Limestone always puts on a good show, and nowhere more spectacularly than in Vietnam’s Halong Bay, where 2000 sheer rocky islets rise from the turquoise waters to take your breath away. Colour seems more saturated here: the rice paddies are electric green, lotus ponds glow purple, the fruit and vegetables in the busy markets of Old Saigon are brighter than elsewhere.
There’s history here, ancient and modern, some all too familiar – but also people in conical hats herding huge flocks of ducks, children crouched on the backs of water buffaloes, traffic jams of boats at the floating markets in the Mekong Delta. Come here for traditional life in stilt villages, to travel by riverboat or to stay in a luxuriously converted rice barge. Explore the highlands on foot, or laze on white sand beaches under coconut palms.
And then there are the cities: Hanoi’s faded elegance, its French influence still showing; or charming Hue, the imperial capital, rich in pagodas and royal palaces; or bustling Ho Chi Minh City where capitalism is the newly-crowned king. Wherever, the people will make you welcome.