Where stories begin
Vietnam’s landscapes resemble scenes from a fantasy story. Surreal seascapes of limestone islands rise from the waters, and brightly coloured French Colonial buildings add to the charm of this fascinating land. Discover this captivating country on one of our enchanting Vietnam tours.
Float lazily past spectacular limestone karst islands aboard a junk in Ha Long Bay, soak up the sounds of Hanoi’s bustling streets and lose yourself in Ho Chi Minh City’s (formerly Saigon) Old French Quarter. Here, especially, the memories of the Vietnam War still lie close to the surface. Explore the underground tunnels that formed a hidden city of sleeping quarters, hideouts and supply routes beneath the city, or honour the memory of the fallen in a cemetery of thousands of war victims.
Travel into the Marble Mountains or treat your taste buds as you feast on the incredibly varied flavours of local cuisine from restaurants and street vendors. Delve into the essence of local Hanoi life at the colourful Dong Xuan Market, as traditional Vietnamese market buying and selling practises unfold around you. Feel the warm welcome of Vietnamese people, whose lively energy is contagious.
Leave the bustle of Ho Chi Minh and head out to discover the calmer pace of life in the Vietnamese countryside. Travel south into the Mekong Delta’s scenic landscape of rice paddies, orchard and colourful market towns. Board a boat to explore the maze of its rivers, canals and streams, and to watch local vessels loaded with coconuts and fruit float past on their way to market. Alternatively, head inland into terraced hillsides of rice paddies and forests teeming with over 9,000 different species of animal and bird. Here you’ll discover a timeless world of pagodas and monasteries, former Royal capitals and peerless sunsets.
Take one of Newmarket Holiday’s Vietnam tours and witness breath-taking highlights and spectacular sights, with our expert guide by your side.
Vietnam is full of fascinating sights and experiences, from buzzing cities steeped in history to unspoilt beaches and striking natural landscapes. A Vietnam tour is truly magical. There are plenty of things to do in this enchanting land, but here are some of our mustn’t-miss experiences.
Vietnam is a foodie paradise – its cuisine renowned for freshness and punchy flavours. Contrasting textures and flavours make Vietnamese cuisine stand out – with a brilliant balance of aromatics, spices, and sweet and sourness.
Tastes and flavours change from region to region. Each region in Vietnam has its own distinct specialities and signature dishes, with many restaurants and street vendors serving up fresh and locally sourced cuisine.
You’ll find stir-fries and noodle-based soups in the north, heavily influenced by its Chinese neighbours. While in Hanoi, opt for Vietnam’s national dish – pho. It’s the best place to savour an authentic taste of this noodle soup dish.
Further south, you’ll get a sweeter and spicier taste. The tropical climate here means more fruits and vegetables are available. Try banh mi, the famous Vietnamese baguette sandwich, influenced by its French colonial past. Don’t be fooled though, this sandwich is very Vietnamese –often liberally garnished with fresh coriander, chilli sauce and lightly pickled vegetables. And, if you’re a really adventurous eater, there’s always the option to try some of Vietnam’s most unusual eats – fried crickets, snake meat or whole grilled frogs, anyone?
First holiday in the Vietnam? Here are a few questions you might have.
To get the best of your Vietnam adventure, we recommend the following tours:
Thailand, Cambodia & Vietnam
Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam with Singapore Extension
Halong Bay & Five-Star Vietnam River Cruise
Classic Vietnam, Cambodia & Laos
Halong Bay & Five-Star Vietnam River Cruise with Angkor Wat & Phnom Penh Extension
If you'd like to see more Vietnam tours, check out our website.
The best time to visit Vietnam depends which part of the country you intend to go to, as the weather typically varies by region. Generally speaking, the south is affected by the southwesterly monsoon, which lasts from May to September, whilst the north is affected by the northeast monsoon, from October to April. If you want to see the whole country, then autumn (September to December) and spring (March and April) are the best seasons in which to visit, before the hot, humid summer (May to August).
Vietnam is a friendly and safe country for tourists to visit. That being said, petty crime isn’t uncommon, although taking sensible precautions should negate any risk. The most hassle tourists encounter is usually from over-eager street vendors and sellers. There are unexploded ordnance from past conflicts in some parts of the country, most notably the Demilitarized Zone, where you should always stick to the marked pathways.
Vietnam’s capital city is Hanoi, which is in the north of the country. The most populated city in Vietnam is Ho Chi Minh City, also known as Saigon, which is in the south.
Vietnamese is the primary language spoken in Vietnam, with English and French often favoured as alternatives. The Vietnamese language uses a modified version of Latin alphabet, which has 29 letters, including 12 vowels and 17 consonants. Here are a few useful phrases in Vietnamese and French, with pronunciation included for Vietnamese:
Hello – Xin chào (sin chow)
Goodbye – Tạm biệt (tarm byeet)
Please – Làm ơn (lahm un)
Thank you – cảm ơn (gam un)
Do you speak English? – Bạn có nói tiếng Anh không? (ban gaw noy dee-ing ahn khohm?)
Hello – Bonjour
Goodbye – Au revior
Please – S’il vous plait
Thank you – Merci
Do you speak English? – Parlez vous Anglais?
In Vietnam, they use the Vietnamese dong, which is abbreviated to VND. For the latest exchange rates, please see www.xe.com.
Although Vietnam’s official currency is the Vietnamese dong, you can pay in US dollars ($) in many big hotels and shops.
Most foreign visitors require a visa to enter Vietnam, including citizens of the UK. To get a visa, apply in advance online for a letter of approval, which is then stamped when you arrive in Vietnam. Tourist visas are typically valid for 30 days, although you can apply for a longer one directly with your local Vietnamese embassy. Your passport must be valid for at least six months beyond your arrival date, with two free pages for the visa itself, and you must be able to show proof of onward travel.
Vietnam shares borders with China, Cambodia and Laos, and is easily accessible from these three countries, by either road or river. For most tourists though, the easiest way to get to Vietnam is to fly. Vietnam has several international airports, with the three main ones being Noi Bai (HAN), Tan Son Nhat (SGN) and Da Nang (DAD), along with Phu Quoc (PQC) in the south, which receives international flights from Asian countries.
Vietnam’s domestic transport network is fairly well developed, with a network of bus, coach and train routes, connecting the country’s main cities and most popular sites. Domestic flights are also a good way to get around, are relatively cheap and save time. However, by taking domestic flights, you’ll miss out on the staggering views afforded to those who take the bus or train.
Generally speaking, the weather in Vietnam is warm and humid. However, given the length and size of the country, the weather does vary depending on location. The far north can get quite cold during winter, and has even experienced snow in the past. Typically the north has wet summers, with daytime temperatures ranging between 15–28°C, and mild, dry winters, with average temperatures of 17–22°C. In the south, the temperatures are more stable, typically ranging between 25–35°C throughout the year, with two distinct seasons: wet and dry.
Vietnam is famous for its stunning natural beauty, energetic cities, Buddhist temples, delicious, fresh food and rich culture. The country is also known for the Vietnam War, known in Vietnam simply as the American War, which took place between 1955 and 1975. The war, which was fought between South Vietnam and the Americans against Communist North Vietnam and her allies, was bitter and bloody with massive losses on both sides. The war was eventually won by North Vietnam, resulting in the reunification of North and South Vietnam into a single country, and the unilateral withdrawal of US troops from the country.
Ha Long Bay, a collection of 1,600 picturesque limestone islands, is one of Vietnam’s most popular natural attractions, along with the Phu Quoc Island and the Mekong Delta. Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi, Hue and Hoi An are among the country’s most popular cities to visit. The country’s Vietnam War remnants are also popular tourist sights, including the Cu Chi Tunnels and the War Remnants Museum, both in Ho Chi Minh City.
Food in Vietnam tends to be light, fresh and subtle in flavour, more often boiled or steamed, as opposed to stir-fried, which is the most common method of cooking in this part of Asia. Great emphasis is placed on using fresh herbs and seasoning, which makes sense when you consider Vietnam’s fertile paddy fields and great plains. Popular dishes in Vietnam include pho, a Vietnamese soup typically made with beef broth, banh pho noodles and thin slices of beeth, served with fresh herbs. Banh mi is a popular Vietnamese street food snack that has its roots in Vietnam’s French colonial past, consisting of a fresh baguette filled with a choice of meats, fresh herbs and vegetables.
Visitors to Vietnam should pack breathable, airy clothing, together with a light raincoat and travel adaptor. Always take sun cream and a sun hat, especially if you are travelling during summer. Insect repellent and tiger balm are also useful items to take to Vietnam. Flip flops or sandals are suitable for the most part, but it is also advisable to pack a more durable pair of shoes, especially if planning on doing a lot of walking. A travel pillow and pair of earplugs could come in handy for lightsleepers.