Every trip is bound to be different, but a holiday in one of the most vibrant parts of the world is sure to capture the imagination. From the sights to the senses found on the streets of what used to be Saigon, how do you make a Vietnam holiday complete?
A world unlike that of Australia, a Vietnam travel experience is something often described as surreal and totally different. Regardless of where you start, the street is likely to be the first place you go, and there's a great reason: it's the colourful entrance to the amazing world that Vietnam is, and a total feast for the senses.
Whether you're walking through the humidity heaped streets or running for cover from the rain in Ho Chi Minh City, the streets are filled with scents and flavours set to tantalise, be it a tasty hot pho bursting with the flavours of beef and spice, or the celebrated banh mi, Vietnamese rolls packed with pork, coriander, pate, and soy.
Finding these isn't hard, either. Simply let your nose do the walkin down the aromatic aisles, before setting sight on the menu that says either of those words, or just watch what other buyers are getting, and point and pay!
And if you're feeling like you're keen to try something slightly different, look for nem chua (fermented pork roll), trung vit lon (full-formed dark egg), and finish it up with a cup of ca phe trung (coffee with egg foam on top). It's an experience that'll make every Vietnam holiday more interesting, and give you a taste for the indelible and absolutely edible fusion that Vietnamese cooking brings to the table.
Food is just one part of what Vietnam travel delivers, because after you've feasted and put yourself into a foodie-driven coma, you'll need to redress yourself. Fortunately, the famed experts of Vietnam can help, and you don't need to venture too far off the beaten track of any Vietnam tour to find a place to make you that new wardrobe.
In fact, they're everywhere. The bright colours of materials and garments will make themselves known, as well-lit rooms showcase wares you can wear direct from the streets, and that's if they don't start calling out to you.
Getting measured is easy enough, too: find a tailor, get measured, feel the comfort of a perfectly tailored suit or dress, and wait a good day or two until for delivery. Just make sure you don't leave for a few days, because if it doesn't fit naturally, you'll want to set aside some time to get every crease ironed out.
Armed with new clothes and a taste for the aromatic, your Vietnam travel experience is off to a good start, but you still need to make your way around the country, and there's only one real way to do it: like a local on two wheels.
You'll see them everywhere, and they outnumber cars ridiculously, with over 95 percent of registered vehicles in Vietnam having two wheels, not four. That means most people get around on motorbikes or scooters, and you can, too.
Vietnam tours can be made even more special on motorbikes, and a quick search will reveal an assortment of places that can take you on a tour around all parts of the country, including that of Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh, and the road less travelled through Vietnam's less crowded landscape. Just make sure to check your insurance policy to make sure you've grabbed the right insurance for the trip, and don't go too fast. You want to take in the sights, not let them whiz by!
Regardless of what you do when you land, there are things no Vietnam travel adventure is complete without.
Must see Vietnam includes the totally picturesque top of Vietnam that is Ha Long Bay, with its 1600 limestone islands and remarkable caves at the Gulf of Tonkin, while Hoi An offers a glimpse at the remarkable fusion of culture that Vietnam is, with a mixture of French, Chinese, and Japanese. Hoi An is unlike any other town you've visited, and you need to pay to enter. It's only about $7 locally (120,000 in Vietnamese Dong), but Hoi An is a must see for culture.
Also on the must see Vietnam list are the offerings from Ho Chi Minh City, including the War Remnants Museum, the Cu Chi tunnels, and the Giac Lam Pagoda, all of which provide a glimpse into the history of Vietnam, as does Hanoi's One Pillar Pagoda, the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long, and the great Hanoi Opera House, elevating a trip beyond sight, smell, taste, and touch.