If you’ve never been to Vietnam before, you’re in for a treat. Perhaps you’re of Asian extraction and looking to explore your roots, or maybe you’re a world-weary traveler who imagines that you’ve seen everything that there is to be seen. Either way, you need to experience the cities and the countryside of Vietnam.
Cities to visit
Whether you call it Ho Chi Minh City, or cling to the older, locally preferred “Saigon,” the capital is the place to start. The streets are just teeming with activity, and if you’re a foodie, you can experience everything from high-end restaurants to street food. Shoppers will love the huge markets, specialty stores and antique shops. You’ll find one-of-a-kind clothing, accessories, arts and crafts, and yes, souvenirs as well.
You’ll also want to visit the south central coast’s largest city, Phan Thiet – it’s a highly popular resort town, located just a couple of kilometers from beautiful beaches and golf courses. Another “must see” destination is Muine, known as Vietnam’s resort capital. Once upon a time, Muine wasn’t much more than just a stretch of sand, which was great if all you wanted to do was beachcomb in a far-off land. Today, though, you can surf, windsurf, charter a fishing boat, or even play mini-golf – wear yourself out, and then enjoy a relaxing drink or a luxurious meal.Other top cities to visit are Nha Trang, Hue (which was Vietnam’s capital at the time of the Nguyen Dynasty), Da Nang (the central Vietnam’s largest city), Hai Phong, and Can Tho (the Vietnam’s fourth largest city, and the largest in the Mekong Delta). You can even visit Hoian and take a cooking course from a Vietnamese chef! Of course, don’t forget Hanoi, which was the Vietnamese capital for nearly a thousand years, and is now considered to be a cultural mecca.
Check out the Old Quarter, or visit a museum.
Visit the countryside
Once you’re “all citied out,” take a breather and explore the stunning countryside. Picture yourself riding a scooter or a bike past brilliant green fields of rice, or casting nets along with Vietnamese fishermen. Don’t miss the pastoral farms. In between their many chores, many farmers will be pleased to offer you a tour, or allow you to take an invigorating hike through their lush fields. You’ll get a first-hand look at local agriculture, and maybe even make some new friends.
You might also think about taking a train to the Sapa region, or going on a cruise in Halong Bay, where the karst formations and limestone caves will leave you breathless. If you’re an “outdoorsy” type, you might even want to rent a kayak and explore on your own.
It’s all there for you
What are you waiting for? For something deliciously different, Vietnam is the place to be. Food, shopping, art, museums, incomparable scenery, and people who are eager to welcome you and show you the sights – Vietnam has it all. You might even find that there’s no such thing as one trip – you’ll want to come back.