Vietnam's capital city, Hanoi is a bustling hub in the north of the country full of historic sites. The roads are packed with scooters and motorbikes weaving all over the place and the pavements are littered with people selling everything and anything. As a pedestrian you can only occupy the very small space in between the two, often referred to as the gutter. Walks her are far from peaceful but that is part of its appeal. There are lot of sites to see and visit including the famous Hoa Lo Prison. Stay in the Old Town and make sure you pull up a plastic stool on Bia Hoi corner and enjoy a fresh beer while watching the world go by.
Ha Long Bay
Considered a bit of a natural wonder, Ha Long Bay is a series of thousands of limestone islands emerging from the water. You can easily visit on a day trip from Hanoi and once here you can visit the nearby caves and take to the water on little bamboo boats to go exploring. A UNESCO world heritage site (quite rightly) this is not to be missed.
Up in the mountains of the north, Sapa overlooks a valley, filled with green rice paddies. A hazy mist surrounds the area which is popular for trekking and visiting hill tribes. A world away from the mayhem of Hanoi.
Nha Trang is the place to get your fix of beach time in Vietnam. Sweeping with sandy beaches this is the perfect place to relax and break from continuous tiring tourism activities. Very popular with Russian tourists, I had a weird experience of a Mexican restaurant run by a Russian in Vietnam, where a baked tortilla was branded as nachos and served with a complementary shot of vodka. Go for this reason alone.
The historic city of Hue lies in central Vietnam with a 19 Century citadel at its core surrounded by a moat and stone walls. You could spend an extensive amount of time exploring all the features of this city which also includes several pagodas and tombs as well a lovely gardens. The Perfume River runs through the centre and is worth a wander.
Riverside town Hoi An is absolutely beautiful combining influences of Chinese, Japanese and French architecture. Yellow villas complete with wooden shutters line the Thu Bon River which is full boats in the daytime and floating lanterns in the evening. Take a tour of all the historic sites or simply enjoy the view and culinary highlights of this wonderful town.
Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)
Vietnam's largest city and capital of the south, Saigon was renamed after the Vietnam War in honour of communist leader Uncle Ho. Still with plenty of history to share like its northern cousin, Hanoi, Saigon feels less grey urban jungle - a little more colour and culture embodies its streets. Having said that do make sure you see all the historic sites it has to offer including the War Remnants Museum and the Reunification Palace. There are also lots of pagodas and places of worship that are great to visit, including the city's very own Notre Dame Cathedral and Ben Thanh Market will even fascinate the most accomplished market lover. Stay in the Pham Ngu Lao area for budget accommodation and a good atmosphere. In addition, a must do day trip is to visit the Cu Chi Tunnels - a network of underground tunnels used by the Viet Cong during the war.