Vietnam is shedding its image as a mere backdrop for Hollywood’s war dramas, re-emerging as the hottest Southeast Asian destination today. Here, five reasons to start planning:
1. Smooth entry. Let’s start with the easy. Most ASEAN residents enjoy a 30-day visa-free policy. Visitors from Europe (United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy and Spain) enjoy 15 days visa-free entry until 2021. E-visa can be enjoyed by more than 40 over nationalities worldwide, including from Qatar, Austria and Switzerland, to name a few
2. Hassle-free flights. Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City are served by major airlines. But there are also direct flights that take you to dream Vietnamese resort destinations. Korea Air flies direct from Seoul to Danang. Bangkok Airways takes you from Bangkok and into Cam Ranh/Nha Trang (where the luxurious The Anam fronts Cam Ranh Bay). Air Asia takes you from Kuala Lumpur straight into the Mekong Delta flying into Can Tho, the gateway to Azerai Can Tho.
3. Diverse landscape. Photographers have long discovered the country’s wildly varied landscapes and majestic scenery. They range from the hot and arid sand dunes of Mui Ne to the stunning terraced rice fields of Sapa. And in between, guests can experience the frenetic pace of Ho Chi Minh City, get lost in the Old Quarter labyrinth of Hanoi, marvel at the limestone karsts of Halong Bay, or bliss out at the bustling beach city of Danang.
4. UNESCO World Heritage sites. Don’t miss some of the country’s famous heritage-listed areas. A cruise into Halong Bay will acquaint you to the dramatic limestone karsts featured in the 2017 movie Kong: Skull Island. Hoi An Ancient Town is a throwback to the trading post it once was in the 15th century. And, though it needs a bit of pre-planning, the caverns in Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park are certainly an adventure. Home to Son Doong cave, it has caverns so large a Boeing 747 is thought to could have flown through it!
5. Unexplored islands. Vietnam’s islands are an escape route to tranquillity. In the deep south-western reaches of Vietnam, Phu Quoc is an up-and-coming holiday destination and has been likened to Phuket before the crowds came. And just off its south coast is An Thoi Islands, a speckling of 15 isles with secluded coves and pristine beaches. Con Dao islands on Vietnam’s southeast coast remains largely untouched. The biggest of the 15-island chain that make this archipelago, Con Son, is home to the luxurious Six Senses Con Dao and colourful reefs waiting to be explored.
Visit Vietnam Tourism Board (www.vietnam.travel) for more reasons to visit Vietnam.