Vietnam, a country with immense war history and resilient people that withstood foreign oppression for several years, is a narrow strip of land along the borders of Cambodia and Laos. Now, it’s one of the fastest growing economies in South East Asia. In fact, the country is changing so fast that within a decade, its face might change completely. So, my dear fellow travelers, if you want to get a feel of this amazing country while its still authentic, right now would be great. So pack your bags and dive into the culture that is dominated by rice, Bia Hoi, Coffee and of course, Pho!
1. Mekong Delta
Travelers have a love-hate relationship with Vietnam. They get attracted to this country like bees on a flower, but soon find it too crowded and less authentic. But, if you are willing to step out of the main cities and attractions, you will find that the culture’s authenticity still lies in small villages. Mekong Delta is a place in the South of Vietnam, where mighty Mekong splits itself like fingers and runs through rice fields and mangrove forests. Here, time comes to a halt, as the men gather around and drink rice wine, while women have a relaxed afternoon conversation. Villages like Bac Lieu, have a laidback life that every traveler craves for. There isn’t much to do here, except to relax with a local family, navigate the river through thick cover of water lilies and watch the Sun go down over the rice fields.
Set a long a quiet river, a little quiet town of Hoi An is a perfect location to take your loved one along and get enchanted in its simple beauty. If you, find the heat unbearable, relax at one of many food joints while sipping Bia Hoi, the cheapest beer in Asia! Or else, do a bicycle ride to the nearest sandy beach and soak in its cool waters, till the afternoon strolls by. The town boasts historical architecture, but its true beauty comes out as the Sun fades over the horizon. As the lanterns are lit and little girls along the river start selling small oil lamps, the town and its famous architecture is soaked in bright lights. The river reflects this scene quite passionately and sitting along its side and enjoying the evening breeze is as romantic as it can get.
3. Old Quarter, Hanoi
A visit to Vietnam is never complete without experiencing the Old Quarter rush in Hanoi. This city center is unlike any other in the world, where streets are narrow, like a maze and are named after the trade. The architecture is French and so is the coffee. Walking through this crowded area might take you to a secluded balcony in a café on a second floor of an old building, where you can sit, enjoying the coffee and observing the daily life. If you happen to be there on a weekend, the streets get even more crowded, as various stalls of weekend market spring to life. Enjoy this buzz and shop something for people back home!
And don’t worry, there’s plenty of Pho at every corner of the street, should you feel hungry from all the walking.
Related post: Authentic things to do in Hanoi.
4. Phong Nha
Sun shines over the rice fields that cover the narrowest strip of land in the country. Phong Nha is a very little town that has become popular due to the longest cave in the world, which was discovered a few years back. There are plenty of caves here, to impress or scare you, but chilling out at the village and watching the rice harvest is something that everyone should experience.
5. Halong Bay
Too popular to be any good, is what many travelers think of this place. But in spite of its popularity and heavy crowd, the place retains its beauty and enchantment. The name of the place literally means, where dragons descended and these limestone backs jutting out of quiet blue waters is a pretty sight for sore eyes. Take one of many cruises arranged from Hanoi or catch a boat directly from Halong city, either ways, its easy to fall in love with the bay. Bored of being on the boat? Then head to Cat Ba island and take bicycle ride through its heart, while soaking in the serenity and peace.