Vietnam holidays have come of age. Here is a country risen, in a matter of years, from best-kept backpacker secret to a host with 21st century poise, still offering visitors that tantalising raw travel appeal of old, but backing it up with comfortable, competent infrastructure and a very modern sense of luxury.
Such is its versatility, we can now tailor a holiday to Vietnam around virtually any interest or travel style. Budding anthropologists can disappear into the stunning mountains beyond Hanoi, to visit hill tribes whose ancient ways of life persist with surprisingly little influence from ‘outside’. Chic travellers can shop for tailor-made suits in Hoi An’s buzzing markets, while food-lovers linger amongst aromatic street food cafes, and learn a trick or two in one of the many Vietnamese cookery classes.
Trekkers and bikers will relish miles and miles of scenic trackway and National Parks, and culture-addicts can seek the soul of Vietnam, on boat trips into the thriving Mekong Delta, amongst the silk boutiques of Hanoi’s artisan quarter, within bullet scars around Hue’s Imperial City, and in the flamboyant Colonial facades of Ho Chi Minh City.
Beach holidays in Vietnam have also blossomed, challenging the Seychelles with superb tropical shores peppered with luxury accommodation. Mind-bogglingly lavish spa resorts sit hidden in the undergrowth along the clean white sands that line Vietnam’s coast, while islands like Con Dao provide an accessibly remote getaway graced with just a handful of hotels, like the super-deluxe Six Senses, ideal for indulgent honeymoons.
No matter how many times you’ve encountered Vietnam - in person, on film, on paper, or through hearsay - this is one destination that continues to outpace expectations.