Vietnamese are often asked : what do you recommend? What are the most exciting and unique things to do in Vietnam? Where can you find the country’s most beautiful locations? Keep on reading to discover our list of the top 10 things to do in Vietnam.
- Find the largest selection of tours in Vietnam here
- Book a tour of the Ha Giang Loop here
- Book your airport transfer in Hanoi and Saigon here and here
- Book the most popular food tour in Saigon here
A country of striking diverse landscapes, lively cities and some of the best food on the planet, Vietnam is best described as a wonderful mix of natural highlights and cultural diversity.
It might seem therefore a bit overwhelming, therefore, to decide what to do and where to go in Vietnam. Having so many unique attractions and differing landscapes that fitting them all into a holiday may seem like an impossible task.
There are some sites and activities, however, that are highly recommended to all with the time and means to get to them. Continue reading for our list of the top ten things to do and places to go in Vietnam, in no particular order.
10. Take in the Wonders of Halong Bay
If you want to experience a true natural wonder of the world, Halong Bay has to be on your Vietnam itinerary. Even though Halong bay has developed a reputation for being overrun with tourist in recent years, it is still very much a cant miss destination when visiting Vietnam.
Thousands of limestone island karst stones make up Ha Long Bay. The site has for millennia been awing people with its natural wonder. There are traces of ancient civilizations living in Halong Bay and poems dating back hundreds of years describing the wonder of this region.
The site is one of the few UNESCO world heritage sites in Vietnam being on of the most cherished places in the hearts of the Vietnamese. The best way to experience Halong bay is to book a two day one night cruise to truly get a sense for the size and splendor of this area. It is possible to book a day trip from Hanoi but we would only recommend doing so if you are very pressed for time. There are plenty of cruise operators to chose from so depending on your budget and style you can find something suitable for you. If you prefer to avoid the tourist crowds all together you can book a tour that takes you to nearby Lan Ha Bay, which offers nearly identical scenery with a small fraction of the amount of tourist.
9. Stroll Around In the Old Trading Port of Hoi An
The old imperial trading port of Hoi An is one of Vietnams most visited places. The main reason for this is because of the exceptionally well preserved architecture makes it feel like you are stepping into a different world in a different time.
Dating back to the 15th century Hoi An’s buildings and street plan are a reflection of the influences of both indigenous and foreign powers that have marked their presence here. Hoi An started as the center of the spice trade for the Cham people of Vietnam between the seventh and 10th centuries. In 1535 Portuguese explorer Antonia de Faria arrived in Hoi An and discovered the potential for Hoi An as a trading post and since then French, Japanese and Chinese traders made their way here and left their influence on this charming town.
There are also a number of stunning beaches to visit when in Hoi An and a wide selection of tours and activities to book in the surrounding area. Cham Island is one of the cant miss places to go when here and booking the Cham Island Sea Trek tour is highly recommended.
8. Go Hiking in Sapa
To the north of Hanoi you will find the stunning mountainous area of Sapa. Sapa is known to be the home of several ethnic minorities. The five main ethnic groups are the Hmong, Dao, Tay, Giay and Xa Pho. It is said that Sapa was first occupied by these ethnic groups as the Vietnamese from the lowlands did not colonize the highest valleys.
There are several buses and trains that depart to Sapa from Hanoi every day. You can also book tours that pick you up in Hanoi and take you on a two or three day tour of Sapa with accommodation and a home cooked meal in a local home stay included.
Sapa is famous for its stunning rice field terrace landscape that can be seen everywhere here. Hiking and enjoying nature is what Sapa is all about. The highest mountain in Vietnam, Mt. Fanispan is located here and can be conquered by hiking or whizzing up in the longest cable car in the world.
7.Visit the Island Paradise of Con Dao
Of all the attractions on our list, Con Dao is perhaps the least known of them all. A stunning tropical archipelago off the southern coast of Vietnam, Con Dao is perhaps Vietnam’s best place to go for a tropical escape.
Despite its tranquil and paradise like scenery Con Dao has a very dark and unfortunate past. During French rule a political prison was built here that was in operation for several decades. Thousands of Vietnamese lost their lives here. For this reason the majority of tourist that visit Con Dao are locals who are often descendants of the prisoners who come here. They come here to pray for all of those who lost their lives. The prison remains in tact and can be visited.
Con Dao has some of the most stunning beaches in Vietnam and they all receive very few visitors per day. It is also is one of the best places to go scuba diving and snorkeling in Vietnam as well. Guided hiking tours of the island can also be booked and are highly recommended to explore the diverse ecosystem here.
You can reach Con Dao by ferry departing from Soc Trang or fly directly from Ho Chi Minh City.
6. Taste Vietnam on a Food Tour
Tasting authentic Vietnamese cuisine is without a doubt on of the most memorable things you will do on your trip to Vietnam. The best way to sample and learn about this awesome culinary culture is to book a food tour in any of the cities you are staying. Most food tours usually pick you up on a motorbike and drive you to a handful of the locals favorite places to eat. Given the variety and complexity of figuring out what to order on your own, the food tours are certainly the best way to make sure you taste all the best stuff!
5. Sail on the Mekong Delta
The Mekong Delta is by far the most popular attraction to visit in South Vietnam. Most tourist that arrive in Ho Chi Minh City will end up booking a tour to visit the area. Given the massive amount tourist traffic coming here for a one day tour, it is recommended that you book a 2 day one night cruise on the delta to get the optimal experience. The Mekong Delta has for centuries been a important hub for trading and agriculture and the daily life here as largely remained unchanged. Trips here will include a visit to one of the famous floating markets which are located all over the Mekong region.
The biodiversity here is some of the richest in South East Asia and many species are unique to the Mekong region. The Mekong Delta is one of the true natural wonders of the world.
4. Check out the Sand Dunes of Mui Ne at Sunrise
Muie Ne is a popular beach side town that is ideal for stopping for some rest and relaxation. After a day spent lounging on the beach get up early the next morning before the sun comes up and head to the nearby sand dunes.
The Sand Dunes of Mui Ne are two geological wonders no visitor should ever miss out on their travel itinerary. There are numerous tour operators in Mui Ne that organize daytrips to these Saharan-like red and white sand dunes, but you can easily make your way to both locales if you prefer exploring according to your own pace.
3. Go on a Motorcycle Adventure in Dalat
The hill town of Da Lat has long been the most popular location in the region for getaway holidays since French colonial times. Many people call it ‘Le Petit Paris’ and the town even features a mini-replica Eiffel Tower in its centre! Situated on a plateau 1,500 metres above sea level, this retreat town offers a good change of atmosphere with a refreshingly cool climate while other cities in Vietnam can be very hot and humid especially during summer. Trousers and jumpers are needed if visiting Dalat from November to around March as temperatures hover at about 10°C.
Several tour operators are here that offer motorcycle day tours of the surrounding countryside. You can drive yourself if you are capable or sit on the back of a guide.
2. Explore the Worlds Largest Cave “Son Dong”
Just 10 years ago the worlds largest cave was discovered in central Vietnam by a team of British cave explorers. Since then guided tours operated by the company Oxalis Adventure Tours have begun to take a limited amount of tourist per year to hike inside this spectacular cave. The tour is by no means cheap but if you have the means and the time by all means seize the opportunity. The tour includes getting to camp inside the cave itself. The cave is so big it even has its own weather system!
1. Do the Ha Giang Loop
Ha Giang is not one of the first attractions that gets listed on the top attractions in Vietnam but it is arguably Vietnams most breathtaking region. Ha Giang offers some of the most breathtaking views in South East Asia and doing the Ha Giang Loop, a 3-5 day drive around the circle road of the region is for many one of the most memorable trips they embark on in their travels anywhere in the world. The windy mountainous roads seem to stretch on forever and you feel like you are being transported into a different world all together.
It is possible to book guided multi day tours on motorbike or mini bus depending on your preference. You can also venture here by yourself on motorbike if you have the courage but be sure to take the right safety precautions before you head off as road conditions here can be tricky.