Beaches, mountains, culture: Vietnam has it all
A Vietnam vacation reveals a country with a fascinating past, exquisite scenery and friendly locals who keep ancient traditions alive.
From the mountainous rice terraces of the north to the awe-inspiring limestone karsts of Halong Bay, Vietnam’s natural landscapes are a major part of its enduring appeal.
But its rich culture and history add another dimension to a Vietnam vacation, meaning that you’re never short of unforgettable places to explore. Vietnam’s locals are incredibly welcoming, visibly keen to share their country’s beauty. You’ll soon see why, as you trek through pristine scenery, sample mouthwatering Vietnamese street food and discover the secrets of ancient cities where French colonial architecture still mingles with buildings centuries older.
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*Conditions apply. 20% discount valid on all new Asia Small Group Tour bookings for departures between 29 January to 31 December 2016. Offer valid for sale: 29 January - 28 February 2016. US$2,063pp savings based on single occupancy gold accommodation on the Indochina Explorer November - December 2016 departures. US$1,583 pp savings based on single occupancy on the Thailand, Laos & Burma Explorer October - December 2016 departures. US$2,055pp savings based on single occupancy gold accommodation on the Yangtze & Beyond April, May, September - November 2016 departures. Offer subject to availability. Offer may be withdrawn without notice and is not combinable with any other offers unless stated. Prices correct as of 28 January 2016 but may fluctuate if surcharges, fees, taxes or currency change. Insider Journeys online booking conditions apply. Issued 28 January 2016. CST#2001136-50.
Discover a different side to Vietnam in the mountainous north, where terraced rice fields are the scene of a slower pace of life. Inhabited by colorfully dressed hill tribes such as the Red Dzao and the H'mong, the area's rural charm and cool, clean air provides a welcome contrast with Vietnam's bustling cities.
A thousand years of history makes the Vietnamese capital a delight to explore on foot. Still known by the locals as the 'City of Lakes', Hanoi has many treasures, from its distinctive cuisine to fascinating ancient landmarks such as the Confucian Temple of Literature. Sweeping boulevards reveal the city's colonial history, while locals in conical hats sell goods on the street, just as they've done for centuries.
Discover Vietnam's past in the ancient monuments of Hue, the former imperial capital, which lies on the evocatively-named Perfume River. Visit the tombs where the Nguyen emperors now lie, and explore the Citadel, where they lived in life. As Vietnam's cradle of Buddhism, you can also look forward to visiting some of the city's beautiful pagodas, the most famous being Thien Mu.
Smart restaurants, shops and galleries now fill the distinctive historic buildings of this once-busy trading port, preserved in a superb condition and protected by UNESCO World Heritage status. When you've explored so much of Hoi An that you need to rest your feet, you're spoilt for choice with the number of dining options, whether it's snacking on street food, eating fresh seafood by the river, or enjoying a coffee at a French-style cafe.
Treat yourself to a stay in the peaceful fishing village of Nha Trang and indulge in some well-earned relaxation on some of Vietnam's most beautiful white sandy beaches. Pull up a chair in a beachside bar for refreshing cocktails, and feel the gentle rocking of the waves as you board a boat for a cruise on the turquoise China Sea.
The cool mountain air of Dalat, coupled with its serene lake and lush forests, makes it feel more like the French Alps than Vietnam. Its status as a former French colonial hill station only adds to the charming French atmosphere, with European architecture and a historic golf course taking center stage. A pleasing contrast is added by colorfully dressed locals from neighboring hill tribes, whom you might rub shoulders with as you breathe in the scene of fresh flowers at the local market.
Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City)
Saigon's futuristic skyscrapers contrast with the ancient traditions still carried out on the streets below. In the shadow of these towering glass edifices, you'll see locals carrying goods over their shoulders in baskets, or filling the air with the aroma of incense burned for their ancestors. Meanwhile, internationally renowned restaurants serve up incredible food, and museums remind visitors of the country's turbulent history.
Over 2000 Islands rise from the bay, studded with caves and grottoes, and soaring jungle-clad cliffs. Cruise on a traditional 'Junk' boat amongst the endless karsts to discover the beauty and serenity of this world-Heritage listed region.
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Cruise Halong Bay
Sharp limestone karsts jut dramatically out of the waters of Halong Bay, best viewed in the soft light of dawn from the deck of a traditional junk boat on a cruise around these iconic rock formations.
Learn a craft in Hue
Take a break from exploring the former imperial capital’s historic treasures by sitting quietly at the Healing the Wounded Heart factory, where deaf and mute workers will share the secrets of their crafts.
Hoi An on foot
Discover Hoi An’s lesser known gems with a walk around its historic streets. From trendy wine bars to artisan tailors, this old port town is full of surprises.
Nha Trang private cruise
The South China Sea provides the perfect backdrop to an indulgent banquet of Thailand’s finest fresh seafood on the deck of your very own private boat.
Try Pho in Saigon
Savour the flavours of authentic Vietnamese noodle soup as you sit back with a steaming bowl of Pho and watch the world go by in one of Saigon’s superb restaurants.
Meet the hilltribes in Sapa
The friendly faces of local hilltribe women greet you as you walk across picturesque rice terraces, feeling the cool mountain breeze against your skin.
Visit a monastery in Dalat
A hundred monks and nuns live in the peaceful monastery in Dalat, a charming colonial hill station in a cooler area that more closely resembles the French Alps than southeast Asia.
Floating market in the Mekong Delta
Colourful merchant boats characterise Cai Rang, the biggest floating market on the Mekong Delta, where you can mingle with the locals, who make an early start to stock up on the market’s array of food.
Hanoi’s Old Quarter
Sample Vietnamese snacks on a walk through the historic streets of Hanoi’s Old Quarter, where clues to the area’s past lie in the street names, which tell of the shop types that dominated in days gone by.
Sampan Journey in Ninh Binh
Discover hidden valleys and fertile rice paddies by hopping aboard a sampan - a small wooden rowing boat - for a river journey around the area’s distinctive limestone karsts, known as “Dry Halong Bay”.
From the blog
Interview with a Saigon Foodie
November 2015The food scene in Saigon has been evolving so we asked Trang, our Saigon office's resident foodie all about it.
Faces of the Mekong
September 2015Memorable portraits of the faces of the people living along the Mekong in Vietnam and Cambodia.
New tours for 2016
Cruising or touring? Now there is no need to decide with two new and two improved tours offering you the chance to enjoy both in comfort, all as part of a small group.