I've been intrigued whilst travelling through Vietnam at how very few westerners I see & how the few I do see are only in those towns, hotels & restaurants recommended by their travelling companion/'bible', a certain travel guide which is universally carried by all & at all times. It raises the questions of "when to come" & "where to go"? In terms of "when" - is it a question of "why put off until tomorrow, what you can do today", or, more a case of "everything comes to those that wait"? Most address the question simply in terms of the weather. A recent post implied that one should wait until it was possible to enter with your bike. In the case of Vietnam, however, I feel the true challenge is to get here whilst the uniqueness remains. Development & the resultant change is all around. The answer to "when to come" is: "NOW"! Vietnam will not wait for those holding off until the authorities permit them ride in on their big bikes. The guidebook/'bible' is correct in urging: "catch it before it reinvents itself as another Malaysia or Thailand". Addressing the question of "where to go" merits a word about guidebooks - the guidebooks, after all, subject so many to scrutiny, its only correct that they face the same themselves. The guidebooks have their uses: - if a town is promoted therein be sure it will be flooded with tourists; a town not 'promoted' or even omitted may well be a true gem; so good, so stimulating culturally or rewarding visually that one sometimes truly wonders if they've been purposely omitted to 'save' them for locals; - be discerning in your choice of accommodation - the guidebook can make or break a business - I have seen places incorrectly identified, suffering as a consequence, but their very misfortune providing wonderful opportunities for travellers (one wonders how long it will be before such affected institutions take action against guidebooks in terms of their obligations in proof-reading & in publishing); - if its a restaurant the immediate increase in volumes may well have seen prices rise with a fall in service & quality. There are many good restaurants; simply follow the locals lead. Guidebooks, particularly in the case of Vietnam, can be virtually out of date at the time of printing - roads rated as good can have already totally deteriorated, for example. The development in Vietnam - infrastructure, hotels, restaurants, even whole townships themselves - is being implemented at such a pace that one can really only keep abreast via the electronic media (a plea to keep those reports coming in). Use the guidebook as it name implies - as a 'guide' - but then throw it away if you wish to have a great holiday, see the real & experience the true Vietnam.