News in Hoi An Ancient Town

Vietnam''''s hidden wonder

The country is best known for its bays dotted with dramatic limestone stacks, rice-paddies and coffee plantations, quiet beaches and bustling, pagoda-filled cities. With more and more people discovering these and other attractions, tour operators are welcoming a boom in bookings.

Trailfinders ( saw its highest bookings ever for Vietnam in January 2014, following a steady increase in interest in the country during recent years.

The operator said the rise is largely due to the introduction of direct flights from London in 2011 and “clients choosing bespoke private car and driver tours as they offer complete freedom and flexibility without the hassle of 'going it alone'.”

Vietnam now ranks in Kuoni’s top 15 destinations for British travellers, at number 14. It was 23rd in 2011 and is one of three countries that Kuoni judged to be the fastest-growing in popularity last year, the other two being Mexico and Cuba.

Wexas ( said it has seen consistent year on year growth for trips to Vietnam since 2010, reporting a 16 per cent rise between 2012 and 2013.

A spokeswoman for Wexas said Britons were attracted to the variety of beaches, culture, history and river cruise options, “which our clients want to explore before the destination becomes too commercial.” She said Vietnam’s food was also a major draw.

“Vietnam is still comparatively good value for dining and shopping, and direct flights with Vietnam Airlines, as well as a growing network of indirect flights, mean that getting there is simpler and more affordable than ever before,” she added. “This network also allows travellers to easily add-on visits to Cambodia, Thailand and Laos.”

She said the operator’s most popular routes were into Hanoi and out of Saigon, including Halong Bay, Hoi An and Mekong river cruises into Cambodia.

Audley Travel ( also agreed that 2013 had been a record year for Vietnam, noting a 15 per cent growth in bookings year on year. Visitors are increasingly looking to do something different, a spokeswoman said. There has been a demand for unusual but authentic tours, such as Saigon After Dark, where travellers can visit local eateries on the back of a scooter with a guide, sampling food and finishing the evening at a local music venue.