Mirror Journalist Paul Routledge describes the islands in Vietnam’s Ha Long Bay – location of the 1974 James Bond film The Man With The Golden Gun – as ‘madly picturesque’.
Describing his cruise around the bay the journalist recounts his excitement at witnessing the craggy limestone ‘sharks teeth’ peaks rising majestically out of the water – the backdrop to one of Bond’s most famous adventures.
‘I boarded a teak junk for my cruise round Ha Long Bay,’ writes the journalist, ‘and ate giant prawns, spring rolls and squid with chips …, washed down with cold Saigon 33 beer. Luxury. Under a hot spring sun, the rocky islets slipped by, their brilliant vegetation contrasting with the deep green of the placid sea.’
A country that has long been inspiring travellers, those on Vietnam holidays can not only experience the beauty of its coast but also the grandeur of its urban spaces: Ho Chi Minh City (HCM) (formerly Saigon), Hoi An and Hanoi.
With so many activities for tourists to take part in, Mr Routledge writes that his favourite thing to do in HCM is a cruise up the Mekong River.
‘We watched traders and farmers selling produce in a floating market while barges forged against the current with sand, cement and building materials. Tiny fishing sampans bobbed in the wavelets and birds screeched in the riverbank trees.’
Hoi An Ancient Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, provides the perfect contrast to the bustling modern streets of HCM.
An exceptionally well-preserved example of a South-East Asian trading port, Hoi An’s historic centre contains buildings dating from the 15th century.