Where to Twin With a Trip to Vietnam

The Vietnamese government’s recent multiple-entry visa initiative has made it more convenient than ever before to twin a trip to Vietnam with a visit to one of its neighbours. With such an exciting and attractive variety of nearby destinations – ever-more accessible thanks to a rapidly developing aviation industry – Vietnam is an ideal hub for your next South East Asian adventure. Here are some of our favourite places to twin with a trip to Vietnam, all just a short flight away…

Laos

To the east lies Laos, Vietnam’s ‘little spoon’. Land-locked and laid-back, Laos is often overlooked in favour of its neighbours – and, we think, is much better for it. Laos retains a genuine and authentic rural charm that has been lost elsewhere in Asia; Vientiane is probably the quietest capital in the region, a world away from the buzz of Bangkok or the hastiness of Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City.

As any local will tell you, PDR (People’s Democratic Republic) actually stands for ‘Please Don’t Rush’. Luang Prabang is a traditional treasure-trove, where orange-clad monks breeze past the many Buddhist temples and the legacy of the French colonial days lives on through the exquisite cuisine and the (now revamped) houses and villas. Not everything moves at a steady pace: river caves, white-water rapids, jungle ziplines, and jungle trekking are on offer for the adventure-seeker.

Cambodia

On the south-eastern border, Cambodia is well worth exploring, if only to experience some of the friendliest and warmest hospitality anywhere in the world. The spectacular temple complex of Angkor Wat, the biggest religious monument on the planet, is unmissable, particularly if you book a sunrise tour. The much quieter ‘forgotten’ temple sites in the surrounding jungle make for excellent trekking excursions.

Cambodia’s coastline is as beautiful as its countryside; Song Saa is one of our favourite romantic getaways, secluded in the Gulf of Thailand. Cambodia looks back on a history as hallowed as it is harrowing, which adds to the mystique of this captivating country. Flights are frequent and fast between both Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City into Siem Reap (for Angkor Wat) or the capital, Phnom Penh. For a more memorable border crossing, set sail down the mighty Mekong on a luxury cruise and soak up the natural splendour of the lush countryside.

Thailand

On the other side of Cambodia and Laos, Thailand needs little introduction as Asia’s primary travel destination, but there remains a host of options off the well-trodden tourist track. We love Bangkok, one of the most vibrant cities in the world, home to the Grand Palace and Wat Pho, Temple of the (enormous) Reclining Buddha. Wat Pho is also heralded as the birthplace of traditional Thai massage, where it is still practiced (as if you needed an excuse…).

Nearby Kanchanaburi is one for the historians and movie buffs: home to the famous bridge over the River Kwai and the Death Railway, built by Allied POWs in WWII. In the north, check out Chang Rai, a lush jungle playground home to (ethical) elephant trekking and all sorts of outdoor activities. Vietnam’s beaches are much less busy but no less beautiful, so you might want to save the suntan lotion for Phu Quoc or Nha Trang; then again, it might be worth a short trip to the Thai islands, just to see what all the fuss is about …

China

China is Vietnam’s northern neighbour and somewhat of a bigger brother: the world’s oldest continuous civilisation, 21stcentury China is a blend of hectic, high-tech cities and bucolic rural bliss. Home to over 40 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, telling tales from thousands of years of dynastic history through an incredible diversity of architecture, art and archaeology, this colossal country is simply fascinating.

Today, thanks to the end of the Cultural Revolution (which destroyed many aspects of traditional culture in the 1960s) many forms of art, literature and music are being enthusiastically revived. China is one of the world’s most visited countries (and for good reason), but don’t worry; there is plenty of room to escape the crowds, and, with our expert guides, you’ll be inspired, not intimidated by the sheer scale of the place.

Taiwan

A short hop over the South China Sea lies ‘The Beautiful Island’, Taiwan. So named by the Portuguese sailors who ‘discovered’ it in 1544 and called it ‘Ilha Formosa’ (and indeed Taiwan was known as Formosa for many years to come), it is not difficult to understand why.

Taiwan presents a sharp contrast between ultra-modern urban living and stunning natural landscapes – Taipei, the glittering capital, was 2016’s World Design Capital (celebrating the use of design and architecture to improve cultural and economic life) whereas the serene Sun Moon Lake in the middle of the island is a meditator’s mecca. Gazing out across the still water in the shadow of the misty mountains is one of the most blissful views imaginable. Just offshore is the paradisiacal Penghu Island, one of the best locations in Asia for wind-surfing and sailing.

Malaysia

Malaysia’s colourful and cosmopolitan capital Kuala Lumpur is celebrated for its heady blend of Asian flavours and influences, which spice up the skyline as much as the sumptuous food; colonial villas stand next to wooden temple complexes in the shadow of sparkling skyscrapers (including the Petronas Towers, the tallest twin towers in the world). The best banana leaf curry in the world can be found amongst the bustling street markets – you’ll never want to use a china plate again. There are plenty of adventures to be had in the rainforests and highlands: check out our favourites here. The beaches aren’t half bad either.

Want to check out a different pairing? Get in touch to start scratching the surface of this fascinating destination.