A beacon of modernisation and economic industry, Vietnam has a complex and fascinating history. Its French colonial influence, 20th century conflict with America and ancient Chinese hegemony has left behind a fascinating blend of cultures that needs to be experienced to be understood. When you book your holiday with Wexas, our expert travel consultants will use their in-depth knowledge of the country to tailor your itinerary to include the historical and cultural experiences that interest you. Enquire today to start planning.
Experience a country steeped in history
The many historic sites across Vietnam showcase an eclectic mix of architectural styles that reflect the global influences on the country. Take note of the French boulevards of the capital Hanoi and the colonial buildings along historic Dong Khoi Street. The monumental marble mausoleum of Ho Chi Minh should not be missed and, if timed right, you can catch the changing of the guards, which is said to rival that of Buckingham Palace.
Remnants of the Vietnam War are everywhere. Tour the Hoa Lo Prison – coined the Hanoi Hilton – which was used during the war to hold American prisoners. Heading south, the poignant Son My memorial commemorates the hundreds of villagers killed by the US forces in the My Lai massacre in 1968. As you near Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon), you can visit the historic Cu Chi tunnels, which were used in the Vietnam War by Viet Gong guerrillas. In the city itself, don't miss out on the iconic Independence Palace (also known as the Reunification Palace), and walk through the iron gates, where a tank burst through to mark the end of the Vietnam War in 1975.
Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum
Immerse yourself in local culture
Outside the big cities, you'll find peace and quiet among the pretty towns and villages of rural Vietnam. Hoi An reflects the country’s rich culture and history, an atmospheric town with a booming textile industry. Visit the Japanese covered bridge – an emblem of Hoi An – or turn your hand to silk lantern-making yourself. In the Central Highlands, a trek through the terraced paddies and misty mountains reveals the homes of ethnic hill tribes and endless coffee and rubber tree plantations. And, of course, the Mekong River supports an entirely different way of life, atop its floating markets and stilted homes, best seen by boat.
Floating markets on the Mekong
Explore ancient tombs and temples
Temples, tombs, and ancient monuments can be found across the country. Visit the three beautifully ornate pagodas of Bich Dong at their mountainside location or explore the temples of Dinh Tein and Dai Hanh. The imperial city of Hue is another highlight – a sprawling complex of grand palaces, ageing temples and imposing gates. Its fortressed walls are also home to the tallest pagoda in Vietnam – Thien Mu Pagoda. Perhaps the most notable ancient site is My Son, once a significant centre of religious Hindu ceremonies and now a remarkable architectural example of the cultural interchange of the past.