Information on Vietnam
For some travellers, Vietnam still brings up images of the Vietnam War, but the country has long recovered from that tragic time and today is a lovely country that draws more international visitors every year.
This is a land of ancient temples, mountains, pristine jungle and long stretches of beach, as well as one of luxury hotels, fine restaurants, boutiques and vibrant cities. Vietnam's tropical climate makes it an ideal destination year-round. Most visitors include a stop in both Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi on their itineraries.
Ho Chi Minh City, formerly known as Saigon, is located in the far south of the country and is Vietnam's business centre. It is a blend of the new and old, and is a place to explore street markets, visit ancient pagodas and enjoy the atmosphere of the street cafes and trendy pubs. It is a major transportation hub for the country and the region, providing good air, rail and bus connections.
Hanoi, located in the far north, is Vietnam's capital. Chinese, French and Vietnamese influences combine to create the special charm of this refined city, characterised by broad, tree-lined streets and attractive buildings. Several lakes and ponds are found in and around the centre of this 1,000-year-old city. Ancient pagodas, the winding streets and shops of the old quarter and a memorable water puppet performance are a few of the attractions of Hanoi.
This narrow country extends the length of the Indochina peninsula and features a number of popular and scenic beaches. China Beach, located in the south between Danang and Hoi An, is one of the finest. From December through May the weather is perfect for a beach holiday in Vietnam.
Dalat, in the hills of central Vietnam, enjoys a cooler climate and is a favourite with honeymooners and city dwellers looking for relief from the heat. The hill town offers visitors plenty of choice in accommodation and boasts a golf course that was built in the 1930s by Emperor Bao Dai. Given its climate, Dalat's location is perfect for walks, hikes and boat rides. For those happy with less activity there's an interesting market and there are plenty of outdoor cafes.
Hue is situated on the eastern coast of central Vietnam and dates back to ancient times. It was the seat of the Nguyen Dynasty and the massive citadel, built in the late 17th century, stands today across the Perfume River. Although the citadel was nearly destroyed during the Vietnam War, several shrines to earlier kings can be seen in the nearby hills, and the site itself is awe-inspiring.
Hoi An, an ancient seaside trading town dating back four centuries, is located just beyond Danang, and features a delightful mix of architectural styles. A UNESCO World Heritage site, it fortunately escaped severe damage during the war.
Kontum, in the northernmost part of the central highlands, is home to a number of ethnic hill tribes. Although it is somewhat off the tourist track, its natural beauty and virgin jungle make for a worthwhile visit. Nearby Sapa sees a larger number of visitors, particularly trekkers.