Unspoiled beaches, beautiful mountains, vibrant cities and traditional villages – all in one small country just a tad larger than Italy. Over its long history, Vietnam has been influenced by the Chinese and the French, and this has left traces: Pagodas next to colonial buildings in the cities, French delicacies in the same menu with Chinese stables, albeit with a delicious Vietnamese twist. The people are friendly and warm, and natural wonders abound. Hanoi is busy city with modern cafés and galleries showing the latest in local fine art dotting the vast tree-lined boulevards. Ho Chi Minh City – which used to be called Saigon and still is so by locals – has a fast pace of life with teeming traditional markets and fancy designer malls.
Outside of the cities, life in Vietnam is decidedly less hectic and more traditional. Lush rice paddies dot the scenery and time-old customs are respected and followed. The high mountains are home to the many different hill tribes, and alongside the coast, many small villages exist on subsistence fishing. It is impossible to get to know this diverse country on a short trip but you will be glad you came, whatever you decide to see and do.