Three weeks to explore this large and varied land
If you find yourself with three weeks spare, you should certainly be turning your attention towards the large and varied cultural hotpot that is Vietnam. Without a doubt one of the most beautiful and intriguing countries to visit, Vietnam is enjoying a surge in visitors, and it’s no surprise when you consider everything this country has to offer.
The most difficult thing about visiting Vietnam is knowing where to start and where to go. Obviously starting in a direction and working your way around is the best go to, and north is without a doubt the best place to start. A trip to Vietnam will certainly leave you with many memories.
Hanoi is a fantastic starting point, with a picturesque old town, full of winding streets and markets to explore. You will probably get lost in the maze-like streets, but that’s half the fun and wonder of visiting Hanoi in the first place. Hanoi is Vietnam’s second largest city, which means there is plenty to explore. The nightlife here is second to none, and shopping is also top-class.
Moving onto Halong Bay from Hanoi you will experience a totally different pace of life, away from the bustling city, and into the nature that Vietnam is known for. Located in the north east of the country, the glistening emerald waters are backed by huge limestone rocks on various islands, with rainforests in the background. This is a scene to take your breath away. Water-sports such as scuba diving are popular here, as well as hiking and walking.
From the chilled-out natural habitat of Halong Bay you move onto Hue, a city full of architecture and history. The former seat of the Nguyen Dynasty, the 19th century citadel is the main attraction to visit, surrounded by a traditional moat. The Imperial City is full of palaces and shrines, as well as the Forbidden Purple City, the former home of the emperor.
Located on the coastal region of central Vietnam, Hoi An is a beautiful town, full of ancient ruins. This former port city is a must visit for fans of architecture, with temples, old colonial buildings, and traditional Vietnamese life going on right before your eyes.
Moving back to beach life is the order of the day when you head to Nha Trang. Known for scuba diving and beautiful marine-life, this is a great idea for anyone into nature. This is an off shore island, accessible by boat, and a great break from city life. Backed by the promenade on Tran Phu Street, heading over to Hon Tre Island by cable car will give you beautiful views.
Situated on the South China Sea in the south east of the country, Mui Ne has a beautiful long beach lined with palm trees. Anyone who loves water-sports will enjoy it here, although the beach landscape changes to a desert-like scape as you move across the area. Again, a definite one for the camera.
Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City)
Saigon is a popular stop off point for backpackers, so you can expect to meet many likeminded travellers here. A bustling city that never stays still for five minutes, you can see real Vietnamese life here, situated alongside modern life too. Cheap accommodation is very possible here, with hostels and cheap, basic hotels. Be sure to explore the old part of town, where you will find plenty in the way of tradition.
A cruise down the mighty Mekong is a great way to finish off your Vietnam adventure. The scenery you will pass will blow your mind, and you will see rice paddy fields, traditional river villages, and the unbeatable views of misty mountains. Easily accessible from Ho Chi Minh City, this is the perfect way to finish off your exploration.
Photo Credit: P1010131