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Hoi An is a charming restricted-traffic city ideal for wandering. Ancient and peaceful, it’s one of the most popular destinations in Vietnam. Hoi An caters for travellers of all tastes and across the continents. With its colonial grandeur, mixed with majestic Khmer architecture and a lovely riverside setting, it boasts a selection of the country’s most elegant buildings. And they are all excellently preserved in a picture postcard perfect state. Unlike frenetic Ho Chi Minh and bustling Hanoi, in charming Hoi An, the attractive streets are lined with red lanterns, giving the whole city an otherworldly feel. Don’t miss the Japanese covered bridge, the ruins of My Son and a boat ride on the Thu Bon River. Known for its landmarks, a must visit while you're in Hoi An is Notre-Dame Cathedral, made entirely of materials imported from France, as well as the 19th century Central Post Office.

Make sure you catch a boat cruise to Halong Bay to see the exceptionally splendid UNESCO protected limestone islands rising from the emerald waters of the Gulf of Tonkin. This breathtaking site is a true spectacle, where the indigo, emerald and oyster colours of the landscape seem to come together in perfect harmony. Spend a couple of days on an elegant luxury junk boat and you’ll have the opportunity to explore the surrounding grottoes and caves, rich in biodiversity and a wonderful array of flora and fauna, as well as swimming and snorkelling in some of the area’s most beautiful, isolated beaches and lagoons.

The Mekong Delta is a startlingly fertile region of the country known as ‘Asia’s rice basket’ because this small area is single-handedly responsible for more than a third of the country’s annual food crop. Easily accessible from Ho Chi Minh City, a boat trip on the delta is an excellent way to get to know local Vietnamese life. This spectacularly beautiful region bustles with activity and, alongside lush fields of emerald crops, you’ll encounter farmers wearing their characteristic conical hats, and colourful floating markets selling produce from the region’s orchards, paddy fields and fish farms. Everywhere you go, groups of lively local children will never be too far away, often chasing your boat and waving excitedly from either riverbank.

Situated on the banks of the Red River, Hanoi in the north of Vietnam is one of the region’s most attractive cities, with its elegant French colonial architecture, elaborate temples, pagodas, and tranquil lakes. Hanoi’s Old Quarter has been a buzzing centre of trade for centuries, and today you can still pick up locally made silks and souvenirs to take back home. Nha Trang on Vietnam’s east coast is a charming base for a luxury holiday, with its long stretch of pristine sand and some of the region’s best diving and snorkelling. After dark, the numerous bars, restaurants and nightclubs wake up, giving this city a buzzing, thumping party vibe.

BEST TIME TO VISIT

Vietnam’s weather is dictated by two monsoons, which means that seasons vary across the country and there'll probably be some rainfall whenever you decide to travel. Despite this, year-round travel is a possibility, as long as you include some time in the south, which is likely to be warm and sunny whenever you plan your trip. To make the best of your time in Vietnam, a good bet is to opt for the short periods in between the monsoons; spring and autumn is a good time to travel because the southern region is likely to be dry and warm, but not too humid, and the northern region is warmer and drier than at other times. Either way, make sure you pack a jacket or waterproof, and then you’ll be protected whatever the weather.

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FAST FACTS

Time difference: GMT +8 hours.

Currency: Vietnamese Dong, although the American Dollar is also widely accepted.

Language: Vietnamese.

Flight time from London: Approximately 13 hours.

Arrival airport: Hanoi Airport. Transfers take approximately one hour.

Entry details for British passport holders: A visa is required and needs to be arranged before departure. Passports need at least one-month validity beyond the expiry date of your visa. Before you depart, check the latest travel advice at www.fco.gov.uk.


HERE TO HELP

A local Thomas Cook Signature representative will meet you at your arrival airport, check your booking details and escort you to your pre-booked transfer vehicle. You'll receive a welcome pack containing information about the local area and all contact details.


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