With the end of the Vietnam War nearly 40 years in the rearview mirror, it might surprise some readers to learn that our old communist foe is turning into a desirable travel destination for the well-heeled set and others. To US military veterans who served in combat there and would rather remove their spleen with a rusty fork than ever set foot on Vietnamese soil again – we mightily respect both your service to your country and your opinion – but it doesn’t change the reality that Vietnam and Cambodia have become the most popular travel destinations in Southeast Asia.
Why Vietnam? Why now? The truth is that, sooner or later, every country looking to improve its stature and help the local economy begins looking around for ways to attract tourists. Since bombs and napalm are no longer falling from the sky, and the political scene has stabilized to a large extent, travelers no longer fear venturing to Vietnam.
It doesn’t hurt that a new class of luxury hotels, world class golf courses, trains, cruises, and other forms of private tours have sprung into existence. Savvy tourism boards realize that today’s swanky traveler wants experiences. It also doesn’t hurt that Vietnam combines beaches and the kind of tropical scenery that people don’t mind paying high dollar for.
The swanky little secret is that American tourists will probably find a favorable exchange rate, which means your money goes further. So while Vietnam markets itself as a luxury getaway destination, you don’t need to be super-rich to go there.
Like history? Vietnam offers nearly one thousand years of it in the capital city of Hanoi. A 600-year-old complex of Buddhist temples stands in a cluster on the outskirts of town. And don’t miss the Thay Pagoda, which dates back to the 11th century and gave the world water puppetry.
Like beaches? They’ve got ‘em. Here are a few of the more popular choices.
- Phu Quoc Islands – Paradise on earth for kayaking, snorkeling, diving, fishing, surfing, and more.
- Mui Ne – Surf capital of Vietnam.
- Nha Trang – One of the most beautiful bays to be found in the world.
- Danang – Coral, white, sandy beaches, and crystal clear water make this a premium diving spot.
As Jake Swank likes to remind visitors to his swanky penthouse, one should consider global travel both a joy and obligation to personal growth. And now that the war’s over, Vietnam’s back in play (Top image: Flickr | Herr_Bert).
The Jake Swank Team