If you’re thinking of heading to Asia this year, there’s one country in particular that we recommend considering. And it’s called Vietnam.
Vietnam is often overlooked as a place of interest when compared to other Southeast Asian countries. Now, that’s not to say that Vietnam doesn’t get any attention, but there were only 280,000 visits from British nationals last year. Compare that to over one million visits to Thailand and you can see why we think it’s massively underrated.
From the hustle and bustle of Ho Chi Minh City to the incredible serenity of Ha Long Bay, this country is an entire world waiting to be discovered. Whether you’re a rogue backpacker or looking for something a little more luxurious, we guarantee you’ll find your perfect accommodation in Vietnam. There’s plenty on offer, including five-star resorts and humble hostels. Once you’ve found somewhere to keep your stuff and rest your head at night, it’s time to head out into the unknown. There’s so much waiting to be uncovered in Vietnam and there’s hidden gems everywhere. So, what are the highlights?
The food is to die for
Although Chinese, Indian and Thai often top the lists when it comes to popular Asian cuisine, we can’t help but feel that Vietnamese is tastiest of them all. Once you’ve tried it, you’ll know what we mean. The flavours are distinct and balanced, using a combination of sweet, salty and sour. There isn’t much overpowering spice in Vietnamese food; chilli sauce is usually served separately. Here are just a few dishes that we recommend you try during your time in the country:
- Gỏi cuốn – perhaps the most popular dish from the country, these translucent spring rolls are filled with all sorts of delicious ingredients including greens, minced pork or shrimp.
- Pho – if you’ve not heard of pho (pronounced fur), where have you been?! This broth-based dish with rice noodles has been taking over our Instagram feeds lately.
- Nom hua chuoi – this fantastic shredded veg dish is perfect for the vegetarians travelling to the country. It’s based around lime and chilli flavours and is entirely moreish.
The people in Vietnam are often hailed as the friendliest on the continent – they’ll welcome you into the homes with open arms and smiles on their faces.
There are so many amazing cities
If you’re a fan of fast-paced, cosmopolitan city life, Vietnam is definitely a bucket-list destination for you. Although you may not first associate the country with buzzing cities, you’ll be surprised when you arrive. Ho Chi Minh City is the ultimate hotspot for culture buffs. Here, you can begin to understand in more depth the complicated history of Vietnam, including the brutality of the war. Take a scooter tour around the streets and you’ll really get a feel for life here. Don’t forget to take a trip to Pham Ngu Lao Street to party on through the night with other backpackers. On the other side of the country, you may find yourself visiting the capital – Hanoi. In Hanoi, you’ll be greeted by once-in-a-lifetime experiences like the Snake Village, the night markets and the Water Puppets.
The scenery is stunning
Although there’s plenty going on in the cities of Vietnam, you might be craving a little more peace and quiet at some point. Head up North into the mountain villages of Sapa and travel by sleeper train for the authentic experience. The jaw-dropping views of the mountains are structured with terraced rice fields; you’ll feel as though you’ve just stepped into a National Geographic magazine. Make sure you take some snaps whilst you’re there but don’t forget to take all the beauty in with your own eyes! There’s truly nowhere else on Earth like this. In Sapa, you can take a cable car for those worthwhile views or trek through the pretty villages to learn more about Vietnamese culture and the welcoming people.