It’s about time that Vietnam was properly rediscovered. The French knew what a jewel they had found when they colonized the area in the mid-19th Century, but today’s traveler needs to pay a little less attention to southeast Asia’s hotspots and a little more to Vietnam.
Mountains, rainforest, rice fields and a never-ending coastline are just the start. Add warm hospitality, delicious food and an unabashedly can-do, optimistic attitude to complete the experience.
Adventure Travel Highlights
Water is a big theme in Vietnam, what with a coastline greater than the country’s length and a series of impressive rivers. So it’s no surprise that many aspects of enjoying what Vietnam has to offer involve floating and boating.
Here are some activities to enjoy in Vietnam:
- Join a Vietnamese cooking class in Hanoi
- Glide across Halong Bay on a junk boat
- Experience imperial Vietnam in Hue
- Wander through unbelievable markets
- Embark on a Mekong Delta boat cruise
- Have a gastronomic fling in Ho Chi Minh City
- Visit a floating fish farm
- Catch a silk weaving demonstration
Vietnam hugs the western coastline of the South China Sea. To the west are Laos and Cambodia, and to the north lies China, from whom Vietnam wrested their independence in the year 939.
Vietnam is growing, with upwards of 82 million people at last count. 85% of these belong to the Viet (or Kinh) ethnic group, but there are also an astounding 54 minority ethnicities, many of which are tribal groups living in the highlands.
Climate and When to Go
Vietnam’s climate varies considerably from the mountainous north, where winter frosts glaze foliage, to the subtropical south. If you’re visiting north or central Vietnam, the months from July to October are best avoided, as rains and typhoons hit around that time. In the south, it’s a touch cooler from November to February, but if you can stand the occasional downpour and some heat, most any time is fine.