by Dirk Baumgartl
Vietnam is smaller than Germany but looks huge. No wonder as it stretches like a narrow strip and across several climate zones at a length of around 1,650 kilometres. It is time for an expedition to a country in whose history homosexuality was never banned.
The North: Halong Bay
Several hundred metres of limestone rock rise steeply out of the light blue shimmering sea, their peaks are covered in greenery. Many small boats and many a junk sway gently on the waves between the countless islands – Halong Bay in north-eastern Vietnam is not only a UNESCO world natural heritage site, but also a place of magical attraction. The journey from Vietnam’s capital Hanoi takes a good three hours. If you want to save yourself the stress of being on the road all day, you can book an overnight stay at Halong Bay, even on a boat. Your opportunity: In the morning and in the evening the sun bathes the bizarre island landscape in an even more unreal light.
The centre: Hoi An and Da Nang
The Cloud Pass that connects northern and southern Vietnam passes over the approximately 500-metre high Truong-Son Mountains. They are located in the centre of the country and span as far as the sea, . The first city in the tropical south is Da Nang. Luxury resorts pamper their guests on the dozens of kilometres of sandy beaches that begin here. At the southern end of the beach lies the picturesque historic harbour town of Hoi An. Numerous canals run through the well-preserved old town. Once an important commercial metropolis, Hoi Ans architecture and cuisine reflect numerous influences from all over the world. Then as now the city’s tailors enjoy an excellent reputation – they also like to take the measurements of tourists.
The South: The cosmopolitan metropolis of Saigon
Not the capital Hanoi, but the metropolis Ho Chi Minh City – still known by its former name Saigon – is the economically and culturally dominant centre of Vietnam. The “Pearl of the Far East” as it is nicknamed has retained much of its almost legendary openness. The gay community is also at home here e.g. in Club Republic. This is the focal point of a rapidly changing gay scene that is constantly creating new bars and clubs. But not only the scene also the city itself is always on the move. Take the moped traffic which has to be called breakneck even by Asian standards. The queer community in Saigon celebrates a gay pride every autumn since 2012. Its route follows central Nguyen-Hue Street not far from the impressive opera house and other monuments of French colonial architecture.
HOW TO GET THERE
Vietnam Airlines flies six times a week non-stop from Frankfurt to the Vietnamese capital Hanoi and four times a week to Ho Chi Minh City/Saigon. The airline has invested in modern aircraft in recent years and serves the routes operating Airbus A350 and Boeing 787 Dreamliner, www.vietnamairlines.com
Anantara Hoi An
The boutique hotel Anantara in the historic port city of Hoi An with French, Dutch, Chinese and Japanese influences reflects the fascinating cultural diversity of the city. Special proposal: Guests can learn more about Vietnam with cooking and language courses, hoi-an.anantara.com
FTI (tour operator)
The classic Vietnam circular trip “Discover Vietnam” takes you to the most important sights in North, Central and South Vietnam within nine days and can be booked from 860 Euros per person. Stops in Hanoi, Halong Bay with accommodation in a junk, Hue, Hoi An and Ho Chi Minh City/Saigon as well as in the Mekong Delta are included. The trip can be booked as a group or private tour. A beach holiday can be added at leisure, www.fti.de
Text: Dirk Baumgartl, Tobias Sauer
A ridiculous amount of coffee was consumed in the process of building this project. Add some fuel if you'd like to keep us going!