Thailand and Vietnam: The Perfect Introduction to Southeast Asia
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Thailand and Vietnam: The Perfect Introduction to Southeast Asia

5 min read
Published on Nov 15, 2015
Adam Hodge
By Adam HodgeSenior Vice-President

Southeast Asia has been a seductive travel destination for generations, but now may be the best time to visit to experience the striking contrasts and diversity of this magical part of the world. The major cities and hidden villages of Thailand and Vietnam hold more history, culture, natural beauty, and amazing food than you could possibly hope to experience anywhere else in the world. You can see and do it all here, as both countries are well connected with local flights, and it doesn’t take long to travel between them. Visiting Thailand and Vietnam together is the best way to get an in-depth understanding of Southeast Asia, and creates a strong desire to return! From thrilling cities to quiet rural retreats, you can take the 6-Day City Hopper Thailand and Vietnam tour to get closer to local life, and experience first-hand the many treasures Southeast Asia has in store. 

Bustling Bangkok Soak up the vibrant colours and sounds of bustling Bangkok. This is the perfect place to immerse yourself in vibrant street life and visit some of Southeast Asia’s most ornate shrines, like the Grand Palace and sacred Emerald Buddha Temple. One of the highlights not to be missed near Bangkok is the renowned Damnoen Saduak Floating Market where you’ll witness fleets of longtail boats carting heavy loads of everything from tropical fruit to bowls of freshly-made noodles. On your way there you’ll get to see traditional Thai houses and observe how Thais use their boats in their everyday lives.

Grand Palace, Bangkok

Sultry Saigon Ho Chi Minh City, still known fondly by many as Saigon, is distinctly different from Bangkok, with its wide boulevards and French colonial architecture - like the stunning and unexpected Notre Dame. It is a high-energy city both for its commerce and culture, and its contrasts run deep. You can visit a designer mall for high-end shopping located beneath a skyscraper, or get lost in old-world alleys and find yourself at temples filled with the smell of incense. You can also get to know the other side of the Vietnam War in the Cu Chi Tunnels, used by the Viet Cong (make sure to bring your walking shoes!).  Other sites not to be missed are Reunification Palace. Now a museum, and formerly the Presidential Palace, it was the site of the end of the Vietnam War when a North Vietnamese army tank crashed through its gates, on April 30, 1975. You can also visit the History Museum, where you can get a glimpse of life as it was for indigenous Vietnamese people.

Cities of Contrasts You’ll discover a pleasing mix of urban and rural even within Southeast Asia’s major cities, where ancient relics compete for attention with sleek modern developments. The natural landscape is one of the greatest spectacles to appreciate here too. Beautiful white, powdery sand beaches stretch out to brilliantly clear blue waters where vertical rocks seem to climb purposefully skyward. Detailed networks of river canals speak to the importance of waterways for local transport and fishing. Depending on the time of year you visit, you’ll be able to witness lush green landscapes or warm, lazy sunny days.

Whether it’s the excitement of a fast-paced holiday or a slow, relaxing getaway you’re seeking, you’ll find both almost side by side here. You can shop for everything at MBK in Bangkok, an eight-storey shopping centre, then step outside and head to one of the world’s biggest street markets, the Chatuchak Weekend Market, to browse the wares of local artisans like wood carvings, clay handicrafts, and Buddhist amulets.

Chatuchak Weekend Market in Bangkok

Fresh and Fragrant Flavours If any destination gives cause to abandon your diet, it’s Southeast Asia. Fresh, rich, and invigorating flavours like cilantro, ginger, lemongrass, and chillies awake the senses. Sampling all the local noodle soups is a must when visiting Thailand and Vietnam, and you’ll notice subtle changes in flavour and ingredients as you move around the two countries, like more pronounced fish sauce flavour in Vietnam, and more curry-based dishes in Thailand. Trying street food is one of the best ways to sample the local cuisine. Ingredients for spicy Thai soup Tom Yam, Thailand Best of Southeast Asia On a trip to Thailand and Vietnam, it’s easy to see how travellers become enticed to return year after year, or even decide to move to Southeast Asia for several months or even years. Visiting Thailand and Vietnam together is a great introduction to this vibrant part of the world as you’ll get to know local life from many different angles. With amazing people, stunning scenery, mouth-watering food, and fascinating cities, you’ll find it utterly compelling. For more information on the City Hopper Thailand and Vietnam tour, visit Goway’s website.

By Adam Hodge

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Adam Hodge
Adam Hodge
Goway - Senior Vice-President

When he’s not paddling a canoe or drinking copious amounts of coffee, you’ll find Adam talking about some kind of travel plans. He spent a month doing Tai-Chi in China, horse-camped in Mongolia, rode 3rd class trains all over India, tour-guided in Europe, worked in Namibia and surfed in Costa Rica – the travel bug bit this Canadian repeatedly. Food is one highlight of any destination for him, and he’s admitted on a few times to be willing to try just about any food once, and apparently “putrefied shark wasn't that bad”.

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