Successively occupied by China, Russia, France, Japan, and the United States, Vietnam has had its share of foreign interference. But today, the Vietnamese are focused on rocketing into the future. In this new era of confident self-determination the atmosphere is one of palpable optimism. Fortunately for travellers, Vietnam's traditional charms have not yet been eclipsed. Although noisy motorbikes continue to replace bicycles at an alarming rate, the former Communist stronghold of Hanoi has maintained its narrow-laned charm, while the melting limestone pinnacles of Halong Bay are as otherworldly as ever. From the ancient neighbourhoods of Hoi An to the vast Mekong Delta, the country offers an astonishing variety of scenery. Whether your fascination is wartime relics or beaches and rice paddies, see Vietnam now, because every year it seems to reinvent itself.