© Khanh Phan

Finally, long-distance travel again: Vietnam

The Southeast Asian country convinces with its original culture, but also impressive nature. The Mekong Delta is a huge labyrinth of rivers, swamps and islands. Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi, on the other hand, are vibrant metropolises that nevertheless breathe history at every turn - and there are also paradisiacal beaches.

22 June 2022

Good to Know

Best time to travel:
End of November until April.

Flight duration:
From Vienna to Hanoi 14 hours with a variable stopover in Europe.

Covid-19 measures:
A PCR test upon entry, three days of quarantine for vaccinated or seven days for unvaccinated, and the use of a contact tracing app are mandatory.

Individual orders in the restaurant are frowned upon - one person usually orders for the whole table.

Don't miss it:
A junk trip through Halong Bay and a visit to the fascinating Dau Go Cave. Another must-see: the waterfalls at Sa Pa.

Vietnam's lifeline: The mighty Mekong River has always played a central role in the lives of the locals. In the time of bloom, it also bathes its surroundings in colorful splendor. © Khanh Phan

In Vietnam, the clock ticks differently. Song Xanh Sampan is the name of the covered wooden boats that leisurely glide through the water on the Mekong, past Khmer temples and rice fields. At the floating markets, locals offer fresh fruit and local finger food in their boats. Time seems to have stopped here, in this huge labyrinth of rivers, swamps and islands. Can Tho is the name of the very busy largest city in the Mekong Delta, and tours can be conveniently booked from here. It is best to take the waterway to Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) to slowly arrive in Vietnam, a country that convinces with its original culture.

Compared to its neighbour Thailand tourism is still in its infancy here. Those interested in culinary delights will get their money's worth: from hotpots to the traditional soup Pho to fresh fruits like mangos, everything is available freshly prepared on the street. 

Ho Chi Minh City is the New York of Vietnam, a metropolis that never sleeps. The economy is booming, and at the same time, the city breathes history on every street corner. A stroll along the chic Dong Khoi takes you back to the colonial era, for example to Notre Dame Cathedral, built from 1877 onwards (all the building materials for it were specially brought from France), or to the main post office, built to designs by Gustave Eiffel. In this city, you have to let yourself drift and immerse yourself in the creative chaos. Things are a bit quieter in the port city of Hoi An, an architectural gem that is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Fun Fact: 40 percent of all Vietnamese are surnamed Nguyen ("Beautiful Prosperity") - Ho Chi Minh was one of them. © Illustration: Blagovesta Bakardjieva/

Many call Hoi An the most charming town in Vietnam; the old wooden houses tell of its past as a trading hub. A little outside lies one of the country's most beautiful swimming spots: An Bang Beach is an endless stretch of white sand. Only Phu Quoc, Vietnam's largest island, is even more idyllic, with sandy beaches and a natural park with rainforest. In Duong Dong, on the other hand, you must see the night market and stop at one of the many small snack stores for an authentic meal.

A wooden boat takes you out to the island paradise off the coast. © Pexels

Well rested, we then head to Hanoi, one of the oldest still existing capitals in Southeast Asia; the countless temples and pagodas impressively tell of this centuries-old heritage. In the surrounding countryside, there are large rice fields, which are cultivated by the mountain people at over 3,000 meters - a good opportunity to get a breath of high-altitude air before heading home. 

Green miracle: If you find yourself in Hanoi, you should definitely take a detour into the surrounding countryside - there are vast green fields. Worth seeing! © Unsplash

Text: Karin Cerny, Marion Genetti and Christina Horn

This article appeared in the Falstaff TRAVEL issue Spring 2022.

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