The 20 best things to do in Vietnam ensure that all types of travelers have an amazing time in the country, from nature lovers and history buffs to culture enthusiasts and thrill seekers. No matter what your interests may be, Vietnam has something to offer. Be sure to include these top activities in your Vietnam travel plans!
1. Best things to do in Vietnam for nature lovers
1.1. Take a cruise around Ha Long Bay - a natural wonder of the world
With its emerald-green waters and towering limestone rock formations jutting out of the sea, this UNESCO World Heritage Site offers breathtaking views at every turn.
On your cruise, you can explore hidden caves like Sung Sot Cave, Thien Cung Cave, and Dau Go Cave and even take part in activities such as kayaking and swimming.
Whether you opt for a day trip or an overnight stay on one of the many luxury boats available, cruising around Ha Long Bay and potentially checking out Ti Top Island will be an experience that is sure to leave you awestruck and rejuvenated.
1.2. Discover Son Doong - the largest cave in the world
If you are looking for an unforgettable adventure, a visit to Son Doong in Vietnam is a must. The cave is home to its own ecosystem, with underground rivers, waterfalls, and unique flora and fauna. Here, you will see mesmerizing stalagmites and stalactites that look like mythical creatures. It can take up to six days to trek through the cave, but the journey will be worth your every effort!
1.3. Enjoy the breathtaking scenery in Northwest Vietnam
Northwest Vietnam is a stunning region with breathtaking scenery that draws in many visitors year-round. The landscape here is characterized by rolling green hills, terraced rice fields, cascading waterfalls, and majestic mountain peaks.
One of the most popular destinations in the area is Mu Cang Chai (Yen Bai), a scenic rural district known for its sprawling rice terraces sculpted into the steep mountainside. Other must-see destinations include Mai Chau (Hoa Binh) and Moc Chau (Son La).
1.4. Take a boat ride along Ngo Dong River in the ripening rice season
Taking a boat ride along Ngo Dong River in Tam Coc Ninh Binh in the ripening season is an incredible experience that should not be missed.
The river winds through stunning limestone karst formations, with verdant greenery stretching as far as the eye can see. As you navigate the calm waters, surrounded by serene natural beauty, you will feel truly at peace.
At sunset, the views are magical and make for some unforgettable photo opportunities. Do not forget to snap several for keepsakes!
1.5. Lounge around the stunning beaches in Nha Trang and Phu Quoc
If you are looking for the ultimate relaxation on your next vacation, head to the beaches in Nha Trang and Phu Quoc. With crystal-clear waters and pristine sandy shores, both destinations offer the perfect backdrop for a laid-back beach getaway.
Nha Trang boasts a long coastline dotted with beachfront resorts and restaurants serving fresh seafood. Some famous Nha Trang beaches are Hon Noi, Bai Dai, Doc Let, etc. Meanwhile, Phu Quoc beaches are ideal for sunbathing or taking a dip. Consider going to Sao Beach, Ong Lang Beach, and Ganh Dau Beach.
1.6. Experience cloud hunting in Da Lat
Da Lat is a beautiful destination in Vietnam that offers visitors an opportunity to go cloud hunting. This unique activity involves trekking up to the high hills early in the morning and witnessing the formation of clouds, which creates a stunning scenery against the backdrop of hills and forests. Then, have a rewarding breakfast at a local restaurant! The best hills to visit are Da Phu, Du Sinh, and Thien Phuc Duc.
2. Best things to do in Vietnam for history buffs
2.1. Wander around Hanoi Old Quarter
Hanoi Old Quarter is full of winding alleys filled with vendors selling delicious street food, quirky boutiques, and ancient temples like Bach Ma Temple that are all worth exploring.
As you stroll through the area, take note of the beautiful French colonial architecture which has fused with traditional Vietnamese design elements to create a unique atmosphere.
Amongst the hustle and bustle of motorbikes weaving in and out of traffic, do not forget to check in at the Old City Gate too!
2.2. Travel back in time in Hue Imperial City
Hue Imperial City in Vietnam is a remarkable destination that will take travelers back in time. It is a city within a city, surrounded by walls and lined with pagodas, tombs, and palaces to explore. The intricate details carved into each structure provide insight into the rich history of Vietnam. Walking through these ancient grounds will be an unforgettable experience for any curious traveler seeking to learn more about the country.
2.3. Marvel at the remains of the Champa kingdom in My Son Sanctuary
Located just a short distance away from Hoi An, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is home to an impressive collection of temples and towers that bear testament to the ancient Champa kingdom's mastery of architecture and engineering.
Despite being ravaged by wars and time, some of these structures still retain their original grandeur and intricate details. As you stroll through the peaceful forest and marvel at My Son Sanctuary’s remains, you can imagine what life was like during the glorious days of the Champa kingdom.
2.4. Explore Hoa Lu Ancient Capital in Ninh Binh
Visiting Hoa Lu Ancient Capital is one of the best things to do in Vietnam to experience the country’s history and culture. Here, you can admire intricate stone carvings, beautiful pagodas, and ancient statues that date back over a thousand years.
Hoa Lu’s unique architecture sets it apart from other ancient capitals in Vietnam. Delving into this serene location will allow you to bask in its natural splendor and understand how Vietnamese people lived during their early dynasties.
3. Top things to do in Vietnam for culture enthusiasts
3.1. Enjoy the lantern festival in Hoi An Ancient Town
If you are looking for a unique and unforgettable experience in Vietnam, head to Hoi An Ancient Town during the lantern festival. This celebration sees the town transform into a sea of vibrant colors, as locals and tourists take to the streets with beautifully crafted lanterns.
As you wander through lantern-lit alleys and bridges, you will be serenaded by traditional music. Whether it is your first or 50th time visiting Hoi An, this festival is sure to leave you mesmerized by its beauty and charm, time and time again.
3.2. Visit floating markets in the Mekong Delta
These picturesque markets in the Mekong Delta are truly a sight to behold, with hundreds of small boats wading through the canals teeming with fresh produce and wares. Here, you can interact directly with the local farmers, vendors, and artisans as they sell their handmade products or regional delicacies.
Among those, Cai Rang Floating Market is the most popular for tourists. Come experience an exciting whirlwind of colors, smells, and sounds that will leave you feeling completely immersed in Vietnam's vivid culture!
3.3. Live like a local in the hill tribe villages in Northwest Vietnam
By visiting the indigenous villages in the northwestern region and living like a local, you can explore the people's daily routines. Hike through scenic rice terraces and learn about traditional crafts such as weaving and embroidery.
Homestays are available here, where you can eat home-cooked meals prepared with local ingredients and sleep under a mosquito net in a communal space. You can also try your hand at farming or fishing for a deeper connection to village life.
4. Best things to do in Vietnam for thrill seekers
4.1. Experience the most thrilling motorbike adventures in Vietnam
If you are looking for an adventurous way to explore Vietnam, hopping on a motorbike and hitting the open road is the way to go. With stunning mountain passes, idyllic rice paddies, and charming villages at every turn, there is never a dull moment when exploring Vietnam on two wheels.
Go through O Quy Ho Pass, Me Pja Pass, Hai Van Pass, and Khau Pha Pass to explore the winding roads and soak in the views. Regardless of the route you choose, motorbike adventures in Vietnam will get adrenaline pumping through your veins and etch unforgettable memories into your mind.
4.2. Try flyboarding - an extreme water sport in Nha Trang and Phu Quoc
This exciting activity combines speed and freedom. With specialized equipment, you will be able to soar above the ocean and dive back down in spectacular fashion. Not only is it incredibly fun, it is also surprisingly easy to learn with experienced instructors guiding you every step of the way. Whether you are an adrenaline junkie or simply looking for something out of the ordinary, flyboarding is sure to leave you wanting even more.
4.3. Conquer Fansipan Peak - the Roof of Indochina
Standing tall at 3,143 meters, Fansipan Mountain is known as the 'Roof of Indochina' and is considered one of the toughest mountain treks in Southeast Asia. The trek takes an average of three days through steep terrains and dense forests, with amazing views of Sapa's lush green valleys along the way.
Upon reaching the summit, your efforts will be rewarded with breathtaking views over Northern Vietnam's landscape and neighboring countries like Laos and China. You will also get to witness some fascinating flora and fauna that are unique to this region!
5. Best things to do in Vietnam for foodies
5.1. Visit Buon Ma Thuot - the city of coffee in Vietnam
Buon Ma Thuot is a city surrounded by large coffee plantations, making it a hub for coffee production and trade. Visitors can explore its vibrant coffee culture by taking tours of the local farms and learning about the process of growing and harvesting beans. Coffee lovers will also appreciate the multitude of cafes serving up delicious brews made with freshly roasted local beans.
Beyond its coffee, Buon Ma Thuot is a great base for exploring nearby natural wonders like waterfalls and national parks. With a thriving market scene, friendly locals, and plenty to see and do, Buon Ma Thuot has become an increasingly popular destination for travelers seeking an off-the-beaten-path adventure in Vietnam.
5.2. Have a taste of the traditional food in Hue
If you are looking for a culinary experience that will transport you to Vietnam's imperial past, look no further than Hue Vietnam. Offering the traditional and diverse Vietnamese cuisine, visitors have an opportunity to taste dishes that were once reserved for royalty here.
From the delicate lotus root salad to the rich and savory beef noodle soup, there is no shortage of delights that showcase the region's freshest ingredients and classic flavors. Do not be surprised if you find yourself coming back for seconds or thirds!
5.3. Go on a food tour in Ha Noi, Hai Phong, and Da Nang
Hanoi, Hai Phong, and Da Nang are renowned for their culinary offerings, each boasting its own distinct dishes and flavors that are a must-try for any food enthusiast.
In Hanoi, you can savor the world-famous pho, bun cha, and banh mi. Meanwhile, a Hai Phong food tour will bring you many seafood delicacies, such as crab spring rolls, grilled squid, and fish hotpot. Da Nang, on the other hand, offers a plethora of street food options, including banh xeo and bun mam.
5.4. Learn how to cook Vietnamese food
If you are an avid traveler who is also a foodie, why not combine your passions and learn how to cook Vietnamese cuisine while exploring the country? You can attend cooking classes in various cities, like Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, or Hue, where they will teach you traditional techniques to make dishes such as spring rolls. Learning how to cook Vietnamese food will let you bring your travel experiences back home!
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Vietnam is a treasure trove of unique experiences, from bustling city streets to serene natural landscapes. This guide offers 20 of the best things to do in Vietnam that any traveler should prioritize on their itinerary for an unforgettable time. Have you added these activities to your travel plans?
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