V – Varied landscape
Vietnam is one of the favourite playgrounds of Mother Nature, boasting a wondrous blend of mountains, highlands, caves, rivers, plains, beaches, and epic delta regions.
With Mount Fansipan, as its backdrop, Sapa is home to terraced rice fields, cascading waterfalls, and secluded tribal villages perched on distant slopes. Halong Bay is the perfect getaway to experience luxury cruises as well as outdoor activities such as kayaking. It is an enthralling experience to cruise amidst the towering limestone karsts jutting out of the Gulf of Tonkin. The endless spectacle of the limestone world continues further south in Trang An and Tam Coc located in Ninh Binh province, offering limitless opportunities for travellers.
Complementing the Central Highlands, exquisite pristine beaches enrich the beauty of Central Vietnam. Son Doong Cave, the world’s largest cave system, is a particular highlight, although it remains difficult to explore. However, this imposing cave kingdom in Phong Nha and Ke Bang features many more, easy to explore yet stunning caves, grottoes, and underground rivers. Impressive coffee plantations sprawl over the highlands of Buon Ma Thuot, whilst Dalat is surrounded by spectacular scenery and churning waterfalls. The sandy shores of Cham Island, Nha Trang, and Quy Nhon meet the turquoise sea where scuba divers can explore the rich aquamarine ecosystem. Following the course of the mighty Mekong River, South Vietnam is equally photogenic. The river branches off into many estuaries, drawing up an agritourism paradise.
I – Indigenous culture
The country’s indigenous cultures bear the marks of China, Japan, and France and a homestay within the ethnic communities is a special way to learn about their culture. Whether in the north, centre or south, there are significant cultural treasures and celebrations by individual communities expressed through festivals and performances. The A-O show portrays the rural lifestyle of farmers and fishermen nationwide. The Quintessence of Tonkin show narrates the ancient tale of the Thay Pagoda, Buddhism, and literature. Traditional music and folk art can be gleaned through the performances of Xoan and Cheo singers, while the captivating Water Puppet show in Hanoi, which originates back to the Red River Delta, is also a must-see. Mythology is an integral part of Vietnamese culture and beliefs and legends revolve around four sacred creatures – the Dragon, Phoenix, Turtle, and Unicorn. There are many colourful festivals observed all year around while the most important one is Tet – Vietnamese Lunar New Year which foreign visitors need to experience at least once.
E – Exotic beaches
Undeniable luxury and incredible visual treats are on offer along the nation’s 3,260-kilometre coastline, home to some of the most romantic beaches and islands in the world. Mystical hideaways, secluded beaches, and coves on remote islands, the stretches of white and golden sands fringing the seas at My Khe, Nha Trang, Vung Tau, Phu Quoc, and the Con Dao archipelago are high on the wish-lists of beach lovers. The crystal-clear water offers unrestricted visibility of colourful marine life as well as swimming, snorkelling, scuba diving, and kayaking. Luxury beach resorts and hotels offer idyllic accommodation. Even the most remote are home to boutique resorts for luxury in seclusion, allowing discerning travellers to experience life close to nature.
T – Timeless charm
Emerging from a painful past, much has been done to restore Vietnam’s many treasures and add even more. It is not only the natural world that draws visitors in, but also the people, culture, lifestyle, cuisine, and art. The honking of the ever-moving traffic in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City are a complete contrast to the tranquility of the countryside. The country presents a plethora of unforgettable images, from epic landscapes, ethnic cultures, legendary cuisine, and imperial monuments and continue through to its timeless village traditions, idyllic sea resorts, and bustling cities. The taste of egg coffee, using chopsticks to enjoy traditional dishes such as pho bo or bun cha, the ubiquitous conical hats, and the twinkling lanterns of Hoi An make for images that travellers will cherish forever.
N – Natural heritage sites
Vietnam takes pride in its diversity and has been blessed with some stunning UNESCO-recognised Natural Heritage Sites, such as Halong Bay, Trang An, Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, and Cat Ba Island. The world’s largest cave system, Son Doong stuns visitors with its otherworldly splendour and ecosystem.
Halong Bay, featuring a cluster of 1,600 islets, is one of the world’s natural wonders. Cruising through this karst landscape is a cinematic experience. Sailing beyond Halong Bay, visitors can get to Cat Ba Natural Heritage Site nestled in the heart of Lan Ha Bay, a treasure trove of flora and fauna. Trang An is another limestone world where the footprints of prehistoric humans and the fossils of extinct animals have been discovered. A bamboo boat ride along the Sao Khe River leads to mysterious underground caves and grottoes as well as ancient cave pagodas and temples.
A – Ancient cities
Hoa Lu in Ninh Binh was the ancient capital of Dai Co Viet (the ancient name of Vietnam). This ancient city, full of temples and pagodas dedicated to former kings, has witnessed many historical events. Its annual festival welcomes tourists from near and far. Hue is the last imperial capital of Vietnam and still preserves many relics from the royal empire. The Imperial Citadel of Hue, the royal tombs of King Minh Mang, King Khai Dinh, and other emperors along with the ancient Thien Mu Pagoda are just some of the major attractions of the former capital. UNESCO-protected My Son sanctuary dates back to the Pre-Angkorian era and was the capital of the Cham Dynasty. Hoi An was the most important port for trading in ancient Southeast Asia. The tranquil ambiance of this UNESCO-protected town, with its colonial architecture, traditions, and coffee culture, makes it a magnet for travellers. Further south, Dalat was one of the favourite hill stations for French garrisons and is filled with a plethora of colonial buildings. The Imperial Citadel of Thang Long marks the origin of today’s capital, Hanoi, dating back to the 11th century and the reign of the Ly Dynasty. Ho Chi Minh City is also an ancient establishment from the prehistoric era and witnessed one of the earliest Asian civilisations.
M – Memories to cherish forever
Nothing quite compares to the charm that Southeast Asian countries and Vietnam have developed as a great holiday destination for both leisure and business travellers. It is a truly memorable experience travelling across the country, exploring the treasures of Halong Bay on a luxury cruise, savouring tasty Vietnamese dishes in the finest restaurants of bustling Ho Chi Minh City, relaxing on the idyllic sandy beaches of Phu Quoc Island or strolling through the lantern-lit alleys of ancient Hoi An. Holidaymakers will definitely fall in love with the food, landscapes, and lifestyle of Vietnam.
Once a hidden paradise, Vietnam is now fast emerging as an exciting upmarket destination in Asia, with a sophisticated hospitality industry. The recent development of world-class golf courses has opened a new avenue for golf tours to the nation. The introduction of luxury train journeys, boutique cruises, and upscale private tours spanning the length and breadth of the country has escalated the demand for new destinations and journeys. Travel is now all about places, experiences, and memories.
Julien Brun Managing partner CEL Consulting
In 2018, I did not have the chance to discover Vietnam so on this holiday I would prefer staying in Vietnam to celebrate. Particularly, Binh Dinh province is my favourite destination of the trip. This place is home to Emperor Quang Trung and the land of Vietnamese Martial Arts.
I cannot wait to take pictures at Ba Mountains (Nui Ba), which houses numerous historical and cultural sights tracing back to the Cham Kingdom, or to visit Ghenh Rang which is famous for its magnificent natural scenery combining mountains, forests, beaches, and islands. Later on we will spend some time fishing and BBQ-ing with the locals at Cu Lao Xanh. I am also planning to conquer the Nhon Ly sand dunes that are nearly 100-metre high. There will be a lot of interesting activities where I can learn more about Vietnamese history, the lifestyle of coastal Vietnamese people, and experience sights worth seeing in the south-central coastal region of Vietnam.
Brent Hill Executive director, Marketing Australian Tourism Commission
Vietnam is a very beautiful country, I spent two and a half weeks here in March and I really enjoyed Tam Coc, which is amazing. I really enjoyed Ho Chi Minh City as well. The trips that I remember the most were when I had the opportunity to go to the places and eat what the locals were eating. Street food is amazing, and try to do the things that other tourists are doing in large numbers.
I wanted to cruise along Halong Bay for hours and Hoi An is very beautiful. What I loved about Hoi An was that we had the opportunity to get on a bike and just ride around and meet local people, eat local food – this is really important for tourism and for Australians, getting that authentic Vietnamese experience.
Linton Borthwick Executive assistant manager Park Hyatt Saigon
Ho Chi Minh City continues to be one of the hotspots in 2019, the city is the base from which to travel around Vietnam, with easy access to a wide variety of seaside destinations such as Phu Quoc Island, Ho Coc Beach, Con Dao, Mui Ne, Ninh Chu, and so on. The city is also known as a heaven for food and restaurants as well as possesses plenty of accessible sightseeing activities nearby and all-around warm weather.
If the number of countries on the visa-exemption list increases, it is expected that more tourists will come to Vietnam. So it is also important to focus on improving people’s awareness of keeping natural areas and beaches clean. In addition, tourism authorities can work with the government to improve roads and sidewalks to allow tourists to walk and travel freely, widen duty-free shopping, and reduce taxes on luxury goods, as well as upgrade local sights such as art galleries and museums. They can also work with local companies to create new attractions and promote new cultural, sports, and entertainment activities within the city.
DANIEL SMITH Resort manager Premier Village Phu Quoc Resort
Phu Quoc Pristine beaches, crystal clear beaches and an authentic charming local community. The time to visit is now before the island becomes more and more developed. Vietnam is already attracting high end tourists and able to match other high end destinations.
We need to continue to create awareness, a lot of destinations in Vietnam are really fantastic and sometimes not so obvious to visit. There are amazing new destinations such as Phu Quoc or Sapa that are pure paradises and can make all the difference and contribute to a truly unique experience.
MICHAEL HOE-KNUDSEN IHG regional general manager for Indochina and general manager InterContinental Saigon
Phu Quoc is the first destination in my wish-list, with many good reasons that make it one of the top destinations in Vietnam for international tourists. The island is home to a dozen unspoiled beaches with soft white sands, covered by natural jungles and protected natural parks as well as very pure, uncommercialised charm, from its locals and its culture. Furthermore, the island is quickly turning into a luxury destination, with the launching of several international leading hotel brands. Our IHG also has a presence here with InterContinental Phu Quoc Long Beach Resort. I would highly emphasise the need to establish a close link between the preservation and promotion of heritage values and principles of sustainable tourism.
Vietnam is already an extraordinarily varied and beautiful country. It has an enviable list of natural and cultural attributes and it is crucial for Vietnamese tourism authorities to realise and make tireless efforts to preserve these advantages. I believe what high-end tourists are looking for is the authentic experience, and that’s what makes them stay or come back to the country. The authorities should also continue to support the expansion of air lift capacity, examples are New Qatar Airways non-sop flights from Doha to Danang.
Cheah Kuan Yean General manager Becamex Hospitality
Travel and tourism play a very important role in Vietnam, as we have seen growing revenues in this smokeless industry. The impressive annual growth in the number of travellers and revenue has proved that we are on the right track. However, despite the great efforts of the government and private travel agencies, there are a lot of things needed to improve to ensure that Vietnam remains one of the hot destinations in the world.
Tourism is not just about eating, shopping, and sleeping, but travellers also expect to explore, understand, and experience the culture of the country, the place they visit.
From my perspective, Vietnam is very lucky to inherit so many heritages, historical sites from the north all the way to the south. Hanoi, Halong Bay, Hoi An, Danang, and Ho Chi Minh City are all vivid examples to the constant demand by tour operators and visitors. Without these must-see destinations, tourism will be easily forgotten, unattractive, and insubstantially developed.
Kevin Danet F&B manager, InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort
I fell in love with the country at first sight. My first experience was a six-month management training at Premier Village Danang Resort and then I simply could not believe that I was actually leaving the country, so I decided to come back to Vietnam a few months later, to Danang again to work at InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula, which is a wonderful resort – simply the best in Vietnam.
There are plenty of things I like about this amazing country, such as the food which is one of the best in the world, and the people, who are kind and caring, which is very rare nowadays.
In 2019, I would love to visit Sapa. I heard from my guests that it is a wonderful place with amazing landscapes. My second choice would actually be Dalat – the city of love will be perfect for me to spend some time with my partner.
Food is another reason that I like Vietnam. Vietnamese food is very interesting and tasty. My favourite Vietnamese dishes would be pho bo (beef noodle soup), nem chua (fermented pork roll), and com ga Hoi An (Hoi An chicken rice).
Bora Hyun Director of sales Wyndham Legend Halong Hotel
This is my third visit to Vietnam. My first experience was a volunteering activity in Ho Chi Minh City when I was a student. For the second time, I came with my family to Hanoi and Halong Bay. Now, for the third time, I have ended up living in this beautiful country. I like Vietnam for its nice people and fine weather.
There are also many delicious signature foods that it is difficult to decide which one is my favourite. If pressed, I would say the best dish is bun cha (rice vermicelli with grilled pork). Just recently I have visited Nha Trang, which is such a beautiful and enjoyable place. My next trip in Vietnam will be to Hoi An, I cannot wait to have a taste of its fascinating ancient atmosphere.
Ronan Le Bihan CEO, Mango Bay Resort Phu Quoc
Phu Quoc, with its primary forest, best sunset in Vietnam and endless beach should be all about relaxation and wellness. That is exactly what tourists are looking for after a fascinating trip around Vietnam.
With the fast development of tourism in Vietnam, and especially in Phu Quoc, Mango Bay Resort is becoming a unique destination for a quiet beach break. Based in the beautiful west coast of the island, far from mass tourism and heavy building, our resort is offering a service that is the Antithesis of luxury with our values to be a strong attachment to the local community, low impact on the nature and offering a personalised service.
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