October 11, 2010

Why travel Vietnam & tips

Refer to Telegraph, if travelers wanting to head to peaceful,nice beaches, the region’s newer, less well explored destinations – travelers can find these in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos – have an immense amount to offer – including breathtaking landscapes, timeless rivers (not least the Mekong), world-class ruins – and diverse minority tribes.

Why go Vietnam

Vietnam stretches between the chaotic but engaging cities of Ho Chi Minh City, formerly Saigon, and Hanoi. The streets are a noisy public stage set for various acts of family life, played out against roaring motorcycle traffic and the persistent patter of street merchants.

Ho Chi Minh City is a buzzing sprawl, home to the moving War Remnants Museum. Hanoi’s old quarter is more manageable. Here you can pay your respects (no talking or shorts) to embalmed leader Ho Chi Minh.

Kayaking Halong Bay

Sailing trips around the soaring limestone peaks of Halong Bay are another northern highlight. Created, legend has it, from the spikes of a falling dragon’s tail, they are a humbling sight come rain or shine.

In the misty hills of Sapa, near the Chinese border, hikes through minority-tribe territory can offer better settings and authenticity than those in northern Thailand. Walkers pass through valleys of bamboo forest and rice paddies to meet Hmong and Dao villagers clothed in traditional dress. Bac Ha market is the best place to see Flower Hmong people in their exuberant, fluorescent threads.

Sapa trekking tour

Good restaurants overlook the river at refined Hoi An, where tailors cut silk to order in quaint streets lined with Unesco-preserved houses. Further south, Vietnam’s central coastline is going upmarket swiftly. At Mui Ne you can find sand dunes, watersports and luxury hotels that dot the palm-tree lined strip heading north to Nha Trang. For quieter beaches backed by thick jungle, take a hydrofoil or fly to the tropical island of Phu Quoc, off the mainland’s southern tip.

Tips: Drink Vietnamese beer hoi from makeshift stands. A fresh keg of beer is propped up on the street each day and sold to punters seated on plastic chairs, some 30cm off the ground. Rest a glass on your knee and get to know the person squatting next to you.

Active Travel Vietnam (+84.979.800.588 or +844.3573.8569; www.activetravelvietnam.com) offers a 12-day tour named " Family adventure in Vietnam" across the length of Vietnam, from $995, including domestic flights. This can be extended with a five-day bolt-on trip visiting the hill tribes of Sapa.

Contact the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (www.vietnamtourism.com) for more information.

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