The Vietnamese people have put behind them the painful events of their past and look toward a bright future.
For many visitors to the beautiful country it comes as a surprise when they expect to feel resentment.
The country is made from glorious paddy fields, white sandy beaches, bustling cities and ornate pagodas.
Vietnam has become a glorious phoenix born from some very tainted ashes of yesteryear.
The number of tourists who visit the country each year is increasing, and full of enthusiastic travelers who hop to experience a lifestyle and Vietnamese culture that is very different to their own.
There is no better time for any travelers to visit Vietnam.
In This Guide
Regions of Vietnam
It doesn’t matter how you plan your itinerary, you can go as part of a package tour, or you can head off on your own and make your way around the many regions. There is more than enough to delight any member of the family.
Once there, you can find the many different regions. There are the sprawling paddy fields to the twisted network of limestone outcrops of Ha Long Bay, which will grace any keen photographer’s camera in the early morning.
Once you head through central Vietnam, you can make your way through smaller villages and lots of ethnic minorities who do live a very different life.
As you near northern Vietnam, you will see the native costumes, age-old customs, and still the people are pleased to see any tourist who is willing to venture off the beaten track.
Best Times to Visit Vietnam
There is a strong tropical climate, and this can make all the difference for the best times for any Vietnam travel.
May to October are the summer months, and the lands are graced with heavy rainfall, and all around becomes very hot and humid.
The dry season is the better time to visit, and this can be either the spring or later in the fall/ autumn. If you go during the spring, you may find it cold up north or in any areas that are blessed by being at a high altitude.
Not that carrying a jacket will be a burden. Hit lower land, and you may be wishing for the cooler weather.
A Vietnam Vacation Itinerary
Because there is so much to explore and see in a broad area, it helps many people to plan their way around so they can take in as much as possible.
It can be hard to fit it all in depending how long you are taking for your Vietnam vacation.
Many travelers are ready with their Vietnam travel guide, and break their trip into four. This allows a few days in each location to be stuck in and explore as much as they can.
Cu Chi Tunnels and Ho Chi Minh City
Ho Chi Minh City was known as Saigon, and while not the capital, it is a busy city and full of modern bars, shopping malls, and restaurants. It still hangs onto the past with museums that look back at the atrocities of war.
There is enough to do in this area, you could make your full stay here, but there is the need to explore more.
You can pay a visit to the Notre Dame Cathedral, which shows the French influence in the city. While it doesn’t have the elegance, it is still something to marvel at in such a far off country.
No one can come to Vietnam without a quick glance at some of the memories of war.
In addition, although not the best of the old Saigon attractions, it is good to see what went on, and how much the Vietnamese have moved forward. There are countless museums, and after giving these a quick fly by, there is the Jade Emperor Pagoda.
This has no sign of outside influence. Kids may enjoy hearing the “God of the Heavens” and how they may see “The God of Hell” if they don’t behave.
There is countless shopping places, but none better than Ben than Market. This is a shopping experience like no other.
For the adventurous, there are the Mekong Delta waterways, or you can visit the Cu Chi Tunnels.
This is one part of the war that kids may enjoy. These are the tunnels where the Vietcong used to hide, and plant traps for their enemies. It delivers a very eerie experience as you venture through the Chi Tunnels.
To lighten the mood after a day trip, you can take in a show with the kids and see one of the Dragon Water Puppet Shows. These don’t last too long, so you have plenty of time to relax and take a night excursion of the city.
If you want a glimpse of the most populated city in Vietnam, you can scale the heights of the Bitexco Financial Tower.
You can reach the Sky deck on the 49th floor, and if you go one more floor, you can take in a relaxing, but somewhat expensive midafternoon break in the Eon café.
Traveling To Nha Trang
With a backdrop of the mountains, the coastal city of Nha Trang can be the place to regather after the excitement of Saigon. This is the place to get away from it all in any area of Southeast Asia.
Beaches go on for miles, there are countless waterfalls where the entire family can cool off, and the whole area is steeped in history.
Dating back to the 8th and 11th century are the Po Nagar Cham Towers that show off the skills in architecture from the Vietnamese ancestors.
These are a quick drive out of town, so you still have time to get back to give the kids a treat at the Vinpearl Amusement Park.
There are games, rides and lots of water slides that can cool any active kid is it gets too warm. To give them another treat, you can take the cable car over the bay rather than taking one of the small boats to reach the island of Hon Tre.
Getting back to nature, you can take a day tip over to Mun Island. It is ideal for snorkeling or taking a glass-bottomed boat to see any one of the 1,500+ species under the water.
If this is your thing, you may want to add in another couple of days over to Phu Quoc Island, as this is as remote as you can get.
The largest island off the coast of Vietnam and Cambodia, it is paradise, and there is no sign of any modern day distractions.
After all your excursions, you can relax in any of the mud bath farms that are scattered around, or take the kids to feed the carp in the Eco National Park in Yang Bay.
One welcome stop off, if you head from Ho Chi Minh City to Nha-Trang is the resort capital of Vietnam Mui Ne.
While a little quieter than Phan Thiet City that has over 100 beaches. It is full of sand dunes and gives you the impression you are in the desert instead of the southern coast of Vietnam.
Trekking up to Hoi An
Once you have soaked up all the sun has to offer, you will be rested to make the trip to Hoi An. Hoi An tourism has been bolstered by it becoming UNESCO World Heritage Site, and is home to plenty of things to do.
It is sedate, but not everything is about relaxation. The city sits along the Thu Bon River where you can take a stroll and then meander around the Hoi an Old Town.
Danang is less than an hour away, so it can make for a quick part of the day trip without tiring everyone out. In the middle of nowhere, you quickly land in one of Vietnam largest cities.
There are plenty of hip locals, a mix of old and new, and spots of history dotted around like the Dragon Bridge.
Marble Mountain may be a worthy excursion, and here the kids can explore the caverns and caves.
If you are up for the exercise, you can climb to the summit of Mount Thuy, or take it a little easier and take a glance at the Japanese Bridge.
Vietnam history means little with the famous My Son Ruins, just be sure to get there very early, or later in the afternoon when all the regular tourist busses have left.
With winding roads where you can take bike rides, here you can see all the farm animals, the water buffalo working in the fields.
For a small donation, your kids can have their picture snapped with one of the buffalo.
It takes you back to yesteryear, when getting around was under your own power. If you want to hang back around town from late afternoon, it won’t be long before you can soak up some nightlife and sample some authentic Vietnamese street food.
If you are the type who love searching out places not in any travel guide, then take a walk up the side streets and search for the Reaching Out Tea House.
They will be pleased to see you, and you can unwind and take a load off your feet for a while.
Last or First Stop: Hanoi
One way or another, you will land in Hanoi. It is the capital of Vietnam and one of the world’s oldest capital cities. Just because it’s the capital, and full of traffic and everything runs at a blistering pace, don’t be thinking there is no water nearby.
You have the famous Ha Long Bay. If this is the last stop on your trip, then this will leave you with the idyllic impression of Vietnam when you leave.
The term bay is underestimated because it covers 600 square miles. However, you only need to see the fantastic limestone cliffs rising up from the sea.
It does take a couple of hours drive, but it is one of those things to do in Hanoi or you will be forever kicking yourself.
Back closer to the city, you can see evidence that the National Administration of Tourism is hard at work and are pushing Vietnam as the place to visit.
While they are opening up new markets, they may push the likes of the Hanoi Hilton to the back of any tourist guide. Hoa Lo Prison is one place you will want to forget, but it is a place you should see.
While you may think it is from the Vietnam War, but it is actually, what the French put the locals through early in the 20th century.
Part of the prison has since been knocked down, but there is still enough to see what they had to endure under foreign rule.
On a lighter note, before you even think about jetting off to the next stop on your tour, you can visit the four-story Dong Xuan shopping experience.
With local traders slinging fish to each other, the smells can be overpowering and the visual sights intoxicating.
To end off an evening, you can pay a visit to the Hanoi opera house. It is another building that has plenty of French influence and at the far end of the scale to the prison.
Vietnam tourism is on the up and up. Like many countries in the region, they can offer plenty to satisfy the needs of any family.
Vietnam is an eclectic mix of modern to very quiet. It will change, especially in the larger cities, and in some ways that will be good.
However, the part of Vietnam travelers love to feast their eyes on are the parts that cannot be spoiled.
Head in the countryside, and you are in another world. Small villages that are teeming with happy locals, even if they have very little.
Vietnam has lots to offer, and by the time you are ready to leave, you will be wishing either you can stay, or in the back of your mind, you will already be planning your next visit.