A Traveler's Guide to Vietnam
Vietnam is fast becoming one of the world’s most sought out travel destinations. Just last year, Trip Advisor named it the 6th best destination for authentic travel experiences, just behind Greece, Mexico, Portugal and Morocco and overtaking Thailand for the first time ever. Foreign and local travellers alike love Vietnam for its pristine and natural beauty, vibrant nightlife, and excellent prices, all of which make for unique and memorable travel experiences.
Locals are considered to be exceptionally friendly, welcoming, and optimistic about the future of their country as it opens to global capital and foreigners. Travellers are also drawn to Vietnam’s growing economy, modern conveniences, and diverse culinary options with world-class restaurants such as La Veranda Phu Quoc’s top-ranked resort, featuring the Peppertree, one of Phu Quoc’s best restaurants offering gourmet experiences with local touches.
Add to that white sand beaches in places like Mui Ne, Phu Quoc island and Nha Trang, lush mountains in Sapa and hilltop villages, pristine valleys, and modern megacities, all woven together by a culture that is diverse and complex, and you have a one-of-a-kind travel experience in Vietnam.
The Origins of Vietnam’s Diverse Cultural Experiences
Vietnam’s Origin Story is a poetic tale that can explain both the strength and beauty of this complicated country. The legendary fable of the Dragon and the Fairy artfully explains the origins of the Vietnamese people. As the creation myth goes, the fairy Âu Cơ lived in the mountainous highlands of what is now known as Northern Vietnam, and fell in love with a dragon who came from the sea. She bore an egg, and from this egg were born the people that would come to be known as the Vietnamese. The dragon father gave the Vietnamese people their strength and perseverance while the fairy gave her mystical elegance, healing skills and sympathetic heart.
Beyond the poetic myths, Vietnam is quite complex in its history, with its culture being a manifestation of a variety of influences. It’s geographical position, south of China, and east of Laos and Cambodia, have made it a much sought after territory for millennia. The Chinese occupied Vietnam for over 1,000 years until the Vietnamese liberated themselves in the 10th century. Chinese influence is still ubiquitous in Vietnam, from Buddhist pagodas to culinary standards like rice and noodles, even some of the words have Chinese origins, though the Vietnamese language with its multitude of tones and Latin alphabet is utterly unique in the world.
During the colonial era, both the Japanese and French had a strong presence in Vietnam, which can still be seen in the architecture and culinary traditions present throughout the country. French-Indochine era homes can easily be seen in Hanoi, Hoi An and even on the island paradise of Phu Quoc. The heritage style architecture of the seaside mansion at La Veranda Resort takes inspiration from this bygone era. It is filled with authentic art and furnishings from Vietnam in the early part of the 20th century, creating a nostalgic elegance that travellers can experience along with inclusions of 21st-century luxuries.
Culinary and Language Traditions in the North, Central and South Vietnam
It is often stated that Vietnam can be considered three distinctly different countries delineated by the North, Central, and the South. It is often said that “The North is political, the South is open (to commerce, foreigners, innovation) and the Centre is secretive.”
These may all be traits that each region has adopted for political expediency, but the fact remains that a variety of influences have created a distinction between the three parts. Perhaps one of the more noticeable differences between them lies in spoken language. Many northerners speak with a strong accent that seems punctuated with z’s, whereas the southern accent sounds a bit softer with those z’s replaced by “y” sounds.
Some Vietnamese people from the North and the South might tell you that they find the central dialect difficult to decipher. Moreover, the culinary variances between the three regions are also vast. In days past, royalty in the Northern provinces preferred elegant dishes, and so it became the practice to refrain from the overuse of spices in foods. Also, since the summers in the North tended to be particularly sweltering, spicy food was not preferred.
The Central regions were once dominated by the Cham kingdom, which used a lot of spice and so the food there tends to be the zestiest. The Southern region was dominated by the Khmer, who also populated Cambodia. Their preference for sweet additions to their savoury dishes influenced the Southern palate. The South has always been the most fertile of the three regions, bearing the majority of the fruits, vegetables and herbs in the country. It has also historically been the most international of the three regions, so it has the most diversity in its cuisine.
When Are the Best Times to Travel to Vietnam?
When planning a trip to Vietnam, perhaps the first thing that must be put into consideration is the climate and the best time of year to visit. Much of Vietnam experiences what local people consider to be two seasons, rainy season and dry season, depending on the region.
Generally speaking, the optimal times for travelling in Vietnam are the spring and autumn, specifically from February to April and then from August until October. During these times, the temperature is moderate and rainfall is minimal. March and April have the least rainfall of the entire year across all destinations and for the most part, temperatures are pleasurable during these months. Other times of the year can be challenging for travellers, whether it’s the heat and humidity of the South, the relentless dry heat and then cold winters (including snow!) in the North, or the torrential downfalls of rain flooding the Central regions. The climate and weather in Vietnam can make or break your holiday plans so take them into strong consideration when you’re bringing clothing as well.
A Beach Resort Paradise to Experience the Cultural Heritage of Vietnam
Motorbiking across Vietnam has become a popular “bucket list” travelling experience, with western foreigners often driving over the course of weeks from the North to the South, and then venturing off the motorbike trail for a trip to Phu Quoc island at the southern end of Vietnam for some much-needed rest and relaxation.
Phu Quoc is well-known for its pristine, blue waters, luxury and boutique resorts dotting its coastlines and is referred to by many as “the Maldives of Asia”. Phu Quoc is a destination that has the versatility of being both a family-friendly and romantic getaway. The island is especially popular with Saigon residents who need only board a plane for an hour-long flight in order to enjoy majestic ocean views and the serene sounds of the seaside. One of the best features of this island paradise is that it can be enjoyed year round and is easily accessed from anywhere in the world.
It is on the island you can find one of the top luxury boutique hotels in Vietnam - La Veranda Phu Quoc Resort. As an AccorHotels Group MGallery Collection Heritage hotel, it has quite a reputation to uphold as a one-of-a-kind destination for travellers seeking to immerse themselves in a place of refined beauty that provides high-calibre culinary experiences. This seaside mansion offers a glimpse of the cultural heritage that we mentioned before. French Indochine stylings set in the lush beauty of Vietnam’s tropical biosphere.
La Veranda’s sumptuous layout includes an organic garden, spa, beachside villa, a wellness sanctuary, as well as top-notch fine-dining options in a five-star environment. This sophisticated, colonial-style mansion has been thrilling guests in need of deluxe downtime in secluded solitude. La Veranda Phu Quoc provides a perfect way to start or to cap-off your cross-country Vietnam experience!
Image source: La Veranda Resort Phu Quoc