7 Brilliant things to do in Vietnam

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7 Brilliant things to do in Vietnam

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Category : Asia , Vietnam

If there’s one thing to be said for Vietnam, it’s that the country really has everything. Stunning and diverse across cities, villages, mountains, rivers and beaches, it’s all wrapped up in a package for you to explore. But the appeal goes deeper than that; it’s the experiences you can enjoy that really make Vietnam unique. Young or old, backpacker or flashpacker, you’ll find an almost inexhaustible list of things to do in Vietnam. Here are some of our favourites, to give you a taste of this beguiling destination.

1. Set off on a Ha Long Bay cruise

Let’s start off with one of the most well known things to do in Vietnam: Ha Long Bay. Yes, it’s a top tourist draw, but it’s also a spectacularly impressive place. The bay – whose name means ‘descending dragon’ – is made up of emerald waters and towering limestone karsts speckled with greenery. Rather than a quick day trip, opt for a multi-day cruise so you can explore the outcrops at leisure. Watching the sun rise and set across the bay will make an indelible impression.

If the presence of other tourists will spoil your enjoyment, go alternative and visit Ha Long Bay’s less frequented neighbour, Bai Tu Long Bay. Located some 30km east, Bai Tu Long Bay looks almost identical and you wont have to fight for space. What’s more, you’ll have more time to swim and kayak around the rocks and enjoy the peaceful surroundings.

Floating fishing village and rock island in Halong Bay, Vietnam.

Ha Long Bay in northern Vietnam

2. Take a food tour in Hanoi

Pho, bahn mi, cao lau, banh xeo… drooling yet? It’s no secret that Vietnam has an incredible foodie offering, mixing Asian ingredients with French influences. While you’re sure to grab some good grub all over the country, we recommend a food tour in Hanoi if you want to taste the creme de la creme of this delicious cuisine. You’ll find food stalls everywhere, so go on the look out (we recommend the French Quarter), pull up a stool and tuck in. Plus, Hanoi has gained a reputation as the pho capital of Vietnam, so you know you’ll be in for one of your best meals to date.

Street Pho, Vietnam.

Pho eaten streetside in Hanoi

3. See a water puppet show in Ho Chi Minh City

Catching a water puppet show is definitely one of the most unique things to do in Vietnam. What to expect? The shows consist of wooden and lacquered puppets on a watery stage, with narrators, singers and musicians sitting at the sides. Yes, it might sound odd at first, but the tradition began in the 11th century and has stood the test of time. You may not understand much (performances are all in Vietnamese), the combination of the intricate puppets, choreography and music will nevertheless entertain. Head to Ho Chi Minh City, specifically the Golden Dragon Water Puppet Theatre, where show performances last 50 minutes and take place multiple times each evening.

Things to do in Ho Chi Minh City: a traditional water puppet performance

A traditional water puppet performance

4. Hike the hills in Sa Pa

Sa Pa is a township located in northwestern Vietnam, in the Hoàng Liên Son Mountains. It’s well known to adventure seekers as a base for thrill-seeking activities. Plus, it’s famous for its vivid rice terraces, but that’s not all there is to this stunning area. Dig deeper and you’ll find some treasures. There are hikes ending in waterfalls and landscapes you wouldn’t ordinarily associate with Vietnam. What’s more, you can arrange to visit a tribe for an insight into local mountain life.

Sapa-things-to-do-in-Vietnam

Rice terraces near Sa Pa

5. Light a lantern in Hoi An

Historic Hoi An is a kaleidoscope of colour with string lanterns hanging all around the town. This is accentuated ten-fold every year during Tết (Vietnamese New Year) and the Lantern Festival. Lasting seven days, the main festivities happen in the Old Town – between the Japanese Covered Bridge and the Cau An Hoi Bridge. Celebrations are not limited to lanterns and light, either – food stalls and singing groups bring the town to joyous life. Make sure you’re there to watch the hundreds of tiny lanterns making their way down the river during the festival. For a small price you can board a sampan boat and take a closer look and even light one yourself, watching as it floats peacefully away.

Illuminated lanterns in Hoi An Old Town

6. Float through the Mekong Delta

To get a different perspective on Vietnamese life and to simply experience a fun mode of transport, taking a boat through the Mekong Delta is one of the best things to do in Vietnam. The Mekong is Asia’s seventh longest river and flows through six countries, including ChinaMyanmarThailandLaosCambodia and Vietnam. Here, it slows down to a more languid pace, welcoming life in many forms. You can see floating markets, stilted villages, uninhabited islands and more – just hitch a ride with a cargo boat or go full-on cruise.

Mekong-Delta-Vietnam

Boats in the Mekong Delta

7. Drop into the largest cave in the world

In 1991, in Vietnam’s Quang Binh province, near Phong Nha, a local man discovered a long forgotten cave, but couldn’t find a way inside as the drop was so deep. It wasn’t until 2009 that an expedition to survey the mystery cave finally began. What the team discovered was the largest cave in the world, Hang Son Doong, loosely translated to ‘cave of the mountain river’. It’s believed to be between two and five million years old and is so large it has its own ecosystem, with a subterranean river and even underground trees. Trips for tourists started in 2013, and while expensive, it’s certainly one of the most unique things to do in Vietnam and a biggie off the bucket list.

Hang-Son-Doong-cave-Vietnam

The entrance to Hang Son Doong, the largest cave in the world


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10 Best Places to Visit in Vietnam

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Category : Asia , Vietnam

A long, narrow country squeezed in between the South China Sea and the Laos and Cambodia borders, Vietnam is a land of striking landscapes that range from the lush rice terraces and forested mountains in the north to the picturesque valleys of the Central Highlands and the fertile delta and beautiful beaches of the south. Included in the mix are booming modern cities, colonial towns, traditional villages, archaeological sites and otherworldly islands. An overview of the best places to visit in Vietnam.

10. Dalat 

Dalat

 

Year-round cool weather and idyllic scenery of misty valleys, lush pine trees and colorful flowers are some of the reasons that Dalat was once used by Vietnamese emperors and French colonials as a summer retreat. Today, this charming town in the South Central Highlands of Vietnam is a popular destination for those looking for relief from the heat. A walkable city, Dalat is a beautiful scene of French colonial architecture and villas set amid picturesque landscapes.

9. My Son

My Son

 

Located on the central coast of Vietnam near the Duy Phú village is the important archaeological site known as My Son. One of Southeast Asia’s most notable ancient sites, My Son was once a significant center of religious Hindu ceremonies where the kings of the Champa Kingdom built numerous temples devoted to the worship of the god, Shiva, between the 4th and 14th centuries.

8. Ho Chi Minh City

Ho Chi Minh City

 

Lying along the Siagon River near the Mekong Delta in southern Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh City was formerly known as Saigon and served as the capital of South Vietnam during the Vietnam War. Today, Ho Chi Minh City is the largest city of the reunified country, offering plenty of reasons to visit, from its blend of historic and modern attractions to vibrant shopping, dining and nightlife.

7. Mekong Delta

Mekong Delta

 

Colorful floating markets, fruit orchards, rice paddies, sugar cane groves, bird sanctuaries and quaint villages are all what draw many to the Mekong Delta in southwestern Vietnam. Nicknamed “Vietnam’s Rice Basket,” the Mekong Delta is an agricultural region made fertile by the maze of canals and streams fed by the Mekong River. Stretching from the Gulf of Thailand to Ho Chi Minh City, the Mekong Delta feeds more than a third of the country from its rich plantations, orchards, rice paddies and fish farms.

6. Nha Trang 

Nha Trang

 

Located on one of Asia’s most beautiful bays off the coast of South Central Vietnam, Nha Trang is a popular seaside resort city. Picturesque mountains, beaches and lush islands all make it a favorite destination among tourists, Vietnamese and scuba divers. Adorned with resorts, palm trees and a lovely promenade, Nha Trang’s beach is its main draw. Amusement and water parks provide fun for everyone with roller coasters and wave pools.

5. Sapa 

Sapa

 

Surrounded by pictorial mountains, rice terraces and a diversity of hill tribes in the remote northwest of Vietnam, Sapa is a quiet town frequently used as a base for trekking in the Hoang Lien Son Mountains and touring rice paddies and traditional villages. From the town, there are many organized tours that aide tourists in mountain hikes and exploring the nearby rice paddies and remote villages. These tours present views of beautiful waterfalls and the opportunities to experience the food, customs and way of life among the local tribes.

4. Hue 

Hue

 

Situated on the banks of the Perfume River in Central Vietnam, Hue once served as the imperial capital of the Nguyen dynasty. Today, the vestiges of this former glorious period are reflected in the city’s architecture, culture and cuisine, making it one of the best places to visit in Vietnam. Of the city’s monuments, the Citadel is the most famous. Once the seat of the Nguyen emperors, the Citadel is a sprawling complex of grand palaces, ornate temples, walls and gates Another important landmark on the river is the city’s official symbol, the Thien Mu Pagoda.

3. Hoi An 

Hoi An

 

Located off the coast of the South China Sea in South Central Vietnam, Hoi An is a beautiful, old city dating back 2,000 years to the Champa Kingdom. The city’s historic architecture, traditional culture and textiles make it a popular destination in Vietnam. At the heart of Hoi An is its atmospheric Old Town which is small enough to walk around easily. The narrow, winding lanes of the Old Town are lined with beautiful old architecture, traditional wooden houses and hundreds of tailor shops selling clothing, shoes, bags, souvenirs and custom-made services.

 

2. Hanoi 

Hanoi

 

For the last century, Hanoi has the Indochina and Vietnam Wars to emerge as the booming capital city of a reunified Vietnam. At the heart of Hanoi is its Old Quarter, an open-air museum of historic Asian and French colonial architecture that has largely remained intact despite the bombings of the Vietnam War. Here among scenic tree-lined boulevards, tourists can browse busy markets, sip coffee at quaint cafes and visit prominent sites like the Grand Opera House, the Presidential Palace and Saint Joseph Cathedral.

 

1. Ha Long Bay

#1 of Best Places To Visit In Vietnam

 

With its aqua-green water and cluster of limestone rocky outcrops rising from the water like sea dragons, Ha Long Bay resembles a scene from a fantasy story. Located about 130 km (80 miles) east of Hanoi in northern Vietnam, this otherworldly bay features more than 2,000 jungle-covered islands pitted with intriguing caves, grottoes, sinkholes and lakes. Many of the islands have been sculpted over the centuries by natural processes into fantastic formations.

Cheap Flights to Huế

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Hotels in Hanoi: 5 stars

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Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi

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-32%

358242

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JW Marriott Hotel Hanoi

★★★★★

-7%

144135

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InterContinental Hanoi Landmark72

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-19%

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Lotte Hotel Hanoi

★★★★★

-23%

11488

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Apricot Hotel

★★★★★

-31%

192133

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Elegant Suites Westlake

★★★★★

-28%

10576

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Crowne Plaza West Hanoi

★★★★★

-8%

156144

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Pan Pacific Hanoi

★★★★★

-11%

150133

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Hilton Hanoi Opera

★★★★★

-9%

10394

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Hotel de l'Opera Hanoi MGallery by Sofitel

★★★★★

-29%

13697

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Mövenpick Hotel Hanoi

★★★★★

-12%

128113

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Hanoi Daewoo Hotel

★★★★★

-8%

8477

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Hôtel du Parc Hanoï

★★★★★

-6%

8378

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Grand Plaza Hanoi Hotel

★★★★★

-6%

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Calidas Landmark72 Royal Residence Hanoi

★★★★★

-26%

13096

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Pullman Hanoi

★★★★★

-6%

8782

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