Conjure up images of Vietnam, and you'll think of rainforest and rice terrace greens, white sands, the muddy brown waters of the Mekong, black-and-white wartime images, as well as the brilliant reds and golds of temples. Vietnam holidays offer a plethora of beautiful landscapes, experiences and activities for travellers to enjoy; from cruising around the towering karsts of Ha Long Bay to climbing the mountainous skyscrapers of Ho Chi Minh City.
Starting in the north, in Sapa, the views of emerald-tiered rice paddies set into undulating mountainscapes are sure to find a home in your Vietnam holiday photo collection, whilst trekking excursions and hill tribe visits provide opportunities to engage with the natural landscape and local communities, which still practice the traditional Vietnamese way of life.
The modest northern capital of Hanoi is a whirlwind of notorious traffic, French colonial architecture, and rich Vietnamese culture. Catch a water puppet show at the local theatre, squat next to a street vendor to sample delicious street treats, then museum-hop from one point of interest to the other, dodging scooters and cyclists along the way.
Don't miss a trip out east to the renowned shimmering waters of Ha Long Bay. Take an overnight cruise around the craggy boulders, stopping off on remote islands and floating villages, then swim or kayak through the turquoise lagoons and delve deep into cool cave complexes.
Moving south, the ancient canal city of Hoi An and the walled citadel of Hue teach lessons in Vietnamese history, whilst the beach destinations of Nha Trang and Da Nang (home of Vietnam's newest tourist attraction, Golden Bridge, supported by two giant hands) both provide waterside relaxation, as well as fine dining and nightlife.
Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon and still known to many by its previous name) is a world away from Hanoi, with its electric skyscrapers and modern developments. Pay a respectful visit to the War Remnants Museum to learn about the Vietnam War, which left the country divided and devastated, as well as significant wartime sites such as the Cu Chi tunnels and the Independence Palace, which was left as a time capsule when Saigon fell to the North Vietnamese Army in 1975.
To the west, navigate the floating markets of canal city Can Tho, then follow the Mekong down to the delta, where it spills into the sea. Cross the water to idyllic Phu Quoc, and you'll be rewarded with jewel-toned waves and an Edenic archipelago of gorgeous beaches.
With endless options of things to see and do (and eat!), a luxury Vietnam tour is the best way to journey from north to south down this long, thin expanse of land, to see the best of everything the pearl of Southeast Asia has to offer.