Standing back and looking at the traffic situation in Hanoi is like finding a metaphor for the country itself. It bears a resemblance to the attitude, verve and the agility of a nation that has embraced the future like a cheeky little school kid in summer shorts making his blistering way to the candy shop with single-minded purpose – and be damned if you’re in his way! Yet behind that cheeky demeanour, all that noise and verve also lies the scholar and an academic, a depth that can be discovered only if you choose to step into this very traffic, let it swallow you and carry you along in its tide. Consumed by Chinese, French and Hindu influences over the centuries, Vietnam’s history remains archived not only in its many fascinating temples, monuments and ancient quarters but goes beyond and transposes itself into the very fabric of the country: the costumes that people wear, the festivals they celebrate, the very food they eat – spices and herbs given its own regional twist to go slurping down a demanding belly. With its spectacular beaches, mist-covered mountains, clear oceans and an intricate cave system, Vietnam is also an outdoors paradise revealing itself more wholesomely through water logged paddy fields, limestone islands, karst valleys and the ever present Mekong Delta. All that Vietnam asks is to let yourself in through that little crack in the door making it one of our favourite destinations for travellers in their 30's and 40's.
Best time to visit: In general, the best time to visit Vietnam is during December through February when temperatures are milder and rain is minimal. Vietnam's long, narrow shape means that the three primary regions (north, central, and south) experience different types of seasons and weather events throughout the year.
Currency: Vietnamese dong
Weather and Average temperature: While the weather varies from North to South Vietnam, the average summer temperature is 30C (86F), while winter averages vary between 17 – 22C (63 – 72F).
National Language: Vietnamese
Top Dishes to try: Xoi ga: sticky rice and meat served on banana leaf, Pho noodle broth, Thit nuong: noodle salad, Goi cuon: fresh spring rolls.