Sprawling over several provinces in Southwest Vietnam, the Mekong Delta is a vast waterworld, The Vienna of Southeast Asia. Overgrown with rice paddies and dense wildernesses of reeds, boat traffic winds through languid canals of muddy water and convenes in floating markets of dense and bustling commerce, seemingly at odds with the remote and otherworldly countryside. Your Mekong adventure will almost certainly lead you to the busy streets of Can Tho, the most developed city in the region.
Fun Fact: The muddy water and humid climate of the Mekong Delta makes it a haven for mosquitos. Bring an abundance of bug spray and apply it liberally.
A popular beach front destination, particularly for a handful of Russian airlines, Nha Trang boasts a long crescent beach, a turquoise bay of picturesque islands offering prime scuba diving real estate, and an unusually tropical setting for the structured and industrial Vietnam. Towering palm trees hang over open-air restaurants serving fresh, authentic seafood. Daily boat tours will take you out to the city’s nearby islands and bus tours will take you 20 km North to the Ba Ho Waterfalls. Nha Trang is notorious for its vibrant nightlife, and city will still be bumping late into the night, long after curfews send many residents of Hanoi and HCMC back to their homes.
Phu Quoc Islands
Vietnam’s largest island is actually disputed territory between Vietnam and Cambodia. For that reason, Phu Quoc Island has a noticeably large military presence, but that won’t interfere with the stunning beach experience that awaits you. 70% of the island is Phu Quoc National Park, a lush tropical wilderness best accessible by rented motorbike. The island’s many long beaches (including the very long Long Beach) face East into the gulf of Thailand. Scuba diving and kayaking the island’s many bays are popular activities. Consider a tour of one of the island’s famous fish sauce factories or pay a visit to the Coi Nguon Museum.
Tucked away in the misty mountains of the South Vietnam highlands, Da Lat is a romantic escape into Vietnam’s French-colonial history. Wrapped around the picturesque Xuan Huong Lake, you may find it easy to forget that you are still in the same country. The humid tropics of the metropolitan and coastal cities gives way to a refreshing, spring like climate, and the country’s harsh, communist architecture is replaced by quaint French villas and winding roads. Da Lat boasts a scenic golf course and a handful of beautiful pagodas. Check out the palace of Vietnam’s last emperor, Bao Dai, who fled the country in exile in 1954. The city’s kitschy train station offers an amusing photo op, and daytrips to breathtaking nearby waterfalls are a big draw for those seeking more natural wonders.