Two locations in Vietnam – Sapa and Hoi An towns – have been named among the top ten places to visit in Southeast Asia in 2018, as selected by the readers of the UK-based travel website Rough Guides.
Terrace rice field in Sapa Town in Lao Cai Province
The northwest town of Sapa in Lao Cai province occupies sixth place on the list.
According to the Rough Guides, Vietnam die-hards will know that this former hill station is where to come for a taste of heart-stirring Southeast Asian scenery.
Established by the French in the 1920s as a summer escape from the north’s blistering heat, its popularity has ballooned in recent years, but the adventures remain time-honoured.
Visitors can hike to the tiered rice terraces in the plunging Muong Hoa valley, before spending a night in mist-wrapped hills, or ascending Mount Fan Si Pan, the highest peak in Indochina and an unbeatable experience in the smoky light of dawn.
Coming in at 10th place, the charming town of Hoi An in central Quang Nam province feels a world apart. Unlike Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi, which have an unholy obsession with the motorbike, Hoi An is lost in a Zen-like communion of days gone by, a legacy of the French, Portuguese, Japanese and Chinese who once traded here.
From stopped-clock tea warehouses to traditional tailors, its Old Town is framed by mustard-yellow shop-fronts and cut through by sinewy canals. Cars and motorbikes are banned from the town centre, so it’s a cycling nirvana: following dozens of threadbare routes from rice paddies to temples and magazine-cover beaches.
Rounding up the list of the top ten include Siem Reap and Angkor Wat in Cambodia, Bagan in Myanmar, Chiang Mai in Thailand, Bali in Indonesia, Ko Samui in Thailand, Borneo in Malaysia, Bohol in the Philippines and Luang Prabang in Laos.