A country celestially blessed with beauty but endowed with star-crossed history. It is said to have originated from the legendary union between King of the Sea and Princess of the Mountains, whose bond must have been particularly strong if, having gone through the heart-tearing separation and the nightmare of war, they managed to heal the extensive wounds just two decades after the lucky reunion. And although Vietnam is to a large extent perceived through the lens of someone else's mistakes, more and more travelers wax lyrical on recalling its invigorating smells, beguiling natural beauty, the buzz of the cities and the tranquility of village life.
The interplay of colors unfolding in front of your eyes is truly kaleidoscopic as you're making your way across the country. From the thousand limestone islets sequining the Ha Long Bay that turns red-hot in the descending sun to unbelievably green rice paddies of Sapa sprinkled all over with conical hats swishing here and there as the farmers collect their harvest, from the tranquility-blessed beaches and lush greenery of Phu Quoc to the red-tinged scenery and bustling resort life of Mui Ne. Vietnam is nothing short of stunning and the vitality of colors making up the landscape is bound to fire your imagination and longing once you're back home, spread on a comfy sofa and browsing discfuls of pictures deserving a National Geographic cover. Time permitting, get your rear ends shaken out on local buses taking you for a lifetime excursion around the northwest highlands, which takes in Mai Chau, Son La, Dien Bien Phu and Lai Chau before finally heading to the capital.
In Hanoi picturesque pagodas adorn the cityscape along with whizzing mopeds and motorcycles heading at breakneck speed down the wrong side of the road. With the red light being merely a suggestion for the happy-go-lucky drivers to stop, crossing the street without having your heart in the mouth is virtually a mission impossible. Yet, you'll find this dumbfounding cacophony an endearing contrast to the otherwise peaceful destination, and mind you, this is just a grain of rice compared to what's left to see and experience.