Balancing modern buzz with laid back charm, Vietnam has a delightful knack of always matching your pace. Holidays there are superbly versatile, and can easily take you from cycling amongst rice paddies to padding across glorious tropical sand, or darting between urban eateries to gliding along a river in a private sampan.
Or why not all of it?! Vietnam has been an incredible place to travel since our early days — it was one of our founding destinations, and we now pride ourselves on knowing it better than anyone else. It’s been gratifying to see the country retain so much of its original character whilst growing into an accomplished all-rounder...
Vietnam’s coasts and islands strike a cosy balance between idyllic and practical, with plenty of undeveloped stretches amidst good infrastructure and excellent hotels. It’s ideal if you struggle to choose between a beachfront lined with excellent seafood restaurants, versus a shoreline empty of all but your footprints in the sand! The climate is such that you’ll usually find sunshine somewhere in the country, and resorts range from the occasional quirky boutique to six-star luxury and exceptional spas.
If you’re keen to take your kids on holiday to Asia, Vietnam is one of the best choices, thanks to its well-connected infrastructure and family-friendly culture. Children enjoy slurping big bowls of noodle soup and getting hands-on at rural homestays, and adults can relax amongst people who truly celebrate family ties. It’s easy to find a soft beach with safe waters and a well-equipped resort, and getting around is fun thanks to the variety of entertaining transport options.
The gleaming modern towers of Ho Chi Minh City rise amongst ornate colonial buildings, yet down every alley you’ll find the homely bustle of streetfood stalls and daily life. Whether you sip a cocktail in a sky bar, or zip between markets on the back of a Vespa, you’ll get a tantalising taste of contemporary life in southern Vietnam. In the north, we love to wander the pavements of Hanoi, sniffing out fragrant pho and arty coffee shops. This chaotic capital is a great place to immerse yourself in a cookery class, find calm with early morning tai chi beside Hoan Kiem Lake, and shop in chic little ‘old quarter’ boutiques.
The famously ‘iconic’ Halong Bay — with its Bond-backdrop limestone islands and traditional junk boats — is awash with sightseers. We recommend delving further to Lan Ha & Bai Tui Long Bays, ideally for a two night cruise, where you’ll discover equivalent scenery stunning just without the crowds. For an inland alternative, the evocative landscape of Ninh Binh is known as ‘Halong on land’, thanks to its towering limestone karsts and broad meandering rivers.
We love to retreat to a riverside lodge in the Mekong Delta’s tranquil backwaters, relaxing into a gentle pace by pedalling between the paddy fields, or taking a sampan along the river! Mai Chau is another stunning place to enjoy rural life. Home to many of Vietnam’s ethnic minorities, its picturesque landscape is ideal for a few days of trekking and cycling — all within easy reach of Hanoi. Further afield, the mountainside rice terraces of Mù Cang Chải and Hà Giang stretch for miles, and you can explore these rural ancient landscapes where hill-tribe traditions have endured for centuries.
Aromatic salads, juicy dumplings, freshly wrapped summer rolls, spicy fried fish, steaming bowls of phở gà… food is one of Vietnam’s major highlights, and we can’t get enough of it when we travel there. There’s a lot to be said for just following your nose, but for a quintessential taste of Vietnam try an evening Vespa tour of the streetfood markets, or visit one of the excellent ‘kindness’ restaurants, which train disadvantaged youngsters to be expert chefs.