Much of the country enjoys a languid mood, but life in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) is wonderfully disordered. Scooter mad locals bundle as much as possible atop their two wheels, the streets swarming with life as people buy, sell and barter.
In the War Remnants Museum, rooms are crammed with period military equipment, while few visitors leave town without first taking a day trip to the Cu Chi Tunnels, a fascinating labyrinth that was once a haven for Viet Cong fighters.It’s all a stark contrast to cruising down the Mekong Delta past mangroves and rice paddy workers in conical straw hats. Hanoi is bigger, cooler and greener than Saigon, Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum being a top-of-the-list attraction.
The city makes an excellent base from which to explore Halong Bay, a UNESCO World Heritage Site where sailing trips aboard traditional junks are popular. Brave a cyclo ride through Hanoi’s Old Quarter and have a suit made to measure in traditional Hoi An with its cobbled streets, tailor shops, galleries and cafés.
Or relax a while with a visit to one of the enchanting beach resorts such as Ninh Van Bay and the Con Dao Islands archipelago, famed for its unparalleled snorkelling and diving.
In fact, as a multi centre destination, Vietnam is hard to beat. As for the fabulous cuisine, try mastering Vietnamese cooking skills on one of the courses offered by its leading hotels.
Vietnam is a year round destination with a complex weather system influenced by two monsoons, so visitors are likely to encounter both sunshine and rain. The winter monsoon travels from the north east between October and March bringing wet and cool temperatures to all areas north of Nha Trang and dry warm temperatures to the south. From April to October the south western monsoon brings warm, humid weather to most regions. For the best balance, the months of April, May and October are recommended whilst offers are available year round.
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