Astonishingly exotic and utterly compelling, Vietnam is a country of breathtaking natural beauty with a unique heritage, where travel quickly becomes addictive.
Some activities here require a little physical effort, such as crossing the highest pass of Vietnam - the Hai Van Pass, ocean cloud pass in English. Others require very good health, such as kitesurfing the tropical oceanic waters off Mui Ne or hiking the evergreen hills around Bac Ha or Sapa. If you’re not looking for adrenaline, Vietnam has outstanding spas! From marble temples of treatments, to simple massage salons.
Vietnamese cuisine is incredibly subtle in its flavours and outstanding in its diversity. Geography plays a crucial role in this culinary fascination, with Chinese flavours influencing the soups of the north, spices sparking up southern cuisine, and complex techniques typifying the central coastline. And up and down the country you can mingle with villagers, sample local dishes and sip rice wine in Vietnam's many regional markets.
After 40 years of conflict, Vietnam is resolutely a nation with booming metropolises. Ancient, labyrinthine trading quarters of still-thriving craft industries are juxtaposed with grand colonial mansions from the French era, all overseen from the sky bars of 21st-century glass-and-steel high-rises.
Unforgettable experiences are everywhere in Vietnam. There’s the sublime: gazing over a surreal seascape of limestone islands. The ridiculous: taking 10 minutes just to cross the street through a tsunami of motorbikes in Hanoi, the capital. The inspirational: exploring the spectacular cave systems in Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park. The comical: watching a moped loaded with pigs weave a wobbly route along a country lane.