Some 1,600kms separate the dramatic mountains along the Chinese border – reaching over 3,000m and where snow is not unknown – to the tropical Mekong Delta lying between the warm waters of the Gulf of Thailand and the South China Sea.
Vietnam boasts not only some of Southeast Asia’s best natural sites, with the ‘Tonkinese Alps’ and incredible Halong and Bai Tu Long Bays of the north, past the stunning, pristine beaches and fascinating Central Highlands region to the picturesque beauty of the Delta, but in bustling Saigon and graceful Hanoi, 2 of the regions great cities and in imperial Hue and well preserved Hoi An, 2 of it’s most historic towns.
The country’s improving, but still often basic, transport infrastructure and relative lack of tourist facilities outside of the most popular destinations can make Vietnam relatively difficult for independent travel and indeed the sheer size of the country makes even organized tours less than easy. It would take months to try and see everything!
Just a few of our favourite things to see, do and experience in Vietnam
The capital - a fascinating mix of elegant, colonial period avenues and the narrow, bustling lanes of the old quarter
UNESCO sites - our tours include no less than 6 of Vietnam's World Heritage sites; Halong Bay, Trang An, Hue, Hoi An, My Son and the citadel of Hanoi
Mountain scenery - the dramatic landscapes of the rugged Tonkinese Alps and its myriad, colourful, montagnard inhabitants
the Mekong Delta
The Delta - travel by boat through the picturesque maze of waterways, floating markets and orchards
Food - sample one of Southeast Asia's most varied and distinctive cuisines in pavement cafes, markets and restaurants
Culture and Customs
Knowing what to expect from local culture and customs will help you get more out of your Vietnam tour
Vietnam has a lengthy northern frontier with China before turning south between Laos & the China Sea. Further south Cambodia replaces Laos while the coast line veers north along the Gulf of Thailand
A long thin coastline broken by river valleys stretches from a northern bulge of the Tonkinese Alps rising to over 3,000m, to the waterways and rice paddies of the Mekong Delta in the far south
Highly variable as you'd expect from a 2,000 km long country from the steamy, tropical heat of the Delta to high mountains in the far north where even snow & ice are not unheard of
Much more homogeneous post Vietnam War when many Muslims, Christians & urban Chinese fled, Vietnam today still houses substantial Khmer minorities in the Delta & montagnard peoples in the far north
Largely 'folk beliefs' derived from a combination of Taoism, Confucianism & ancestor worship with Buddhism & Christianity important minorities & the unique Caodaism in the far south
Despite strong Chinese influences the unique, usually mild, subtle & varied flavours of Vietnamese cuisine make it a consistent favourite among visitors to Southeast Asia
Genuine local knowledge is what turns a good travel experience into an unfforgettable one. Here's our shout-out to the locals that help maket that happen.'
After studying at Hanoi Uni Khanh returned to his native mountains and now lives and works in the old French hill station, Sapa. Ever popular Khanh covers the Northern Vietnam sections of our Vietnam and Yunnan and Vietnam and Laos tours.
Things To Know
Useful information and practical tips you should know before you travel to Vietnam
Helpful Country Info
Socialist Republic of Vietnam
c 93 million
ATMs readily available
110/220V; sockets usually 2 pin, flat or round
WiFi available in all hotels
3G SIM cards easily available
Mixture of ancestor worship, Buddhism, Animism & Christianity
Frequently Asked Questions
When’s the best time to go to Vietnam?
The weather in Vietnam is complex – its such a long thin country that if you are touring the whole country, you are almost always going to get good and bad weather. In Spring (February to April) and Autumn (August to October) the temperatures are more moderate and rainfall is lighter.
What innoculations do I need?
For most of Southeast Asia, there are no compulsory inoculations – however, Hep A , Polio, Typhoid and Tetanus are recommended. If you are considering anti-malarials we recommend you consult a health professional, but whatever you do or don’t do about anti-malarials, we recommend a 50% DEET based insect repellent. A useful resource for information on travel health is http://www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk/
Do you recommend your tours for people travelling on their own?
Our small group tours make ideal holidays for solo travellers. Small fully escorted groups, eating together family style, no compulsory single supplements all go towards making you feel like you are travelling with a group of friends. If you don’t want to share then ask about single room supplements.
If we book flights through you, which airlines do you use?
We are happy to book your flights from the UK to Vietnam. There are no direct flights but we can offer a wide range of options, from regional airports as well as London using most major airlines – most often Thai, Emirates and Qatar. Prices on the website are a guideline and we find the best prices and routes for you. Upgrades to Premium Economy or Business class are available.
What’s your policy for tipping?
Tipping is discretionary. People always appreciate a gesture for their hard work and dedication but staff are paid and don’t rely on tips. Its hard to give a guideline before a tour as it does depend on the group size. The tour leaders don’t collect money for tips but are happy to advise. ~What often works well is if the group appoint someone to collect and distribute tips on behalf of the whole group.
How do I pay for the holiday, and is there a surcharge for credit cards?
We ask you to pay a 10% deposit upon booking your holiday with the balance being due 60 days prior to departure. There is no surcharge for paying the deposit by credit card but we charge 2% if the balance is paid by credit card. There is no charge for debit cards. We accept most major credit cards including American Express.
Packing light is a virtue, it'll make getting around easier and gives you room for souvenirs and the special things you find along the way. Packing "as little as possible" doesn't mean you have to forego comfort and any items you may forget are usually available locally for a fraction of the price.
What to Bring
Here is our list of what to pack based on our experience travelling in Vietnam...
- Day pack/small pack Sufficient to carry water, sun block, camera etc
- Suitcase/Rucksack/ Backpack Any smallish bag that can be easily carried over short distances.
- Sleeping bag liner/Single duvet cover*Opt Can be useful for homestays
- Waterproof bag*Opt Useful for boat trips etc if you want to carry cameras etc
- Hat Cheaply available locally
- Light hiking boots/sandals Note trekking often involves wading through streams so something waterproof is useful.
- Light waterproofs*Opt Useful for rainy season – but remember its still hot. Easily purchased locally
- Lightweight cotton clothes Long sleeves and trousers for temple visits are essential and useful for evenings. Nights may get cool during winter