Vietnam had seven million tourists last year. Bangkok alone had 10 million. It’s no wonder then, despite all the chitchat, that Vietnam still feels like a secret, a place of calm and quiet exploration.
Except, of course, for Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, urban centres of enlivening thrum and bustle where motorbikes pour through the streets. Elsewhere, there’s a fresh sense of discovery, of renewal. This entire cedilla-shaped country is lapped by the waters of the South China Sea, and the beaches alone are worth the journey (now easier, with direct Vietnam Airlines flights from Gatwick).
The much-ignored central coast is dotted with small, charming hotels envincing a new talent for luxury (and the old talent for hospitality) plus a growing number of big-name players including the Banyan Tree Lang Co (The Hot List). From north to south, the buzz about the place is palpable.