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Vietnam, things to do: 10 MUST-HAVE experiences on a First Visit

18/01/2024 12.315

A hand-picked list of the best things to do in Vietnam is what travelers search for when having a plan to visit this country, as it is filled with stunning landscapes and delicious foods, making it hard for tourists to decide where to start.

things to do in Vietnam

As a long and narrow country, Vietnam offers a diverse range of adventures and landscapes, from megacities to white sandy beaches, jade-green paddy fields, and soaring limestone peaks. The country also boasts a variety of specialties available in different regions. The following list of the best things to do in Vietnam will get you inspired to plan your once-in-a-lifetime trip and know what to put on your Vietnam bucket-list.

1. Watch the sunset at Phu Quoc Island - Top things to do in Vietnam 

Located in the southern province of Kien Giang, the picture-postcard Phu Quoc Island is no longer a well-kept secret. Word is out about its powdery white sandy beaches, dense jungles, and laid-back atmosphere. The growth of tourism in Vietnam has transformed the island from a sleepy island to a sought-after beach getaway, with a variety of resorts that can be found along Long Beach. However, the island remains mainly untapped since about 70% of the island is protected as part of the Phu Quoc National Park, leaving plenty of opportunities for exploration and adventure.

things to do in Vietnam

Your trip to Phu Quoc would be incomplete if you miss out on the Phu Quoc sunset views, as the sunset in Phu Quoc is such a distinctive scene that captures all visitors' hearts. Many visitors have chosen Long Beach as their sunset destination on the island, whose beach strip is backed by cool cafes and bars that often host music shows with DJs or live bands, as well as eateries serving fresh seafood.

Some other top things to do in Vietnam include kayaking around the bays in Phu Quoc, diving around the reefs, and feasting on exotic seafood.

things to do in Vietnam

To enjoy Phu Quoc to the fullest, don’t forget to choose a convenient hotel that offers you a comfortable stay, delicious dishes, and great views. Among plenty of hotel options available for you to choose from, Vinpearl Phu Quoc is highly recommended.

Perched at the Long Beach (Bai Dai) area, Vinpearl Phu Quoc is a great spot for catching the sunset. Vinpearl Phu Quoc also offers a system of three deluxe hotels and resorts with high-class amenities, ensuring that you have relaxing moments while recharging your energy for further adventures.

things to do in Vietnam

Phu Quoc United Center also rounds out your trip to this land with the dynamic and cultural experiences at VinWonders Phu Quoc, Vinpearl Safari Phu Quoc, and Vinpearl Golf Phu Quoc.

things to do in Vietnam

>>> Don’t forget to book voucher, combo, and tour to Phu Quoc in advance to get the best deals!

2. Things to do in Vietnam? Walk the streets of Hoi An Ancient Town

With its old-world architecture, cobblestone streets, and unique yellow shop fronts festooned with colorful lanterns, it is no surprise that Hoi An is regarded as a top-rated tourist attraction in Vietnam. Hoi An, which has been a UNESCO world cultural heritage site since 1999, was voted Asia's Leading Cultural City Destination at the Global Travel Awards in 2021. 

things to do in Vietnam

One of the best ways to soak in the vibe of the Ancient Town is through an unhurried walk around the town. Here you will find historical buildings that are a mix of European and Asian architectural styles. Walking the streets of Hoi An is like moving through a living museum, since 844 of the 1107 buildings that make up the townscape are on the UNESCO World Heritage list.

The best time to go for a walk in Hoi An is during the Lantern Festival, held on the 14th day of every lunar month, when the moon is full. At night, the town minimizes its electricity usage, so the candle-lit lanterns steal the show. When the lanterns are turned on, the buildings that you saw earlier in the day take on a new appearance.

things to do in Vietnam

During your visit to Hoi An, give yourself enough time to stop for a ‘cà phê sữa đá’ (delicious Vietnamese iced coffee), enter a gallery, or shop for souvenirs.

things to do in Vietnam

>>> Book rooms at Vinpearl Resort & Golf Nam Hoi An now to pick your preferred room at the best price!

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3. Top things to do in Vietnam: Swim at Nha Trang stunning beaches 

With its palm-lined beaches, crystal-clear waters, and smooth white sand, Nha Trang is a gleaming gem of Vietnam. If you're looking for a new adventure where you can enjoy the salty breezes and pristine beaches, Nha Trang is the place to go.

Considered the Kingdom of the sea, here you can find a variety of beaches to choose from. Some of the most popular ones are:

  • Bai Dai Beach: Bai Dai Beach embraces the stillness of a pristine land due to its isolated position. Every visitor who comes here is captivated by the beauty of the turquoise waves meeting the white-sandy beach.
  • Doc Let Beach: This beach features incredibly calm water due to its proximity to many offshore small islands. With its large, soft sand beach and cool weather all year round, Doc Let Beach is an ideal destination for a family vacation.
  • Bai Tru Beach: The romantic Bai Tru beach is located on Hon Tre Island which appears to be a giant crocodile when viewed from the mainland. The water here is very calm and peaceful, attracting a lot of visitors who come for relaxation each year.
things to do in Vietnam

Each Nha Trang beach has its own charm, but they all have one thing in common: clear water kissing the powdery sand. Coming here, you must try soaking yourself in the water while listening to the sea murmur. The chaotic life almost seems to be left behind.

When visiting Nha Trang beaches, you can also try scuba diving, surfing, canoeing, and don’t forget to enjoy the tasty seafood of the locals.

things to do in Vietnam

>>> Book rooms at Vinpearl Nha Trang to explore stunning beaches in Nha Trang with ease!

4. Vietnam things to do - Have fun at VinWonders

VinWonders offers tourists a world of recreational activities and also an opportunity to learn about Vietnamese culture. If you are visiting Phu Quoc, Nha Trang, Nam Hoi An, don’t miss out on these destinations:

VinWonders Phu Quoc

The top things to do in Vietnam must include a visit to the largest theme park in Vietnam that ranks top in Asia. Here you can:

  • Discover 6 subdivisions with more than 100 unique entertainment activities, some of which are listed in Vietnam's and the world's record books, such as the Wrath of Zeus - one of the fastest roller coasters in the world, or the Dragon’s Spell - Vietnam’s first dark indoor interactive game
  • Have fun at the largest water park in Southeast Asia
  • Explore one of the 5 largest aquariums in the world - “The Sea Shell” - the home to tens of thousands of sea creatures
things to do in Vietnam

VinWonders Nha Trang

As the amusement park with many records, there are a lot of joys waiting for you here:

  • Experience the longest, steepest, and highest 880 meters zipline in Vietnam
  • Visit the legendary “Garden of five continents” - home to the largest flora and fauna population in Vietnam
  • Admire the million-dollar Tata show
things to do in Vietnam

VinWonders Nam Hoi An

This colorful theme park is where the essence of heritage is embraced. It is not only an entertainment destination but also a complex of Vietnamese culture, architecture, and traditional arts. The 3 areas that should not be missed at VinWonders Nam Hoi An include:

  • Island of Folk Culture: The hub of cross-region architecture
  • Harbor Corner: Where the signature scenery and ambiance of the hectic trading ports of the 16th and 17th centuries in the heart of Hoi An are brought to life
  • River Safari: The only wildlife river conservation park in Vietnam
things to do in Vietnam

>>> Book tickets for VinsWonder Phu Quoc, Nha Trang, Nam Hoi An for a wonderful time during your travel in Vietnam!

5. What to do in Vietnam? Cruise the Mekong Delta

Spilling into the South China sea like an open hand, the mighty Mekong River ends its 4,350-kilometer-long journey that spans from the Tibetan plateau to the south of Ho Chi Minh City. For generations, the Mekong Delta has been Vietnam's rice source, nurturing a network of sleepy towns and villages on stilts that continue to rely on the river for living and trading.

The best way to explore the Mekong Delta is by taking to the waters, either by cruising overnight on the main channel between Cai Be and Can Tho, or by paying local fishermen to take you on a tour of the backwaters, where the smaller waterways become so narrow that you might come face to face with a heron or two.

things to do in Vietnam

On your way to explore the Mekong Delta, don’t miss the floating market which is the highlight of this land. The market is the biggest of its kind in the Mekong Delta, where trading on waterways has long been a way of life. Traders from early morning gather to buy fresh vegetables and fruits, handicrafts, and daily essential household goods to resell them elsewhere, creating a bustling and joyful atmosphere. 

The most crowded time is between 5:30 to 6:30 a.m., when a large number of boats flood the waterway. That is why you have to get up early to catch the sight, sound, and taste of this special type of market. 

things to do in Vietnam

You can visit one of the Mekong's six most popular floating marketplaces named Cho Gao, Phong Dien, Cai Be, Phung Hiep, Nga Nam, and Cai Rang.

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6. Things to do in Vietnam: Taste the street food in Ho Chi Minh City 

Known as one of the best cities for street food in the world, Ho Chi Minh offers exclusive local foods that are adorned with unique recipes and fantastic taste. Here are some mouth-watering street foods that are worth trying at least once:

  • Banh Mi (a delicious local sandwich): The most popular street food in Ho Chi Minh City is Banh Mi. Nothing can calm sudden hunger pangs like a quick bite of Banh Mi. It is a fusion dish consisting of roasted pork, rice pate, chilies, pickles, and fragrant coriander wrapped in a French baguette.
  • Best places to have Banh Mi: Little Saigon, Depot 48, and Banh Mi Hong Hoa
things to do in Vietnam
  • Com tam (a filling meal): It is sticky rice served with either pork, fried eggs, chicken, or prawns, depending on your preference. It is a complete meal that will keep you full for several hours. If you ask a local about some things to do in Ho Chi Minh City Vietnam, they will advise you to try Com tam.
  • Best places to have Com tam: Com Tam Phung, Com Tam An Duong Vuong, and Com Tam Ba Ghien
  • Pho (an utterly delicious soup): Pho tempts locals and visitors alike as the top-rated Vietnamese street food in Ho Chi Minh City. This steaming hot soup is served with raw beef, blanched vegetables, and brisket, and sprinkled with herbs, pepper, chili, lime, and fish sauce.
  • Best places to have Pho: Pho Le 2 303-305 Vo Van Tan, District 3
  • Bun Mam (a tummy and soul-filling meal): Bun Mam is a thick fermented fish and vermicelli soup, which can be found in most of Ho Chi Minh City's street food markets. In addition to vermicelli and fish stock, the soup comprises crispy pork bellies, squids, tender prawns, herbs, and raw vegetables, making it tasty, healthy, and tummy-filling.  
  • Best places to have Bun Mam: Bun Mam Mien Tay and Ben Thanh Street Food Market

7. Get a history lesson at Cu Chi Tunnels

Cu Chi Tunnels is a 250-kilometer-long network of tunnels near Ho Chi Minh City that is known as one of the key highlights of the Vietnam War. The tunnels were created in 1948 with storage spaces, weapon factories, kitchens, living quarters, command centers, and field hospitals to help the locals in their fight against the French for independence. Thousands of people lived underground during the war, and many of them went on to get married and raise children inside the tunnels.

things to do in Vietnam

Since 1988, two sections of the tunnels have been opened up for tourists, and a Cu Chi Tunnels trip allows you to witness its unique architecture and structure as well as understand why it played an important role in Vietnam’s history.

8. Things to do in Vietnam: Search for Vietnam’s best Pho in Hanoi

Pho (noodle soup) is a classic Vietnamese dish that is regarded as one of the typical symbols of Vietnamese cuisine. From north to south, Pho is preferred by both local people and foreign tourists for a quick and tasty meal. However, to taste the most original flavor of Pho, you need to try Hanoi's Pho, the noticeable feature of Hanoi food culture.

things to do in Vietnam

The key ingredients of Hanoi's Pho are noodles, broth, and sliced beef or chicken. The soup for Pho is the clear broth that is cooked from beef bones and boiled for hours or even a day for full flavor. This broth is also added with the unique flavors from cinnamon, star anise, grilled ginger and onion, cardamom, clove, coriander seeds, etc., creating a perfect combination of tastes.

Pho is often served with Vietnamese crullers, green vegetables, herbs, bean sprouts, lime, sliced chili, pepper, or chili sauce. Wandering around Hanoi, you will be hit with the scent of pho. It is ideal to have this traditional food to start your day.

9. Visit Ha Long Bay and its equally spectacular neighbor

With some 1,600 limestone mountains rising from its turquoise waters, Halong Bay is considered one of Vietnam’s most beautiful sites. As a result, it is on every visitor's bucket list, and hundreds of boats offer cruise trips every day. Despite its huge size, the bay can still be crowded.

Only a few miles away, Bai Tu Long Bay offers the same jaw-dropping splendor but with only a fraction of the number of visitors. Here, you can explore uncrowded caves and secluded beaches, and feast on super-fresh succulent seafood.

things to do in Vietnam

Whether coming to Ha Long Bay or Bai Tu Long Bay, you should take a cruise trip to visit Vung Vieng and Cong Dam Fishing Villages, which are only 20 to 24 kilometers away from the mainland, to learn about the local lifestyle of sailing and fishing. 

You can also come to Ban Chan Beach, which is about 7 kilometers away from Ha Long Bay. With its clear water, a white-sandy beach, and a rich marine ecosystem, Ban Chan Beach is perfect for swimming and snorkeling.

things to do in Vietnam

>>> Book rooms at Vinpearl Resort & Spa Ha Long to get a fulfilling experience at Ha Long!

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10. Things to do in Vietnam: Find romance at Sapa’s Love Market 

This is a unique event in Sapa that happens only on Saturdays. The Sapa Love Market opens opportunities for young ethnic tribespeople to meet each other, fall in love, and get married.  

You will see boys and girls hanging out, laughing, drinking, eating, doing traditional dances, and playing traditional games together. At the end of the day, they will part ways but promise to meet again, probably in a week, when the market comes to life again. Here, tourists can meet hospitable indigenous people, and participate in a variety of enjoyable activities with them.

things to do in Vietnam

On your trip to Sapa, besides visiting Sapa’s Love Market, don’t miss the following activities:

  • Conquer Fansipan: Standing at an elevation of 10,312 feet (3,143 meters), Fansipan is the highest peak in Indochina. Once you reach the summit, you will be rewarded with the stunning views over the city and the terraced rice fields below.
things to do in Vietnam
  • Discover Muong Hoa Valley: Muong Hoa, which has beautiful terraced fields, unique ancient rocks, and cultural diversity, is worth a visit.
  • Admire Sapa Church: Sapa doesn’t have many monuments, but one of the most iconic buildings in town is Sapa Church which dates back to the French colonial period.

With the astonishing mix of natural highlights and cultural diversity, it’s no wonder Vietnam is attracting more and more outdoor enthusiasts. There are so many insightful tours, amazing dishes, and fun activities that you will never run out of great ways to enjoy the time in this country. We hope that the list of things to do in Vietnam above will be helpful for your very first trip to our land.

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