Journey Through The Land Of Blue Dragon: The Guide For The Best Things To Do In Vietnam
Vietnam, a country of breathtaking landscapes, vibrant cities, and rich cultural heritage, is fast emerging as one of Asia’s most compelling tourist destinations. As a result, Vietnam tour packages have gained immense popularity among globetrotters. They offer an alluring blend of traditional and modern experiences that cater to all types of travellers. However, to truly relish the country’s essence, one must delve into the heart of the local experience. This blog aims to guide you on that journey, illuminating the ‘best things to do in Vietnam’ and ensuring your Vietnamese adventure is truly unforgettable.
When one contemplates the ‘things to do in Vietnam’, images of its stunning coastline, verdant mountains, and bustling markets likely spring to mind. Yet, there is so much more to discover. Vietnam is a nation steeped in history and tradition, and each of its cities and provinces tells a unique story. Unravelling these stories is undoubtedly one of the ‘best things to do in Vietnam’.
As you traverse the length of the country, from the terraced rice fields of Sapa in the north to the canal-laced towns of the Mekong Delta in the south, you’ll find that the list of ‘things to do in Vietnam’ is as diverse as the nation itself. Whether you’re an adventure enthusiast eager to hike the Fansipan Mountain or a foodie wishing to delve into the culinary delights of Hanoi, Vietnam promises to enthral.
Moreover, Vietnam’s cultural tapestry is so intricately woven that it begs to be admired up close. Visiting ancient pagodas, experiencing traditional folk music, or witnessing the enchanting lantern festival in Hoi An should be high on your list of ‘best things to do in Vietnam’.
However, Vietnam isn’t just about tradition and history. Modern Vietnam vibrates with energy and progress. Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) is a testament to this, its skyline a mix of contemporary skyscrapers and French colonial architecture. Here, you can explore the War Remnants Museum, shop at the Ben Thanh Market, or enjoy the buzzing nightlife – all must-do ‘things to do in Vietnam’.
These are just a few of the many things to do in Vietnam; scroll through and check out all that you can do when exploring Vietnam. Without any further delay, scroll through and have a look at the top 15 things to do in Vietnam.
10 Best Things To Do In Vietnam
1. Exploring the Cu Chi Tunnel Network
One of the best things to do in Vietnam is going back into the past while exploring the amazing Cu Chi Tunnel Network. Constructed about 40 kilometres northwest of Ho Chi Minh City, the Cu Chi Tunnels are a marvel of engineering and resilience. The tunnels were established by the Viet Cong soldiers during the 1960s as a plan and strategy to combat the better equipped American forces. They served as hiding spots, supply routes, living quarters, and even hospitals.
Considered as one of the best things to do in Vietnam, the journey of exploring these tunnels begins at the Ben Dinh or Ben Duoc sections, both of which are open to visitors. At the entrance of the tunnels, knowledgeable guides provide insights into the history and design of the tunnels, setting the stage for the adventure that lies ahead. A model of the tunnel network displayed at the site gives travellers a sense of its complexity before they begin their descent.
Despite significant restoration and enlargement to accommodate tourists, the tunnels retain a sense of authenticity. You’ll need to crouch, crawl, and sometimes even slide to navigate the low roofed corridors, giving you a very real sense of the conditions experienced by the soldiers, making it one of the must things to do in Vietnam.
Operating Hours: 7:30 AM to 4:30 PM
Entry Fees: VND 90,000
2. Relishing The Bhutanese Cuisine
If there’s one thing as compelling as Vietnam’s enchanting landscapes and rich history, it’s the country’s vibrant culinary scene provided by some of the best restaurants in Vietnam. Among the array of gastronomic delights that Vietnam has to offer, the Bhutanese cuisine stands out for its unique flavours and wholesome ingredients. Exploring this little-known facet of Vietnam’s food culture is one of the unexpected yet delightful ‘things to do in Vietnam’.
The cuisine of Bhutan originates from the Himalayan kingdom and usually consists of a fusion of spicy, savoury and at times, surprisingly sharp flavours. The three most iconic dishes in the Bhutanese cuisine include dishes like Ema Datshi, Phaksha Paa and Jasha Maru and are the must things to do in Vietnam for food lovers.
Exploring the Bhutanese cuisine in Vietnam provides an unexpected twist to your culinary journey, introducing you to a new world of flavours and textures. So, while charting your itinerary for Vietnam, make sure to add these dining experiences to your list of ‘things to do in Vietnam’.
Best Restaurants In Vietnam: The Bhutan Kitchen in Ho Chi Minh City, Himalayan Phoenix Restaurant in Da Nang, Drukpa Restaurant in Hoi An
3. Cruising In The Mekong Delta
Floating along the gentle curves of the Mekong River is one of the best adventure activities in Vietnam where one discovers a world where life moves at a slower pace, where the rhythms of nature dictate the daily activities, and where the old and the new seamlessly blend. Cruising in the Mekong Delta is undoubtedly one of the most delightful ‘things to do in Vietnam’.
One of the highlights of any Mekong Delta cruise is visiting the floating markets. The most famous of these, the Cai Rang Floating Market, is a vibrant spectacle of boats laden with fruits, vegetables, and other produce, each advertising their wares with samples hoisted atop long poles. Sampling the fresh tropical fruits and local delicacies directly from these boats is one of those ‘things to do in Vietnam’ that you simply can’t miss.
The Mekong Delta cruise also offers the chance to explore the smaller tributaries and canals. This is where travellers can witness the delta’s rich biodiversity, with lush population of mangroves, an assortment of bird species, and even the occasional crocodile. For travellers interested in wildlife, a trip to the Tra Su Bird Sanctuary or the Can Gio Biosphere Reserve is a must add to your list of ‘things to do in south Vietnam’.
Operating Hours: Sunrise to Sunset
4. Watching A Musical At The Saigon Opera House
Among the numerous ‘things to do in South Vietnam’, an evening at the Saigon Opera House stands out as a unique and enchanting experience. Nestled in the heart of Ho Chi Minh City, this architectural gem is a bastion of culture, offering visitors a chance to immerse themselves in the country’s rich performing arts scene.
The entire atmosphere and experience of an evening at the Saigon Opera House are just as important as the performance. You are enveloped by the aura of history and culture the moment you enter the Saigon Opera House’s auditorium. A magical atmosphere is created that matches the beauty of the performances thanks to the plush red seats, stunning chandeliers, and intricate carvings.
The Opera House organises a wide range of performances, from traditional Vietnamese music and dance to contemporary concerts and international operas. Among some of the best ‘things to do in South Vietnam’, attending the ‘AO Show’ at the Opera House comes highly recommended. This jawdropping performance showcases Vietnamese culture and life through acrobatics, dance, and music, offering a breathtaking sensory experience.
Operating Hours: 12 AM to 11:59 PM
Cost: No entry fees to enter the Saigon Opera House. However, one needs to buy a ticket for the particular show or performance they want to attend.
5. Cherish The Nightlife Of Ho Chi Minh City
As the sun sets over Ho Chi Minh City, the metropolis, affectionately known as Saigon, transforms into a vibrant playground. From trendy rooftop bars and bustling night markets to pulsating nightclubs and world-class performance venues, the city’s nightlife is a thrilling mix of local charm and cosmopolitan allure.
The journey into Saigon’s night inititates at the city’s iconic rooftop bars. The Saigon Rooftop Bar at the Caravelle Hotel offers an excellent vantage point to gaze and witness the city’s transition from day to night. With a drink in hand, preferably their signature cocktail ‘The Saigon Saigon’, one can soak in the panoramic views of the city skyline, a sight that’s worth a thousand words.
For the party goers, the energetic nightclubs of Saigon are a must visit. Lush Nightclub and Apocalypse Now are among the city’s best, attracting a lively crowd with their fantastic music, electric atmosphere, and innovative drinks. Dancing the night away in one of these clubs is an essential part of experiencing Ho Chi Minh City’s nightlife.
Finally, a cruise on the Saigon River offers a different perspective on the city’s nightlife. The dinner cruises are particularly popular, combining delicious Vietnamese cuisine with stunning views of the illuminated cityscape.
Things To Do In Ho Chi Minh City: Explore the rooftop bars, cruise on Saigon river
Places To Visit In Ho Chi Minh City: Saigon Opera House, Caravelle Hotel, Apocalypse Now Club
6. Visit The One Pillar Pagoda
The enchanting city of Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam, is a captivating blend of the old and the new, where centuries-old architecture stands alongside modern structures. Amid the city’s buzzing streets and bustling markets, there are pockets of tranquility that offer a window into the country’s rich cultural and spiritual heritage. One such place is the One Pillar Pagoda, an iconic site that should undoubtedly be on your list of ‘things to do in Hanoi’.
Tucked away in the heart of Hanoi, the One Pillar Pagoda, or Chua Mot Cot, is a symbol of the city and a testament to Vietnam’s unique architectural style. Built in 1049 under the reign of Emperor Ly Thai Tong, this wooden structure stands on a single stone pillar, designed to resemble a lotus blossom, a symbol of purity in Buddhist culture. The Pagoda’s unique design and tranquil setting make it a must-visit spot among the ‘things to do in Hanoi’.
Visiting the One Pillar Pagoda is a journey into serenity, peace and tranquillity. As you approach the site, the noise of the city gradually fades, replaced by the peaceful sounds of nature and the soft chants of Buddhist hymns. The Pagoda is reached by a set of stairs leading up to the small, square wooden hut. Inside, one can find a statue of the Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva, encircled by offerings of incense, fruits, and flowers from devotees.
Timings: 7 AM to 6 PM
7. Shopping In Hoi An
One of the best places to visit in Vietnam, Hoi An is a hub for shoppers travelling to Vietnam worldwide. The shopping expedition in Hoi An must start with a visit to the town’s reputable tailors. This city is famed for its custom-made clothing, with hundreds of tailoring shops offering personalised services at affordable prices. Whether you’re seeking a traditional Vietnamese Ao Dai, a stylish suit, a summer dress, or even a replica of your favourite designer piece, the skilled tailors of Hoi An can turn your vision into reality. Shops like Be Be Tailor and Yaly Couture are well-regarded for their craftsmanship and service.
For a taste of local life, travellers usually venture into the Central Market, located on the banks of the Thu Bon River. This bustling market is a feast for the senses, with vendors selling everything from fresh produce and local delicacies to clothing and souvenirs. It’s a great place to haggle and get a bargain, but remember to do so politely and with a smile.
Hoi An is also renowned for its beautiful ceramics, with a tradition that dates back centuries. Visit the Thanh Ha Pottery Village to explore this art form, where you can watch local artisans at work and shop for unique ceramic items. From functional homewares to artistic sculptures, these handcrafted pieces make for a distinctive keepsake.
Opening Hours: 8 AM to 9 PM
8. Trekking and Cycling At Mai Chau
Nestled in the Hoa Binh province, about four hours from Hanoi, Mai Chau is a breath of fresh air. Here, the pace of life slows down, the air seems fresher, and the verdant landscapes beckon travellers to explore. Whether they choose to trek the rugged trails or cycle along the peaceful paths, Mai Chau provides an authentic and immersive outdoor experience.
Hiking in Mai Chau is an adventure that takes you through remote ethnic villages, lush bamboo forests, and up into the scenic mountains. For a truly immersive experience, consider trekking to Hang Kia and Pa Co villages.
Cycling on the other hand offers a different perspective of Mai Chau. With the wind in your hair and the sun on your face, one can pedal along the flat roads that traverse through the rice fields, passing by stilt houses, local schools, and bustling markets. Travellers can also cycle to the nearby villages of Pom Coong and Lac, where they can interact with the White Thai people and learn about their rich culture and traditions.
9. Discover the culture of Hue
Hue, located on the banks of the Perfume River, exuberates Vietnam’s rich cultural heritage. Hue is a destination that captivates and inspires, from its ancient temples and tombs to its exquisite cuisine and artistic traditions.
The Imperial City is also an enormous epicentre of palaces, temples, and gardens that once functioned as the hub of power, and constitutes one of the top things to do in Hue. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Travellers can discover the grounds, take in the elaborate architecture and discover the region’s fascinating history.
Indulging in Hue’s cuisine is another top thing to do in Hue in which travellers can relish quintessential dishes like Bun Bo Hue, a spicy beef noodle soup; Hue style Banh mi and the Hue pancakes are a couple of other dishes which must be tried in Hue.
Visitors can also visit Hue’s Thien Mu Pagoda, an internationally recognised attraction and emblem of the city while learning about the distinct culture of Hue. This pagoda which was built atop a hill with a view of the Perfume River, is renowned for its exquisite architecture and tranquil atmosphere.
Places To Visit In Hue: Imperial City, Bach Ma National Park, Tomb of Khai Dinh
Best Time To Visit Hue: January to April
10. Trekking In Sapa
Sapa is an attractive town in northwest Vietnam that is encompassed by gigantic mountains, vibrant forests, and terraced rice paddies. A variety of trails breeze through idyllic surroundings, past traditional villages, and right into the hub of the region’s ethnic communities, which renders it a trekker’s paradise.
There are a plethora of reasons why one should trek in Sapa, some of the most significant ones include the scenic trails, which are breathtaking, with stunning hills, cascading waterfalls, and the vibrant rice terraces.
The trekking trails also take you through the many villages of Sapa, which are home to a myriad of ethnic communities; giving travellers a chance to get an insight into the local’s way of life. Many of the trekking trails also allow travellers to stay in some of the homestays in Sapa, giving the chance to get an authentic Vietnamese experience.
To sum it up, trekking in Sapa is an unparalleled experience which provides a window into the unique and exquisite culture of not just Sapa but Vietnam.
Vietnam is the land of many experiences that will leave a lasting impression on your mind, body and soul. From exploring the old temples and tombs to trekking through lush forests and cruising on the scenic rivers, whether you’re seeking an adventure in nature, a glimpse into the country’s rich culture and history, or a taste of its delectable cuisine, the country has something to offer to everyone.
Frequently Asked Questions About Best Things To Do In Vietnam
1. What are the best things to do in Vietnam at night?
Some of the best things to do in Vietnam at night include exploring the night markets, cherishing the rooftop bars, and experiencing the nightlife in Ho Chi Minh City along with experiencing the Hue festival. Visiting the nightclubs in Hanoi is another great way to enjoy the nightlife in Vietnam.
2. What are 5 things Vietnam is known for?
Scenic landscapes, rich cultural heritage, delectable cuisine, friendly locals and the rich history and the war of Vietnam are the five things Vietnam is known for the best.
3. What is Vietnam famous for?
Vietnam is famous for a plethora of things, which include its scenic landscapes, rich cultural heritage, delicious food, the friendly locals who showcase amazing hospitality and the history and resilience of the country during the Vietnamese War. The country is also renowned for its natural beauty and limestone cliffs along with the many rice paddies which are located in different parts of the country.