Discovering Vietnam

My colleagues have raved about Vietnam for years, everyone in our team had already been, I was the last. It’s been our top selling Asia destination over the last 6 years. Now I can finally see what all the fuss is about!  I can’t imagine a destination that offers more variety in a relatively short timeframe.

For 4 hours I’ve seen Vietnam as the locals do – around 30 kph and at handlebar height. Our four hour scooter tour of Vietnam’s old capital Hue was exhilarating – it’s amazing how much of the little details you miss through the window of a bus. Hue is an ideal place for a motorbike tour; it’s flat and small enough to easily escape the busy city streets and get out into the countryside.

We rode through paddy fields and watched as the rice crop was harvested. We rode through villages that forty years ago would have been firmly under Viet Cong control – Hue was ‘ground zero’ for some of the fiercest fighting of what locals refer to as the ‘American War’. We visited the Citadel, stopping off at lunchtime for noodle soup and for essential rehydration – it’s a hot and humid country!

I’m a fan of Asian food, and the cuisine here is superb and cheap. I’ve struggled to spend more than NZ$20 on any meal, despite usually lasting half a dozen courses and washed down with a couple of glasses of the local brew. A tip – ask for a glass, fill it with plenty of ice cubes, then pour in the beer. Otherwise your beer will be too warm to drink in a matter of minutes.

Undoubtedly the highlight though was the beautiful coastal town of Hoi An which really does tick the boxes for many different travellers. Families? The resorts on this stretch of China Beach are excellent, with lovely pools, kids clubs and safe swimming beaches. Couples? The shopping in the old town is justifiably famous, especially for having tailored clothes made – there are over 300 tailors now and counting. Simply choose your materials, get measured up and pop back the next day for alterations and then later to collect. Take a favourite item of clothing and ask them to copy it in different cloths. Golfers? There are two championship golf courses on the new road between Danang and Hoi An. Foodies? Hoi An boasts two superb cooking classes where you can make the perfect spring roll or crispy pancake. All this is wrapped up in the most stunning architecture, and when the town is lit up by lanterns at night you could be forgiven for thinking you were promenading along a river in Provence, albeit with an Indochina twist.

I’ll be coming back, next time with my whole family. I can’t wait!