Feasts and Flavors on a Holiday in Vietnam

Wherever your holiday in Vietnam takes you, you’ll enjoy the country’s amazing cuisine. Bowls of steaming pho, the staple soupy noodle dish, fragrant with herbs, cinnamon, and star anise make a hearty meal. Banh mi the Vietnamese-French fusion sandwich is great for breakfast. And a glass of strong, sweet Vietnamese coffee is welcome just about any time. Like the experienced chef that knows her ingredients and prepares a meal with the right balance of flavors, Enchanting Travels destination experts can curate a personalized tour that caters exclusively to your appetite.

Known for its great street food, fast-paced and modern Ho Chi Minh City is also famous for two architectural wonders from the colonial era: Saigon Central Post Office and the Notre-Dame Cathedral. Walk the narrow streets of the bustling Old Quarter of the Vietnamese capital Hanoi, before heading across the city to the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum Complex. Stop at a restaurant to eat the city’s iconic dish, cha ca La Vong. At Hanoi’s popular Thang Long theatre, watch puppets emerge from the water to act out a traditional Vietnamese folktale, accompanied by musicians on a variety of instruments.

Beyond the tourist trails, there are many less-visited places in this once strife-torn country. You could call on the erstwhile Imperial City of Hue, the underground tunnels of Cu Chi district, Cat Tien National Park, or the enormous cave of Hang Son Doong.

It’s thrilling to set sail on Ha Long Bay in an upcycled traditional Chinese junk, fitted with all manner of amenities. As you cruise this scenic, dense archipelago of 1,600 limestone karsts covered in thick vegetation, you’ll spot natural caves and hidden bays. Take in another kind of boat ride too: down the Mekong Delta, where women wearing the trademark conical bamboo hats tend rice fields, and the lush countryside glides by.


Best Time to Visit Vietnam

Halong Bay Vietnam Tour
Private tours of Vietnam at their best: Halong Bay at sunset

When is the best time to travel to Vietnam? The country has a tropical climate and the temperatures range between 22 ̊C and 30 ̊C. Whether you are exploring the Old Town of Hoi An, discovering the artisans of Hanoi, travelling in the mountains of Sa Pa, sunbathing on Da Nang, Phu Quoc or Nha Trang’s beaches, or taking a street food tour in Ho Chi Minh City, there is no bad time to visit. Follow the link for advice on when to travel.

Best time to visit Vietnam

Top Ten Things to do in Vietnam

Traveler’s often ask us ‘What are the best destinations I should visit in Vietnam?’, ‘What is the best Vietnam travel guide?’ or ‘What can I do in Vietnam?’ From Water Puppet Shows in Hanoi, street food in Saigon, and the Perfume River of Hue to the Mekong Delta in southern Vietnam and Cambodia – the country is brimming with treasures. Experience the best of Vietnam’s fascinating culture and bounteous nature during your vacations with us. Follow the link to discover our top ten Vietnam attractions and travel advice from our experts.

Things to do in Vietnam

Top Travel Tips for Your Vietnam Tour

How to travel in Southeast Asian countries like Vietnam and Cambodia? What should you consider while planning your vacations? What should you pack for your tours in Hanoi’s temples or Sa Pa‘s mountains? What currency is accepted in the country? Find answers to all your questions and travel advice from our destination experts.

Vietnam Travel Tips

Safety in Vietnam

How safe is it to travel Vietnam? Is Vietnam safe to travel for a foreigner from the West? What are things that you should keep in mind while travelling in destinations such as Hoi An, Halong Bay, Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City? The country may be becoming increasingly popular with foreign tourists but you would do well to keep in mind that it is still a developing nation. Here is some of the most up-to-date travel advice from our experts to ensure seamless and stress-free vacations.

Is Vietnam safe

Visa Information

You can apply for a visa by mail or in person at the Vietnamese Embassy as early as six months prior to the date of entry. Visas are valid for a one time stay of 30 days. We can assist you in obtaining an e-visa or a visa-on-arrival at Hanoi or Saigon if you are arriving by air from other countries. For the latter, a separate ‘stamp fee’ of USD$ 25 is charged.

As of December 15, 2016, US citizens can also apply for a short-term visa instead of a compulsory one-year multiple entry visa. There have been some recent developments on visa exemption for foreign citizens who are British, German, French, Spanish or Italian. The local government has agreed to extend a visa-free validity period from May 2018 until June 13, 2021 for these nationalities. This unilateral visa exemption is being granted by the authorities in order to promote tourism.

Culture in Vietnam

Vietnam Culture
Vietnam has an exciting culture to offer

Discover an incredible inheritance steeped in traditions, and warm, hospitable people, through our authentic Vietnam vacations. As in most other parts of Southeast Asia, Chinese influence is easily discernible in historic centers such as Hanoi. A little to the south, in cities such as Hue and Hoi An, imperialism has left in mark. While the art and architecture of Hue are a charming ode to bygone eras, the lantern-lit streets of Hoi An will have you meander past remnants from colonial settlements of yore.

Ho Chi Minh City is both dominated by the country’s colonial history as well as fast-paced modern life. A must-visit destination for travellers, Saigon is also where you can explore the well-preserved Cu Chi Tunnels with us – a must-see labyrinth of connecting underground passages used by the Viet Cong during the War.

Further south, a charmed existence awaits you in the beautiful waterways of the Mekong Delta. The people are wonderfully polite and their customs are deeply rooted in Confucianism and Taoism – they respect their family and elders and have an aversion to conflict.

Vietnamese, the local language, is very hard to learn as it comes with six different tonal variations that differ from region to region. English is spoken in cities such as Ho Chi Minh, Hanoi, Hoi An and Hue.

Top Vietnam Travel Tips – Culture:

  • Don’t be taken aback by the sheer number of motorbikes – it’s a favorite mode of transport for Vietnamese people with an estimated 10 million of them plying on the roads everyday. Most of these are to be found in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City or Saigon.
  • For a foreign traveller, it’s a good idea to learn a few words from the local language before your Vietnam trip. Just hello – xin chào – and thank you – cảm ơn bạn, will help. As with everywhere else, English-speaking vendors abound in the more tourist-friendly areas while in the remoter regions such as Sapa, Da Nang, Nha Trang, Phu Quoc and Ninh Binh, the use of English is not as common.
  • To see a real slice of life, visit the night market in Hanoi. Held at the Old Quarter after dark on Fridays and Saturdays, these are more about soaking in the local vibe than shopping. Another such hot spot is the morning Dam Market in Nha Trang where travellers can find many a local delicacy at the food court.
  • The ruins of My Son temple is a must-visit for first-timers in Hoi An. This abandoned temple complex is not just a stunning UNESCO World Heritage site but also testimony to the variety of religious influences on local culture.
  • You will do well to note that the country has a very strict regulations about exporting real antiques. Most “antique” and art pieces sold to tourists are fake or copies of the original. Be careful and check your sources for certificates if they claim to sell you an original or antique piece.

Cuisine of Vietnam

Vietnamese Cuisine
Check out the national dish of Pho – a delicious dish for gourmet guests in Vietnam!

Vietnam vacations are the ideal opportunity to experience many culinary delights, since the cuisine is considered one of the world’s healthiest – and, in our opinion, delectable.

On your Vietnam tour, you will notice that there is more Chinese influence in the north, and you can savor noodles and soupy broths. Junks plying on the Halong Bay are known to offer an assortment of both local as well as Western-style favorites. sign up for a cooking class while on board – what better setting to learn the secrets of a Vietnamese kitchen than the other-worldly Halong Bay?

In central Vietnam, such as in Hue, meals are very elaborate, and many side dishes are served with the mains. Hoi An too is famous for its food – you’ll find street vendors hawking local delicacies that can’t be replicated elsewhere due to the particular quality of the water used. Hoi An also boasts several high quality cooking schools where you can learn how to cook like a local!

Coastal areas, such as Nha Trang and Da Nang, are a seafood lover’s paradise with a shoreline replete with fine dining options as well as local stalls to keep you munching away!

A Ho Chi Minh City street food tour offers you some delicious options. In fact, Forbes magazine ranks this city as one of the top 10 street food destinations in the world! French colonial influence is evident from the many European-style coffee shops in Ho Chi Minh City, where stuffed baguettes are ever popular.

Our private Vietnam tours will take you deep into the South, where the food is significantly different from Chinese-inspired Northern Vietnam. In the Mekong Delta, people prefer their food spicier, and rice-based dishes are common. Vietnamese dishes in this part of the country draws influence from cuisine in Cambodia, Thailand as well as other neighboring regions of Southeast Asia. Taking a tour of the various floating markets in the Mekong Delta and trying local Vietnamese delicacies is one of the top things to do for any traveller.

Just off the coast of Vietnam and Cambodia, Phu Quoc island is yet another ideal destination for sun, surf and seafood.

Try some delicious Vietnamese food:

Pho: noodle soup served with fresh vegetables and meat

Cao lầu: a dish made with noodles, pork and leafy greens. In Hoi An it is specially made with water drawn from a 100-year-old well!

Bún chả: grilled pork served with vermicelli rice

Bánh khoai: pan-fried stuffed crepes made of rice flour

Bánh xèo: fried pancakes served with lettuce and herbs

Goi Cuon: fresh salad rolls served in summer that come with a variety of dips

Bahn mi: Ubiquitous French baguettes stuffed with liver pate, sausage and vegetables

Xoi Ga: sticky rice served with tender meat and herbs flavored by soy sauce

Egg Coffee: whipped egg served over steaming hot coffee

Bun bo nam bo: beloved noodle dish sans broth, served with meat, herbs, fish sauce and spicy chili pepper

Top Vietnam Travel Advice – Cuisine:

  • Travellers will find that fish sauce is practically inescapable during your Vietnam tour, as almost every dish will come with a liberal dose of fish sauce!
  • The country provides plenty for the curious palate in 3 regional traditions: savory in the north, spicy in the central region and sweet in the south.

Vietnam's History

Your Vietnam tour will ensure you aware of the country’s rich history, which is as diverse as the country’s natural beauty. There is evidence of humans settling here from as early as 500,000 BC! The Chinese introduced Confucianism and Mahayana Buddhism during their 1000-year rule, although many years of war and strife followed.

During your Vietnam vacations, you will see beautiful boulevards in Ho Chi Minh City (formerly known as Saigon) – an effect of French colonization in the 16th century. After the second World War, Ho Chi Minh signed a treaty with the French to unite the nation but foreign intervention worsened the situation. It was around this time that the infamous Viet Cong set up base in the Cu Chi Tunnels – an elaborate network of tunnels used as hiding spots as well as for supply runs. After many massacres and global anti-war protests, the USA withdrew its troops. Today, the tunnels are a major attraction that draws in foreign travelers interested in the war history.

Late in the 20th century, after the fight between the north and south had ended, the government introduced economic reforms. Ho Chi Minh City in the south became the official capital of the country. Modern-day Vietnam is a booming economy with focus on tourism. Despite many trials, the people have retained their warm spirit and simple lives, and Vietnam vacations are an important source of revenue.

Today, several small villages such as Phu Quoc and Da Nang have grown into important tourist destinations, offering a delightful slice of history and an insight into how far the country has progressed from its simple roots. Many historic relics await you in cities such as Hanoi, Hue, Hoi An and Ho Chi Minh, which you can explore with our local history experts.

Travel advice:

  • Over 1000-years old, Hanoi is all about ancient buildings, citadels, temples and art. Discover the Temple of Literature or the Hoa Lo Prison of Hanoi. At the former, you will find the first university of the country while the latter was used as part of French Indochina for prisoners as well as later during the Vietnam War.
  • The Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum of Hanoi serves as the final resting place for the famous founder of the country. An important site where visitors gather to pay their respects it’s also known for the ceremonial changing of the guards à la Buckingham Palace!

An important destination in South East Asia, Vietnam vacations offer a treasure trove of historic sites, cultural and culinary highlights. With advice from our experts and a superb on-the-ground team to assist you, explore the highlights on your private, tailor-made tour with us!

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