A holiday in Vietnam is fast becoming a must-see holiday destination. Richard Swain has just returned from Vietnam and he has kindly written a guest blog article for the Global Holidays Travel Blog, Here he describes his experience of this fascinating destination.
We started our tour in the bustling city of Saigon (modern name Ho Chi Minh City). This is the most cosmopolitan city in Vietnam and is the modern heart of the country that has put its war torn past behind it to focus on a brighter future. There is plenty to see and do around this vibrant city – fantastic local markets, shops and lots of French colonial buildings to take in, such as the Opera House, Notre Dame Cathedral and Hotel de Ville to name but a few. The whole of Indochina was actually ruled by the French for nearly 100 years, and there is still evidence of their reign throughout the region making it a real mix of colonial touches with a modern Asian influence.
Saigon is a shopper’s paradise, from luxury designer shops to bustling local markets. My top tip is that several of the historic hotels have fantastic rooftop bars – such as the Caravelle or the Rex. Sipping a cocktail at the end of a busy day of sightseeing, whilst watching the city from above – definitely my idea of a relaxing evening!
From Saigon we also went out to the Cu Chi tunnels – an underground network of tunnels used by the Vietnamese during the war against the Americans – it’s incredible to think that people lived underground for weeks & months at a time during the war. They even had underground hospitals.
Moving onto central Vietnam we then visited the historic town of Hoi An – this is my favourite place in Vietnam, it’s simply beautiful! Hoi An was originally a 15th century fishing port – now it’s a UNESCO protected World Heritage Site, which just goes to show the cultural importance of the town. It’s great to just wander through the narrow old streets, lined with old shophouses that are now home to some fantastic shops, art galleries and restaurants. In the evening all the streets are lit by traditional Chinese lanterns – do not forget your camera if you visit Hoi An!!
Whilst in central Vietnam I also got to sample a new concept hotel that has recently opened in Danang. The Fusion Maia is billed as ‘Asia’s first unlimited Spa’ hotel – a great hotel for spa junkies, there is a wide array of treatments available and it’s all free to guests. All rooms at the hotel have their own private pool and its right by the beach, if you’d prefer a dip in the ocean. This hotel is my idea of heaven and I’d definitely recommend it to any honeymooners or spa fans.
From Hoi An we moved onto Northern Vietnam and visited the capital city of Hanoi. One thing you immediately notice about Hanoi is the traffic – mopeds & scooters are the most common form of transport for the locals and there are literally thousands throughout the cities bustling streets. A visit to Hanoi’s Old Quarter is a must whilst you’re in the city – it’s a shopping paradise, with every street selling a distinct product, from traditional bamboo street to modern ones like sunglasses and shoe streets – selling wall to wall products. My top tip is to take a Cyclo ride through the city.
Finally our tour reached Halong Bay – this World Heritage site is the most beautiful scenery in Vietnam. Over 3000 limestone islands cover the bay, making it a stunning backdrop to a cruise of the area. Travel Indochina offer either a day trip or an overnight option where you stay on a traditional Vietnamese Junk boat. I would definitely recommend the overnight option as you get to see so much more of the area, and take it all in at your own pace.
Vietnam is definitely a country of contrast, and has something to offer to every visitor. From busy city life, to breathtaking rural scenery – it’s a must for any visitors to this area of the world.
Global Holidays can offer a huge range of tours to Vietnam. Our most popular is “Highlights of Vietnam”. This 10 day classic tour costs from only £990 per person plus flights.
Please call us FREE on 0800 433 2300 for more details.