A treasure trove for the senses, Vietnam is buzzing with energy, enriched with culture, inhabited with stunning scenery and overflowing with authentic culinary delights. Offering the traveller an enchanting contrast of chaos and tranquillity, you can experience both the hustle and bustle of major cities while taking life at a slower pace and immersing yourself in the quaint surroundings of the central coast.
Vietnam’s capital, Hanoi, is one of the country’s most cosmopolitan cities. Fast paced and culturally rich, the city plays host to many historical landmarks like Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum, the Hoa Lu Temples and the Hoan Kiem Lake. With a combination of French Colonialism and Eastern influences, Hanoi’s Old Quarter is particularly special. The streets are crammed with Vespas, cars, bikes and anything with wheels, while the sidewalks are inhabited with an assortment of specialty vendors and street food. As you weave through the tangled streets of the Old Quarter, you can find plenty of trendy bars, cafes, restaurants, boutiques and incredible art galleries to entice you. When the sun begins to set, hundreds of locals and travellers unite on makeshift outdoor bars, pulling up tiny plastic stools as they drink beer and watch the night’s activity unfold.
What to do
- Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre
- The night markets in the Old Quarter
- Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum and the Hoa Lu Temples of the Dinh & Le Dynasties
- Hoan Kiem Lake
- Try the street food – Banh Mi, of course!
- Indulge in a traditional Vietnamese Coffee (coffee sweetened with condensed milk).
Eat & Drink
For the Much-Needed Coffee Fix: Loading T
With an endless choice of coffee destinations, Loading T is a quirky hideaway located on the second floor of a crumbling old French colonial building in the busy streets of Hanoi’s Hang Trong district. Loading T is quaint, cosy and serves the best coffee (hands-down) in the whole city.
For Breakfast: The Hanoi Social Club
A decent (Western/Australian) breakfast can be tricky to find in Hanoi, but if you like your Bircher muesli and avocado on toast, you won’t regret stopping off at The Hanoi Social Club. With its super cool, relaxed vibe, it’s the perfect way to ease into the day.
For Dinner: Green Tangerine
Located near the old quarter with a romantic French garden style outdoor setting, this restaurant is the ultimate fine dining experience. Its premium menu is infused with delicious French, Asian and Vietnamese flavours. Green Tangerine is one to tick off the bucket list.
On the central coast of Vietnam, you’ll find the breathtaking town of Hoi An. Brought to life with colour, Hoi An’s Old Town is lit up with glowing paper lanterns, friendly smiles and some of the best specialty boutiques you’ll ever set your eyes on. Treat yourself to a day of scouring through a collection of leather goods, traditional souvenirs, art galleries and a visit to Vietnam’s top fashion tailors (Yaly Couture is my pick). To finish off the day, take residency at one of the many bars along the Hoai River, while you sip on a local beer and soak in the tranquil atmosphere.
Just 5kms from the city centre, An Bang Beach is a destination guaranteed to please. Wake up early for a sunrise walk along the beach, and spend the afternoon soaking up the sun with a pina colada in hand.
What to do
- The Old Town
- Japanese Covered Bridge
- Hung Long Art Gallery
- A bike ride through the rice paddies
- A boat ride along the Hoai River
- Book a cooking class at Baby Mustard Restaurant
Eat & Drink
For Brunch: Rosie’s Cafe
Wake up with a delicious selection of fresh juices, smoothies and some cult-classic western brekkie meals. You can find Rosie’s Cafe down a quiet lane in the Old Town – a little tricky to find, but well worth it!
For Dinner: Mango Mango
Enjoy a delicious meal with an outstanding view. Run by celebrity chef Duc Tran, it’s no wonder Mango Mango is one of Hoi An’s most popular restaurants. The menu celebrates modern-Vietnamese flavours with a twist, with Tran fusing unexpected combinations into award winning Vietnamese cuisines.
For Drinks and Live Music: Dive Bar
Kick on after dinner for some drinks, dancing and live music at Hoi An’s Dive Bar. Welcoming a fun-loving crowd of expats, travellers and locals, the popular bar is a guaranteed destination for a great night out. If you’re feeling creative, you can even mix your very own cocktails between 5pm-11pm every night.