Land in Ho Chi Minh City, and you’ll step out to a sweltering mix of heat and exhaust fumes, the buzz of traffic a constant one. The country’s largest city is changing quickly, an adolescent finding its skyscraping ways. But markets, fruit stands, and an amazing street food scene are quick to remind you of the quieter days — and so are the prices.

Outside the city you’ll find one of the world’s most beautiful countries — take a road trip through the coffee fields of the central highlands or go for a boat ride in Ha Long Bay. Gorge yourself on insanely good vegetarian food, and drink at least two ca phe sua das per day. Barter your way through the markets, and be sure to stop in cities like Da Nang, Hue, Da Lat, and Nha Trang. Your parents will hardly believe it.