The romance of colonial times is alive and well in Vietnam, where French cuisine mixes with authentic local flavors. The beautiful country is drawing more and more visitors for its undeniably inviting cuisine, photo-worthy scenes from Ha Long Bay to the streets of Ho Chi Minh City, and welcoming local culture. We’ve packed your suitcase with just enough so you can look chic, while leaving some room for all the finds you’ll want to bring home.
Vietnam’s capital is bustling these days but still has charm and history to spare. Pack pieces that would do well in the city like these two-tone flat sandals in orange and pink ($78) and a breathable Raquel Allegra gauze tee ($225). With steamy temperatures in spring and summer, choose linen or airy silks to keep cool, like these wide-leg coral pants ($88) and tangerine floral print blouse ($85.20). Keep your valuables in this handy messenger bag in sturdy saddle leather ($382). Keep time with this rose-gold and vachetta watch for $195), spring for a pop of color on your lips with tinted balm by Fresh ($22.50), and don’t forget the SPF!
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A breezy casual-dressy look works for evenings. Think color, print, and texture to change up your day-to-day wares like this neon yellow box clutch ($35 at Zara), turquoise floral print dress ($58), or ikat jumpsuit ($88). To brave a windier night or chilly restaurant ACs, bring along a linen cardigan, like this pretty style with tulle overlay ($310). Accessories in natural materials and neutral coloring go with just about everything, while channeling global chic, like this wood and gold wave bangle ($120), dark brown platform sandals ($130), and water buffalo horn earrings, which are locally sourced ($108).
Be travel-ready and comfy in slub-cotton like this rich loden green cargo short ($44). Or if you’re beach-bound, pack a few tees ($60 by Reigning Champ in white and gray) or tanks (striped, in this case, for $7.49 at Target) to go over bright board shorts ($74.50 in orange, by Club Monaco). Slip-ons or casual lace-ups make for smart daytime footwear like these Kenzo and Vans sneaks ($125) or striped raffia espadrilles ($45). Make room for a few extras, including this men’s SPF face lotion by Kiehl’s ($25) and strap on this water-resistant watch ($299) for sporty pursuits.
Ho Chi Minh City Nights
Choose loose shapes and light fabrics to help stay cool in steamy temps, though Ho Chi Minh City gets less of that sticky humidity than other parts of the country. To avoid looking sloppy, work in some fun design elements like clever twisted deck pants ($258) or beige linen pants with drawstring hems ($19.95). On top, a patterned button-down ($193) or striped tee ($49.50) can liven up basics. Stick with slip-ons for easy strolling, like these woven Coach shoes in summery turquoise ($228). For accessories, a traditional sandalwood bead bracelet gets a sparkling touch ($220). And for overnight travels, this blue eye mask shades your peepers from bright trains, planes, or automobiles. ($14.50)
Where to Stay
Vietnam has become a hot tourism destination of late and there’s a wide range of accommodations to choose from. In Hanoi, there are some well-serviced smaller hotels like the Hanoi Serene in the Old Quarter, or if you’re more comfortable with an international chain, a Hilton Garden Inn outpost just opened this month.
In Ho Chi Minh City, there are great options for the luxury traveler, like the well-reviewed Park Hyatt Saigon in a gorgeous building on Lam Son Square. Nearby and also on the square, the Caravelle Hotel also serves up quality stays but at a more affordable rate (about $100 less per night). Request a high-floor room and you’ll have quite the sweeping view, or you can always head up to the hotel’s Saigon Saigon rooftop bar for sunset drinks.
Hot and humid not your thing? Plan a short jaunt to Da Lat, a former colonial resort town blessed with cooler highland breezes and French villas. There, the Dalat Palace Hotel feels like a step back in time.
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Photo Credits: Women Day: Far Left: Anthropologie; Top Left: Neiman Marcus;Left Center: kate spade; Bottom Left: BOP LLC.; Center: Raquel Allegra; Top Right: Lord & Taylor; Bottom Right: Saddleback Leather Company. Women Night: Far Left: Nordstrom, Inc.; Top Left: ZARA; Left Center: UrbanOutfitters.com; Bottom Left: KURT GEIGER; Top Right: La Garçonne; Bottom Right: Pendleton Woolen Mills; Far Right: Anthropologie. Men Day: Top left: Need Supply Company; Left Center: Club Monaco US, LLC; Bottom Left: Opening Ceremony; Center: ShopAcrimony.com; Top Right: KIEHL’S; Bottom Right: Opening Ceremony; Top Far Right: Target Brands, Inc. ; Bottom Far Right: L.L.Bean Inc. Far Left: H&M; Left: Need Supply Company; Bottom Left: Magellan’s Travel Supplies; Top Right: BROOKS BROTHERS GROUP, INC. ; Right Center: Mr Porter ; Bottom Right: Coach, Inc.; Top Far Right: Union.