All photos by Christian Berg
Vietnamese cuisine is so light, fresh and nutritious, it’s destined to be the highlight of any holiday. Though nothing will ever beat a local meal on the street, lately the country is stepping up its restaurant game, with more interesting venues to check out, especially in major cities.
Check out Ho Chi Minh City’s buzzing restaurant scene. Anan Saigon’s banh xeo tacos and 100-dollar banh mi are just two examples of how Vietnamese food is being reimagined for modern diners. Try Quince, Laang, and Pizza 4Ps for a taste of the city’s new culinary direction.
Make a self-guided exploration of Vietnam’s coffee culture. K’Ho Coffee Farm in Da Lat is a fitting place to start. From there, visit modern cafes in Ho Chi Minh City and the sidewalks of Hanoi to sample egg coffee, coconut coffee, and bac xiu.
Get acquainted with real Vietnamese street food. There’s no better place to get a sense of Vietnamese cuisine, than down the capital’s tiny, atmospheric alleys. Go beyond pho and fill up on bun dau, bun cha, bun thang and other Hanoian hits.
Vietnam’s raw, remote landscapes are still the stuff of dreams for many adventure-seekers. The country’s outdoor options are constantly expanding, as more world-class experiences open in previously unheard-of locations.
Motorbike the mountain passes of Ha Giang. This northern province has the ability to take your breath away, not once, but over and over again. Apart from its outrageous scenic roads, Ha Giang endears itself with warm if humble hospitality, and rich ethnic culture.
Take on the world’s largest caves in Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park. There’s a long waiting list for tours into Hang Son Doong, the world’s largest cave. But don’t let that deter you. There are more than 500 caves of all sizes in Phong Nha. Join a multi-day tour for the full experience.
Challenge yourself in Da Lat. Dreamy Da Lat, once a retreat for couples and flower festivals, is reinventing itself as a destination for outdoor enthusiasts. Go camping in Bidoup National Park, try SUP on Tuyen Lam Lake, and take on Datanla Falls with world-class canyoning tours.
Vietnam boasts a well-deserved reputation for culture, with no less than eight UNESCO Heritage Sites sprinkled up and down the country. The Vietnamese way of life encompasses cool new urban culture as well as time-honoured craft villages and traditional music.
Slow down along the water in Hoi An. The ochre-painted shophouses in this former trading port look much as they did a century ago. Draped with silk lanterns, they create an irresistible atmosphere. Verdant rice fields and white sand beaches are only a quick bicycle ride away.
Step back in time in Ninh Binh. Visit Vietnam Year 2020 is officially dedicated to Ninh Binh, a surreal destination two hours from Hanoi, that was once the capital of Northern Vietnam. Here, snaking rivers, mossy pagodas and towering karsts offer some of Vietnam’s most iconic scenery.
Immerse yourself in Vietnam’s imperial history. Often overlooked by travellers, Hue offers some of Vietnam’s most impressive historical sites, including the Hue Citadel and the tombs of the Nguyen Kings. Stay along the gorgeous Perfume River and slow down with cyclo rides and long strolls.
Vroom vroom Vietnam! The country is gearing up for a big year of exciting events, starting with the F1 Grand Prix in Hanoi, and continuing with the Hue Festival, the Da Nang International Fireworks Festival, the Mid-autumn Festival and more.
Cheer for your favourite Formula One racers in Hanoi. April 20 will see Hanoi welcome its first ever appearance on the F1 circuit. Fans can look forward to a brand-new track and high-energy performances by international DJs, as well as cultural forays into the capital’s alleys and cafes.
Lace up for a mountain trail or city marathon. Vietnam’s new marathons provide an excellent excuse to see the country’s beautiful destinations. The Sapa Mountain Marathon leads the pack in terms of vistas, with trail runs in Da Lat, Tam Dao and Moc Chau not far behind.
Watch the world’s best pyrotechnic teams in Da Nang. Every year the coastal city of Da Nang stages an extended fireworks festival, with international teams competing to create stunning displays over the Han River. Buy a front-row ticket, or watch from the city’s sleek rooftop bars.
From sea-view villas to humble fishing hamlets, Vietnam’s long coastline promises beach holidays of every variety. Apart from its coastal cities, Vietnam also offers quiet islands, such as Con Dao and Ly Son, where you can have whole stretches of sand to yourself and immerse in local life.
Bring the whole family for a getaway in Phu Quoc. With a surplus of white-sand beaches, as well as enticing bars, easy island-hopping, and luxe resorts, Phu Quoc has it all. Families can check our Vinpearl Land Amusement Park, and ride the over-water Sunworld Cable Car to Hon Thom.
Spoil yourself at a five-star resort in Cam Ranh. Still something of a secret, Cam Ranh is quietly establishing itself as a desirable destination for those who want to escape the world in style. Striking beaches, five-star resorts, and an award-winning golf course make it easy to do just that.
Play castaway on the beach in quiet Quy Nhon. There’s no place quite like Quy Nhon if you need to get away from it all. This laidback fishing town in Central Vietnam is dotted with empty bays. Take a motorbike for long windy rides along the water, and dine on fresh seafood every evening.
Looking for a feel-good vacation? Vietnam’s lesser-known destinations promise authentic local encounters and unspoiled views. Here you can stay with ethnic minorities, go on community-based tours, and learn more about local culture and traditions.
Strike out for the Central Highlands. Still largely undiscovered, the province of Dak Lak is brimming with waterfalls, coffee plantations, and ethnic minority villages. Stay at Lak Tented Camp, and try Vietnam’s first ethical elephant tour at Yok Don National Park.
Experience real Vietnamese hospitality at a homestay. At only 10 to 20 dollars a night, Vietnam’s homestays offer amazing value and wonderfully warm hospitality, plus delicious local meals. Try a family-run homestay in Mai Chau, Sapa or in Mekong Delta towns such as Cai Be and Can Tho.
Bed down beneath karsts in Ninh Binh. Only two hours from Hanoi, Ninh Binh is famous for epic landscapes. In the area of Tam Coc, you’ll find charming eco-boutiques and homestays in the shadow of ancient karsts. Take an eco-tour of Trang An Scenic Complex, a UNESCO-listed site.
Vietnam’s striking scenery and fascinating culture make it the perfect backdrop for luxury escapes. In the cities, colonial-inspired hotels give a glimpse into the past, while on the beaches, Vietnam’s resorts are the definition of modern luxury, infused with unique local touches.
Cruise through the Gulf of Tonkin. Vietnam’s incredible bays never fail to impress, but these days travellers are going beyond Ha Long to explore Lan Ha and Bai Tu Long as well. Spend a few magical days on the water, waking up to breathtaking scenery, and dining on gourmet fare.
Check yourself in for a wellness retreat. Need a bit of RNR? Why not give Vietnam’s soothing wellness destinations a go. Visit Da Nang for spa-inclusive resorts and award-winning wellness programs, or the foothills of Hue for natural hot springs and Vietnam’s first seven-step onsen.
Play Vietnam’s top-rated golf courses. Vietnam’s Central Coast is staking a claim as the region’s hottest new golf destination. A string of six courses designed by golf greats such as Sir Nick Faldo and Greg Norman line the coast, making the most of rice paddies, jungles and mountains.