Fresh exotic cuisine, the warmth and openness of the Vietnamese people, French colonial history, limestone islands, and beautiful beaches make Vietnam a delight to visit.
Have clothes tailored in the small colonial town of Hoi An, relax at the exclusive Six Senses Resorts in Nha Trang and Con Dao, cruise Halong Bay on a traditional junk, or the Mekong on a Bassac Boat. Visit the mountain retreat of Sapa to visit traditional hilltribe villages, and share home cooked meals with the locals. Visitors to Vietnam are overwhelmed by the sublime beauty of the country’s natural setting and traditional charm.Read More...
Hoi An is a destination with two faces – the charming, old world trading post of narrow streets and traditional houses, and the beach with its beautiful resorts and long stretch of clean white sand. Sometimes called the “Venice of Vietnam” because of the narrow canals that cut through part of the town, Hoi An, is a favourite place for many travellers to Vietnam. It is worth spending a few days for its atmosphere, colourful streets decorated with lanterns, fantastic restaurants, good quality tailors and cooking schools.
Located in the Gulf of Tonkin the area includes over 1,600 islands and islets, forming a magical seascape of limestone pillars and breath taking caves. The islands (in mainly limestone and schist) have unique formations of various graceful shapes, both familiar and strange, are now protected as a World Heritage site.
A maze of rivers, swamps and islands, home to floating markets, small villages and rice paddies. An amazing variety of fruits, flowers and livestock are grown in the region which is best explored over a few days.
Wide tree-lined boulevards skirt the misty lakes of the city and amongst it all are ancient temples and busy markets. Highlights of this city include the colourful and vibrant flower market, the shopper’s paradise in the “Old Quarter” and the up-market boutiques on Nah Tho Street.
Previously known as Saigon, both locals and foreigners alike still call it this. Saigon was greatly influenced by the French during their colonial occupation and the city’s architecture reflects this, so much so that Saigon is referred to as “Paris in the Orient”. Today, the city’s core is still adorned with wide elegant boulevards and historic French colonial buildings. With a population of over 8 million people (and 4 million motorbikes!), Saigon is also a dizzying jumble of street markets, shops, pavement cafes, stands-on-wheels and vendors selling wares spread out on sidewalks.
Vietnam enjoys a tropical climate with plenty of sunshine and average temperatures ranging from 22 to 27 degrees celcius. Vietnam has 2 distinct seasons.
May to October is characterised by hot, humid days with plenty of rainfall, while November to April is generally drier and slightly cooler.
The local climate varies from the north to the south of Vietnam, and weather patterns are also different in the mountain ranges, than on the coast.
Vietnam has certainly become a popular spot for kiwis over recent years and I had to find out why! I found it was not only is it one of the best foodie destinations I’ve ever been to, it is also safe, friendly and offers travellers a great mix of culture & relaxation.
Our journey started in Saigon where the highlight was the Vespa night tour where a driver will take you through the narrow streets and insanely busy roundabouts – what a way to be part of the local traffic chaos! Stops were made along the way various street food vendors all keen to share their fabulous delicacies.
Traveling by train from Saigon to Danang was no means luxurious but a fun way to travel – I highly suggest booking a cabin to yourself to ensure a good night’s sleep. (I learnt this the hard way after a noisy and exhausting train journey in China)!
Upon arrival in Danang it was a 45 minute trip to the beautiful UNESCO town of Hoi An, where I was greeted with gorgeous lantern filled streets, incredible eateries and a relaxed atmosphere. This is the Vietnam I had dreamt of and was so glad I had booked a 5 night stay. The old town is for pedestrians only making it a pleasant place to explore on foot and you will quickly make friends with the local street vendors.
Days were spent enjoying cooking classes, bike riding through the rice paddies, walking along the river and enjoying fabulous food at the many beach eateries. There is so much to explore in Vietnam and everywhere you go locals will greet you with a warm friendly smile.
Davina Bennetto, Sales Executive
Currency Vietnamese Dong (VND)
Language The official language is Vietnamese, with different dialects apparent throughout the country. A host of various languages particular to ethnic minorities are also spoken, as well as Chinese, English and French to a lesser degree.
Why we love it From grandiose villas and palaces built long ago by the French, wide boulevards, busy markets and misty lakes to glorious shopping and even more glorious food, Vietnam is a treat for every traveller. A day spent cruising quietly on a traditional junk around Halong Bay followed by a dip in the warm ocean waters and a freshly caught seafood lunch would be hard to beat. The northern mountain ranges are home to a number of diverse ethnic groups each with their own distinct cultural differences which we find fascinating and you must try to fit in a visit to the old town of Hoi An during the full moon festival each month – the streets come alive with colourful Chinese lanterns and locals celebrating the festival of light.
Weather Enjoying a tropical climate with plenty of sunshine and average temperatures ranging from 22C to 27C, Vietnam has two distinct seasons: May – October is characterised by hot, humid days with plenty of rainfall, while November – April is generally drier and slightly cooler. The local climate varies from the north to the south of Vietnam, and weather patterns are also different in the mountain ranges than on the coast.
Social customs & quirks The Vietnamese people are exceptionally friendly and outgoing – you had best prepare yourself for plenty of personal questions and comments regarding just about every aspect of your life. While this may seem a forthright quality, the Vietnamese themselves have a quiet reserve so it is best to allow the conversation to be guided by the person with whom you are speaking. They certainly never mean to be rude, especially about your weight (!!!) but as a nation of traditionally quite tiny people they are inevitably curious when they have the opportunity to speak with different cultures. With an extremely strong work ethic you will find the Vietnamese an industrious and hard working nation. The Vietnamese will be embarrassed by public displays of anger – a gracious smile will get you much further than temper in just about any situation.
Festivals & events Some festivals in Vietnam can trace their origins back to the Bronze Age and many are celebrated in tune with the land, harvests and changing of the seasons. The most important festival of the year is Tet, held in late Jan – early Feb marking the new lunar year and the advent of spring. The slightly less cheerful, Wandering Souls Day, is held in August, which allows people to make offerings of food and gifts to the wandering souls of the forgotten dead. Doan Ngu is a happy occasion in June where effigies are burnt to become soldiers in the god of death’s army. We prefer the beautiful full moon festivals held each month in Hoi An!
Health* Immunisations against diseases such as diphtheria, hepatitis A, tetanus and typhoid fever are recommended, but not compulsory. If coming from an infected area, a yellow fever vaccination certificate is required. Malarial prevention is recommended for visitors to Ca Mau and Bac Lieu provinces, some highland areas, and the Mekong and Tonkin Deltas. Please contact your health practitioner for full and current details.
Visas NZ passport holders are required to obtain a tourist visa before entering Vietnam. Visa applications are currently processed in New Zealand.
Notes *Please be aware that Health information is subject to change at any time and you should always double check these requirements at the time of booking and before travel.
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