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10 Reasons to Book a Holiday to Vietnam

by Travelbag on 19 June 2019, 10:06AM

Sapa, Vietnam

With its bright green paddy fields, lantern-lit towns and dramatic limestone islands, it was only a matter of time before Vietnam became a must-see holiday destination. And now, the secret is well and truly out. In 2018, Vietnam saw over 15 million international tourists – more than double the number of visitors back in 2015.

And yet, despite its surge in popularity, the country has managed to retain its charm. While well-trodden Thailand has become a well-oiled holiday machine, Vietnam is still finding its footing. The result? An authentic holiday hotspot, with irresistibly friendly people. If that’s not enough to sway you, here are 10 reasons why you should book a holiday to Vietnam.

 

1. There are eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Vietnam boasts no fewer than eight UNESCO-recognised sites, ranging from time-stamped cities to areas of natural beauty. If you’re into history, you’ll love the Complex of Hué Monuments. The ancient city of Hué was the political and cultural centre of Vietnam under Nduyen Dynasty – the last royal dynasty in Vietnam – and is home to ornate temples, a traditional pagoda and a vast citadel.

But Ha Long Bay is undoubtedly the most famous UNESCO Site in Vietnam. Stretching for 600 square miles, this vast bay has nearly 2,000 islands. Rising out of the water like teeth, the limestone isles serve as a reminder of the bay’s name, which means ‘descending dragon’. Needless to say, Ha Long Bay is very popular, so it’s best to pre-book an overnight cruise – you’ll be able to go kayaking between the nooks and crannies, and have a swim in the turquoise waters.

Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

2. Historic Ho Chi Minh City is fascinating

Few cities in Southeast Asia are as interesting as Ho Chi Minh. This southern metropolis, formerly known as Saigon, is packed with historical sites, landmarks and museums, offering a glimpse into the country’s past. Immerse yourself in artifacts and photos at the poignant War Remnants Museum, and crawl through the famous Cu Chi Tunnels. This underground network was dug by Viet Cong guerrilla soldiers during the Vietnam War, and stretches for miles. Notre Dame Cathedral – built by French colonists – and the lavish Independence Palace and are also worth a visit.

 

3. You can experience the chaos of Hanoi

Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh are very different – so it’s best to visit both, if you can. While southern Ho Chi Minh is a modern, structured city, Vietnam’s northern capital is a medley of scooters and street stalls. And yet, in the middle of all the chaos, there are little pockets of calm. Dedicated to the country’s best scholars, the tranquil Temple of Literature is a maze of courtyards, ponds and altars. Hoan Kiem Lake should also be on your list. Make sure you walk over the bright red bridge to reach Ngoc Son, an ornate temple on the island in the centre of the lake.

Hanoi, Vietnam

4. Sapa’s rice fields are beautiful

Get back to nature in Sapa. About 350 kilometres northwest of Hanoi, this peaceful spot offers a remarkable contrast to the capital’s busy streets. As well as being picture-perfect, Sapa is a popular trekking base, thanks to the surrounding mountains and cascading rice paddies. You can hike through rich forests, visit tribal villages, and even climb Vietnam’s highest peak, Fan Si Pan.

 

5. The food is incredible

Vietnamese food is all about flavour, rather than spice. Most dishes feature fish sauce and a lot of herbs, with chilli sauces served on the side. So, if you’re not very good with spice, you can choose how hot your meal is. Seafood plays a big part in Vietnamese cuisine, and cha ca is a must-try. This tasty dish sees white fish sautéed in ginger, garlic and dill, served with noodles. And you’ll see spring rolls – goi cuon – everywhere, stuffed with coriander and vegetables, plus pork or shrimp.

But pho is the real showstopper. This mouth-watering noodle soup is the national dish of Vietnam, and you can have it for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Pho is a light broth flavoured with coriander, ginger and spring onions, served with noodles and cuts of chicken, beef or pork – and it’s every bit as good as it sounds. If you want to learn how to make it, why not sign up for a cooking class while you’re in Vietnam?

Vietnamese food

6. Hoi An looks like a postcard

Remember those UNESCO Heritage Sites we were talking about? Hoi An Ancient Town is one of them. With quiet temples, elaborate bridges and endless lanterns, picturesque Hoi An looks exactly how you’d imagine a Vietnamese riverside town to look. Once a major port, Hoi An boasts a diverse range of architecture – including Chinese temples, traditional Japanese merchant houses and an 18th-century bridge – and modest houses painted in bold primary colours. Beaches and snorkelling spots are within easy reach, too. But Hoi An’s real charm comes out when the sun goes down. Hundreds of multi-coloured lanterns adorn the pedestrianised streets, giving the town a truly magical feel. And that’s not all...

 

7. You can get a made-to-measure outfit

Vietnam is famous for its silk, and Hoi An is the country’s tailor capital. There are hundreds of tailor shops here, making everything from suits to dresses to shoes. And, while a tailored outfit back home would cost you a lot of money, that’s not the case here. You can expect a made-to-measure suit to cost around £80, but shop around and don’t be afraid to haggle. It’s best to go to a few tailors, look at their fabrics and talk about price – then decide which place is best for you.

Hoi An, Vietnam

8. Everything is great value

Like so many Southeast Asian countries, Vietnamese prices are much lower than those in the UK. This, coupled with a good exchange rate on Vietnamese Dong, makes it a cheap place to be. On average, a bottle of water costs 20p and a pint of local beer – look out for Saigon or Bia Hanoi – is less than £1. A casual dinner costs a few quid, while a three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant will set you back about £15 – bargain. You’ll find that Ho Chi Minh is slightly more expensive than Hanoi but, generally, prices are fairly even across the country.

 

9. You can explore the Mekong Delta

Known as ‘the rice bowl of Vietnam’, the Mekong Delta is an essential part of any holiday to Vietnam. Cloaked in a hundred shades of green, this network of criss-crossing waterways is a world away from Vietnam’s cities. Expect to see tangled mangrove forests, lazy buffalo wading through the rivers, and floating markets selling fruit and freshly-caught fish. Day trips are available from Ho Chi Minh, or you could book an overnight stay in the Mekong Delta if you prefer.

Mekong Delta, Vietnam

10. You can hop over the border to Cambodia

If you’re considering a holiday to Vietnam, why not add on a few days in Cambodia? These two countries share a 700-mile border and, like its neighbour, Cambodia is home to stunning architecture and historic sites. The easiest way to see both countries is to book a two-week tour of Vietnam and Cambodia. You can spend the first half of your trip exploring Vietnam, before sailing up the Mekong River into Cambodia to see Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Angkor Wat.

 

Discover the highlights of Vietnam with a Travelbag tour – we’ll take you to Hanoi, Hoi An, Ho Chi Minh City and beyond.

Or, combine a beach retreat with a city break on a Vietnam multi-centre holiday. Call our experts today to start planning your dream getaway. 


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