The word Vietnam immediately conjures up images of farmers under conical straw hats tending rice fields, tree-lined boulevards with cafes and bistros in Hanoi, colorful hilltribe markets nestled in breathtaking mountain scenery, a wooden sailing junk crossing Halong Bay, fabulous vistas over Danang Bay from high up on the Hai Van Pass (Pass of “Sea Clouds”) or the quaint seaside town of Hoi An that has become home to many artists. Still, your spiritual eye might picture ancient pagodas of the Cham Empire, a water puppet theatre, shiny lacquer ware, crispy deep fried spring rolls and other Vietnamese delicacies or girls wearing the graceful Ao Dai and long-sleeved gloves riding their bicycles among thousands of others in the hustle and bustle of Saigon.
Vietnam has a coastline of over 3400 kms and has so many things to offer that one visit alone will hardly do it justice. Take an overnight trip on the luxurious Victoria Train to Sapa and trek to hilltribe villages, enjoy a cruise of two or more days on your own sailing junk in Halong Bay, learn about the philosophy of Cao Dai Religion in Tay Ninh, explore life along one of the nine arms of the Mekong River in the Mekong Delta or simply indulge in a beach holiday at a secluded resort; the choice is entirely yours. However, you will discover an exciting and spirited people balancing their lives between hard work, old world charm and ancient tradition in one of the world’s fastest growing economies.