If you have chosen to take a trip to Vietnam in Southeast Asia, it is because you want to get away from it all and have one of the most extraordinary and stimulating travel experiences there can be. Indeed, like a trip in Cambodia or Laos, its two neighbours to the west, Vietnam has a lot of surprises and wonders awaiting for you on your next vacation. A tip of your conical hats!
A Little Geography
Bordered by the Gulf of Thailand to the west and the South China Sea to the east and south, Vietnam is a charming country as attractive for its unique, internationally-recognized gastronomy as for the warmth of its colourfully-clothed people and its beautiful bays and picturesque landscapes that are among the most amazing panoramas the world has to offer.
Climate and Rainy Season
Since the majority of Vietnam's territory is located in the southern hemisphere, the country enjoys a warm and humid climate throughout the year. So you can be sure that it will be warm during your holiday in Vietnam. In the north, the winters are a little cooler, but it never gets too cold to visit the country. Even the coolest daytime temperature vary between 15 and 20 degrees Celsius.
The best time to travel will depend on the area of Vietnam (north, centre, or south) that you want to visit, since the intensity and duration of the rainy season varies from one region to another.
For example, while you will want to avoid the months of July and August in the north due to the frequent heavy precipitation, it rains a lot in the centre from November to January.
It is therefore important to inform yourself about the climatic conditions before leaving home to make sure you bring appropriate clothing for your stay in Vietnam. Here are some things you won't want to miss.
Hanoi, the Capital
There is so much to see in Vietnam that one trip is often not enough. For example, Hanoi, the capital, is known for the beauty of its river and temples. Temples are found throughout the territory, including the Temple of Literature, which is a must-see, as is the Ngoc Son Temple that awaits visitors to the north of Hoan Kiem Lake.
You can also visit the capital to eat in a good Vietnamese restaurant – there are tons to satisfy all tastes – or even to buy fresh food in one of the many small markets peppered throughout the maze of busy alleyways that animate the capital of Vietnam.
The Perfume Pagoda
Those wanting to immerse themselves in authentic Vietnamese culture and see a typical village can go to the Perfume Pagoda – a two-hour bus trip from the capital – where they will discover Buddhist temples and pagodas overlooking incredible landscapes created by a mountain (Mountain of the Fragrant Traces) and rivers for as far as the eye can see. You can also watch men and women cultivating rice in the rice paddies. A beautiful natural sight not to be missed during your trip in Vietnam.
Halong Bay or “Natural Beauty”
Halong Bay is one of the most beautiful and famous sites in Vietnam, if not all of Asia. Classified as a World Natural Heritage Site by UNESCO, this picturesque region is located in the Gulf of Tonkin, east of Hanoi. It includes about 1,600 islands and islets that give it a unique beauty, of which you can get an idea by perusing the many photographs of the site on the Web. You should definitely plan to visit the Bay in the course of your trip to Vietnam.
To organize your excursion, just visit one of the many companies in the capital that offer cruises in the Bay. You will have many options to choose from, since it is one of the most popular tours in the country!
Halong Bay on Land
On your journey, be sure to take advantage of a Halong Bay on Land excursion, another must. Just 94 kilometres south of Hanoi, Halong Bay on Land is actually Ninh Binh province, one of the favourite destinations of travellers in the north of Vietnam.
It offers many tourist attractions worth visiting, including nature reserves and bird sanctuaries. To visit, simply choose a tour that combines Ninh Binh with Halong Bay.
Phu Quoc Island
Those who are fond of beaches will fall in love with Phu Quoc, Vietnam's largest island. Also called the Emerald Island as well as the Island of 99 Mountains, Phu Quoc Island has 25 kilometres of beaches for swimming and water sports.
This is the perfect place to laze around on the beach, eat delicious seafood, explore the island by motorcycle, go diving, see the beautiful scenery, shop – and all of that removed from mass tourism.
Mui Ne Sand Dunes
Another suggestion: explore the white and red sand dunes of Mui Ne, a tourist site popular for its canyons, streams, and breathtaking landscapes.
If you're lucky, Depending on when you visit, you may be lucky enough to be witness to a colourful spectacle, because the desert of Mui Ne has a spectrum of 18 different colours!