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.
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.
Saigon 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 characterized 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.
The whole of Vietnam to me is fascinating. However, my absolute favourite place would have to be Hoi An. A gorgeous town set on the river with old French colonial buildings and a bustling marketplace. There are some of the best tailors in the world ready to whip up an entire wardrobe for you overnight at very reasonable prices. Staying in Hoi An you have the best of both worlds; a gorgeous white sand beach, and the old town with fascinating history. My husband and I really enjoyed a cooking class at Red Bridge Cooking School. A lot of fun, and we now have dinner parties impressing our friends with delicious Vietnamese cuisine! Another highlight, amongst many was staying at the impressive Evason Ana Mandara Six Senses resort in Nha Trang. They really know how to look after you, and after a spa treatment, delicious meal and a swim in the infinity pool you come away feeling very relaxed. For those wanting something extra special, then head out to Six Senses Ninh Van Bay. Here you have your own private villas with pools with the utmost privacy. Heavenly!
For the ladies, shopping in the capital city Hanoi is a must! They ingeniously named the streets as Shoe Street, Bag Street, Toy Street etc.. Makes it very easy to find what you are after. I did quite a bit of damage on Bag Street, buying every copy handbag imaginable (much to my husband’s disgust). Hanoi is such a beautiful city with beautifully elegant buildings, large boulevards and lakes, and only 3 and a half hours away from the stunning waters and emerald islands of Halong Bay. I found the Vietnamese people so heart-warmingly friendly, the food delectable, and the history fascinating! All in all, Vietnam is a brilliant destination which I could recommend hands down and can’t wait to go back.
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.
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.
Thanks for a job very well done. The selection of Hotels and suites was superb, the Metropole in Hanoi Vietnam , was one of the best hotels we have been in for standards and service. The suite was sensational and the manager recognised our 50th wedding anniversary with a huge spray of red roses and a beautiful box of chocolates.
The Eastern Grand hotel in Saigon was not up to the standard of the rest of the accommodation . Cambodia was Raffles and brilliant. The guides, cars and drivers throughout with Trails of Indochina were excellent and of a very very high standard and we recognised this with our gratuities.
The cruise vessels on Halong Bay and the Mekong were also excellent felt as if we were back in the 1950â€™s. Meals food service and tours were all of a very high standard. Once again well done and thank you.
Lorraine & Stuart
Fantastic introduction to Vietnam
Paul & Jane
Thank you for organising our fantastic trip
Thank you for organising our fantastic trip. We had an awesome time. The cycling was the absolute highlight. We loved our time in Hoi An. It felt like the honey moon we never had 24 years ago!
All the travel went smoothly. The trails of Indochina people were great. The young man we had in Saigon was doing an English speaking exam that afternoon, so he spent the whole day with us, practicing his talking! He is applying to come to NZ with the company, and will come and spend some time with us if he gets on the trip.
The whole trip was fantastic and we loved it. Thank you for all the planning. We are such novices but have learnt a lot on this trip. Hopefully we will be planning another one soon. I would love to take the kids back to do the cycling tour. It really was quite magical.
Thanks for everything.
Annie and Gordon
Vietnam was everything that I had heard it to be and hoped it to be
We had a fantastic holiday - Vietnam was everything that I had heard it to be and hoped it to be. The hotels were all top notch.The guides we had were brilliant - it would be hard to do without them. The Ho Chi Minh city tour and Mekong Delta tour were great. The tour of Hanoi was also great. The trip to Halong and the overnight cruise I loved - my two daughters and husband enjoyed it but felt there should have been wifi on the boat we were on!!! First world problem!! Vietnam Air was great. But all in all a fab time was had by all of us. Thanks for your help with organising our trip!