Vietnam, on the far-reaching east of the Indochina Peninsula, is one of the most exciting and interesting countries to explore in South East Asia. Amidst the dense forest, stunning coastal plains and powerful mountain views, this densely populated, tropical destination tells a historic story like no other. Now that travel restrictions are beginning to ease in the region I wanted to share my list of must-see attractions for all travellers.
Cruise along Halong Bay
Vietnam may be buzzing with life inland, but travel to the north-western coast and you’ll discover the tranquil, sensational views of Halong Bay.
This world heritage site, found in Quang Ninh province, is home to thousands of towering limestone karsts and nearly 2000 islets of varying shapes and sizes.
Get close and explore these islands with one of Vietnam’s infamous Halong Bay Cruises, Indochina Sails.
This tour provider uses only the best local handiwork and craftsmanship on their ‘junks’ to emphasise traditional character and style on board. Built entirely out of wood, each boat features luxury cabins with marble ensuites, spacious sundecks and an elegant dining room and bar, where chefs serve quality fresh local produce.
Indochina Sails offers an overnight tour of Halong Bay. Beginning and ending at Hanoi, you’ll enjoy fine Vietnamese and International menus, explore inside the hollow caves, moor up on the beach and feel the calm waters on local bamboo boats. Along the way, look out for floating villages of fishermen, tirelessly plying the sea for the country’s huge variety of fish and mollusks.
Explore the Forbidden City
In Vietnam, it’s hard to miss the plethora of ancient grounds waiting to reveal their history, and the Forbidden Purple City is certainly no exception.
Located in Hue, capital of the northern Thua Thien-Hue Province, this ancient complex is hidden in the walled fortress of the Citadel. The city, built in the early 19th century for the Nguyen dynasty, aimed to replicate the Forbidden Purple City in Beijing. The emperors’ supreme power granted the complex forbidden to all others by punishment of death. The colour purple in feudal times referred to the symbolic colour of the North star, which was believed to be the centre of the cosmos, hence the name of this aged complex.
As a result of harsh typhoons and the US war, most of this once noble citadel within a citadel, surrounded by a 10km moat, is now lost under widespread rice fields. However, the grounds are still a must-see for visitors. Wander through every wall of the complex and discover the history of this densely populated, but segregated ancient society.
Adventure underground in Cu Chi
Buried about 40 miles northwest of Ho Chi Minh City lies the intricate underground tunnels of Cu Chi, built as a base for the Viet Cong to operate closer to the southern capital. Used as a secret pipeline for arms, supplies, and troops during the Indochina war, the 75 mile stretch of the preserved passageway was part of the Ho Chi Minh Trail, and home to hidden barracks, medical help, and even a cinema.
The remains of the original 200km of tunnel system are now open to the public through a Cu Chi Tunnels Experience Tour. During the adventure, your guide will describe the harsh conditions and tactics of the Viet Cong in their underground lair, while you crawl past huge bomb craters, discover hidden entrances, and sample the simple food that local fighters would have survived on. Whilst this isn’t visually breathtaking, it will certainly take your breath away as you explore these tunnels and recount the war fought using them.
Make a splash in Nha Trang
For a relaxing end to your Vietnam tour, travel down to Nha Trang, the capital of Khanh Hoa province. This coastal city on the south-central coast is a popular location for impressive scenery and underwater exploration. While away your morning sunbathing along the stretch of sandy bay, dotted with picturesque islands and powerful mountain views.
For more adventure, discover the diverse marine life on the daily scuba diving and snorkeling tour. Spend the day gliding through marine-protected colourful coral reefs, home to 45% of creatures found across the globe. Scuba guides in Nha Trang will cater the dive to your level. So whether you’re a first-time swimmer or an expert in the water, you’re sure to have an unforgettable experience.
As the travel restrictions ease throughout the world, Luxury Travels will be exploring the best destinations as they open up.