Vietnam, officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, is the easternmost country on the Indochinese Peninsula. The country is a strip of land shaped like the letter “S”, divided into 63 provinces and cities. China borders it to the north, Laos and Cambodia to the west, the East Sea to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the east and south.
Vietnam was under Chinese rule until 938AD, and was later occupied by France. Since 1975 Vietnam has been a unified independent nation with economic growth among the highest in the world, and according to Citigroup, this ambitious growth is set to continue. Vietnam has the highest Global Growth Generators Index among 11 major economies.
Travel to this destination is also growing with niche tours such as cycling and gourmet themed trips building popularity. Vietnamese food is famed around the world for its freshness and delectability, while the bold landscapes and beach – peppered coastlines are a magnet for all manner of tourists.
With its stable politics, strong economy and diverse culture, Vietnam is a wonderful destination for tourists and corporate event planners alike.
Things To do
- Start with the capital, Hanoi, which retains an air of French colonial elegance, with pretty yellow stucco buildings lining leafy streets. Wander round the Old Quarter, a fascinating maze of tiny shops, markets and cafes. Pay respects at the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum.
- Sail through Halong Bay and be amazed by the 3,000 limestone islands rising out of the South China Sea. The area is strange, eerie and deeply beautiful. Many of the islands contain bizarre cave formations and grottoes.
- Savour the alpine scenery around Sapa, home to several hill tribes whose way of life has changed very little and who still wear colourful traditional costumes.
- Discover the architecture of Hué, the former capital of the emperors of Vietnam, and the remains of the Imperial Citadel (largely destroyed during the Tet offensive in 1968). Tour the nearby mausoleums of several of Vietnam's emperors, including Khai Dinh and Tu Duc, each unique in style.
- To escape the heat of the plains, head for Dalat, a former colonial hill station, reminiscent of a French town, with faded, elegant villas evocative of another era. The romantic lakes and alpine scenery are magnets for Vietnamese honeymooners.
- Savour the lively life on the streets of Ho Chi Minh City, with tiny temples and faded French colonial buildings overshadowed by gleaming high rises. Visit the Reunification Palace and the War Remnants Museum to learn about the realities of war.
- Attend the midday service at the unique Cao Dai Temple in Tay Ninh. En route, scramble through the tunnels at Cu Chi, from where the Viet Cong successfully launched attacks against US forces.
- Watch the river markets on the Mekong Delta, where life is dominated by the mighty Mekong and much of Vietnam's rice crop is grown.