DA NANG Who goes there: Crystal Cruises, Holland America Line, Ponant, Princess Cruises, Seabourn, Silversea, Windstar Cruises.
Cruisers like: During the American-Vietnam War, Da Nang had a major US air force base. Many US and Allied troops enjoyed R&R here, and you can visit the famous China Beach. The Museum of Cham has the world’s largest collection of 5th to 15th-century Cham artifacts. Da Nang also has the largest Cao Dai temple in Central Vietnam, worth visiting for its architecture and decor. Visit the Marble Mountains to explore caves and tunnels and see Buddhist and Hindu shrines.
Best for: Families, food lovers, bargain hunters, history buffs.
Getting around: The port of Tien Sa in Da Nang is a 30-minute bus ride from the centre of town. Taxis cost about US$10 each way. To get to Hoi An will cost about US$16-25.
HALONG BAY Who goes there: Avalon Waterways, Azamara Club Cruises, Celebrity Cruises, Crystal Cruises, Holland America Line, Ponant, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Seabourn, Silversea, Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection, Viking River Cruises, Windstar Cruises.
Cruisers like: Hanoi is a three-hour drive away. The city is growing fast, but the ancient bones are still there and the painted houses echo French colonial times. It is a good place to buy art, silk, clothing, lacquer and handcrafts. In picturesque World Heritage-listed Halong Bay, take a boat tour to visit caves and grottoes on the islands, including the Hospital Cave, a secret, bomb-proof clinic used during the American War. Or take a ferry to Cat Ba Island’s national park
Best for: Families, food lovers, shoppers, photographers.
Getting around: Many ships moor off Halong City and tender guests to the Bai Chay Tourist Wharf. At the pier, you will be able to rent a junk for about US$60 for four hours. There are buses to Hanoi, and a private car or taxi will cost about US$85.
HO CHI MINH CITY Who goes there: AmaWaterways, Avalon Waterways, Azamara Club Cruises, Celebrity Cruises, Crystal Cruises, Princess Cruises, Royal Caribbean, Ponant, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Seabourn, Silversea Cruises, Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection, Viking River Cruises, Windstar Cruises.
Cruisers like: Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) is a huge city with chaotic traffic, yet with an elegant side. Food features fresh herbs, spice and a finesse from the French era (especially breads and pastries). Try the locally grown coffee which drips thickly into a glass with condensed milk. Take a cooking class, be fitted for a silk dress or shirt, and haggle in the massive city market. Also visit the Jade Emperor Pagoda, the history-making Reunification Palace and its basement war rooms and tunnels, and the sobering War Remnants Museum.
Best for: Families, food lovers, bargain hunters, shoppers.
Getting around: Small and midsize ships cruise up the Saigon River to three piers in the centre of town. Trishaws and taxis are available. Larger ships dock at Phu My on the South China Sea, a 90-minute drive from the city. There are shuttle buses and taxis available.
NHA TRANG Who goes there: Cunard, Holland America Line, Oceania Cruises, P&O Cruises, Ponant, Princess Cruises, Royal Caribbean, Silversea.
Cruisers like: One of the world’s most beautiful bays with a sweeping beach and jewel-like waters dotted with islands. The city is back-dropped by mountains and the waterside has parks and sculpture gardens. There’s scuba diving, snorkelling, kayaking and other water sports and, on Vinh Nguyen Island, mountain biking and bike tours. Visit Po Ngar Cham Towers and Long Son Pagoda. Revive in mineral-rich mud at the Thap Bo Hot Spring Centre, or have fun at Vinpearl Amusement Park.
Best for: All ages, couples, active people, photographers.
Getting around: Nha Trang is about 12 kilometres from the Cau Da Port. There are taxis, trishaws and a free shuttle offered to cruise guests.
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