Vietnam’s popularity as a tourist destination is growing year on year. It took a while for the country to open its arms at the end of the Vietnam War but now it is being consistently rated as one of the top ten holiday destinations in the world. While numbers levelled off a little during the years of recession, the growth from the figure of 1.4m visitors in 1995 to around 8m today is impressive especially given the number of great locations in the world. Around half a million of those visitors come from the USA though two thirds of visitors are still from other Asian countries. As the word about Vietnam spreads however there are increasing numbers arriving from France, Vietnam’s old colonial masters while Australia’s relative proximity has naturally meant its citizens are also discovering Vietnam’s treasures. Europe’s traveller numbers to Vietnam are increasing as well and the news that they are bringing back about Vietnam classic tours seem certain to see Vietnam consolidate its place in that top ten.
Vietnam has so much to offer and classic tours in Vietnam miss few highlights. Clients are welcome to ask questions and express their interests to see whether Vietnam private tours can be tailor-made to include the things that particularly arouse their interest.
UNESCO World Heritage Sites
As an example of what Vietnam private tours might include there are seven sites that have already been recognized by UNESCO and they are each making a valuable contribution towards the increased numbers.
• Halong Bay is due east of Hanoi in the North of Vietnam. There are 100 kilometres of coastline, plenty of small fishing villages around the rim and a host of tiny islands. The largest, Cat Ba, has lovely beaches and caves and rivers within the green forest inland. There is a festival if you are at Halong Bay in May but whatever the season this is a truly stunning location which appears on all classic tours in Vietnam.
• Thang Long Imperial Citadel in the capital Hanoi dates back to the 11th Century. It was home to several royal dynasties.
• Ho Dynasty Citadel is a recent listing. It IS IN THE North Central Region of Vietnam and was built in 1397 and is the last remaining stone citadel in the whole of South East Asia. The fortress contains many stones so heavy that they provided wonderful defence. There are some of the oldest cannon balls in Asia inside.
• Phong Nha Ke Bang Park contains the largest cave in the world, Son Doong and it contains the longest subterranean river. Visitor numbers are restricted and there is a chance it will be flooded in the monsoon season. The Park is close to the Laos border in Central Vietnam.
• The Imperial City of Hue in Central Vietnam reminds tourists of the final feudal dynasty of Vietnam, Nguyen. There are temples, pagodas, citadels and tombs; another gem in the middle of the country.
• Hoi An was a famous trading port from the 15th Century until the 19th Century but its history dates back even further to the Champa Kingdom between 7th and 10th Centuries and the spice trade. Both the Chinese and the Japanese have had an influence on its architecture.
• My Son in Central Vietnam fairly close to Danang is also from Champa times with its many abandoned Hindu temples and tombs, largely in ruins these days.
As yet there are no UNESCO World Heritage sites in the south but no one would suggest that classic Vietnam tours can ignore the south because Ho Chi Minh City, the Mekong Delta and the South China Sea coastline all deserve attention.
Ho Chi Minh City is a mixture of traditional, French colonial architecture and modern skyscrapers. It proximity to the Vietcong’s Cu Chi Tunnels and the Delta of the iconic Mekong demands its inclusion in every holiday in Vietnam. Likewise a great way to relax after a tour of Vietnam is to visit a place like Phu Quoc Island off the Cambodian coast to reflect on the classic sites that you have seen.
Tourists travel in numbers to a whole range of places in Vietnam including its national parks (over 30 in all) and its stunning beaches. There are other elements in Vietnam that UNESCO understand are part of the intrinsic value of the Country and classic tours in Vietnam try to let clients experience far more than physical sites
• Hue Royal Court Music - World Oral History Treasure and Intangible Culture
• Tay Nguyen Gong Music - a masterpiece of the oral and intangible culture of humanity
• Bac Ninh Alternate Singing - Intangible Cultural Heritage
• Ca Tru Singing - Intangible Cultural Heritage
• Xoan Singing - Intangible Cultural Heritage
Entertainment is an important part of any holiday. Cultural evenings are very special and the Vietnamese cuisine certainly plays its part in ensuring every tourist leaves with wonderful memories. The cuisine has been influenced by its neighbours as well as its former colonial masters, France. Even Americans have left their stamp on the things you can expect to eat, primarily in Ho Chi Minh City, the former Saigon, capital of South Vietnam before unification. Vietnam classic tours will certainly ensure that you have the chance to eat plenty of Vietnamese food.
The cuisine is based upon rice, noodles, herbs and fresh vegetables, all fairly healthy.
The proximity of the North to China means that soy sauce is common as opposed to fish sauce in other parts of the country. The French gave the Vietnamese baguettes, pates, asparagus and potatoes while European influence in general is seen in the use of pork. Here are some of the things you will find sold by street vendors or in cafes and restaurants.
• Banh My Thit, a baguette with various fillings.
• Bo Kho, beef and vegetable stew, usually with baguettes.
• Bun Cha is a pork meatball and noodle salad.
• Nem Nuong Xa is grilled meat on lemongrass skewers.
• Goi Cuon are “summer rolls with various fillings served cold with a peanut sauce.
• Pho is noodle soup, usually served with beef or chicken.