Touring Vietnam – all you need to know

Tour to Vietnam – why two weeks is not enough!

For some, Vietnam appears on an itinerary as just one short leg on a south east Asian tour of Cambodia and Thailand – with just a couple of days stop. Yet Vietnam is possibly the most fascinating country in all Asia, Steve Carver of the BBC, Sunday Times and Angel Holidays writes. He also tells us why its crucial to get the timing right as to when to go.

Around 12,000 miles long – and only 50 miles wide in places – Vietnam has a distinct culture all of its own where many tour operators only scratch the surface.  Going for a just a few days is akin to visiting the sights of London and saying you’ve seen Great Britain and Ireland. A tour to Vietnam needs to be at least two weeks to appreciate its fascinating diversity.

In the north lies the capital Hanoi (or more authentically Ha Noi – as all Vietnamese words have just one syllable). The centre of this lake city has the classic Vietnam in your mindset, women in conical hats fry with woks on the streets, there’s tradition markets everywhere, cyclos (peddled rickshaws) ply the streets as well as thousands of scooter bikes.

Some tours of Vietnam head for Sapa in the northern highlands after that, but in truth this area has become saturated with too much tourism – think big tour buses and hoards of Australians or Chinese – and you’ll get the picture. Sapa is best given a miss – the only Sapa of 30 years ago long gone.

Instead, we recommend a tour of Vietnam should go just south of Hanoi to Ninh Bihn (just 2 or 3 hours) for its extraordinary landscapes – it’s where the 2002 King Kong was shot – and you can even wander through the atmospheric ‘Skull Island.’  This part of your tour to Vietnam can involve cycling in the jungle as well exploring its river caves.

All tours of Vietnam incorporate Halong Bay which is definitely a highlight. Make sure you enjoy an overnight (not just day) cruise here. There’re lessons on Tai Chi on deck at sunset for example and the experience of sleeping out on the Bay is the unique one – with great full board food. Yes, its popular, so on your tour to Vietnam you’ll see lots of other boats doing it, but it still is a ‘must.’

What’s known as the Imperial city of Hue lies further south on a Vietnam tour. It is, in reality, an interesting modern city with the imperial part a short distance away.  The best way to see the imperial city is to sail along the perfume river to it, architecturally it is a gem and this mini cruise is divine.

From here it is also possible to take an unusual optional excursion – make sure you use a responsible operator – to see the old DMZ (de militarised zone) where fierce fighting took place in the USA Vietnamese war. Expect, even today, scorched earth from the US Napalm attacks, and left-over US military such as tanks. It’s an eerie experience and you can visit a labyrinth of caves (more interesting than the ‘Cu Chi’ ones in Saigon) where the Vietnamese had underground garrisons and hospitals.  

Travelling further south, any tour of Vietnam must take you on the unusual train ride up over the High Van pass and along its coast line all the way to Danang. It’s a real classic, made famous by travel writers such as Paul Theroux and Michael Palin. The pass was also made popular by the BBC’s Top Gear team – it is simply a majestic part of the country with sparkling mountains and a spectacular coast line – where you will travel like a local.

Your tour of Vietnam could incorporate a stay in Danang, but we recommend just an afternoon there and staying a spa hotel in beautiful Hoi An just a few miles away. This was a former colonial Japanese town, along a quaint river and just a couple miles from many good beaches. A stay here is utterly superb, expect lots of Vietnamese and French restaurants where you can sit outside along the river in a traditional town that is lit up by thousands of lanterns by night. You can also cycle out to paddy fields and the beach. Angel Holidays for example gives 2 days free here to enjoy it.

Another new attraction is the Golden Bridge. It’s a good 4 hour drive, but a unique pedestrian bridge held up by sculpted hands over looking a terrific escarpment and jungle.

Whilst no tour of Vietnam should miss Saigon (Ho Chi Minh city), we recommend taking a slight detour first to the beautiful Mekong Delta and a stay in the jungle here. Go by local boat to see traders selling goods, fruits and vegetables from their old barges and enjoy a traditional breakfast by some of the ladies who row up alongside and cook. The best place to stay here is outside of charming Ca Tho.

Finally, your tour of Vietnam will finish in Saigon – 30 million motorcycles and the commercial powerhouse of the country. The city comes in 11 districts plus 4 others that are not numbered, and most travel companies base themselves in District 1, 3 or 7 (which are all close together don’t expect any logic here).  However, a good tour operator will also take you outside of these districts in Saigon to see how ordinary people live in this buzzing city.

Long before the late Anthony Bourdain put Vietnamese food on the map, this country has been producing some of the best (and most unusual) food in Asia. You’ll love the street food – a small plastic chair, a can of beer for a dollar, and of course the food in some cases for just a dollar too.

The cuisines are much more sophisticated than Pho (scores of varieties of noodle soup).  On any tour of Vietnam we recommend a ‘foodie tour’ to learn about it – it is not just the food but how to eat it! Prawns must be rolled into lettuce with a mixture of particular spices, dumplings dipped into sauces in a certain order and fish or meat cooked yourself on mini woks – I’ve never quite seen a food culture quite like it. To add to this there are great Korean restaurants dotted everywhere too.

A tour of Vietnam should be planned carefully as the climate in the north differs considerably from the south. This makes the window of best weather opportunities quite narrow. Late November to March is quite misty and can be cold in the north which spoils everything, whilst the summer in the country – June to September too hot. In essence the best months to visit are April to May and October into mid November. 

Tour to Vietnam The best itinerary

The Angel Holidays itinerary takes in the best Vietnam has to offer. This trip includes two internal flights to maximise your time in the region.

Along this Vietnam tour you’ll travel by private bus, train, cruise boat, traditional boats, cyclos, optional bicycle and internal flights. There’s some free time to explore too, whilst having the support from our team and the friendship from fellow travellers.

This is tour of Vietnam will give you a colourful and varied experience of the country and its people. It’s a lot of fun too, with some vibrant nightlife, lively restaurants and the wonderfully friendly Vietnamese people. Some of the remote locations you’ll visit will be utterly enchanting and stunningly beautiful.  Accommodation will be comfortable tourists class. Some hotels with have spas and pools.

We start our tour of Vietnam in the atmospheric capital Hanoi – to see how the modern and traditional cultures collide in this effervescent city. Next, we drive to the coast to enjoy an overnight cruise in Halong Bay – a classic experience featured in all the guide books. We then move south into the uniquely beautiful, and surreal landscapes of Ninh Binh. This is a place used as ‘Skull Island’ for the 2002 King Kong movie. Here, we’ll travel by boat, where the river winds its way through caves.

We then fly to the middle of the country and Hue, with its imperial city. There’s free time here to relax or enjoy optional (chargeable) excursions. You may wish to visit the old citadel, combined with a trip along the Perfume River, or go to the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) marking the north/south divide in the Vietnamese/US War; here you can see old battle sites and a hidden underground cave system lived-in by the Vietnamese. We can help arrange this.

Next, we take a train journey (around 3.5 hours) along the coast – facing the South China Sea – and over the beautiful Hi Van pass until we reach the coastal resort of Da Nang. This classic train journey has been featured by travel writers from Paul Theroux to Michael Palin.

From Da Nang we move to the pretty historic town of Hoi An.  In Hoi An we’ll take you on a guided walk of the town followed by free time. The pretty historic centre has good restaurants and shopping too. You may wish to spend the afternoon on the beach (just 2 miles way and easy to reach) or cycle around the area with its beautiful paddy fields and ocean beaches. In the evening, along the central river, the old town is lit up by traditional lanterns and is charming.

Next, we fly into Vietnam’s deep south to spend time in the Mekong Delta – a place where the Mekong regularly floods the landscape before entering the South China sea. This area is a mix of mangroves, rivers and canals. They grow a lot here, from mangos, coconuts, exotic fruits to rice. We’ll travel by boat, to see local floating markets and a very different way of life.

Our final leg takes us to lively Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City); a population of 8 million, and an abundance of motorcycles; downtown skyscrapers, colonial buildings and traditional markets. It’s full of life! We’ll enjoy a tour of this exciting city as well as a trip north to visit Cu Chi – a labyrinth of tunnels, hidden chambers and traps used by the Vietnamese against the Americans in the war. There’s also a shooting range here where you can shoot AK47s (at an additional cost)!

A free day in exciting Saigon is followed by our farewell dinner and alas, your flight home.

This wonderful Vietnam tour includes: two internal flights, all accommodation, transport, food and included activities as listed. Meals are a mixture of B&B, Half and Full Board – please see the itinerary. Our tour of Vietnam takes place in high season, when the weather should be perfect and represents excellent value for this time of year.




Background of the author

Steve Carver presents for the BBC and writes for the Sunday Times started the ethical tour company Angel Holidays. They also offer tours to Vietnam. Simply visit www.angelholidays.co.uk/vietnam for details.



Do I need a visa for Vietnam?

For most visitors e.g UK citizens you do not need a visa for a stay up to 15 days. This starts from th day you enter the country. Longer visits need visas

What is the cost of living like for a tourist?

Street food is very cheap, so are many restaurants and for fine dining you can expect around $30. Beers are cheap too, but for wine you’ll expect to pay more.

How to get there

Whilst we recommend an open jaw ticket – where you fly into Hanoi and leave via Saigon – there are numerous airlines that offer this route from the UK. Some fly to Bangkok as a hub first or other transit points such as the middle east. You can also get direct flights at a premium.











Visa for India

Travelling to India from the UK

Whilst India is reopening for travellers again – for British tourists, it was a little more complicated. The e-visa system, which started in 2014 and made things relatively easy, is still not open for British passport holders (nor for Canadians) a result of a tit for tat exchange over vaccine recognition during covid that still has not lifted.

However, the e visa is back again and you can get a visa within a day or two. You will need a jpeg of your passport picture and a copy of the picture page of your passport to upload, the cost for a 30 day one is around $25.




The good news is that the old Air Suvidha online declaration form, which was needed to upload a health declaration and vaccination certificates has now been removed. PCR testing prior to travel is also no longer required but YOU WILL NEED TO BRING YOUR VACCINATION CERTIFICATES. Make sure they are up to date as from the NHS app, they are dated from and to…


On the ground in India masks are not mandatory and the overwhelming majority do not wear them including on public transport – it is almost back to normal. Restaurants and bars are open and people go about their day as it has always been.


According to the UK government travel advice, Travellers are no longer required to have proof of vaccination or, if unvaccinated, a negative PCR test.  Yet on our arrival we were ask to bring covid vaccination certificates. The country is obviously going through something of a transition so our advice is to bring them and keep watching the Indian portal for more information.


Is it safe to travel to India?

For most parts of India, there is no UK Foreign Office advice to avoid travel — the only areas to which all travel is advised against are the majority of contested Jammu and Kashmir, and right by the border with Pakistan.

Getting there

Flights to the north such as Delhi are plentiful either direct or via the Middle East. If you are heading to the south of India such as Kochi, you can also fly direct but more often than not (and cheaper) travellers go via the Middle East.


There’s a range of indirect flights to India to choose from. Airlines such as BA, Emirates, Gulf Air and Qatar Airlines leave from Heathrow, Gatwick and Manchester. It is also possible to fly indirect from smaller airports in the UK as many of the main hubs connecting India to the rest of the world, are in the Middle East. For example, there are some connections from Bristol and Edinburgh is catered for too to the Middle East and then on to India. The most common connecting flights to Delhi for example are via Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Abu and Delhi.


Transfer times between flights – how much time is comfortable?

When transiting between flights for example, changing in the Middle East you should allow a minimum of one and a half to two hours – 3 hours is more comfortable as this also allows for delays. It can take time to disembark one plane (for example 45 minutes in some cases), enter the airport, go through transit security and find your next gate (some of the airports are huge too).  When checking into your indirect flight from the UK, check if your checked-in baggage is checked all the way through to India.

Time zone

India is +5.5 hours ahead of GMT.

On arrival

In Delhi they’ve set up a brilliantly simple arrival system where you follow a painted line on the floor whether you have an e visa or a paper one.

Has tourism changed in India since the pandemic?

The answer is yes, it has. For one, there are less international tourists and to survive over the last 2 years, industry suppliers have been focusing on the domestic market. There’s subtle differences here. For example, many of the internationally used houseboats in Kerala have been mothballed, to make way for enclosed air conditioned boats that domestic Indian tourists prefer. Whilst Brits, escaping the grey skies of blighty, might expect to sit on an open sun drenched deck with a gin and tonic on a houseboat in Kerala, many of the current houseboats have had glass put all around them and are now enclosed, so choose your houseboat wisely for the ‘classic’ experience.


Some experiences set up for the foreign tourist are only partially open. Some hotels with pools are inviting in locals to come in and pay for a swim, buses are slightly out of condition, and hotel decors – through lack of use and income – can sometimes feel a bit tired. But perhaps these are sacrifices worth making to have more of a local experience.

The bottom line is that India is still as magical as it has always been, and to come now, without the crowds might add to this appeal. The country is vibrant, full of life and it seems on the surface at least, that they have put covid firmly behind them. Bring your covid vaccine certificates for immigration on arrival, but after this, you’ll hardly need them. The choice is yours.






Rajasthan, 2024

We’re already taking bookings for our adventurous trip to India next March. This extended 18 day tour, will take you along the silk route – to far off palaces and citadels, you’ll ride camels in the desert, and camp a night under the stars. You’ll go to the Exotic Marigold Hotel where they made the movies, see the holy town of Pushkar and you’ll enjoy the ‘city of lakes’ – Udaipur. On this special tour you will also experience Holi – the wonderful festival of colour and light – and see the Taj Mahal.

The cost of this one-off trip is just £1,495, and you’ll be amongst a friendly mix of single and couple travellers. With no strenuous activities, it is suitable for all ages.

To help single travellers, we’re also offering a further £50 discount from the single supplement until 1st November

Please see our website page above, for full details and contact us if you have any questions

holi kids - Angel Holidays Tour Operator
Children celebrate Holi.



Best time to visit Vietnam

When is the best time to visit Vietnam? 

The Overall View

At nearly 1,200 miles long – and an almost a straight vertical country and with a varying topography, finding the best time to visit Vietnam requires some research. Get it wrong, and if you’re visiting the entire length of this beautiful country, you could be in for a spoilt holiday, so here is our rundown on what to expect across the whole country, followed by some detail of the regions for those not visiting it all.

Atmospheric Hanoi, is the capital and lies in the country’s north. Because of this it suffers from cooler and wetter winters than any other part of the country. If you are also heading to, the now over-touristy Sapa region, it is about the same weather here too. To visit Hanoi from late November and into February, expect cool weather, a need for a jacket, and misty rains. Th narrow streets in Hanoi can be waterlogged.

Halong Bay also in the north, is a stunningly beautiful area but come here from late November to February, with mist and low visibility, spoils the experience. Conversely, if visit this region in the summer – from June and into September it can be unbearably humid. This leaves March, April and May as the best months for the northern region. The weather is warm, the skies blue, the vegetation is rich and the views are staggeringly beautiful.

The central region also sees a similar mixed bag of weather, and whilst the winters are milder, they’re also prone to typhoons and flooding particularly from around October and into November.

Moving south to Danang, Saigon (and west to the Mekong Delta) the climate is more tropical and never cool, but keep in mind the monsoon season starts here from June onwards – right through until October/November. This brings humidity as well as sharp downpours.

If you are moving further south and to the islands for example Phu Quoc – one of Vietnam’s largest islands, the weather pattern is similar to Saigon, with overly-hot summers, and rains in the monsoon period June to September.

Taking all the above into account in terms of climate, the best time to visit Vietnam, particularly if you intend to see the whole country are March, April and May. At this time Hanoi is warm but not overly so (April is a great month) and you avoid rain virtually everywhere in the country – there is no risk from the monsoon season too.

If you would like to visit just the central region and south of the country only – therefore forgetting Hanoi and Halong Bay – then you can come earlier from February onwards – it’s pleasantly warm with no rain, but avoid the festival of Tet – the Chinese/Vietnamese New Year that falls usually this month (they work from a Lunar calendar) as hotel rooms are very difficult to find and prices shoot up.

In case you are not visiting the whole country and just intend to see a region, here is a more detailed summary.


When to visit North Vietnam (Sapa, Hanoi, Halong Bay)

Winters up here, particularly from December to February see temperatures drop to 0°C or cooler. The summer months (June to August) are very hot and humid. The best time to visit northern Vietnam is during spring (March to May) and autumn (September to November), when days are generally warm and sunny.

When to visit Central Vietnam (Hue, Hoi An)

The coastal region of central Vietnam suffers from typhoons during its wet season. And it is very difficult to predict when these rains and hurricane conditions can occur, but when they do, they often impact traveller friendly cities like Hoi An (where you’ll want to visit), generally the typhoon season begins from August and into November.

We’ve seen tour operators have to cancel their whole itinerary in the central region in November – so why take the risk? The rainy season usually falls away by in the central region by February, when you can expect to enjoy warm and sunny days. Temperatures begin to rise from 22 degrees in February and heat up in August to over 32 degrees.

When to visit South Vietnam (Ho Chi Minh City, Mekong Delta)

South Vietnam experiences warm, pleasant weather year-round. However, if you are not a lover of intense heat, read on…The dry season is from December to May and the rainy season June through to November. There can be flash flooding at in the rainy season, but generally, rain comes in hour long downbursts and you can manage your travel around it. If you are sensitive to the heat however, avoid coming here from June as it can peak to 40°C.





Best time to visit Nepal


There are two main best times to visit Nepal: March to end April (a very short window and we’ll tell you about below) as well as from October into the end of November. Of course you can visit this former Himalayan kingdom anytime, but for a richer experience, its best to get it right in terms and weather and, if you’d like to see something special (we’ll mention this later) the colourful festivals.

Let’s talk about the autumn season first – October to end of November. It’s a best time to visit Nepal as days are dry and it makes good trekking – you get clear blue, epic skies. If you leave it any later, for example and attempt to trek in December – depending on altitude temperatures can drop to minus 30, so it is actually quite dangerous. Responsible trekking companies will not operate trekking from December into the end of February for these reasons.

If you’re not trekking it is a different matter, but bear in mind Dec to February can be cool, and very cold at night even on lower ground. Kathmandu for example can drop into the minuses at night time which is not a lot of fun for most people. So to recap, the best time to visit Nepal in the autumn should be October through to the end of November.

The other best time to visit Nepal is end of March until early May. If you go any later, temperatures can be hot, the sky white with cloud cover instead of blue and it can be humid. Bear in mind June to September brings rain.

For the best time to visit Nepal you need not just consider climate but visability. Some travellers may want to fly over Everest for example – an expensive but awesome experience – that can be spoilt if you go too late or too early in the season. Imagine crisp blue skies over the white Himalaya as opposed to grey clouds and you’ll get the picture. For this reason a lot of photography groups come in April.

For a best time to visit Nepal you might also want to consider the festivals. There’s a great one in April for example, that celebrates the end of winter – the Bisket Jatra. It’s a potent display of ancient culture and celebration. It usually takes place in mid April and is recommended if you’re travelling in the spring. Do your research to find out when.

Likewise, a best time to visit Nepal can be in the autumn for the Diwali festival – the festival of lights. The month of this varies but is usually anytime in October to November. Research before you go. To see little villages lit up by night, or fireworks across the city, as well as special religious ceremonies at night time in the temples is a delight.


Autumn (September-November) and spring (late February-mid-April) are also great seasons to trek in Nepal. Autumn brings exceptional clarity, the dust is all taken away by the monsoon, and spring days are warmer and longer. The summer monsoon is between June and September, so these aren’t the best months to visit if you’re hiking, especially as June is the hottest month in Nepal. Winter – especially January and February – is very chilly. Wrap up warm and you’ll be some of the only visitors in the mountains but in can be taxing.

Below is a more specific run-down on the best time to visit Nepal.

The Annapurna hiking circuit is very popular with tourists but could be affected by snowfall and can close during winter months. This will obviously affect other popular treks such as Everest Base camp. So check before you go. Incidentally, those who actually climb Everest usually go in May.

Pokhara is a very popular destination and is usually on any visit to Nepal. It is also one of the wettest places as it below the Annapurna mountain range. The dry period March to May and October into December are best. Outside of these dates and it can be hit and miss. Pokhara is also a gateway into mini one day treks.

Chitwan, to see the wildlife, is also a popular destination. The road to get here from Kathmandu is a winding downhill twist for several hours through the hills. The best season – April or October and November are fine, but in the summer, roads can suffer from landslides. In the winter by contrast – December to February – whilst there is no rain, Chitwan is lying dormant, trees can be laid bare, mornings cool and misty, which does not make it a best time to visit. It lacks the tropical like atmosphere of high season and is a poorer experience.

From the beginning of December into January and February, Nepal’s is deep in winter. Whilst it won’t bother some, temperatures drop by a great degree come nightfall, especially in the mountains.  Bear in mind that many budget hotels (and virtually all in the mountains) have little or no heating. So if you are trekking you’ll need a good sleeping bag! Even in lower altitude budget or mid-range hotels you might find cold rooms and discomfort, remember Nepal is a developing country and it gets lots of power cuts too – who likes to sit in a cold room in the dark? 

March marks the spring in Nepal and thus begins a great time to visit Nepal especially as we head into April. Flowers are in bloom, there are wonderful festivals and days are longer too. You’ll be able to eat outside ‘al fresco’ on warm April evenings. Don’t come to early in spring though, as in early March you’ll be eating indoors and will need to pack your jacket! As you can see seasons mark distinct shifts in temperatures. 

In the month of May it begins to get hot. Clouds start to float over and many days are overcast. This is the point at which monsoon season is rearing its head.  So for photography it offers poorer light etc.

Nepal’s monsoon season runs primarily through June, July and August with some overspill into September. It tends to rain heavily for a couple of hours in the afternoon, but you can enjoy some sunshine in-between too. The issue here can be the muddy streets – much of Nepal is unpaved – even in parts of the cities.  Landslides can happen on roads between, for example, Kathmandu and Pokhara (a popular tourist hub) or on the way to the jungle in Chitwan.  So if you’re thinking of the best time to travel to Nepal, this can be a bit of a risk. Areas in the mountains, due to landslides, can be impassable.

As the monsoon ends in September, Nepal becomes alight with big blue skies and daily sunshine, the air is fresh and the views glorious. Almost guaranteed dry days between October and November makes it great trekking season and also a great cultural season to visit too. Whilst much of Europe languishes in the cool, in Nepal at this time, it will feel like a fresh summer. The very best time to visit Nepal in our view is April, October and November. We hope this article gives you a taste of how important it is to get your timing right. Of course you can travel out of season, hotels are cheaper etc but the experience is not the same.




Holidays to Vietnam

Discover unspoilt beaches, stupendous landscapes and a blend of historic and hectic cities on a fabulous holiday to Vietnam. The country is beaming with things to do and unusual experiences to explore and is fast becoming one of South-East Asia’s most popular destinations. You can stay in some unusual accommodation too, from jungle lodges to spa hotels to swanky skyscrapers in the centre of a metropolis to a cabin on a ship. The eclectic fusion of foods and cultures offers something that no other Asian nation quite matches. Vietnam is simply extraordinary.

In the cities, you’ll see French colonial architecture rubbing shoulders with golden temples and Buddhist pagodas, millions of motorcycles will swirl around you, there’s vibrant, pulsating nightlife and restaurants galore! If you’d like to slow down the pace a little, you can enjoy tranquil luxurious jungle spas as well as pretty towns such as Hoi An or Hue – lit up by hundreds of colourful lanterns by night. They also have superb French and Vietnamese cuisine.

A brief overview, Vietnam holidays offer:

  • Atmospheric towns and cities
  • A diverse range of culture, history and breath-taking scenery
  • A cruise on a traditional barge to see the staggering natural beauty of UNESCO World Heritage Halong Bay – like nowhere else on earth
  • Spa experiences
  • Beautiful beaches
  • Classic train journeysh
  • Unusual cuisine
  • Friendly cultural experiences
  • A fascinating and unusual spiritual culture
  • An eclectic and fascinating history unique to Vietnam
  • The buzz of the big city with spectacular nightlife

Holiday to Vietnam – how best to do it?
If you’re on a holiday to Vietnam for just two weeks and want to see the best of the country, we advise to fly into the north and out of the south – thus into Hanoi and out of Saigon (Ho Chi Minj City).  

Your Vietnam holiday starts here – Hanoi.

Begin in Hanoi, the atmospheric capital, in the north and on the banks of the Red River. Here there’s a heady mix of temples, traditional markets and the city’s pulsating heart – its beautiful lakes. With its historic architecture, fascinating markets and street life – and being the gateway to spectacular Halong Bay (see below) – you’ll see why Hanoi is the classic way to start any Vietnam holiday. Make sure you stay in the ‘old quarter’ or at least near it for the best and most authentic experience – and do a foodie by night tour too!

Some background

Wandering in any direction around Hanoi’s old quarter you’ll see a fusion of  architecture, from French colonial to ancient temples and pagodas. There’s a lively nightlife scene too from sophisticated restaurants to grabbing a plastic chair and sitting outside with hundreds of locals – roadside! Take a tuk-tuk and whizz around the city. There are street vendors on every corner, aromatic food being dished up by women with woks and teams of markets to choose from.  


On to Halong Bay -a must on any Vietnam holiday

Next, and just a few hours drive way, it’s a good idea to enjoy an overnight cruise in the stupendous Halong Bay – make sure it is ‘full board’ and with activities such as a cooking class and Tai Chi. Three-star boats are more than adequate for an authentic experience. The uniqueness of the bay, with its towering limestone karsts, make this a natural wonder of outstanding beauty.

There are more than 1,500 islets in the bay, on one most surreal seascapes and cruises you’ll ever see. Some of the islands have been carved out by the seas leaving them hollow, so that you can explore by guided tours inside their caves. Enjoy Tai Chi on the deck at sunset, delicious onboard food and swimming or kayaking if you are feeling energetic.


King Kong country

For something unusual, explore Nihn Binh on your Vietnam Holiday.

Here you’ll get a hands-on experience of ‘King Kong country’ – yes, they shot the movie here. It’s best to stay in a jungle lodge for the full experience. There is also an elaborate cave and river system that you can sail through by local boat and oarsmen (and women) and it remains a lovely hidden gem with less tourists. There’s pleasant, easy cycling around jungle paths too. Allow at least a day and night here.


Imperial Hue – your next stop on your Vietnam holiday

Hue is often referred to as Vietnam’s most beautiful city and its main sights are the romantic Perfume River, the remains of the Citadel and the Tombs of the Emperors. The tranquil Perfume River has many hotels and restaurants along it. A boat trip on the river itself is a great way to take in some of the city’s main attractions. You’ll pass houseboats, sampans and dragon boats. There’s the chance here to explore Vietnam’s imperial past and see beautiful pagodas, tombs and temples that are dotted along the river. The historic Thien Mu Pagoda is a beautiful, iconic place and at seven storeys high, the tallest in Vietnam.


Whilst not for everyone, a day trip to the historic Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) could also be incorporated on your visit. Here you’ll see the war fields of some of the American/Vietnamese most fierce battles such as Camp Carroll and one of the largest bases of the US Marine Corps. You can also explore Vinh Moc Tunnels, where an entire hidden village was constructed underground to protect people from the Americans.


Spend two days here which puts you in poll position to take a classic train ride over the Hi Van Pass (made famous on the BBC’s Top Gear) taking you over the mountains and along the country’s best stretch of coastline.


Next, fly to Danang (and spend just a short few hours there) so that you can focus on colonial Hoi An – spend at least three days here if you can – it is one of the country’s highlights and will high light of any holiday to Vietnam. The city is less frenetic than others in Vietnam, so you can enjoy a more laid-back experience soaking up the sights on foot or by bicycle. Browse quaint cobbled streets lined with art galleries, authentic restaurants and rickety shops selling bespoke silk garments, and take the time to really appreciate the city’s eclectic and beautifully preserved architecture. Gorgeous French colonial houses, a mix of Japanese, Chinese and Vietnamese-style buildings and a network of pretty canals set the city apart; you’ll also find a 400-year-old bridge which previously joined the Japanese and Chinese communities and Quan Kong Temple, dedicated to a Chin Dynasty General. The city was also one of the finest ports in South-East Asia during the 18th Century, and some of its traditions date back to this time. The monthly Lanterns Festival celebrates the full moon, a key part of Buddhist culture on the 14th of every lunar month (of the Chinese calendar), you’ll be able to watch locals pay respects to their ancestors and decorate the city with colourful lanterns, lighting up the river and skyline.

Hoi An is just as big on cuisine as the rest of Vietnam, with favourite street foods including the pork noodle dish Cao Lau. Head to the buzzing Central Market to barter for fresh meat, fish, fruit and vegetables, take an evening stroll down to one of the numerous riverside restaurants, and book a cooking class at the renowned Red Bridge Cooking School, where you’ll be able to meet local market traders, buy ingredients and learn how to create classic Vietnamese dishes.

And as well as its beautiful old town, Hoi An is also known for its area of sandy coast. One of the best Hoi An beaches is Cua Dai Beach, translating as ‘big sea mouth’ and just a 10-minute drive from the centre of town. It’s often busy here on the weekends but you’ll have a great selection of bars and restaurants, plus some picture-worthy sunset views over the nearby Chám Islands. Further inland, you’ll be able to take an excursion to UNESCO World Heritage-listed My Son; this former capital of the Champa Kingdom is an hour’s drive from Hoi An and is home to a superb collection of Hindu temples. There are some wonderful spa hotels here too.

From here move to the Mekong Delta for an exotic escape to see how traders traverse from small villages down the Mekong to sell their wares from old junk barges – the busy morning markets are a wonderful experience. You can take a boat (with a good tour operator) and navigate a maze of narrow canals and visit a local family, watching as they use centuries-old methods to produce rice paper.

End your two-week holiday to Vietnam in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh) where restored grand colonial buildings sit next to striking skyscrapers and a heady mix of local street markets and a great array of restaurants combining with ancient pagodas and historic temples. In Ho Chi Minh City colonial charm and buzzing  modernity combine for a fitting finally to your North to South holiday to Vietnam. Spend time in its huge China town, visit the nearby Cu Chi Tunnels to explore a labertynth of underground tunnels and caves hat was  contructed deep underground by the Vietnamese – there’s even an underground hospital.


Getting around
Vietnam is a relatively large country (longer than the UK) so the best way to move longer distances is by plane. Train is a fascinating option particularly in the central region and of course private bus. Boat travel through the jungle waters in the south – particularly from the Mekong into Saigon are an exceptionally enjoyable way to travel. Seeing the Purfume river by cruise, as well as an overnight junk boat experience in Halong Bay are highlights.


Vietnam has some of the best and most varied shopping in all of South-East Asia. They offer everything from hundreds of street markets to sophisticaled shopping malls. You’ll find handicrafts galore such as lacquerware, ceramics and jewellery. Be sure to haggle for the best prices.


Food & drink
Vietnamese cuisine was recently brought into the culinary map by the late food writer Anthony Bourdain – Vietnam ultimately became his favourite destination. There is a lot more to it than just noodles (known as ‘pho’) and a myriad of fine dining experiences to street food options. There are lots of French influences too.






Vietnamese Dong – with approximately 23000 to a $1!



11 – 12 hours from the UK






British travellers can enter visa free for up to 15 days on a tourist visa and can apply for a 30-day visa if they want to stay longer.


Flights to Vietnam – getting the best flights

As said, to get the most out of your trip to Vietnam it is best to fly into the north and out of the south Angel Holidays will help you do this with the latest travel advice.

In: Hanoi

Out: Saigon (Ho Chi Minh city)

As you are booking your own flights, you have the advantage of flexibility. This means that you can arrive earlier and spend more time experiencing wonderful Hanoi. It also gives you time to rest after your long flight. Angel Holidays provides free transfer you to the hotel from the airport (free) whenever you arrive, as long as you arrive no earlier than 4 days before the beginning of the tour.

Booking flights to Vietnam, some helpful hints:

  • If you look at www.skyscanner.net for example, select the MULTI CITY option.
  • From here enter (as an example) London to Hanoi on the dates you choose (Angel Holidays will assist if you are booking with us).
  • And on the next line down enter: Ho Chi Minh to London for the end of the tour.


Via Bangkok

Another option is to book a return flight to Bangkok, followed by two single flights: firstly Bangkok to Hanoi, and at the end from Ho Chi Minh to Bangkok.  Fares between Bangkok and Vietnam are quite competitive and start as low as £40 each way – but make sure this fare includes checked baggage (this can add another £20 if not). You may want to combine this with a night in Bangkok on your return. Note, there are two airports in Bangkok: Suvarnabhumi (its main international airport that you will most likely use from the UK) and Don Mueang.  Some budget airlines flying between Bangkok and Vietnam use Don Mueang – so please check.

Fares and how they vary

Flight prices will vary, depending on flying times, stopovers, dates etc. Some airlines will fly direct, others will have stopovers in other destinations such as Kuala Lumper, Singapore or Bangkok. Stopover durations can also have an effect on prices.


A typical stopover of 3 or 4 hours may seem a long time, but allowing for any delays, disembarking the aircraft, entering transfer lounges, and boarding the next aircraft 45 minutes before take-off, it can be no time at all. Usually airlines will check your luggage all the way through from the UK to the final destination, but ask on check-in.



Peru 2022

Soon our travellers will come to Peru, the fourth largest country in South America and a place teeming with culture, wildlife and spectacular scenery, sometimes you’ll feel you’re on another planet.

We’ll begin our journey in Lima on the pacific coast before flying to the white city of Arequipa and surrounded by volcanoes. Next we venture to one of the deepest canyons on earth (twice the depth of the Grand Canyon) to see the flight of the national bird – the condor – the largest flying bird in the world.

We then move to Lake Titicaca the worlds’ highest navigable lake, travelling by speed boat to visit its most remote island before continuing to glittering Cusco, the capital of the Incan empire high up in the Andes.

Next we travel by bus over ragged landscape and then by train to stay below Machu Picchu. Eventually we’ll return to Lima. Rustic (and some comfortable) accommodation along the way, lots of adventures and people to meet. It’s going to be extraordinary. Steve Carver from the BBC will lead the group, we hope you enjoy the ride! See our site for details. We plan to do it again in ’23!

vietnam Tour By Angel Holidays


PCR tests, antigen tests and what do to if you’ve had covid to travel

In most countries, the key ingredients to travel are to be vaccinated and be tested before travel. Some countries, such as Peru expect 3 jabs for the over forties. Here is an overview of what most countries need, including what to do if you’ve previously had covid. Of course the situation is ever-changing, so check with your specific destination first.

If you have never been diagnosed with Covid, you usually need a PCR test prior to travel. For most countries this must be taken 72 hours before your flight. Note that the 72 hours can apply differently to different destinations. In some countries, it relates to the departure time from your country, in others, it relates to the flight departure to that country – these two scenarios can be different; if you are getting a connecting flight and not flying direct.

PCR tests can be taken at walk-in centres (such as Express Test) as well as home kits where you send you self-taken sample to a lab, such as Randox. You usually get the test results within 24 – 36 hours.

For those who have previously had covid, your PCR test might show positive even months after contracting the virus. It’s for this reason that you will take an Antigen test, usually 48 hours before your flight with the results given to you within a few hours.inject - Angel Holidays Tour Operator


Vietnam is beginning to open

BUT WILL IT COME SOON ENOUGH?  Steve Carver reports.

Vietnam, where Angel Holidays has a tour scheduled next April, is resuming a limited number of international flights between now and January, with an assessment of how things go and whether to expand international flights to ‘safer’ nations. The UK is not on the first wave of open flights.

With the new variant, understandably, the country is cautious – which means we can’t be categorically sure if our tour can still go ahead. Much depends on the efficacy of vaccinations against Omicron over the coming few weeks, and other factors.

Across the world where tourism is opening, many require two vaccinations and a PCR test 72 hours before flying – a strategy that Vietnam may well adopt.  Some countries might go further and expect a third Booster jab too.

For the time being, we just have to wait – but this has to be balanced with our traveller’s needs for adequate notice so that they can make an informed decision before travel. We ask for our traveller’s patience, so that we can let you know the facts by a deadline on 7th February. We can then all decide.

Angel Holidays is a responsible, ethical company and treats its customers fairly. Our Vietnam group is virtually full and deposits are fully refundable. We will present our travellers with the facts on the 7th February where they can decide if they want to go or not.

Meanwhile our tour to Peru next September has more lead time so we are hopeful this will also go ahead. We will be writing to both our Peru and Vietnam travellers to keep them informed.

vientnna - Angel Holidays Tour Operator
Our cruise in Vietnam


Memories of Nepal

In these lockdown days you may want to look back to sunnier climes and some memories of Nepal. Here is a slide show with some nice Nepalese rap music…. all shots have been take on our in-depth tour. In 2022, we’ll be going again. Angel Holidays


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