From Ho Chi Minh to Hanoi, Sapa to Dalat, Phu Quoc to Con Dao and everywhere in-between, the number of globetrotters greeted by the blistering Vietnamese heat sizzling from the tarmac grows every day. They wear tank tops, elephant pants, flip flops and fanny packs and have vastly different destinations in mind—rowdy dive bars, serene half-moon beaches, reclusive towering mountain ranges. There is no singular type. There are no unifying characteristics. These are beach bums and thrill seekers, culture trippers and history buffs. And while they may differ from one another vastly, the reasons for the boom in their numbers are all related. This is a tourism renaissance that mirrors the impressive growth of the country’s metropolises, a renaissance both arranged and organic.
The Ease of Travel
With an eye toward rerouting the flow of tourism dollars from nearby Thailand and Malaysia, the Vietnamese government has relaxed the often complex visa policy. The number of international hubs has expanded to 11, and transcontinental flights continue to be added weekly. Traveling to Vietnam has never been cheaper or easier and tourists are taking note.
Destinations Unlocked:Let our travel expert Stefano help you find your perfect Culture trip
Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
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An Off-the-Beaten-Path Adventure
Koh Samui’s been done. Koh Phi Phi too. A new generation of travelers in constant search of the newest, greatest adventure has “discovered” Vietnam. Pristine jungles, endless white-sand beaches, chaotic cities, and all night parties are proof that there’s more than just Thailand to see in Southeast Asia. For many, the allure of Vietnam is the unspoiled nature of the nation. Unlike its neighbors, it just hasn’t been done yet. The tracks are less trodden, the coastline less explored, the cities still authentic. While Khaosan Road has lost its gritty charm, Bui Vien drowns in sin. There’s a certain palpable edge that electrifies this nation from Saigon to Hanoi.
Or maybe it’s just the prices. Vietnam is cheap. Dirt cheap. Why shell out on that Southeast Asian vacation when you can travel, explore, eat and drink for less?
The Outside Influences
“So back in Vietnam, one of my favorite places on earth. And all of the things I need for happiness. Little plastic stool, check. Tiny little plastic table, check. Ooh. Something delicious in a bowl.”-Anthony Bourdain, Parts Unknown
There’s no question that certain outside influencers have done wonders for Vietnamese tourism. This is a country that was shut off from the rest of the world until the mid 1990’s, a country whose culture, landscape, and food were unexplored mysteries. Certain programs, articles, and exposes provided the world with windows into the action—glimpses into a fascinating unknown. The now famous Top Gear: Vietnam Special is the single best example of the effect this can have. The program didn’t only provide inspiration for adventurous travelers, it helped spawn an industry.
“A deserted ribbon of perfection—one of the best coast roads in the world.”-Jeremy Clarkson describing the Hai Van Pass, Top Gear
Motorbikes are as ingrained in Vietnam’s culture and society as rice or pho. They are an integral part of life to nearly all 95 million inhabitants of this long winding stretch of land. And today, thanks in no small part to Jeremy Clarkson and the cast of Top Gear, the motorbike is a fundamental part of Vietnamese tourism as well. Thousands of foreigners purchase second hand bikes and set off each week to ride the length of the country. The trek has become a rite of passage for the Southeast Asia backpacker, a bragging contest that has netted the nation millions.
All along the country’s coast, motorbikes are rented to thrill-seeking travelers. Signs advertising the Top Gear special hang in hostel windows from Hue to Nha Trang. It’s an undeniably unique travel experience that doesn’t exist in Thailand or Malaysia. Furthermore, with added investment into country-wide infrastructure projects, roads have improved and new destinations pop up each month. It’s not uncommon to hear backpackers describe riding Vietnam’s mountainous north as exploring the final frontier of Southeast Asia.
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Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
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