Our stint in central Vietnamese town Hoi An began with a sweeping moped drive up the curvaceous Hai Van Pass, which has been nicknamed the Most Beautiful Road in Vietnam thanks to its views over the crystal waters and pea green hills below. Save for the dead pig we found rotting in the bushes at a photo stop, it more or less lived up to its name.

Also along the way was Danang's Nam O Beach, the spot I demanded to see because it's where the American soldiers first landed in 1965. I was expecting a plaque, a signpost, even a small information centre or museum – but the only sign that this was the same place was the shape of two mountains on the horizon, which I matched with an image from the Internet. And yet it was chilling: to imagine boots pounding on the sand, shouted commands, the flutter of South Vietnamese girls bearing pearly garlands to welcome the 'gallant marines'. Now there is only driftwood and the clink of cola bottles from the beach's sole vendor.

Hoi An is famous among backpackers for its boozy hostels, pretty, lantern-strung Old Town and ubiquitous tailor shops: we ticked off all three. Sunflower was our hostel of choice, and made up for its creaky beds and slimy bathrooms with its diverse breakfast buffet (garlic bread! eggs made to order!) and the availability of a swimming pool when you're hungover and it's 30 degrees. It also made for a swell place to watch the tennis, though I'm not sure I'll include thumping trap music in my Wimbledon setup next year.

The Old Town was suitably quaint and brags an excellent selection of shops selling groovy friendship bracelets. But the real star of the show was the tailor's: I went in with a loose design idea drawn badly on a post-it, got measured and picked my material, and the next day I went home with a burgundy silk jumpsuit all for me. I felt like Kate Moss preparing for the Met Gala.

Next wasn't really Nha Trang – that was a stop-off on the way to Ninhvana, the all-inclusive backpacker resort on a private beach that Vietnam's most up-and-coming hostel chain have just launched. Two days of lounging, playing volleyball, swimming, eating top-class Western food and revelling in the fact that we could drink AS MANY PASSIONFRUIT MOJITOS AS WE WANTED without reaching into our pockets was a luxurious break from real life, but left me wanting something grittier.

Next stop: Dalat.