Blessed with a ravishing coastline, emerald-green mountains, breathtaking national parks, dynamic cities, outstanding cultural interest and one of the world’s best cuisines, Vietnam has it all.
The Vietnamese Experience
Vietnam is a nation going places. Fast. Its people are energetic, direct, sharp in commerce and resilient by nature. This is an outrageously fun country to explore, the locals love a laugh (and a drink) and you’ll have plenty of opportunities to socialise with them and hear their tales. The American War is over, and yet its impact endures – you’ll find reminders of that cataclysmic conflict everywhere you travel. That said, the country was never broken and emerged with its pride intact. Poor in parts but never squalid, Vietnam is developing at an astonishing pace. For travellers, there are issues to consider (including minor scams), but little real danger – on the whole it’s a safe, wonderfully rewarding and incredibly varied country to explore.
A Cultural Smorgasbord
This is a country of myriad influences and reference points. In the south, Indian and Hindu culture had a lasting influence in the Cham temples and spicy regional cuisine, spiked with chilli and tempered with coconut. Head north and Chinese connections are far more apparent. Between these two competing cultures, you’ll find a quintessential Vietnam in the central provinces: the graceful historic old port of Hoi An, and the royal tombs, pagodas and imperial cuisine of Hue. Oh, and there’s more, far more. Factor in an enduring French colonial legacy, which is evident in Hanoi’s graceful boulevards, in Ho Chi Minh City’s stately museums and in the crispy baguettes and coffee culture you’ll find on every street corner. Add the American interlude, more than 50 hill tribes, and of course the proud (battle-tested and victorious) ruling Communist Party ideology and you’ve got Vietnam: heady, intoxicating and unique.
Big Nature, Booming Cities
If you want visual dramatics, Vietnam delivers. Cruise an azure ocean pierced by surreal-looking limestone islands in Halong Bay, slalom through the majestic inland karst mountains of Cao Bang. Hike mountain tracks and explore tribal villages near Sapa and Bac Ha. Then witness the spectacular sandy bays of the central coastline and explore the reefs and coves of the Cham and Con Dao Islands. Highway 1 is near-relentlessly urban, so get off it at regular intervals to see the astonishing cave systems of Phong Nha, national parks like Cat Tien, and the bewitching backwaters of the Mekong Delta. Finally, no visit would be complete without experiencing the energy of big-city life in Vietnam’s capital Hanoi, the grand old lady of the Orient, and Ho Chi Minh City, the engine room of the economy and the nation.
Best places to stay in Vietnam
Vietnam travel guide
Astonishingly exotic and utterly compelling, Vietnam is a country of breathtaking natural beauty with an incredible heritage that quickly becomes addictive.
Five amazing places to experience another culture
Learning about the culture and customs of other people is one of the great experiences of travel. Explore the planet's diversity with one of these locally owned and authentic tribal encounters. H'mong women by Maria Hsu...
Colonial architecture in Vietnam
Vietnam's best beaches
Vietnam - Plan your trip (Chapter)
Your journey to Vietnam starts here. You’ll find the tools to plan your adventure: where to go and when, how much to budget, plus in-depth info on outdoor activities.
Hanoi & Around
Voluntourism tips: is it ethical to visit orphanages?
For an increasing number of travellers, going on holiday doesn’t mean lazing on a beach or touring sights. Instead, it involves spending their vacation time volunteering in local communities...
Trekking in Vietnam
Southeast Asia on a Shoestring - Vietnam (Chapter)
Vietnam is a kaleidoscope of vivid colours and subtle shades, grand architecture and deeply moving war sites. The nation is a budget traveller’s dream, with inexpensive transport, outstanding street food, good-value accommodation and bia hoi –...
Vietnam Express Southbound
Capture the spirit of magical Vietnam on this compact tour from the colonial charm of Hanoi to the hustle and bustle of Ho Chi Minh City. Sip coffee with locals in Hanoi and shop up a storm in the Old Quarter, cruise along emerald waters on a Halong Bay boat trip, travel through old-world Hue and Hoi An, and get lost in the hustle and bustle of Ho Chi Minh City.
Discover the heart and soul of Indochina on this tour of four very diverse countries. Encounter history, both ancient and modern, and witness the unbelievable splendour of Angkor Wat. Our CEOs will ensure your accommodation and transportation are covered—so you can choose the activities that interest you. Push through hectic city lanes and tap into the pulsing nightlife.
Tet Nguyen Dan: tips for welcoming the new year in Vietnam
This is an excerpt from Lonely Planet's A Year of Festivals. Location: throughout Vietnam Dates: Lunar New Year (between 19 January and 20 February) Level of participation: 3 – a New Year’s Eve as raucous as any 'Pepsi Dragon' by Victor Phùng...
Southeast Asia phrasebook
Southeast Asia... many faces, many places, many ways to get tongue-tied. From Hue to Vientiene, from Phuket to Phnom Penh, turn your travel challenges into unforgettable experiences.
Vietnam's best restaurants
Vietnam's best markets
Tombs and temples in Vietnam
Hill tribe encounters in Vietnam
Sights in Vietnam
Activities in Vietnam
Tours in Vietnam
Restaurants in Vietnam
Budget hotels & hostels
Guesthouses and B&Bs
Imagine a city where the exotic chic of old Asia blends with the dynamic face of new Asia. Where the medieval and modern co-exist. A city with a blend of Parisian grace and Asian pace, an architectural museum piece evolving in harmony with its history, rather than bulldozing through like many of the region’s capitals. Hanoi is where imagination becomes reality.