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Vietnam travel guide

Vietnam has emerged as one of the hot travel tickets of South-East Asia. And why not?

Vietnam boasts stunning landscapes – the karst outcrops of Halong Bay and the hilltribe-settled mountains around Sapa spring to mind – as well as beaches, charming colonial towns, the fascinating villages of the Mekong Delta and lush national parks.

Windsurf at Mui Ne, chill on tropical Phu Quoc Island, roam the historic streets of Hoi An, delve into the Viet Cong tunnels at Cu Chi and settle in for a water-puppet show in capital Hanoi – and those are just the headline acts.

As infrastructure improves and hitherto-remote areas open up to travellers, more of Vietnam’s treasures come to light – explore the hills around Ninh Binh, visit the Cham temples of Quy Non or meet the tribes of Ba Be National Park – so be prepared to look beyond this page and the Vietnam guidebooks, and discover your own gems.

Wanderlust recommended experiences in Vietnam

  • Meet the tribes of Vietnam’s Central Highlands. Meet local people belonging to the hilltribes of Vietnam, near the country's border with Cambodia. Discover fascinating stories and culture – tales of wild-elephant catching.

    Kayak among the karst outcrops of Halong Bay. Any visitor to northern Vietnam is inundated with images and offers of boat tours to Halong Bay, Vietnam’s most-popular (and commercialised) natural attraction. But once visitors get on one of the junks (traditional Chinese boats) racing across the bay, they often find as much intimacy with their surroundings as on a Spanish beach in August – try the same experience in a kayak and get closer to Vietnam with every paddle stroke.
  • Delve into the claustrophobic Viet Cong tunnels at Cu Chi near Ho Chi Minh City

    Stroll around Hanoi’s Old Quarter and settle in for a water puppet show
  • Visit the Imperial Tombs and Forbidden City of old Hue
  • Cruise among the floating markets of the Mekong Delta
  • Relax with some beach time on tropical Phu Quoc Island

Wanderlust tips for travel in Vietnam

Get your hiking boots on – walking is a great way to access less-touristed villages, and the highlands offer fine trekking; consider conquering Fansipan, at 3,143m is Vietnam’s highest peak.

Crossing the road can be a nerve-shredding experience; bear in mind that drivers don’t want to hit you – be patient, stride purposefully and make yourself visible.

Some travellers report feeling hassled or ripped off by drivers or others in Vietnam, which is an increasingly commercial-minded destination; a sense of humour and patience is helpful.

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