Vietnam is one of the most beautiful countries in Asia with a very diverse culture, nature and different climates. Central and South Vietnam offer many historical highlights whereas the north is still largely untouched.
Vietnam is known as the country of contrasts: kilometers of secluded white beaches, vibrant metropolis such as Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, the crowded Mekong Delta, enormous mountain chains and radiant rice fields - the nature has truly blessed Vietnam.
The climate differs considerably between North and South Vietnam. The north has a temperate tropical climate whereas the south is tropical and warm throughout the year. The geography of Vietnam is also described as "bamboo pole with two rice bowls": the north and south are two fertile river deltas that are connected by a narrow, rather barren forest and mountain area. Overall, Vietnam is coated to 3/4 of mountains and plateaus.
Vietnam's capital has so much to offer that most visitors take several days to visit all the sights. In the streets around the picturesque Hoan Kiem Lake you will find beautiful colonial mansions, Chinese-looking temples, museums and markets to explore. A visit to the water puppet theater and the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum should not be missed. It comes to shopping in the busy streets of the old town, where you can find numerous restaurants, bars, souvenir shops, internet cafes, travel agencies but also many traditional crafts stores.
The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Ha Long Bay includes more than 1,500 islands and islets that make up a spectacular seascape in the Gulf of Tonkin. The islands are characterized by their precipitous nature and the limestone pillars that can be found all over the place. Most of the islands are not inhabited to preserve the outstanding scenic beauty.
The former capital of Vietnam, Hué, which is 100 kilometers north-west of Danang, was the seat of the Vietnamese emperors from 1802 to 1945. Therefore, the coastal city is one of the highlights of central Vietnam for cultural travelers. The Citadel with the Forbidden City, which had been built by the emperors on the model of Beijing, was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993.
Take a tour to see all the sights along the Perfume River on the outskirts of the city, such as the multi-storey Thien Mu Pagoda and the magnificent imperial tombs, palaces and statues which stand in manicured parks.
The centuries old, small and picturesque port town of Hoi An, 30 km south of Danang, is a must-see for every Vietnam tourist. The century's old, romantic port city is situated along the Thu Bon River and the city and its historic buildings seem for many people like an open air museum of Vietnamese life and culture.
The highlights are the magnificent Chinese Liaison houses and temples of the 18th Century, the Japanese bridge, built in 1763, and lovingly restored shop houses - all on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Vietnam's most popular seaside resort is located on the central coast, about 450 kilometers northeast of Ho Chi Minh City. The wide sandy beach with promenade stretches along the downtown. Near the water there are plenty of hotels in all price ranges, restaurants and water sports centers offering diving courses.
Danang is Vietnam's fourth largest city and has one of the most important ports of the country. You can almost see nothing today from its days as a port for European traders and base for U.S. soldiers in the Vietnam War. Danang is now a modern and peaceful town with a few highlights, such as the Cham Museum, a must for everyone interested in culture, home to the world's largest collection of Cham art works. Danang's My Khe beach, known as China Beach, currently soars to an upscale tourist destination with luxury resorts.
Ho Chi Minh City
Ho Chi Minh City (or still called Saigon) is with more than nine million inhabitants the largest city in the country, growing at a rapid pace. Nevertheless, the attractions in the city center can be comfortably explored on foot: the French colonial buildings such as the post office and the cathedral, the Reunification Palace, the moving museum of war relics, the temple, the shopping Street Dong Khoi and the Ben Thanh Market. Ho Chi Minh City is the leader and the epitome of modern, dynamic and economic performance. Nowhere else in Vietnam you can find fashionable, high-rise company buildings and shopping malls like here. Even if Vietnamese and foreign companies shape the image of the city, there is still a lot of green spots where you can stroll along wide, tree-lined walkways, boulevards and parks.