Turkish Airlines is one of the most popular in the world. The airline is expanding its routes all the time with direct flights out of Istanbul Ataturk International Airport to all parts of the world. When it comes to South East Asia there are flights into Thailand, Bangkok and Phuket but also to both Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi in Vietnam which makes the country ever more accessible to Turkish people interested in seeing this wonderful country. Direct flights are around 10 hours which for today’s tourists is not especially long. Leaving Istanbul one day, a Vietnam tour package can begin the following day, whether starting in Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) in the South or Hanoi, today’s capital.
Vietnam is rising strongly in the ranks of popular countries to visit and current figures suggest that many tourists are coming from the west and that includes the country that straddles both Europe and Asia, Turkey. The positive experience that every tourist gets from visiting Vietnam continues to spread the word about Vietnam’s qualities.
When Turkey became a republic in 1923, the French controlled Indochina. Independence was still a few years away for each of the countries in South East Asia. In the case of Vietnam, it came after a struggle that had been brewing but really developed after World War II. The North’s communist regime never sat well with the West but it prevailed in war with the South allied to the USA. The unified country is now 40 years old with an economy moving ahead, in no small part to its intrinsic qualities and the millions of tourists keen to see and experience them.
There are some obvious highlights that a Vietnam tour operator will include in most Vietnam holiday itineraries. Time may be a restriction in which case the itinerary will be designed to fit a client’s specific interests:
• Hanoi is a city of contrasts. Just outside its boundaries are farmers tilling the land; tourists starting Vietnam will see them on the way in from the airport. Once in the city of wide boulevards, a legacy of the French, and narrow streets in the old part of town, there are food vendors selling from their stalls, markets and traditional Viet houses. Obviously, there are modern buildings as well while the Buddhist temples and museums are an obvious attraction.
• Halong Bay is a UNESCO World Heritage site, a bay with innumerable islands, fishermen living in houses on stilts in villages dotted around the Bay. The Bay is around 4 hours east of Hanoi and it is a real experience cruising in the Bay, even staying on a boat overnight. Staying on an island, Cat Ba, the largest in the Bay is another alternative.
• Sa Pa Terraces in the Northern Highlands is a poor region. This is a rice and vegetable growing region with ethnic hill tribes that contrast with the fishermen’s lives. The Highlands are a great place to explore if there is time.
• Danang is the third city of Vietnam, positioned in Central Vietnam with good air and land connections with both Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. It suffered significant damage during the Vietnam War but remains a city to visit as well as a base for two other historical gems, Hue and Hoi An with the nearby coastal resorts another highlight.
• Hue was the capital during the Nguyen Dynasty in the 19th and 20th Century until the departure of the French when Hanoi took over. There are many historical treasures to see.
• Hoi An was a trading port back in the Champa Kingdom in the 7th Century. Its importance faded as the Chinese moved further south yet it is a place that a Vietnam travel agency will include in Vietnam tour packages.
• Ho Chi Minh City is the commercial hub of Vietnam and was formerly the capital of South Vietnam (then Saigon). There is plenty to see and do in a city that now has a number of skyscrapers as well. One good day trip from Ho Chi Minh City is the Cu Chi Tunnels to the north; they were used by the Viet Cong during the War.
• The Mekong Delta is to the west of Ho Chi Minh City. The River has flowed from the Tibetan Plateau all the way down into Vietnam before going out into the South China Sea. It is an extremely fertile region with some quiet channels, floating markets, small villages with fishermen and farmers and their families.
• Phu Quoc is an island in the South China Sea off the Cambodian Coast. It has its own airport, including international flights, and has developed as an important resort island. It is a great place to relax at the end of a Vietnam holiday.
Turkey has its own lovely coastline itself but the commercial hubs of the country, Ankara in Central Anatolia and Istanbul between the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara have a winter that is sometimes harsh. Certainly, Central Anatolia has plenty of snow and when the wind blows from the north east over the Black Sea Istanbul is far from pleasant. Mid-winter in these cities and others is such that a holiday to somewhere warmer. Why not combine some sun with a destination full of history and culture? Turkey and Vietnam are a huge continent apart, around 7,500 kilometres, but as stated earlier the time by air is fairly comfortable.
While Vietnam is a Buddhist country, Turkey is Islamic. Respect is an important aspect of both religions and tourists in Vietnam, whatever their religion, will see many religious sites that will give them an insight into Vietnam. The people are welcoming, happy despite the fact that in the rural areas, life can be hard. They celebrate many festivals throughout the year, often dressing in their traditional costumes and dancing to music. Tourists who book a Vietnam travel package that coincides with any of these festivals are in for a real treat.
Note: Turkist tourists to visit Vietnam will need to get Vietnam visa. There are some options as below:
1. Get Vietnam visa at Vietnam embassy in Turkey
2. Get Vietnam visa by yourselves, you will need to contact Vietnam Immigration
3. Get Vietnam visa on arrival, use service of a Vietnam travel agent who is on behalf of you to apply Vietnam visa. It takes 2 days to get the visa invitation letter and the fee for Turkist tourists is about $10 per person. More information, you can read: Vietnam Visa: Key Information to Know.