Vietnam is shedding its image as a mere backdrop for Hollywood’s war dramas, re-emerging as the hottest Southeast Asian destination now. Here, four reasons to start planning:
- Visa-free. Let’s start with the easy. Vietnam has granted visa waivers for visitors from 24 countries while e-visas can be obtained for citizens of 46 countries (including the US, the UK, Germany, Australia and Sweden). So making a getaway here is pretty seamless.
- Diverse landscape. Photographers have long discovered the country’s wildly varied landscapes and majestic scenery. They can change from the hot and arid sand dunes of Mui Ne to the stunning terraced paddy fields of Sapa the next. And in between, guests can experience the frenetic pace of Ho Chi Minh City, get lost in the Old Quarter labyrinth of Hanoi, marvel at the limestone karsts of Halong Bay, or bliss out at the bustling beach city of Danang.
- UNESCO World-heritage sites. Don’t miss some of the country’s famous heritage-listed areas. A cruise into Halong Bay will acquaint you to the dramatic limestone karsts featured in Kong. Hoi An Ancient Town is a throwback to the trading post it once was in the 15th century. Trang An Landscape Complex has more limestone karsts albeit in a quieter environment, and the sampan ride is unforgettable. And, though it needs a bit of pre-planning, the caverns in Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park are certainly an adventure. The park is home to Son Doong, believed to be the world’s largest cave, with caverns so large, a Boeing 747 is thought to could have flown through it!
- Unexplored islands. Vietnam’s islands are an escape route to tranquility. In the deep south, Phu Quoc has been likened to Phuket before the crowds came. Though it’s fast hosting many international hotel brands, the beaches are still pristine and the interiors lush. Con Dao’s remoteness makes it easy to find empty beaches. It is also both a national and marine park, with incredible nature and underwater life including nesting sites for green turtles. Finally, there’s the Cham Islands in Central Vietnam famed for its golden beaches. Accessible by boat from Hoi An, the island is also known for its bird’s nest harvests.