With its beautiful beaches, and an excellent cuisine, Vietnam has become one of my favorite destinations for travel. My dad served in the Vietnam war, and he has frequently told me it is one of the most beautiful countries he has ever seen. We just returned from our fun filled vacation in this country, and I whole-heartedly agree. Here are 5 stunning reasons why I love Vietnam and why I will travel there again.

I remember telling my friends and family that I wanted to travel to Vietnam. At first, they were skeptical. Weren’t we at war with Vietnam at one time? Many of my parent’s friends had lost their lives there. As a matter of fact, I was named after my parent’s best friend who had lost his life in the Vietnam war. I have traveled all over south east Asia, and I thought my travels would be incomplete if I didn’t see this beautiful country for myself. I am happy I made the trip.

Vietnam Hanoi Kids

Smile – The war is in the past
On our first day in Vietnam, my girlfriend and I met a local Vietnamese guy named Than who is with a volunteer group called the Hanoi Kids.  Acting as our cheerful guide just for a day, Than asked us what we thought of Vietnam so far while we were on our trip. He knew I was from the US, and he was curious about how we felt about his wonderful country. I told him, while we were taking a break and enjoying a delicious bowl of Pho, that “I love it here, everyone is really nice”. We talked a little about the war and the sadness caused by it. He said he was relieved that Americans are now starting to feel better about Vietnam. Than has a smile I could not refuse, and he was a pleasure to be around the whole day. If you are planning a trip to Vietnam, I definitely suggest you spend a day with the Hanoi Kids. They are a small volunteer group of college students who give free 1 day tours (yes – free!) of the city of Hanoi to anyone who visits and books a tour in advance. There website is here.

Vietnam Food 1

 

Vietnam Food 2

Vietnamese food is the best in the world
I have traveled and tasted food from all over South East Asia, and I have to say my favorite is the food we ate while we were in Vietnam. A long time ago, Vietnam used to be a French colony for hundreds of years, and you will find a fusion of French and Asian spices that is indescribably good. I love to eat fresh vegetables and fruit, and the Vietnamese take this art form to a perfection. There is a hint of a perfectly spiced Asian taste, but it’s not overly spicy. Add to that another hint of French sauces and flavors. It’s amazing, just amazing. Our favorite restaurant, the Gia Ding BB, was recommended to us from some locals we met while at a coffee shop.

The people are genuinely nice
Hanoi is a very big town. Very big, and very busy. But the people have a small town attitude when it comes to courtesy and taking care of each other. For example: The streets are very busy and the traffic is very fast, and there are no crosswalks. It is near to impossible to cross any road on foot without feeling intimidated. People more than once noticed our obvious dismay about crossing these busy streets on foot, and perfect strangers were more than willing to help us cross the street in the busiest traffic. It reminds me much as the same people I met while I was in Thailand. Genuinely nice people. Not once were we hassled on the streets in any way.

Vietnam Angel Palace Hotel 1

Beautiful and inexpensive hotels are everywhere
Fortunately, beautiful and inexpensive hotels can be found all over Vietnam. And for around $30 a night, the Angel Palace Hotel is a bargain in the city of Hanoi. It’s centrally located near the night market, and at that cost it also includes an very tasty breakfast. There are marble floors throughout the hotel, and the wood trim looks like it came from a Victorian era. A link to the Angel Palace Hotel can be found here.

Halong Bay Vietnam

 

Vietnam Halong Bay Boat Cruise

Vietnam Halong Bay 4

Vietnam has amazing scenery
Later in the week, we took a boat over to Halong Bay, and the islands are amazing. We booked a cruise on a junk boat that meandered through some of the 1700 limestone rock formations in this famous bay. If you are a cave junkie like myself, there are many caves to explore throughout this beautiful country as well.

If you only visit one country in South East Asia – Pick Vietnam
Vietnam is more than a country that we used to go to war with. The people are super friendly and the food is amazing. Top that off with beautiful scenery and culture…you can’t miss out on this gem. As I am writing this article, I am already planning for my next trip. So much to see, so little time.