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Whether you desire scintillation in the city or seclusion at the beach, Vietnam dishes up a spicy treat every time...
Book hotels in Vietnam now, before the rest of the world finally cottons on to the raw coastal beauty and exciting city hotspots that are often overlooked in favour of those belonging to Southeast Asia neighbours such as Thailand and Malaysia.
See the heritage of the wildly turbulent past jumbled up - in the most beautiful ways - with a stable present and visions for Vietnam's future. The main cities are real eye-openers; you can't go far without stumbling into historical sites and buzzing markets, dodging cyclists, discovering peaceful temples and sniffing out amazing and authentic cuisine. The coast has its share of wow factors too. The lush greenery of Vietnam gives way to huge swathes of pristine sands and azure waters where limestone formations and islands pop out of the waves.
The northern city of Hanoi is draped in colonial grandeur. It's around three hours from Halong Bay, so day trips from Hanoi, or vice versa, are achievable.
Hoi An lingers halfway down the long coastline of Vietnam. Its riverside beauty is renowned, though there are local beaches that are worth discovering too.
In the south of Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh City, the former Saigon and “Paris of the Orient”, is another city where the past and the present have combined with grace and style. Stay in five-star hotels overlooking the river and check out the view from the 49th-floor Saigon Skydeck before rooting out bargain souvenirs at the city's markets.
Many of Vietnam's premier beach resorts are found in the central and southern areas, including the Cham Islands, Nha Trang, the Con Dao Islands, the island of Phu Quoc, and Mui Ne. Nha Trang is by far the liveliest and most popular beach destination.
Find out where to unpack your holiday wardrobe in Vietnam...
In Vietnam, hotels range from the basic to the sublime. In both city and coastal destinations you can find a good mix of budget hotels, mid-range accommodation and some truly excellent luxury hotels. It's a fairly inexpensive destination, so you can consider upgrading from the type of hotel you might usually go for.
Global brands operating hotels in Vietnam include Marriott, Sofitel, Crowne Plaza, InterContinental, Hilton, Novotel and Sheraton, though there are masses of hotels run by less-recognisable brands and independent owners that entice guests into many return trips.
The weather in Vietnam can get stiflingly hot, so check whether your chosen hotel has air conditioning if you intend to travel in the peak of the heat.
Vietnam lures visitors to a range of wonderful attractions...
The natural splendour of Vietnam is dazzling, though there are many manmade attractions in the cities that are also worthy of your time.
Top five attractions
Also known as Ha Long Bay, this UNESCO World Heritage Site attracts visitors keen to sail the turquoise waters and gaze at the limestone formations and tiny islands that reach towards the skies above. It's beautiful on a clear day, but utterly mesmerising when mist shrouds the scene.
Another haunting place to take to the water is the Mekong Delta, in the south of Vietnam. Book a tour from your base in Ho Chi Minh City.
The old imperial capital is home to ancient tombs and temples. It's a wet and misty destination, though you don't have to stay there as you can take day trips from Hoi An.
The beaches of Vietnam's largest island are a welcome vision: white sands, swaying palm trees, sun-dappled hammocks and crystal waters. It's just as gorgeous as any of Thailand's tropical islands but with far fewer tourists. Bliss.
Visit the enormous sand dunes close to southern beach resort Mui Ne or embrace the breeze and try your hand at windsurfing.
The annual calendar of events in Vietnam is unsurprisingly lively and packed with cultural highlights...
Find out what's on when and plan your travel to Vietnam accordingly.
Tet; January/February: This is the big one - it's the Vietnamese New Year and there's a week-long festival to celebrate. Though there's a lot for visitors to see and do during Tet, it pays to know that many businesses will close and public transport can be pushed to its limits. If you don't fancy joining in it might be best to organise your holiday before or after Tet.
Hue International Food Festival; April: Journey to Hue in spring for a delicious taste of Vietnam at this annual food fest. You can also sample various national cuisines from around Asia.
Trung Thu; September-October: The popular Mid-Autumn Festival is very special and worth attending, especially if you're travelling with children. There are lion dances to behold and children are very much the centre of attention. Unique and traditional snacks are served throughout this festival, which is celebrated around Vietnam.