Halong Bay: Nothing compares to the beauty of Halong Bay, Vietnam’s most dramatic natural asset. A UNESCO seascape, its thousands of lush limestone karsts rise majestically from the sea in spectacular fashion. Hidden caverns, forested islands and floating isles are accessed by overnight cruises on local junks, by kayaking, boating or simply swimming in the calm bay waters.
Northernmost Sapa: The stunning offerings of Vietnam’s Northern provinces around picturesque Sapa feature some of the best hiking and trekking opportunities in the country, and a glimpse into one of Vietnam’s most fascinating cultures. The lush scenery of soaring mountains, staggered rice terraces and plunging valleys interposed by small hill-tribe communities take away the breath. The alpine scenery affords treks to Indochina’s highest peak, Mt. Fansipan and its environs, homestays with natives for an up-close encounter with local life, and visits to remarkable ethnic markets where everything from colorful hand-made crafts to buffalo are sold. This is the best region for hiking and adventures including jeep safaris, boating and kayaking.
The Central Coast and Highlands
Vietnam’s east coast and central highlands are a traveler’s delight, featuring glorious beaches, lively resort towns, sleepy fishing villages and the imperial former capital of Hue. Inland, awesome scenery, lakes covered with lotus blossoms, neatly ploughed hillside fields and an ideal climate greet travelers.
Nha Trang: Distinguished by crystal-clear waters, modern resorts and great nightlife, lovely Nha Trang and its vicinity is Vietnams’ watersports’ Mecca. Pristine white and red beaches, invite with kayaking, snorkeling, diving and swimming.
UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Up the coast, 3 of Vietnam’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites cluster in proximity. Hoi An, an old sleepy river town, famed for its tailoring, lovely pagodas, a Japanese bridge and pretty French Quarter is a colonial gem. Nearby, My Son Sanctuary, with its ruins of impressive Hindu temples and royalty grounds, is the capital of the ancient Champa Kingdom. Set on the Perfume River, imperial Hue, the once-capital of Vietnam and home to emperors of the past, boasts an ancient citadel with ornate pagodas, royal tombs and a Forbidden City.
Dalat: Inland, the charming hilltop town of Dalat is perched on the cooling mountains of the central highlands. This center of romance is small, beautiful and very French, and houses Emperor Bao Dai’s summer palaces. This is the area of forested mountains, ice blue lakes and grand waterfalls where hiking, walking, boating and cycling enhance the spirit of romantic adventure.
Saigon and the South
Cosmopolitan Saigon, with its glass skyscrapers, its brightly colored, ornate pagodas, its host of modern shops, its cacophony of horns and shouting, and its unique mode of traffic – 4 million motorbikes – is glitzy, chaotic and mesmerizing. Its history sets it apart: A main venue during the Vietnam War, it overflows with tragic remnants.