South East Asian nations tend to have in common the sad fact that they have undergone a recent incredibly turbulent history. Of course nowhere is this more the case than in Vietnam. But it seems, out of tragedy, and with strength a people and culture can flourish. Vietnam is today a must visit destination for anybody who loves to travel in this region.
Vietnam now offers so much to the overseas visitor; a warm welcome from the locals, a cuisine that owes as much to the French baguette as it does to the rice noodle, luxurious beach resorts and holiday towns, a rich history and architecture, and creativity and designer talent that is literally bursting at the seams. It is not surprising that foreign tourists, who have been able to travel freely in Vietnam since 1997, numbered over 7 million in 2014.
If you are visiting Vietnam you will probably arrive at either Hanoi in the North or Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) in the South; both very different cities but both brimming with street food on every corner and seemingly millions of scooters all driving in the same direction at the same time - where are they all going? Fashion Designers have popped up in these major cities and lacquerware for the home can be found at the major markets and boutiques. However it is the delightful town of Hoi An in the region of Central Vietnam that is a mecca for those who, like us, love to walk from shop to shop meeting local artisans who are hand crafting their unique creations. At night Hoi An, recognised by UNESCO as a world heritage site, lights up with colourful lanterns it's simply a joy to wander through the laneways, closed to traffic, where only the bars and superb eateries will threaten to disrupt your shopping experience.