Huế is a city chock-full of stories. The Kings of the Nguyen Dynasty built their feudal capital along Huế’s fertile riverbanks and atop its forested hills, but their imperial legacy is just one of many reasons to visit. Huế’s refined cuisine is the stuff of legend, and its leafy streets are lined with mossy pagodas, art déco mansions, and eye-popping markets. Through the whole scene flows the Perfume River, setting a languid pace the rest of the city is happy to follow.
Hoi An is a place where the bold march of progress peters into a leisurely amble. In this one-time trading port, the Thu Bon River meanders past crumbling shop houses and weathered pagodas, while sampans come and go from the old ferry quay. Outside the Old Town, two-lane roads slice through waving rice fields and emerge at a frothy coastline. Stay a couple days, and Hoi An’s easygoing beauty and lantern-lit nights may leave you hopelessly beguiled.
Vibrating with energy, innovation and traffic – lots of traffic – Ho Chi Minh City, formerly known as Saigon, is the economic heart of Vietnam and the main hub of the southern region. A freewheeling, cosmopolitan metropolis, HCMC’s dynamic cityscape draws together old and new Vietnam in the most compact of spaces, representing the city’s past as well as its future.
For many the seascape of Halong Bay is synonymous with Vietnam. Cruises lazily sail emerald green waters among thousand of rugged islands and islets, stopping at some of the most spectacular caves through which visitors can wander, viewing impressive, centuries-old formations. Halong Bay’s mystical beauty has made it a bucket list attraction within the country, but it’s still possible to find secluded corners to call your own.
Founded over 1000 years ago, Vietnam’s capital city is rich in history, with the streets of its rambling Old Quarter dating back to the 14th century. Wandering these tree-lined lanes past crumbling colonial facades will transport you back in time. However, today’s Hanoi is about much more than the past. The ancient city is being invigorated with modern cafes, world-class restaurants, and cool art galleries. When the sun goes down, you have your pick of watering holes, from sophisticated rooftop bars to buzzing bia hoi.
Not long ago the sleepy village of Phong Nha barely got a mention in guidebooks, but the surprise discovery of one of the world’s largest caves has catapulted it into the adventure tourism spotlight. The Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park is a rugged swathe of limestone mountains riddled with gigantic caves. It’s also home to endangered wildlife and ethnic minority groups. The gateway to this land of adventure is Phong Nha, a welcoming village on the banks of the graceful Son River.