Best for the local brew: Vietnam

From high-level trekking in Morocco's Atlas Mountains to rubbing shoulders with A-listers on Hollywood Boulevard, and from rural retreats off Tuscany's beaten track to jet-set hang outs for Moscow's super-rich, our writers have been to the ends of the earth to find a world of inspiration

Almost certainly you'll have to lie. Almost certainly, you'll have to pretend you're interested in seeing the culture, exploring the backstreets of the Old Quarter, or wandering around the former jail where Senator John McCain was once held. You'll have to gloss over the fact that what you're really all about, is getting stuck into what may be the world's cheapest beer.

In Vietnam you don't need to look too hard to find Bia Hoi, a light, pale, locally made lager that the locals wash down as if it were bottled water. At as little as 5,000 Dong a glass (about 18p), you'll find that money is not a barrier to immersing yourself thoroughly in this very Vietnamese pastime, especially in elegant Hanoi where it feels as if a bar selling this quaffable, not-overly-gassy brew, looms from every corner.

It may not be the most sophisticated pursuit. There are plenty of new shiny bars in Hanoi, the capital of a still-Communist country that has energetically embraced capitalism, but the establishments selling Bia Hoi are not among them. Rather you're more likely to find yourself in a large, rough-and-ready premises, often open to the elements and with the floors littered with casually discarded peanut shells. As you sit there in the late afternoon sun feeling a little reckless with it all, a waitress or waiter will keep tabs on how many beers you've drunk by marking scratches on your beer mat.

But this is a good thing. This is how you'll make friends. Forget about chatting with the seemingly friendly rickshaw driver as he stands on his pedals to haul you off to Ho Chi Minh's mausoleum; he's just interested in earning a fat tip. The people who will initially stare at you in the Bia Hoi bar before coming over to try and strike up a smiling conversation, might really be your new best friends. At least that's how it can feel after a few glasses. And why not buy them a round? After all, it's not even going to cost you more than a pound.

What's that about something to eat? Oh, the Bia Hoi bars all have kitchens out the back, places perhaps that you might do well not to scrutinise too closely, but you'll not go hungry. And the little plastic-covered menu cards – one or two conveniently translated into English – have everything any respectable drinker might want to snack on. One evening, the senses were overawed simply by thinking about the exotic array of dishes on offer at one scruffy establishment – roast dog, bull's penis, dog's penis, testicles, swan, frogs. Actually the frogs were pretty good; a bit crunchy because of the bones, but pretty good. I didn't bother with anything else. Even the most adventurous traveller knows where to draw the line.

As some point the joys of all this childlike abandon, this sad attempt to recreate your student days may start to pale, at least with your travelling companion. This is when you may feel the pressure to dive into some more traditional tourist activities. So do so. Get up at dawn and join the throngs of people exercising in unison around the still waters of Hoan Kiem Lake, go and take a look at John McCain's pilot's jumpsuit hanging behind glass at the so-called Hanoi Hilton, or jump on an overnight train to Sapa and wander the hills that are home to villages of the Black and Red Hmong tribes. If you really must, you can join the tourist hordes at Halong Bay, queuing up for boat-trips to get up close to the admittedly remarkable limestone karsts.

If you're clever, all of this can be built into your cover story. Go along with it, show enthusiasm even. There's no need to let on what's really driving you.

Here for the beer

* Go on a journey through the Czech Republic and see where some of the best beer in the world was first brewed and is still being made according to centuries-old recipes. Four-day tours from £399 pp. 01273 600030;

* Have a pint with the locals at Löwenbräukeller in Munich. This factory of a bierkeller is beautifully decorated both inside and out and beer, by British standards at least, is not bad value at just over £2 a half litre. 00 49 89 52 89 33

* The Sixtus Trappist abbey in Flanders, Belgium is said to produce some of the best beer in the world. It's hard to get hold of but is usually served up at Chez Moeder Lambic in the Elsene neighbourhood of Brussels. And if not, this old, tiny wooden tavern has a staggering range to choose from. 68 rue de la Savoie, 00 32 2 539 1419

* Byens Kro in Copenhagen may date back to 1783 when it was a distillery but the bar serves up beers both venerable and fashionable from Steam beer made by the West Coast brewery Anchor, to the house speciality Byens Øl brewed on the Baltic island of Bornholm especially for Byens Kro. Møntergade 8, DK 1116 K, 00 45 33 12 55 89

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Wayne’s estate faces a claim for alleged copyright breaches
John Wayne's heirs duke it out with university over use of the late film star's nickname
Arts and Entertainment
Celebrated children’s author Allan Ahlberg, best known for Each Peach Pear Plum
peopleIndian actress known as the 'Grand Old Lady of Bollywood' was 102
Mick Jagger performing at Glastonbury
Germany's Andre Greipel crosses the finish line to win the sixth stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 194 kilometers (120.5 miles) with start in Arras and finish in Reims, France
tour de franceGerman champion achieves sixth Tour stage win in Reims
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Life and Style
beautyBelgian fan lands L'Oreal campaign after being spotted at World Cup
Arts and Entertainment
Chocolat author Joanne Harris has spoken about the financial struggles most authors face
Arts and Entertainment
filmSir Ian McKellen will play retired detective in new film
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Sales Manager (Fashion and Jewellery), Paddington, London

    £45-£55k OTE £75k : Charter Selection: Major London International Fashion and ...

    Volunteer Digital Marketing Trustee needed

    Voluntary, reasonable expenses reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: Are you keen on...

    Java Swing Developer - Hounslow - £33K to £45K

    £33000 - £45000 per annum + 8% Bonus, pension: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: ...

    Corporate Events Sales Manager, Marlow,Buckinghamshire

    £30K- £40K pa + Commision £10K + Benefits: Charter Selection: Rapidly expandin...

    Day In a Page

    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    The German people demand an end to the fighting
    New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

    New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

    For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
    Can scientists save the world's sea life from

    Can scientists save our sea life?

    By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
    Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

    Richard III review

    Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice
    Hollywood targets Asian audiences as US films enjoy record-breaking run at Chinese box office

    Hollywood targets Asian audiences

    The world's second biggest movie market is fast becoming the Hollywood studios' most crucial
    Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app - and my mum keeps trying to hook me up!'

    Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app'

    Five years on from its launch and Grindr is the world's most popular dating app for gay men. Its founder Joel Simkhai answers his critics, describes his isolation as a child
    Autocorrect has its uses but it can go rogue with embarrassing results - so is it time to ditch it?

    Is it time to ditch autocorrect?

    Matthew J X Malady persuaded friends to message manually instead, but failed to factor in fat fingers and drunk texting
    10 best girls' summer dresses

    Frock chick: 10 best girls' summer dresses

    Get them ready for the holidays with these cool and pretty options 
    Westminster’s dark secret: Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together

    Westminster’s dark secret

    Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together
    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Dulce et decorum est - a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    Dulce et decorum est: a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality
    Google tells popular music website to censor album cover art in 'sexually explicit content' ban

    Naked censorship?

    The strange case of Google, the music website and the nudity take-down requests
    Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

    Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

    As England take on India at Trent Bridge, here is our pick of the high-performing bats to help you up your run-count this summer 
    Brazil vs Germany World Cup 2014 comment: David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

    David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

    Captain appears to give up as shocking 7-1 World Cup semi-final defeat threatens ramifications in Brazil