Must See

The Beaches

Vietnam is emerging from its old image as a war-torn country and the true beauty of its stunning white beaches - which stretch the entire length of the country - is only just being fully appreciated. Beaches are generally undeveloped, but many offer excellent snorkelling and diving. So take your pick of these beautiful, tranquil spots and enjoy. Top beaches include Nha Trang, where there is some superb snorkelling around the many offshore islands, and Vung Tau, southeast of Ho Chi Minh City.

The Cu Chi Tunnels

The Cu Chi tunnels are one of the most visited sites in Vietnam, where the Viet Cong guerrillas fighting the Americans lived in a series of complex, claustrophobic passages. The tunnels were originally built during the earlier war with the French and zigzag from the southern tip of the Ho Chi Minh Trail, near Cambodia, to the Saigon River.

Dalat

Dalat (or Da Lat) is a former colonial hill station, reminiscent of a French town, with faded, elegant villas reminiscent of another era. Located away from the heat of the plains, the area rarely exceeds 19°C in the hottest season, and is home to romantic lakes and alpine scenery.

Halong Bay

Located in north Vietnam, in the Gulf of Tonkin near the border with China, is Halong Bay (Bay of the Descending Dragon). Scattered across the bay are over 3,000 limestone islands, many of them containing bizarre cave formations and grottoes. Each of the limestone karsts is topped with thick jungle vegetation and many have acquired their names as a result of their unusual shapes, such as Voi Islet (elephant), the Kissing Rocks, Ga Choi Islet (fighting cock), and Mai Nha Islet (roof).

Hanoi

The elegant capital city of Hanoi is situated in the north of Vietnam, and is home to many highlights including the Temple of Literature and the Old Quarter, with its fascinating maze of tiny shops, markets and cafes. Another attraction is the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, where the former leader's body is displayed in a glass box. Hanoi is also home to a number of museums; including The National Museum of Ethnology, The Vietnamese National History Museum, The Revolution Museum and The National Museum of Fine Arts.

Ho Chi Minh City

Known just as well by its former name, Saigon, the old capital of South Vietnam is Vietnam's busiest city. The bustling city streets are littered with tiny temples and faded French colonial buildings overshadowed by gleaming high rises. The Cho Lon (Big Market) is a vibrant hub selling a vast array of goods where people engage in plenty of friendly bargaining. Take a visit to the History Museum to gain a glimpse of the country's 2,000-year history, or visit the War Remnants Museum and Reunification Palace to find out more about the realities of war.

Hué

Located in central Vietnam on the banks of the Song Huong (Huong River), 540 km (335 mi) south of Hanoi is the city of Hué, the former imperial capital of the emperors of Vietnam. It is well known for its monuments and architecture, such as the impressive remains of the Imperial Citadel on the north side of the river. There are also a number of mausoleums for Vietnam's emperors, including Tu Duc and Khai Dinh, each one unique in style.

The Mekong Delta

Explore the floating markets and gaze at the emerald rice paddies, fruit orchards and coconut palms. Visitors can hire a boat to explore the intricate network of rice paddies, forests and swamps interlaced with rivers and canals.

Sapa

Sapa (Sa Pa) is a frontier town in the northwest of the country, and is home to several hill tribes whose way of life has changed very little and who still wear colourful traditional costumes.