Vietnam is opening its doors to the outside world and the opportunity to see its unspoilt natural treasures, amazing cities and historic culture should not be missed. Hanoi is the Vietnam’s capital city in the north of the country and Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC), formerly known as Saigon, is in the south. Both are quite different experiences and a two centre holiday staying at two Vietnam holiday rentals in the best way to see all aspects of this amazing country. The main language is Vietnamese although french and English is spoken by some. The currency is the Dong.
Sample the french-inspired cuisine in HCMC and go shopping on the thriving Ben Thanh Market, one of more than 40 markets which have sprung up in recent times. You can haggle for everything from cobra wine to fine silks and Japanese gadgets. Pose for a photograph outside the City Hall, next to the statue of Uncle Ho and make sure you visit one of the very pleasant pagodas in the city with their gorgeous sculptures. You can rent a motorbike to get around for just a few dollars a day. In Hanoi, explore this french colonial town on foot and appreciate its faded charm. Go shopping in the mazelike Old Quarter of Hanoi and pick up antiques, flowers and local handicrafts. Sample the local ‘Cha Ca’, a delicious red fish stew served with rice noodles, shrimp sauce, fried peanuts and pickled vegetables.
Rex’s Hotel in HCMC is the gathering place for ex-Pats and westerners and is a great place to chat with a drink beneath decorative fairy lights serenaded by caged singing birds. In the city, the Reunification Palace is exactly as it was the day Saigon fell to the North Vietnamese, including the tank on the front lawn. Those interested in the war will want to visit the War Remnants Museum and the Cu Chi Tunnels of the Viet Cong. In Hanoi the crowded streets carry the names of what to expect as you shop - Rice Street, Silk Street and even Pots and Pans Street! The main sights are the 900-year old Temple of Literature and the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum.
Vietnam is so long that is has a tropical climate in the south and a subtropical climate in the north, although both are affected by the monsoon season. North Vietnam has a cool winter around 22°C (72°F) from November to April and a hotter humid summer with monsoon rains. South Vietnam is hot from March to May, reaching 30°C (86°F) with possible monsoon rains from May to October.
The Noi Ban (HAN) International Airport is 35km (21 miles) north of Hanoi and buses and taxis are available to take travellers into the city. Tan son Nhat (SGN) Airport is just outside Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) and taxis are the best way to travel to your Vietnam holiday rental. Flights from Paris to Hanoi take approximately 12 hour.