Vietnam’s colonial, communist and war-torn history coupled with glorious mountain scenery, tantalising cuisine, colourful hill-tribe villages and dazzling beaches make it a country like no other. In the early 1990s its borders opened to the outside world and since then few countries have seen such dramatic change. Distinct differences still remain between the north and south and travelling through the country offers you the chance to absorb the gracious cultural, culinary and scenic diversity. Head to the capital Hanoi for a taste of ancient Vietnam; it has a mellow and colonial charm with crumbling 19th century merchants’ villas cramped into the beautiful old quarter. Ho Chi Minh City, locally known as Saigon, is its glitzy and cosmopolitan competitor; sitting in the south, this is Vietnam’s engine for growth and the chaotic heart of more modern day Vietnam. If time permits spend the night on Halong Bay that's peppered with soaring limestone peaks, or meander through the epic maze of the Mekong Delta at Vietnam's southernmost point. Centrally you’ll find refined and historic Hue, the delightful and UNESCO protected city of Hoi An and the luminous central highlands. In addition to all of this the soaring hills of Sapa and the far north lure in trekkers and offer a fantastic respite from the hotter plains below. Vietnam really is one of the most fascinating, frenetic and captivating countries we know and is blessed with a dizzying variety that keeps the most discerning visitor constantly enthralled.