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Viet Nam Travel guide & Map

Vietnam is an exotic destination with magical islands set in pristine waters, historic and religious sites, including temples, pagodas and churches, and a rich culture based around strong traditions.

Nowadays, Vietnam has opened its doors and is well-known for beautiful scenery, diverse cultures, friendly and hospitable people. Moreover, Vietnam is always the safest destination in the world where you can witness the World Heritage sites including Complex of Hué Monuments (1993), Ha Long Bay (1994), Hoi An Ancient Town (1999), My Son Sanctuary (1999), Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park (2003), Central Sector of the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long - Hanoi (2010), Citadel of the Ho Dynasty (2011).

Vietnam is an experience of Asia like no other. Hanoi, the capital, surprises you with architecture reflecting Vietnam's long history with influences as near as China or as far as France. Ho Chi Minh City (formerly known as Saigon) overwhelms you with its sheer human energy. Hue, the old imperial capital, conjures up vibrant images of an exotic past. Long sandy beaches meet majestic mountains in Central Vietnam and Halong Bay has stunning landscapes.




Perhaps, most of all, you will remember the smiles of welcome, the invitations to "drink tea" and the bright eyes of the young children growing up in a peaceful Vietnam.

Whatever your interest may be, we assure you that traveling with Viet Highlights Travel to explore Vietnam’s hidden treasures will surely be an impressive trip.


When to go to Vietnam?
Vietnam’s weather varies greatly from north to south with each area marked by slightly different seasons and climates. Because of these regional variations, a part of the country is seasonable at any time of year.

The north, overall, tends to be cooler than the rest of the country. During the winter, from November until February, the day time temperature is pleasantly cool and the weather is often damp. To the far north in places like Sapa, there is occasionally freezing temperatures during this time. The north begins to warm up in March and stays dry and warm until May. From June to October, the north is hot and rainy making it a fairly unpleasant place to travel. Overall the best time to visit the north is from November until April.
Central Vietnam experiences warm weather from July to October and wet, colder weather from November to May. Frequent typhoons hit the central coast from August to October which can cause flooding and disrupt travel plans.
Although the temperature remains fairly steady throughout the year, Southern Vietnam has two seasons. The dry season lasts from December to May, while from May to November is the rainy season. Most of the rain is in the afternoon and only lasts a short time so it is unlikely to disrupt touring plans.

The Chinese new year of Tet is celebrated throughout Vietnam in late January or early February. During this time, transport options fill up quickly and lots of restaurants and tourist sites are closed so it is not recommended to travel to Vietnam then.


Top highlights not to be missed in Vietnam


The capital Hanoi is a city of broad, tree-lined boulevards, parks, lakes and elegant French villas and colonial-era buildings painted in muted hues of yellow and orange. The tree-lined shore of Hoan Kiem Lake is the heart of Hanoi, and is where residents perform mesmerising 'Tai Chi'.
The Old Quarter, also known as the '36 Streets'. Each street is named for what it sells, eg. Silver St, Gold St, Shoe St, Fish St, Tin St, Bamboo St etc. Great place to shop. On fine afternoons, stroll through the French quarter, sip an aromatic cup of coffee on the sidewalk and observe the bustling street life.
Visiting Ho Chi Minh's Mausoleum is an unforgettable experience, as inside an imposing building lies the embalmed body of the founder of modern Vietnam.
Water Puppetry, a remarkable Vietnamese art form combining music, fireworks and elaborate puppets floating gracefully on the water. The performing stories depicting Vietnamese legends, and festivals.

If you have more time to spare, there are many interesting locales in Hanoi’s out skirts that are lesser visited by tourists. Tam Coc in Ninh Binh - with its series of limestone rock formations jutting out from a sea of rice paddies, is a scenic and surreal place to visit. Nearby Hoa Lu also offers similar landscapes of rocky outcrops - no less spectacular when compared to Tam Coc - as well as 10th century relics from when the area was the capital’s country.
To learn about Vietnam’s pottery history, a visit to Bat Trang Ceramic Village should be on the travel agenda. Here, you could try your hands at making the ceramics, but it is much easier to be enticed into owning the exquisite vases, bowls and dishes produced from the hands of the talented Bat Trang potters. For lovers of indigenous crafts, the Van Phuc Weaving Village lures visitors with its bewildering range of silk products. Explore the rustic landscapes by cycling around the city’s northern outskirts in Dong Ho Village, which is also famous for its painting styles that depict the traditional Vietnamese village lives. Follow the trails of Vietnamese pilgrims and embark on a 2-hour trek up Huong Son Mountain to Perfume Pagoda (or Chua Huong), with lots of photographic oppor tunities along the way.

Halong Bay:
Located in the Gulf of Tonkin 170 km from Hanoi, Halong Bay is an impressive collection of nearly 3,000 islands covering an area in excess of 1,500 sq km forming a spectacular seascape of limestone pillars and cliff faces. Many of the forested islands in the Bay have hidden caves and grottoes which are easily explored by boat or kayak.

A full exploration of Halong Bay takes 2 to 3 days, though a day trip ex Hanoi provides enough time to get a feel for the place. Cat Ba Island, home to Cat Ba National Park, is the largest island in Halong Bay and is actually comprised of 366 islets and islands and is home to a variety of forested zones, coastal mangrove, freshwater swamps, beaches, caves and waterfalls.


Hue (pronounced 'whey'), is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, where you will see the remnants of Hue's royal past with tombs of Emperors, moated ruins of Citadels and Vietnam's best known pagoda, Thien Mu - a seven-storey stupa, 21 metres high, with each level dedicated to one of the various human forms taken by Buddha. A sampan trip on the Perfume River is a must, as many of the attractions can be found on the River, like the Thien Mu Pagoda and a number of Royal Tombs.

Hue's spectacular Citadel is built on the same principles and design as Beijing's Forbidden Palace. The ten-metre thick outer walls enclose a vast compound of palaces, temples, meeting halls and pavilions, many of which are now sadly victims of war and the passage of time.

Hoi An:
The old town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, has narrow pedestrian-only streets and is a great place to wander around. Silk abounds, and many clothing shops can be found in Hoi An - it is cheaper to have clothes made here than in Ho Chi Minh City or Hanoi. The town is also home to dozens of art galleries, textile houses and museums.

The Japanese Covered Bridge was built over a small canal in 1593 to link the Japanese and Chinese quarters. The best way to get around Hoi An is by cyclo, on foot or hire a bicycle. A half-hour pedal (5kms) at a leisurely pace along a country road brings you to popular Cua Dai Beach.


Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon):
A stroll along Saigon's most famous street, Dong Khoi takes you past the Caravelle and Rex hotels made famous in the war. Reunification Palace (former Presidential Palace), originally built for the French Governor-General in 1868 has over the years been abandoned and occupied. The War Remnants Museum leaves most visitors shocked and stunned at the graphic war photos on the walls. Ben Thanh Market is the largest market in Ho Chi Minh City. Local and imported products ranging from garments and textiles to handicrafts, flowers, and vegetables can be found here.

If you have a bit of time to spare, make a day trip outside of Ho Chi Minh City to the Cu Chi Tunnels. This network of over 200 kilometers of underground tunnels was used by the Vietcong during the American war and offers a fascinating look into the lives of the inhabitants during the war-time era. This can easily be combined with a stop at Wildlife at Risk (WAR) rescue centre, a non-profit organization to stop illegal wildlife trade, and Tay Ninh Temple, home to the intriguing Cao Dai religion.
Mekong Delta:
Known as the food bowl of Vietnam, it is formed by various tributaries of the mighty Mekong River. The gateway is My Tho, approx two hours drive south of Ho Chi Minh City. Day trippers will get to ride on sampans along the busy Mekong River and see the hundreds of boats plying the water with market goods. On land you can visit coconut candy factories, fruit farms and small local villages. We recommend spending a few nights in this area so you can get right into the Delta.

Further south is the riverside town of Vinh Long. The canal network and villages surrounding Vinh Long are more rural than those seen in My Tho, and are perhaps more representative of village life in the Mekong.
Can Tho is located in the very heart of the Mekong Delta. This bustling city, the largest in the region has broad boulevards and an elegant waterfront which connects it to the rest of the Mekong Delta via a system of rivers and canals. Chau Doc is a port town near the Cambodian border.


  Nha Trang

Vietnam’s northern mountain ranges are breathtakingly beautiful with fresh air and cool temperatures. To visit these remote mountains, take advantage of the elegantly restored Victoria Train with its plush seating and wood-paneled Pullman carriages. Home to a diverse group of hill tribes such as Tay, Red Dao, Black and Flower H’mong, Sapa boasts of ample hill tribe trekking and home stay opportunities. Victoria Sapa Resort combines mountain traveling with stylish comfort while Topas Eco Lodge provides a peaceful retreat amid the lush valleys. Beyond Sapa, Mount Fansipan (Indochina’s highest peak) is great for trekking and exploration.
In the heart of Khanh Hoa province, Nha Trang is the   undisputed beach capital of Vietnam. Besides long stretches of sand lapped by crystal clear waters, it is dotted with many islands each with its own distinct character. The turquoise waters play host to teeming marine life, and snorkeling and scuba diving are perennial favorites. This beach town also features a vibrant night life. The lovely Evason Ana Mandara and Sheraton top the resorts in Nha Trang and for travelers seeking a luxurious resort experience, the remote six-star Six Senses Hideaway Ninh Van Bay does not disappoint.


  Phu Quoc Island
With its perennial cool weather, pine-clad valleys and weathered but elegant French hilltop villas, Dalat is Vietnam’s premier hill station. Opportunities abound for meetings and incentives in boutique colonial hotels such as the Dalat Palace Hotel, as well as mountain adventures of absailing, canyoning and even world-class golfing. For an opulent alpine retreat, Ana Mandara Villas Dalat is a good fit.
Off Vietnam’s southern coast in the Gulf of Thailand, the island of Phu Quoc is one of Asia’s up and rising beach destination. The island’s clear waters, isolated beaches, forested interior and charming local character make for an ideal beach escape. Do not forget to sample Phu Quoc’s famous traditional products - fish sauce and black pepper. For a relaxing tropical beach retreat, try La Veranda Resort & Spa or ChenSea Resort & Spa.
Buon Me Thuot
            Quy Nhon

Buon Me Thuot is the largest city in Vietnam’s Central Highlands region, an unexplored area with great adventure and trekking potential. The abundance of untouched forests, stunning landscapes, national parks and hill tribe villages are still off the tourist trails.


  Quy Nhon is Vietnam’s other ‘secret’ destination. Occupying the stretch of coastline between Danang and Nha Trang, this port city is close to spectacular secluded bays and unpopulated private islands. The Life Wellness Resort Quy Nhon makes an ideal location for a peaceful retreat.
Danang   Mui Ne (Phan Thiet)

Although not a major stop on the tourist trail, Danang’s location between Hoi An and Hue makes a nice stop along the way. The city is one of the most dynamic of Vietnam’s modern cities with rapid industrial and economic growth. Visitors to Danang can enjoy the understated, yet fascinating Cham art and culture at Cham Museum. On the outskirts of town is China Beach, steeped in legend yet wonderfully deserted.



Just a four-hour drive from Ho Chi Minh City, Mui Ne is renowned for its long stretches of sandy beaches and perennial sea breezes that greatly complement wind-surfing and kite-surfing. It is also famous for the wind-sculpted red and white sand dunes that make great postcard shots and adventurous sports. Golfers can tee off at the Nick Faldo-designed Ocean Dunes Golf Course. Home to many different resorts, the luxurious Victoria Phan Thiet, the boutique Cham Villas and the newly refurnished Blue Ocean are our top selects for this charming beach town.


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