated to a whale cult and features a collection of whale skeletons.
- The War Remnants Museum for a glimpse into the Vietnam War from a different perspective.
Hue/Danang (Chan May Port)
Centrally located between historic cities, the working port of Chan May is the gateway to Danang, Hoi An and Hue, Vietnam. Danang is home to the famous China Beach and charming Hoi An is an ancient trading town with shops, art galleries and restaurants. Once the capital of the Nguyen Dynasty, Hue is a massive open-air museum of temples, pagodas, palaces and tombs.
Hue is an approximate 75 minute drive from Chan May Port. Danang is an approximate 1 hour drive from Chan May Port via Hai Van Tunnels or 1.5 hours via Hai Van Pass. Chan May Port to Hoi An is an approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes drive via Hai Van Tunnels or 2 hours and 15 minutes drive via Hai Van Pass.
- The Imperial Citadel, home of the Emperor, a sprawling complex of temples, pavilions, walls, museums and galleries. The centerpiece of Hue, the citadel helps you truly appreciate the history and charm of Vietnam's past, its tranquility and beauty.
- A bike trip along the shimmering Perfume River. With its reflective beauty, fragrant tropical flora, and the ancient tombs, towers and pagodas that line its banks, a bike ride here is like a trip through time.
- Imperial cuisine - as the name implies, this culinary experience was originally prepared for the Emperor. With so much care lavished on its presentation, it is almost a shame to eat - but people get over that very quickly. For a more traditional meal, the most popular dish in Hue is Bun Bo Hue, a noodle soup with slices of beef and lashings of chili oil. Don't worry about the pronunciation; locals will know exactly what you're looking for.
- Le Loi Street for bargains from cute to kitschy.
- A river cruise for a view of the Tombs of the Emperors.
With what may be the most scenic coastline in Vietnam, crystal-clear turquoise waters and pristine beaches, Nha Trang is fast becoming a favorite among snorkelers, scuba divers and sunbathers. In fact, Nha Trang Bay is considered one of the most beautiful bays in the world.
- Po Nagar Cham Towers just north of Nha Trang. Built between the 7th and 8th centuries, these ancient Hindu structures rise along the banks of the Cai River.
- Water sports one of the most beautiful municipal beaches in Vietnam. The virtually transparent turquoise waters are home to some of the most diverse marine life and coral in Vietnam, drawing scuba divers and snorkelers from all over the world.