Bordering China, Laos and Cambodia and encircled by Thailand, Malaysia and the Philippines, Vietnam’s location sounds very promising for a Southeast Asian mission. This socialist land only gradually started opening up to visitors in the ’90s, so it has retained much of its complex culture. Although ravaged by history, the Vietnamese receive strangers with unprejudiced friendliness – and 3,400km of southern coastline facing the South China Sea welcomes kiters and windsurfers too. A reliable NE Monsoon blows in tropical temperatures while Europe and North America endure winter’s grip from November to April. Winter runaways favour a 10km long bay west of the fishing village Mui Né; fully set up with accommodation, restaurants, and centres it’s a perfect base for discovering the region.