30 Epic Things to do in Vietnam

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When people think of things to do in Vietnam they think of a destination in rawness, rich culture and spectacular scenery. It’s a country that offers so much in a small package.

It’s possible to have a beach vacation or a city escape and everything in between. In the 3 weeks that we spent traveling the country, we uncovered some of the most popular places to visit but also some of the more off-track places.

Of course, 3 weeks isn’t nearly enough time to really dig out the best there is on offer or to define what is the very best, so we’ve asked our fellow travel bloggers to share their favorite Vietnam adventure experiences with us.

While this article could go on for days with all the unique and cool experiences to be had in this country, these are ones you absolutely shouldn’t miss.

Don’t leave home without: Lonely Planet Vietnam (Travel Guide)


30 Epic Things to do in Vietnam

things to do in Vietnam - Cuc Phong National Park - Lina Stock

1. Cuc Phuong National Park

Rarely visited by tourists, the Cuc Phuong National Park is located 120km southwest of Hanoi and is the oldest national park in Vietnam. Taking the time to visit will give you a true jungle adventure featuring intense flora and exotic fauna around every turn.

The park also features an Endangered Primates Rescue Center that houses over 150 primates that have been rescued and are being rehabilitated for a return to the jungle.

Our visit entailed a 4-hour bike ride from the park entrance, along a paved road through the park, ultimately ending deep in the jungle at a research station.

The buildings are used to house the many researchers that enter the park for studies and despite the rooms being very basic, the adventure is one you shouldn’t miss on a visit to Vietnam.

Lina, Divergent Travelers

Mui Ne Sand Dunes, Vietnam

2. Visiting the Mui Ne Sand Dunes

While Vietnam is known for its shimmering rice fields, bustling city centers, breathtaking mountains, and incredible food, there’s one thing you might be missing out on… its vast desert of red and white sand dunes! Who would have thought there are sand dunes in the lush green country of Vietnam?

Found near the small fishing village of Mui Ne, the sand dunes are easy to get to! And — of course — absolutely spectacular. The easiest way to get to the sand dunes is to hop on a small group tour, which typically goes from one of the few hostels in Mui Ne.

When visiting the epic dunes, you can surf down them on a small paper surfboard, hop on a quad (four-wheeler) and cruise around, or just dip your toes in the sand!

Although, if you choose to go on a tour, not only does it take you to the sand dunes, you’ll also have the opportunity to explore Mui Ne’s fairy stream and get a peek into the locals’ lives as fishermen! No doubt, visiting the sand dunes is one of the best things to do in Vietnam.

Sophie, The Wanderful Me

 

Things to do in Vietnam-Cat Ba Island

3. Cat Ba Island

Cat Ba island brings back nothing but the fondest of memories for me. While we were traveling through Vietnam, we were lucky enough to spend a couple of days on the island. Since we were there in December, the weather wasn’t always sunny, yet we found more than enough to keep us occupied.

One of the highlights of the time we spent there was on a tour that we took to the Halong bay. A lot of people choose to take the overnight cruises through the bay. We found however that the day cruises from Cat Ba island were so much cheaper.

Cat Ba island also has a number of things that you can do on the island itself. From enjoying the delicious treats by the side of the road to hiking in Cat Ba national park, there is something for everyone.

If you don’t want to do anything active, you can choose to just chill by the side of one of the numerous beaches. The one thing that I loved about the island was that we could just relax and take in everything at our own pace.

Penny, Globe Trove

Things to do in Vietnam-Fairy Stream of Mui Ne

4. Walking on the Fairy Stream of Mui Ne

Mui Ne is famous for two things; sunrise and sunset over the sand dunes and a magical walk on the fairy stream. The receptionist in my hostel told me as he instructed me on how to get from Ho Chi Minh to Mui Ne. This stream that you can safely walk is a kilometer long, a stream that runs through a canyon of red rock cliffs and jungle trees.

The soft mud makes the walking easier, the walk on the entire stream will make you feel like you are not in Vietnam. In the old times, the locals believe that the fairy hides on the rocks and will tell this story to their kids.

It’s pretty easy to get here, you can either rent a motorbike and drive yourself, you can park for free on the entrance of the Fairy Stream or you can hop on one of the tours that your hostel or tour booths on the street.

They offer transportation to the major attractions in Mui Ne for as low as $5 including the sand dunes, and the fishing village.

Mary, Move To Vietnam

Things to do in Vietnam-Try a Vietnamese egg coffee

5. Try a Vietnamese egg coffee

Vietnam is one of the best countries in the world for foodies. From spring rolls and dumplings to pho noodle soup and banh mi sandwiches, there’s certainly no shortage of delicious dishes to try during your time in Vietnam.

But there’s also a drink you can’t leave without trying. Originating from the heart of the city of Hanoi, the now-famous Vietnamese egg coffee is a must while you’re in town.

This special brew, known locally as “cà phê trúng”, will be unlike any cup of coffee you’ve ever tried before. It’s essentially a Vietnamese coffee with a whisked egg yolk in it, and it’s surprisingly satisfying.

If you want the most authentic experience, the only place to try one is at Giang, the cafe that claims to have invented it.

Enjoying a Vietnamese egg coffee is something that every traveler can find room for in their schedule, no matter how long you plan to spend in Vietnam. It’s quick, it’s cheap and it’s something you can do time and time again while you’re in Hanoi.

Whether you’re backpacking on a budget or enjoying the more luxurious side of this, make sure you add this unique experience to your Vietnam itinerary.

Jodie, Ala Jode

Things to do in Vietnam-Visiting Mekong Delta

6. Visiting Mekong Delta

No visit to Vietnam would be complete without a visit to the Mekong Delta. You can easily access the Mekong Delta from Ho Chi Minh City, the gateway of the south of Vietnam and the former capital city.

You can get really affordable day trips to the Mekong Delta or you can book a homestay and stay a few nights. I have done both but most recently we did a day trip from Ho Chi Minh City with our 3 kids.

We took an organized tour that showed us how the Mekong River is alive with activity and is the lifeline for millions of people that live along the banks of the mighty Mekong. We visited a little village and tried some locally produced honey tea.

We walked through the village and listened to some traditional folk music, we were then taken down the Mekong River in timber longboat. We visited a coconut sweet shop where we participated in making and wrapping the sweets.

Finally, we took a horse and cart from the village to a restaurant on the banks of the Mekong. Horse and cart are still used today between villages around the Mekong. The meal was delicious and made using all local products.

We were then taken for a boat ride down the river and back to the bus and we were back in HCMC approximately 2 hours later.

Sally, Our3KidsvTheWorld 

Things to do in Vietnam-Hiking in Sapa

7. Hiking in Sapa, Vietnam

There are plenty of beautiful hiking places in the world, and hiking in Sapa valley in Hoang Lien Son mountain range is definitely one of the top 10. And what better way to experience this beautiful place then with the locals.

We chose to go on a private guided hike with one of the local’s names Bee (you can find her on Facebook under Bee Sapa). She introduced us to the local culture and their way of life, and we got to experience what it is like to live in the local villages as well.

She welcomed us to her home, where we met her family and enjoyed a cup of tea with everyone. And it was a great and very special experience!

Sapa hike takes you on a 12-kilometer adventure starting at the town of Sapa and ending at a little mountain village of Tavan. This 4-hour hike, especially if you venture out with a local guide, will be one of the most memorable adventures that you have ever been on.

As you descend down into the valley, you will find yourself surrounded by cascading down the sides of the mountains thousands of rice terraces.

As you make your way down the valley, you will be able to enjoy both glistening in the sun golden and crisp green carpet-like rice fields. These picture-perfect sights go on as far as the eyes can see, and as high as the tips of the mountain peaks.

On top of that, you will have an opportunity to check out the local villages, immerse yourself in culture, get to know that people and learn a bit more about the local way of life.

On our trip, we went on a Sapa hike in September. We chose this month for a reason. We wanted to see this place just before the harvest, so we could see the golden colored mountains in full glory. So make sure to check your seasons before you go and enjoy the Sapa hike just as much as we did!

Andrzej, Wanderlust Storytellers

Things to do in Vietnam-Best Banh Mi in Vietnam at Banh Mi Phuong

8. Try the Best Banh Mi in Vietnam at Banh Mi Phuong

The city of Hoi An in central Vietnam is famous for its food. One of its most visited restaurants is Banh Mi Phuong, which specializes in the humble banh mi. It was made famous by the late Anthony Bourdain when he made a visit to the shop for his travel show “No Reservations” and claimed it has the best banh mi in Vietnam.

Banh mi, or the Vietnamese sandwich, is a ubiquitous meal in Vietnam. Made with a freshly baked French baguette with a variety of options for fillings – it’s definitely one of the more unforgettable meals we have tried while traveling.

We had our own fair share of banh mis when we traveled in Vietnam from budget varieties to gourmet. So is Anthony Bourdain’s best banh mi claim really accurate? Definitely! While the queues can be quite long at times, the banh mi at Banh Mi Phuong (located at 2B Phan Chau Trinh) is by far the best we’ve had in Hoi An and anywhere in Vietnam.

The banh mi, which cost around 20,000 VND ($1 USD) each are prepared right in front of you with freshly baked bread and a perfect ratio of meat, pate, fresh salad, and the sauces.

We lived in Hoi An for about three months and yes, we never got tired of them! There’s nothing quite like this banh mi. Make sure to add this to your list of things to do in Vietnam!

Gia, Mismatched Passports

Things to do in Vietnam-Exploring Da Nang

9. Exploring Da Nang, Vietnam

The Lady Buddha statue is a must-see on your visit to Da Nang, Vietnam. The beautiful and massive statue makes an impression as it is the tallest Buddha statue in Vietnam.

This place can often be overlooked by tourists but those who visit will also be rewarded with seemingly endless views of the sea from atop the mountain.

The statue is located at the Tra Linh Ung Pagoda at the end of the Son Tra Peninsula in Da Nang and can be reached by driving there yourself or taking a taxi. There’s no charge to enter, but you can make a donation if you like so this is great for budget travelers.

It’s best to roam around the complex and enjoy the gardens and pagoda and then make your way over to the terrace at the feet of the statue to savor the stunning views of shimmering waters and the city on the other side of the peninsula.

The air can be a bit cooler with some mist, creating a very magical and picturesque experience.

Taiss, Together To Wherever 

Things to do in Vietnam-Hiking in Ba Be National Park

10. Hiking in Ba Be National Park

In a country as vast and diverse as Vietnam, it’s difficult to pick a single top thing to do – especially as we spent a year exploring the country! Out of all of our experiences hiking in Ba Be National Park was definitely one of our most rewarding and memorable for so many reasons.

Located in northeast Vietnam the National Park is centered around Ba Be lake, the biggest of it’s kind in the country. Surrounding the lake is dense jungle, unexplored caves, pristine ‘fairy ponds’, waterfalls and a whole host of incredible wildlife.

Besides the natural beauty, there are also fascinating traditional tribal groups that still live in the area.

The whole landscape is connected by hiking routes that take you up and over the limestone castes, through tropical vegetation and to a whole host of incredible sights. As you go past the local tribes are welcoming and unquestionably curious to see foreign travelers wandering through the bushes!

Altogether it makes a trip to the area unforgettable, whether you’re wanting to explore the jungle or to observe the traditional customs and local way of life.

Still, despite the awesomeness of Be Ba it’s definitely still an off-the-beaten-track destination. Outside of the busier dry season (February – April), you’re unlikely to find many other travelers which make the experience even more special.

Josh & Sarah, Veggie Vagabonds

Things to do in Vietnam-Visiting Hue

11. Visiting Hue, Vietnam

No trip to Vietnam is complete until you have visited Vietnam’s former imperial capital, Hue. Home to the Imperial city and other historic landmarks, Hue’s charm has earned itself a place in UNESCO’s list of world heritage sites.

The imperial city itself is one of the best things to do in Vietnam and makes for a memorable trip to Hue. Surrounded by a moat, after paying the entry fee you can enter in and out through one of its 10 ornate gateways.

The attention to detail in the buildings is unbelievable, as you walk around the grounds you feel like you have stepped back in time to the golden age of Vietnam.

The imperial city has survived through 3 wars. Though, the scares are still noticeable walking through the grounds. A few of the buildings have been beautifully restored to their former selves, while others are nothing more than mere ruins, out of the 160 main buildings, only 10 survived the Vietnam war.

The Imperial City of Hue makes for an interesting trip in Vietnam and provides insight into the history of this beautiful country.

Tasha, Backpackers Wanderlust

Things to do in Vietnam-Motorbiking in Phong Nha

12. Motorbiking in Phong Nha

Riding a motorbike in Phong Nha National Park is one of my favorite memories of traveling in Vietnam. I vividly remember passing by local kids who giggled, waved, and shouted “hello” at me, and riding through mountains and rice terraces that seemed like green carpets leading to an eternity of natural beauty. It felt pretty darn close to being in paradise!

My awesome motorbiking crew and I explored the area for a couple of days. We made a stop at the Dark Cave, which is accessed by either kayaking or swimming to the cave mouth.

The cave was very muddy, which makes it perfect for an epic mud war! We also stopped by the massive Paradise Cave that’s well preserved and felt more authentic than other popular caves I’ve been to.

One could spend hours in here, marveling at the shapes and seeing various things in them, subjectively, much like cloud or star-gazing. The true highlight of the biking trip for me though was just getting lost on the little side roads around the national park and saying hi to the friendly locals.

To do this yourself, take a small minibus from Hue Backpackers to your guesthouse of choice in Phong Nha. You can rent a motorbike from most guesthouses, and there’s a small entrance fee to the national park and caves.

Kristin, Be My Travel Muse

Things to do in Vietnam-Exploring Ganh Da Dia

13. Exploring Ganh Da Dia

When exploring the coast of Vietnam there is one magical spot that many miss out on, Ganh Da Dia. Many people don’t know that Vietnam has its own version of The Giant’s Causeway, but this one is surrounded by palm trees and sunny days rather than the freezing Irish weather and hordes of tourists.

Ganh Da Dia is well off the beaten track in Vietnam and hardly sees any visitors beyond Vietnamese tourists. Located between Hoi An and Nha Trang the basalt rocks columns are thought to have been formed millions of years ago by volcanic activity in the region.

Today besides the odd visitors the most common use for the impressive formation is to stack up the conical boats of the local fishermen.

Fitting together like a giant puzzle the columns alternate in height creating an incredible wave of rock that is well worth the detour. The route towards the rocks is also an experience in itself, winding its way through tiny villages, rice fields and across a rickety bamboo bridge!

Nic and Paul, The Roaming Renegades

Things to do in Vietnam-Lantern cooking class in Nha Trang

14. Lantern cooking class in Nha Trang

Vietnam offers visitors the most distinguished cuisines in the world. Fortunately, there are many ways to learn how to cook Vietnamese food through various cooking classes you can find all over the country.

Your day will start with a visit to the traditional market of Xom Moi. It is the main local market in Nha Trang, where colorful fruit, vegetables, and other produce and merchandise are stacked up for sale.

You will have to walk through cages of live chickens, counters full of meat and, most importantly, the fresh seafood Nha Trang is famous for. While there, you’ll be learning more about Vietnam’s daily life that is happening all around you.

After getting your fresh ingredients, you’ll ride a rickshaw back to Lanterns Restaurant. There, a friendly and helpful chef will teach you the basics of Vietnamese cooking. And of course, expect to eat your own masterpiece! You’ll leave the restaurant with a happy tummy and a free cookbook!

Halef and Michael, The Round The World Guys

Things to do in Vietnam-Street Food Walking Tour

15. Hanoi Street Food Walking Tours

Food tours offer a great introduction to local cuisine and the Old Quarter of Hanoi is the perfect place to join a tour and try some unique North Vietnamese specialties.

Over three hours you are given a personalized glimpse into Vietnamese culture. Guided through the alleyways of the Old Quarter, you will be rewarded with many stops along the way to try some truly delicious dishes.

You might be lucky enough to try Bun Cha, a delicious dish of grilled port and noodles thought to have originated in Hanoi. Try your hand steaming rice sheets for Bahn Cuon, a rice pancake filled with ground pork and mushrooms from North Vietnam.

You could be served Nom Thit Bo Koh, a dried beef salad, or Mien Tron, a dish of fresh glass noodles. You may try Bahn My or Beef Pho, two of the most famous Vietnamese dishes in the world.

As you walk, you learn about local customs and family life. You will even be taught how to cross the chaotic streets like a pro. Food tours are reasonably priced and with all food included in the price, you will not be disappointed.

Rachel, Adventure and Sunshine

Things to do in Vietnam-Sailing on Halong Bay

16. Take a Rowboat in Tam Coc

If you don’t have the time to sail Halong Bay while you’re in Hanoi, there’s an alternative nearby. Those giant limestone karsts that people fill cruise ships to see also appear inland in the Ninh Binh region two hours from Hanoi.

They form the Tràng An Scenic Landscape Complex, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site, just like Halong Bay.

In the village of Tam Coc, visitors can take a rowboat down the river to see the rock formations up close. The 45-minute journey passes through paddy fields that turn golden-yellow at harvest time.

The gentle splashing of oars (by the local women who use their feet!) and the absence of noisy engines make the trip a rather serene one. It’s one less distraction when one admiring the landscape and the karsts that tower overhead.

Just bring sun protection and avoid the expensive refreshments on the river, and the trip will be an enjoyable one.

Nicholas, Rambling Feet

Things to do in Vietnam-Visiting the tea fields in Thai Nguyen

17. Visiting the tea fields in Thai Nguyen

Most of us associate Vietnam with coffee (it is the world’s second-largest exporter of coffee beans, after all)—but the country’s traditional beverage is in fact tea.

Tea production began in Vietnam under the French in the 1880s. In recent years, tea cultivation has exploded in popularity, and the country now exports over 200,000 tons of the stuff annually.

Much of Vietnam’s tea is grown in Thai Nguyen. About an hour’s drive northeast of Hanoi, Thai Nguyen itself is a small town surrounded by plantations and strawberry farms.

It’s great fun to get out and visit the tea fields, where ladies dressed in traditional non la conical hats harvest tea leaves with great precision. Visiting a tea farm is not unlike visiting a winery—after seeing the fields, you will most likely be invited inside the family home to enjoy a cup of green tea, made by soaking and swilling the leaves in a very particular way.

Even if you’re a coffee drinker, visiting the tea fields offers a fascinating insight into one of Vietnam’s biggest industries. Thai Nguyen is still very much off the tourist circuit, so don’t be surprised if you have the fields all to yourself.

Other attractions of note in Thai Nguyen include the Cultural Museum of Vietnam Ethnic Minority Groups and the Thai Hai Tay Ethnic Village.

Emily, Wander-Lush

Things to do in Vietnam-Exploring the Cu Chi Tunnels

18. Exploring the Cu Chi Tunnels

The Cu Chi tunnels are thousands of miles of tunnels created by Viet Cong fighters which they used in their guerrilla attacks against American soldiers during the Vietnam War.

These tunnels are so extensive they included everything from living quarters to war planning rooms, hospitals and ammunition depots.

The tunnels were essential to the Viet Cong war efforts and the reason they won the war. The Americans knew that these tunnels existed but had no idea how extensive the system was. The Viet Cong also booby-trapped entrances so that the Americans didn’t venture too far into any of the tunnels they did find.

Nowadays, there are guided tours of the Cu Chi tunnels which are fascinating. You only get to see a small portion of the tunnels but that is enough!

The tunnels are narrow so I wouldn’t recommend them if you are claustrophobic. You get a real perspective of how determined the Viet Cong were to defend their country and what a losing proposition for the Americans it was.

Shobha, Years of Therapy Ahead

Things to do in Vietnam-Visiting Tam Dao

19. Visiting Tam Dao

Tam Dao, a small national park in north Vietnam. The likes of Sapa, Ha Long Bay, and Ha Giang all being more famous and popular. If you are driving from Hanoi up to the far north of the country then make a short detour and visit Tam Dao for half a day.

The main attractions being the mountainous roads, bear sanctuary and pool at Belvedere Tam Dao Resort.

Assuming the roads have been repaired since the excavation vehicles damaged them, the area is a good place to build confidence on your bike. The mountainous roads are free of the reckless bus drivers who make Ha Giang and Mai Chau dangerous to drive in.

Animal Asia runs the bear rescue center and undoubtedly prioritizes animal welfare over tourist dollars. The center is only open to the public every other Saturday. It tries to adjust behaviors by educating young Vietnamese school students.

You get attached to the bears at the center but they are housed there as a last resort. These are the bears too damaged to ever be returned to the wild. The real success story is when the company successfully prevents the initial cruel, barbaric torture.

Ross, Ross The Explorer

Things to do in Vietnam-Tam Thanh Mural Village

20. Tam Thanh Mural Village

Just an hour’s drive from Hoi An lies a fascinating attraction that most tourists miss, simply due to not knowing about it. Tam Thanh Mural Village is the quirky and modern antidote to Hoi An’s ancient history: a street art village created by talented Vietnamese and Korean artists.

The purpose is to share stories of daily life and encourage a wider spread of tourism across central Vietnam. The outcome is… well, mind-blowing! The colorful murals depict local trades such as fishing, crafts, and farming.

They also show a closeness with nature: animals, fish, and waves. Better yet, they show the community playing and having fun. What better way to experience the culture and soak up some modern art in the meantime?

The best way to reach Tam Thanh Mural Village is to hire a scooter, book on a day tour or hire a taxi and ask them to wait. Don’t forget your camera as you’ll want the details of this attraction to stick in your mind!

Rose, Where Goes Rose

Things to do in Vietnam-Marble Mountain

21. Marble Mountain

Central Vietnam has so many amazing sights, but one you should definitely make time for is the wonderful Marble Mountains. Situated between Hoi An and Day Nang, this wonderful attraction is easily accessible.

Flat earth is abruptly broken up by five mounds of rock and marble. Not only can you hike to the top of one of these hills, you can also visit Buddhist temples built within the cave system. These caves used to provide a safe haven for Vietcong troops that would spy on U.S. soldiers relaxing on the nearby beach.

Due to their elevation, calling these chunks of land “mountains” may be a stretch, sure. But what the Mable Mountains lack in height, they more than make up for in beauty!

For a much more peaceful experience when visiting this Central Vietnam gem, beating the busloads of tourists that day trip to the Marble Mountains calls for an early rise – but it is well worth the effort!

Ben, Horizon Unknown

Things to do in Vietnam-Visiting the Island of Cam Kim, Vietnam 

22. Visiting the Island of Cam Kim, Vietnam 

Vietnam can at times feel overwhelmingly crowded, and finding a place to escape the crowds of either locals or tourists is easier said than done. The good news is that there’s a place near the lovely Hoi An, one of the most popular places to visit in the country, where this is possible: Cam Kim.

This is a small island that can be very easily reached from the center of Hoi An on an easy bike ride (most hostels and hotels in the city rent bikes).

It’s a pleasant place to explore independently and despite being so close to the city, it feels like a world apart. It is the kind of place where life seems to have stopped: it is quiet, peaceful, there is no traffic.

Here, children play in the streets and come out to wave at passersby. Elderly people sit outside their homes, smiling at whoever walks by. Buffalo graze around in the wet fields. People fish in the river.

One of the coolest things to do in Vietnam is exploring the beautiful rice fields, and Cam Kim is the perfect place to do so. The best time of day to visit is either the early morning or – better – the late afternoon, in time to catch the sunset on the rice fields.

Claudia, My Adventures Across The World

Things to do in Vietnam-Visiting Mai Chau Ecolodge in the North of Vietnam

23. Visiting Mai Chau Ecolodge in the North of Vietnam

This might possibly be the most authentic experience to find in Vietnam. Surrounded by a lush green mountain valley and endless rice paddies, Mai Chau Ecolodge welcomes travelers, who love being close to nature and enjoy the eco-friendly living.

The Mai Chau ecolodge is so unique as it’s fully built from natural materials with thatched roofs, bamboo interiors, wooden furniture, and outdoor jungle showers. What an experience to take a refreshing morning shower in the pure fresh air under a sunny sky!

It consists of 19 charming bungalows styled as an ancient local village. The ethnic style mixes with luxury elements beautifully, allowing you to experience the local culture and feel comfortable all at once.

What’s interesting, is that they don’t have a television or other electronic entertainment facilities, to help you appreciate the closeness to nature even more.

Instead, you get to learn about the culture of local hill tribes, that perform their traditional dances and rituals for the ecolodge guests every night. These local people are educated and employed by the Ecolodge as part of their initiative to integrate these people into society and giving them a chance to earn a living.

By visiting this place, you not only get to relax in this Lodge and get the natural boost of energy by the fresh mountain air but also support the sustainable initiatives of the rural regions of beautiful Vietnam. It’s a win-win situation.

Anete, The Travel Leaf

Things to do in Vietnam-Exploring the Ninh Binh Province

24. Exploring the Ninh Binh Province

There are a lot of things you can do in Vietnam, but one of the best is to go to Ninh Binh Province in Northern Vietnam. While there’s nothing much you can do in the city itself, it’s the nearby countryside that captivates most visitors, including Tam Coc which is part of the Trang An Scenic Landscape Complex, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Trang An is well known for its boat cave tours that take approximately two hours. A small boat with a maximum of four people will be paddled by a local; while not required, any help paddling will be greatly appreciated, as it can get tiring paddling solo the whole trip!

There are three routes in Trang An; we took Route 2 which brought us to a cave with low clearance. Taller people had to almost lie down on the boat to avoid getting brained by stalactites.

It’s not just the cave features that were spectacular and adrenaline-flowing, it’s the ride as well that was an adventure as our boat paddler adeptly took the turns in the caves with ease.

The best part about the boating in Trang An is the scenery itself. The area is huge so despite it being very touristy, you don’t see a lot of boats on your route. The limestone rock formations that you’ll pass by making the ride surreal. Boating in Ninh Binh is definitely highly recommended when you visit Vietnam!

Aleah, Solitary Wanderer

Things to do in Vietnam-My Son Sanctuary

25. My Son Sanctuary

My Son Sanctuary is a collection of beautiful ruined Hindu temples, dating from the 4th to the 13th centuries and dedicated to Shiva. In the past, some of the temples were damaged by flooding and war, including carpet bombing by the US during the Vietnam War.

But now the sanctuary is protected and the temples are a UNESCO World Heritage site. UNESCO says that the monuments are unique and “without equal in Southeast Asia”.

When I visited, I was surprised by the scale of the temple complex and by how much still remains from so long ago, against all odds. We’re not talking the same size or complexity as Angkor Wat in Cambodia or Sukhothai in Thailand by any means, and if you’re expecting something similar you’ll be disappointed. But it’s still an impressive sight and worth a trip if you are in this area of Vietnam.

My Son is around an hour’s drive from both Hoi An and Da Nang and is a popular half-day trip from these cities. If you don’t have your own car or motorbike, plenty of tour companies offer guided tours, often with a pick-up from your hotel — some for under $10 USD including a tour guide and lunch.

Maire, Temples and Treehouses

Things to do in Vietnam-A trip out to Phu Quoc Island

26. A trip out to Phu Quoc Island

Phu Quoc is the largest island in Vietnam, and it’s also mentioned as the southern paradise. It’s a true paradise island with beaches stretching all over the coast. Tourism has been boosted heavily in recent years, and just 20 years ago this was just a small fishing and farming community.

Nowadays, more and more hotels are opening and there’s also an international airport at Phu Quoc. My best suggestion on things to do in Phu Quoc would be to rent a scooter or hire a driver for the day. In this way, you can visit all the dreamy places and discover your own favorite places as well.

A visit to the famous beach Bai Sao, also known as Sao Beach is a must if you want to spend some time in a real tropical paradise. When you’re driving across the island, make sure to stop at some of the local restaurants serving authentic Vietnamese food. These places are a lot cheaper than the regular tourist restaurants along Long Beach.

Long Beach is a great place for a relaxing beach vacation since you can choose from lively areas of the beach, and more secluded areas of Long Beach. Friendly Vietnamese ladies are walking the beach, selling handmade items, fruits, and beverages.

Alex, Swedish Nomad

Things to do in Vietnam-Exploring Hoi An

27. Exploring Hoi An

Hoi An is best known for its tailoring business and there is plenty to explore while you wait to get something made.  There are a lot of hidden gems in Hoi An from temples, bridges and of course beautiful landscapes.

Hoi An is located along the coast about halfway between Hanoi and Ho Chi Min City.  It is an ancient city with many world heritage sites and canals that cut through the city. 

Hoi An was a port city and is a melting pot for French, Chinese, Japanese and Vietnamese influence.  From French colonial buildings to the Japanese Bridge to the Chinese coffee shops and of course the Vietnamese temples.

To enter the ancient city of Hoi An you must purchase a tourist card.  Each ticket costs $5 USD and international visitors can visit 5 places among 21 sightseeing places and 1 place for a traditional art show. It is also combined with the entrance ticket to the town.

After a long day of visiting the sites, I recommend picking a French café along the canal to sip a Vietnamese coffee and watch the boats go by.

Nicole, Travel Gal

Things to do in Vietnam-Visit Yen Bai

28. Visit Yen Bai (Off The Beaten Track)

Vietnam is a beautiful country that is a rich culture and history. Yen Bai Province is one of the 58 provinces in Vietnam and is an alluring place to visit, it is located 200 km from Hanoi, the capital.

Yen Bai has number of fascinating and interesting places and sites to visit such as Mu Cang Chai and Nghia Lo Town where you can see the second-largest rice field in northern Vietnam, Suoi Giang, famous for its tea which is said to have medicinal benefits, the tea is grown on tea trees which are over 100-400 years old.

Another great location is, Thac Ba Lake this is a must-visit place, for its natural stunning beauty, the lake is home to over 1000 islands and has many interesting caves to explore.

There are also lots of ancient temples, traditional and local markets to visit. Yen Bai, has many types of accommodation choices and good transportation links.

Yen Bai is a must-visit destination due to the breathtaking views of the mountains, rice fields, lakes, and caves, there are also over 30 tribes that live in the area.

Yen Bai is not frequented as much by tourists compared to the rest of Vietnam, which makes it a unique off the beaten track place to visit. Yen Bai Province also has rich cultural treasures, traditions, customs and festivals, which will allow you to experience and see traditional Vietnamese life, as well as providing you with picturesque views, lots of outdoor activities such as trekking, hiking, visiting local villages and tribes to experience local culture and life.

Elizabeth, Digital Travel Guru

Things to do in Vietnam-Taking a Motorbike thru Vietnam

29. Taking a Motorbike thru Vietnam

To ride a motorbike all the way from North to South over Vietnam is an unreal way to experience this fascinating country. Since Vietnam is long and narrow most of the main sites are within reach, crossing from North to South.

This famous Ho Chi Min motorcycle road trip extends from Hanoi to Ho Chi Min and is often done the other way around.

Motorcycles are the main form of transport in Vietnam and consequently finding a cheap motorbike on the second-hand market is easy and not a problem to sell again after your trip.

We paid about $250 for a Chinese copy of a Honda Winn motorcycle. The average time of this ‘motorbike pilgrimage’ is about 3 weeks, but vary depending on how much time you spend driving and at each destination.

Driving for days, surrounded by thousands of motorbikes are exciting. Some of the activities we enjoyed on the way were scuba diving in Nha Trang, hiking in Sapa and stopping for days at many incredible sites throughout Vietnam.

Driving through mountain passes in the rain, surrounded by trucks and hundreds of motorbikes is definitely not a very safe journey. It was definitely a lot of fun and sometimes entertaining, seeing whole families on a scooter or a bike transporting a pig or some live chickens!

This exciting trip and beautiful culture are guaranteed to result in an awesome adventure.

Campbell, Stingy Nomads

Things to do in Vietnam-Bao Lac Ethnic Market

30. Bao Lac Ethnic Market

Bao Lac is a small rural village in the province of Cao Bang. This is located along the way from the Ha Giang extreme motorbike loop and Ban Gioc Waterfall on the Chinese border.

On Sunday mornings the normally quiet village transforms into a lively market. The women and children from the surrounding Lolo ethnic villages descend from the mountains to the village. At the market, you will see lots of the Lolo people in their traditional dress with colorful scarves and silver garments.

The market is an authentic way to experience the everyday life of these ethnic villagers. With hardly any tourists around you know this isn’t just for the show. Along the main road, you will find all sorts of fresh produce for sale. Mostly fresh vegetables, sugar cane, and other goods grown in the mountains.

I visited Bao Lac as part of my three month Vietnam motorbike trip. I suggest motorbiking to this small village is the best way to see it and the surrounding areas.

Josh, The Lost Passport

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About Lina Stock

Lina is an award-winning photographer and writer that has been exploring the world since 2001. She has traveled to 100 countries on all 7 continents. Member: SATW, NATJA, ATTA, ITWA



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