Click on for a compilation of 360-degree camera tours, classic recipes, coloring pages, and insider tips.
Now that international flights to and from Vietnam have been temporarily halted, and only citizens are allowed to enter, visiting the country just isn’t possible right now. But in the meantime, the country’s tourism board has rolled out Stay at Home with Vietnam.travel, a website that offers plenty of travel inspiration for those of us who can’t wait to see more of Southeast Asia.
Virtual travelers get to tour six of the country’s eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites through interactive microsites armed with 360-degree camera views. In the former imperial capital of Hue, history buffs can explore the central processional route at Minh Mang Tomb and the palace courtyards inside Hue Citadel. Launching a dedicated microsite for the old trading town of Hoi An allows you to take a virtual stroll on the promenade along the Thu Bon River and then step inside the two-hundred-year old Tan Ky Heritage House. Be sure to click around the red-brick ruins of My Son Sanctuary, a series of Hindu temples built between the 4th and 13th centuries by the long-lost Cham civilization. Vietnam’s natural wonders are represented too: users will see what it’s like to soar over Ha Long Bay and Cat Ba Island, wander among the stalactites and stalagmites inside the caves of Phong Nga, and marvel at the karst landscapes of Ninh Binh province.
Avid home cooks also have something to look forward to. The three detailed recipes posted on the website include one for bun cha, a classic combination of grilled pork patties, rice noodles, and aromatic herbs that’s most closely identified with Hanoi. There are step-by-step instructions for making the Hoi An specialty of cao lau noodles, with a topping of tender pork loin braised in a heady marinade of turmeric, garlic, five-spice powder, lemongrass, and honey. Ho Chi Minh City’s take on banh mi—in which the baguette is spread with mayonnaise and pâté and stuffed with roasted pork—rounds out the trio.
If the negative news headlines are leaving you stressed and anxious, try download the Vietnam-themed coloring pages and spend some time engrossed in a fun activity that’s suitable for kids and adults alike. A page is devoted to Vietnamese noodle dishes; another focuses on street food staples such as com tam (“broken rice”) and the crepe-like banh xeo. The historic architecture of Hoi An gets its own sheet, as does a famous pagoda in Ninh Binh, while there’s a grab-bag of scenes and motifs later on, including Vietnamese drip coffee, Da Nang’s quirky Dragon Bridge, a motorcycle laden with a basket of flowers, and the lotus-inspired Bitexco Financial Tower in Ho Chi Minh City.
Finally, it’s worth browsing the separate MyVietnam page, which offers all kinds of local perspectives and insider tips through 10 videos and nine written interviews conducted all across the country. Its subjects range from a Hmong tour guide in Sapa to a kiteboarding instructor Mui Ne and an adventure expert who helped pioneer canyoning in Dalat. This wealth of information will be a boon for anyone who’s planning a future trip to Vietnam.
Click here to launch the site.