The total area of Vietnam is 331,689 km²: in the north of the country there are landscape contrasts of incredible beauty, populations with characteristic costumes and lively markets, picturesque towns that are guardians of temples and pagodas and, finally, the splendid scenery of the Bay of Ha Long, Unesco heritage, navigable on board of characteristic wooden boats. In addition there is also the capital Hanoi built on the right bank of the Red River.
The Center is full of places with timeless charm such as Hoi An, the city of silk lanterns, the Vietnamese Venice overlooking the Thu Bon river. Its magic derives from the fact that full moon nights are celebrated with the lighting of millions of colorful handcrafted candles displayed on the streets and canals to illuminate the way of wayfarers at dark.
In the south of the country, however, there is the very modern Ho Chi Minh City, the ancient Saigon, the largest city in Vietnam which is located on the western bank of the homonymous river. To the southwest is the Mekong Delta region characterized by entire floating villages and where the river flows into the South China Sea. There are also wonderful beaches: the most famous are those of Phan Thiết and Mũi Né, very popular destinations for those who practice water sports such as surfing, wind and kitesurfing.
The Mekong delta
Ho Chi Minh City
Accomodation – In large cities such as Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and Danang, you can find all types of hotels, from five-star luxury to cheap ones, close to tourist attractions. In other destinations famous for their beaches such as Phu Quoc and Phan Thiet, there are mainly luxury resorts and hotels that offer private and comfortable accommodation. The price may be a little high, but the service is truly exceptional. For those wandering souls who would like to explore the peaceful Vietnam countryside, it may be necessary to consider staying in motels (“Nhà Nghỉ” in Vietnamese). Prices are affordable, standard services and staff don’t always speak English.
Food – Vietnam boasts one of the most delicious, diverse and healthy cuisines in the world. Vietnamese food expresses the culture of the local population and varies according to the regions: North, Central and South. Characterized by balanced flavors, food in Vietnam is the harmonious combination of many types of ingredients. Typical cuisine can be found not only in high-end restaurants, but also in street food stalls. The fresh ingredients are simply processed into various delicious foods such as Pho, Bun Cha, Banh mi and Nem Nuong. Chopsticks and fish sauce are used very commonly in every meal. French colonial influence remains in cities such as Ho Chi Minh where Vietnamese baguettes and coffee can be found, the ritual of which is a philosophy of life, enjoyed with ice and cream is an addictive experience.
Flying to Vietnam – There are no direct connections from Italy to Vietnam and usually one or two stopovers are scheduled before arriving at the destination, depending on the airline chosen.
Moving in the metropolises – In big cities such as Ho Chi Minh it is recommended to travel by taxi always trying to negotiate the price and checking that the meter to avoid scams. Alternatively there are motorbike-taxi and cyclo services, or bicycles, mopeds and rental cars, and also various means of public transport. To move around, you are spoiled for choice.
Buses and trains – There are many private bus companies that travel all over the country offering an excellent service on board, especially for long sleeping bus trips. To book these trips just go to a local agency or directly to the bus stations. Trains also connect the country from North to South. By consulting the sites of the Vietnamese railways you can choose the ticket based on the comfort class.
Boats – The waterways are traveled faster than the roads so much that the boat on the Mekong Delta is one of the most used means of transport in the whole country. Some fast boats connect Hô-Chi-Minh City to Vung Tau, Can Tho and Châu Dôc.
Suggested daily budget – around 10 to 60 USD