There is a lot to see and experience in Vietnam from lush nature to beautiful colonial gems. Here are Marco Polo’s top 10 for Vietnam:
1. HA LONG BAY
Limestone karst formations, some as high as skyscrapers, smothered in dense vegetation, rise right out of the emerald green sea. The best way to explore this bay of sagas and legends is on board a junk.
2. OLD FRENCH QUARTER (SAIGON)
A stroll around the Old French Quarter in the shade of tamarind trees takes you past magnificent buildings from colonial days.
3. HOI AN
A waft of China hangs over this old port between pagodas, traditional merchants’ houses, dressmakers’ and souvenir shops.
Tracing how the emperors and kings once lived takes you to moss- covered palaces and burial sites with gardens and ponds. The imperial era is brought back to life in plays and dances.
5. SA PA
Bright green rice terraces, rounded mountain tops and colourfully clad ethnic mountain people – hiking here from one village to the next is like being in one huge landscape painting.
6. DRY HA LONG BAY
From a canoe you can marvel at the fairy-tale scenery of paddy fields gleaming in every conceivable shade of green framed by karst giants covered in tropical vegetation.
7. PHU QUOC
Vietnam’s largest island is a paradise for beach-lovers with endlessly long stretches of sand and tropical jungle as a backdrop. Diving grounds bursting with brightly-coloured sea creatures wait to be explored.
8. CU CHI TUNNELS
Here, one remnant of the Vietnam War and the Viet Cong resistance movement can be experienced first hand – even if only a few minutes and just for a couple of metres underground.
9. PHAN THIET & MUI NE
This peninsula with its 1.6km (1 mile) long beach attracts holidaymakers from all points of the globe to swim, surf or kite surf.
10. OLD QUARTER AND HO HOAN KIEM (HANOI)
Wander around the labyrinthine alleyways in the Old Quarter with their traditional craft shops, corner bars and cafés, boutiques and galleries.
Buy the Vietnam Marco Polo Guide.