All photography by Christian Berg
No point in being modest about it. You can find the healthiest, freshest, most insanely delicious food on the planet right here. Prepare to roll and dip scrumptious bites with your hands, and lose yourself in bowls of noodles that make you swoon. Vietnamese are used to eating to such a high standard that the competition on the sidewalks is fierce. Discovering your favourites — whether steaming pho, crunchy banh mi or smoky bun cha — is itself worth the trip.
Not every Vietnamese you meet is going to become your new best friend — but a lot of them are willing to try! You’ve never met a group as fun-loving, hardworking, and ready-for-anything as the Vietnamese. We are resilient people, and we value family and friendships more than anything else. Take your time to learn the stories of some of our 54 ethnic minorities, and enjoy our smiles and hospitality wherever you go.
One unique aspect of travelling Vietnam is that no two destinations are alike. Our three major cities are totally different from each other. We have chilly winters in highlands up North but it’s balmy year-round on the islands in the South. Even destinations that are an hour apart are often decades apart in character and appearance. Having so many distinct places to explore and choose from is a big part of the fun.
In Vietnam, coffee is a tradition, a religion, and a social glue in one. We love meeting up on the sidewalk and chatting for hours over coffee. That’s why you’ll find thousands of cafes — from cool to colonial — all over the country. We like being creative with coffee too. Try a refreshing coconut coffee in summer or a creamy egg coffee in winter. Just watch out: Many travellers become addicted to our distinctive brews!
Read more: Vietnam's coolest contemporary cafes
Maybe you’ve heard about the dreamy, karst-studded seascapes in Ha Long Bay and the misty, terraced valleys in Sa Pa, but did you know Vietnam is home to more dramatic sights? In the world’s largest cave, Son Doong, you can camp, climb, and explore for days. Vietnam also boasts breathtaking mountain scenery in Ha Giang, thundering waterfalls in Cao Bang, and striking sand dunes in Mui Ne (be sure to pack your camera.)
In Vietnam you don’t have to go far to find treasures from another time. They’re sprinkled all over the countryside and tucked away in the cities, as well as in eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The timeless capital of Hanoi is a gold mine for history lovers, with ancient pagodas, gateways, and houses layered in the fabric of the Old Quarter. In the centre of Vietnam, the former imperial city of Hue is strewn with the tombs of feudal kings and their forgotten palaces.
There’s something about being on two wheels that makes one feel young and alive again. Or at least, that’s how it seems to us. You haven’t really experienced Vietnam until you’ve seen our alleys and countryside from the back of a bike. Explore like a local by hopping on a bicycle and go for an early morning ride through emerald rice paddies, or take a motorbike after dark for a romantic ride on the banks of our lakes and rivers.
Vietnam’s burgeoning cities have more fine layers than a mille-feuille, and are endlessly interesting, especially if you’re a foodie, photographer, culture-seeker, or a combination of the above. Start with the parks, get lost in the temples, take a break in the alleys, dine on the sidewalks, retreat to the cafes, and head up to the rooftop bars to finish. In Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam’s biggest metropolis, there’s something new every day.
Read more: Must-do Da Nang - an insider's list
Every now and then, it’s nice to get lost in a new place. In Vietnam, just hours outside the cities you’ll find yourself in another world, with new adventures that will challenge you in all the best ways. Intrepid travellers will love the ethnic villages and spectacular views in Vietnam’s northern mountain ranges. Try rock climbing at the crags in Huu Lung, sign up for canyoning at Datanla Waterfall in Da Lat, or have the caving adventure of a lifetime in Phong Nha. Why not?
We’re all a little concerned about health and safety on the road, especially after 2020. Luckily, Vietnam has proven it’s ready to combat any health crisis with decisive action and a strong community spirit. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Vietnam managed each outbreak so successfully, the country enjoyed long periods of no transmission during which everybody could connect, relax, and travel safely — which is what we all want to be doing after all.