Vietnam a top holiday draw in Southeast Asia: SCMP

By Nguyen Quy   June 26, 2019 | 12:22 am PT
Vietnam a top holiday draw in Southeast Asia: SCMP
The French-built College of Pedagogy on Yersin Street in downtown Da Lat is covered with thick clouds and fog. Photo by VnExpress/Tran Quang Anh.
South China Morning Post has listed Vietnam among six Southeast Asian countries whose beauty is largely undiscovered.

The Hong Kong newspaper said "from stunning beaches and elephant sanctuaries to adventurous underwater activities, much of the region’s beauty has yet to be discovered" and Vietnam is recommended for those seeking "authentic travel experiences".

It described Hue, the country's ancient imperial capital that witnessed the glories and collapse of the Nguyen Dynasty (1802-1945), the last feudal rulers of Vietnam, as a must-visit place for more historical activities.

"Visitors can embark on tours to explore the old temples and pagodas that make up most of the city and explore central Vietnamese cuisine with a street food tour." 

To the north of Ho Chi Minh City is the mountain town of Da Lat where adventure lovers can indulge themselves with canyoneering, white water rafting and a high ropes course, it said.

Da Lat, situated 1,500 meters above sea level in the Central Highlands, was a summer getaway for French officials who built villas to escape the heat and humidity of the lowlands during colonial times. It is now a top holiday destination providing cool respite from the year-round hot weather.

A vegetables farm in Da Lat. Photo from VnExpress Photo Contest/Pham Phuoc

A vegetables farm in Da Lat. Photo by VnExpress Photo Contest/Pham Phuoc

"In the mountains northwest of Hanoi lies Sapa where nature lovers can embrace the serenity of the mountains with a tour to the Love and Silver waterfalls and the historic Cat Cat village," SCMP said.

Tourists can also visit the Saturday night "love market," the Gothic stone church at the town center which is a reminder of the French missionary influence. Cat Cat village, two kilometers from Sa Pa, is home to the H’Mong ethnic people.

The SCMP list also includes Thailand, where elephant sanctuaries for rehabilitation and enticing cooking classes await visitors, the Philippines, famous for its dolphin watching, paddle yoga and mountain biking, and Cambodia, which offers travelers a snorkeling tour to see bioluminescent marine life and scuba diving.

Myanmar "is home to shiny gems that are rarely visited," the newspaper said. It also has UNESCO heritage sites and centuries-old temples.

Laos, "often overlooked when it comes to travel within Southeast Asia," it said, urging holiday-goers to visit the town of Vang Vieng north of Vientiane to experience bike tours and zip lines in the hills, cave exploration and rock climbing.

Southeast Asia is composed of 11 countries, namely Brunei, Myanmar, Cambodia, Timor-Leste, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

Earlier this year, British travel magazine Rough Guides included Hue in its list of six lesser-known Asian destinations.

The New York Times recently recommended Da Lat among 52 places to go in 2019, describing it as "an agricultural El Dorado" with unique scenes of pine forests, locally grown avocados, and artichoke tea.

Vietnam received 7.3 million visitors in January-May this year, up 8.8 percent from a year ago, putting the country on track to meet its annual target of 18 million arrivals this year, according to the General Statistics Office.

A video captures the beauty of Vietnam from above.

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