Vietnam has extended its visa-waiver scheme for another three years, making it easier for travellers from the UK – as well as France, Germany, Spain and Italy – to visit the Southeast Asian nation.
Holidaymakers from these four countries will be permitted entry for up to 15 days without having to acquire documentation, while an e-visa will be necessary for for trips of up to 30 days.
Here, our experts have picked 17 reasons you should take advantage of a paperwork-free trip to one of the world’s last communist countries.
1. Hustle and bustle in Hanoi
What makes the capital so interesting is that it feels very old-fashioned, stuck in the past with its French colonial history entrenched in its pavement cafes, architecture and wide tree-lined boulevards. Take a ride in one of the thousands of tuk-tuks swarming through the city’s streets to get a sense of the daily buzz.
2. Visit Ho Chi Minh
Not the city, but the man. The communist revolutionary and first president of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam lies embalmed in his Hanoi mausoleum, as he has done since his death in 1969. The body lies in a glass case in a cooled, central hall, through which visitors must pass silently to pay their respects.
3. Get suited and booted
Head to the trading port of Hoi An – regarded not only as the tailoring capital of Vietnam, but of Southeast Asia too – to have a suit tailor-made for as little as £75. Ladies can have dresses made to measure for a similar cut-price. Take an empty bag on the outbound flight so that you can take your new wardrobe home with you.
4. Breathe in the Mekong
The famed river winds its way through Southeast Asia, but flows into the South China Sea at the Mekong Delta just south of Ho Chi Minh City. This is Vietnam at its most pastoral. Here, more than 1,000 species of animals live side by side in what is described as a “biological treasure trove”. If you’re looking for a little more human interaction, take a boat to explore the floating markets.
5. Go underground
A bit of a cliche, perhaps, near Ho Chi Minh City, but the Cu Chi tunnels of the Viet Cong are worth crawling through. You can shoot a kalashnikov or an AK47 (for a small fee) if that’s your thing.