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There's no better way to escape the summer heat than by taking a trip to the seaside. In northern Vietnam, the obvious destination is Ha Long Bay, where thousand of deserted islands await. What's the best way to explore this stunning World Heritage Site? Hanoi's Buffalo Tours (926-0444) now offers six streamlined tandem sea kayaks, craft so high-tech that you'll barely have to paddle.

Experienced guides will lead you through narrow crevices in the rock to explore hidden cavices in the rock to explore hidden caves and lagoons - magical places that are inaccessible on a larger boat. Travellers wishing to really get away from it all can sign up for camping trips; they'll paddle to Bai Tu Long, a little-visited bay to the east of Ha Long Bay, and spend a few nights sleeping on beaches under the stars. A four-day trip starts at US$ 135 per person, for groups of four or more.

For something completely different, head to the central city of Nha Trang, where life revolves around the city's central beach. When you tire of lounging on the sand and swimming in the turquoise water, pick up the pace on a jet ski. With engine capacities of between 700cc and 1200cc, these imported "water motorbikes" will make even the most timid rider feel like the hero of an action movie. Jet skis are available on Hon Mun Island. The fun doesn't come cheap, however; a 750cc jet ski costs VND 150,000 for 15 minutes, while a spin on the souped-up 1,200cc version costs VND 200,000.

Those in search of quieter pleasure can rent can rent a canoe or hitch a ride on a banana tree raft, while the truly adventurous can try parasailing. A cable attaches you to a speeding powerboat, which tows you along at between 50 and 70 metres above the waves. Along with a rush of adrenaline, you'll get a fantastic view of the bay and its islands. A ride last from 10 to 15 minutes and costs VND 150,000, after which you'll be deposited, shaky but exhilarated, on the beach.