Although there is still evidence, in the huge cemeteries filled with war victims, of a country that was left shell-shocked by an age-defining conflict, Vietnam is now a country of hope and progression as visitor numbers are rising and with this the optimism and vitality of the country.
Bordered by China in the north and Laos and Cambodia in the west, Vietnamese cuisine is understandably influenced by its neighbours, resulting in food that closely rivals Thailand for the best in Southeast Asia.
In the south you’ll find the pancake-flat rice fields of the Mekong Delta filled with the classic image of the conical-hatted farmers and the city of Ho Chi Minh, a symbol of economic success and a constant bustle of activity. In the north is the capital city of Hanoi – a true assault on the senses, with ever-changing sights, smells and sounds everywhere you turn, from the colonial architecture, the wafts of street food and the buzz of motorbikes. From Hanoi, travel to Halong Bay and experience the beauty of the limestone islands and cave systems of Phong Nha-Ke National Park by boat.
It is cheap and easy to get around Vietnam, with a reliable and safe railway running from north to south and lots of internal flights.