Put a Spring in your traveling step cos March is a compelling season for a Vietnam visit. Here's why.
White orchid blooms in Dien Bien. Photo by Shutterstock/Big Pearl.
This northern mountainous province is not only famous for the historic 1954 battle of Dien Bien Phu that ended French colonialism in the country. Not as well known is the fact that the province is home to the white orchid, which goes to town this season. On the mountain passes of Dien Bien in March, the sight of white orchids blooming by the side of the road and on mountains is a magnificent.
Of course, one of the most important battles in contemporary world history happened here, so learning a bit more about it and seeing its vestiges in person makes for an experience rarely matched.
Mountain in the cloud and fog, Ta Xua, Bac Yen. Photo by Shutterstock/Hien Phung Thu.
Avid trekkers will tell you that the most ideal time for "cloud hunting" in Bac Yen District, the northern province of Son La, is between November to March. But the last month in the period has an edge. The weather is terrific. It is not too cold, but the cloud forming conditions, high humidity and sunlight, still hold good.
You can choose between two mountain peaks: Ta Xua and Hang Dong, both at a height of around 2,000 meters above sea level, and both offering spectacular views at this time of the year.
If clouds or mountain climbing don’t give you a high, March is still the time when wild spring flowers bloom in Bac Yen have other unique stuff to offer. March is when the wild flowers start blooming on the highlands here, perking up the most jaded soul.
The other thing that is wild about Bac Yen is that it is still not “developed,” with just a smattering of motels and homestay facilities. The road is difficult to travel on, so Bac Yen is more suitable for trekkers who want a little bit adventure and really natural beauty in their journey.
Railway in Hanoi's Old Quarter. Photo by Shutterstock/Alvaro Candia.
Spring in Hanoi is a complex, colorful phenomenon. The weather is comfortably cool, the leaves on some trees turn yellow and red, as in autumn, flowers of all kinds bloom in profusion on trees and plants. Flowers like loc vung (freshwater mangrove) or bang lang (giant crepe-myrtle) are among the spring treats offered by the capital city. Adding to this ambience is the drizzle, sometimes faint, and stronger at times. There are many who say the drizzle adds to the charm of the city at this time.
All of the myriad of Hanoi attractions are enveloped by Spring at this time, and it is certainly one of the best times to take a walk in various corners of the city. So take a walk around the Old Quarter, have a bowl of hot pho noodle, sit in a coffee shop and try typical beverages like the iced coffee with condensed milk, not to mention the famous egg coffee.
Coffee flower in Dak Lak. Photo by Shutterstock/Mikhail Starodubov.
The Central Highlands province of Dak Lak is known for its vast coffee plantations and hot weather, but in March, Dak Lak is not just cool and calm, it carries the fragrance of coffee flowers. And it is not just visitors and locals who are attracted by this aroma, millions of bees are enticed, too. So coffee flower honey has become a Dak Lak specialty of late.
So get some of the coffee flower honey even as you taste the original coffee from one of the biggest producers of the beverage in the world.
Photo by VnExpress/Tam Linh.
This Central Highlands town has several monikers to its credit. It is the Town of Love and the Town of Flowers, and…. it is the Misty Town of March.
And as the Town of Flowers, Da Lat cannot but carry extra floral weight in spring. Thousands of trees with thousands of flowers add a purple tinge to the city in March.
Another must do activity in Da Lat is watching. Watching daybreak at mist from a height or on a lake can be a mystical experience. The best places to get a dose of this magnificence is the Hon Bo peak and Tuyen Lam Lake.
Hon Ba Island in Con Dao. Photo by Shutterstock/Tran Van An.
The Con Dao Archipelago has 16 islands, which means you can be spoilt for choice in terms of beautiful beaches. What makes March a great time to visit is great weather, free of any worry about it getting rough. There is no hint of storm or rain. Even the waves seem to be calm and reflective, inviting you to take long, quiet, slow walks.
Inhale calmness, exhale stress.
It is no wonder that leading publications like the CNN and The Guardian have listed Con Dao as an ideal travel destination and holiday paradise in Asia.
That this peaceful paradise is home to an infamous prison used to torture political prisoners by the French and later, by the Americans, makes it a place to collect poignant stories of valor.
Story by Tuan Hoang
Photos by Kieu Duong, Phong Vinh, Tam Linh