What are the most exciting and unique things to see and do in Vietnam? Where can you find the country’s most beautiful natural marvels and cultural gems? Keep on reading to discover the list of the top 10 things to do in Vietnam.
A country of strikingly diverse landscapes, lively cities, and some of the best food on the planet, Vietnam is a beautiful mix of natural wonders and cultural diversity.
But when you have so many exciting attractions and beautiful landscapes to choose from, fitting them all into a single list will always be an impossible task.
Of course, such a compilation will never be to everyone’s liking. But after having considered general popularity, our own experiences, and traveler feedback, we’re confident that you’ll find one, if not all, ten choices, to your liking.
So without further ado, we present our top 10 list of things to see and do in Vietnam.
10. Take in the Wonders of Halong Bay
The incredible Halong Bay will always be on the can’t miss list when you visit Vietnam. Despite the recent increase the area has seen in tourism, it still retains its magical appeal.
The recommended way to experience Halong Bay is to book a two-day cruise. A day trip from Hanoi is also possible, but would only be advised if you are very pressed for time.
There are plenty of cruise operators to choose from, so you will always find something that fits your budget.
If you want to avoid the crowds altogether, you can book a tour that takes you to the nearby Lan Ha Bay. There you’ll experience similar landscapes with almost no tourists.
9. Explore the old trading port of Hoi An
The ancient imperial trading port of Hoi An is one of Vietnam’s most visited places. The well-preserved architecture of the town gives it a dreamy atmosphere that captivates its visitors.
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 began as a center of the spice trade for the Cham people of Vietnam between the seventh and tenth centuries.
In 1535 Portuguese explorer Antonia de Faria arrived in Hoi An and discovered the potential for Hoi An as a trading port. Since then, French, Japanese, and Chinese traders made their way here and left their influence on this charming town.
Hoi An is right nearby several of Vietnam’s best beaches. After a day exploring the ancient town, head to Ang Bang Beach, or take the ferry to the tropical Cham Islands and refresh yourself in the crystal clear ocean.
Hoi An is a terrific food destination as well, booking a food tour is recommended to make the most out of your stay. Walking on the ocean floor near the Cham Islands is also quickly growing in popularity among activities to do in the area.
- Walk on the ocean floor near the Cham Islands
8. Go Hiking in Sapa
Six hours north of Hanoi, you will find the stunning mountainous town of Sapa. This natural paradise is home to five ethnic groups; the Hmong, Dao, Tay, Giay, and Xa Pho. These ethnic groups first occupied Sapa as the Vietnamese from the lowlands could not colonize the highest valleys.
Captivating rice terraces, lush jungles, and the soothing sounds of waterfalls and streams make Sapa a genuinely enchanting place.
Hiking and enjoying being in nature is the name of the game in Sapa. You can book a two day or three-day hiking and home stay tour to Sapa departing from Hanoi. The tours include a dinner prepared by a local ethnic minority family.
- Book your two day hiking tour of Sapa here
Right outside of Sapa is Fansipan Mountain, the tallest mountain in Vietnam. The trek is accessible year-round, but note you need to be in reasonably good physical shape to complete the hike. For those who prefer to avoid strenuous hikes, there is a cable car that can bring you to the summit.
- Book a guided hike to the summit of Fansipan Mountain here
Although Sapa is not quite as off the radar as it used to be, with a significant influx of tourists in recent years, it is still an unforgettable place that will leave the most seasoned of travelers speechless.
7.Escape to the Con Dao Islands
A stunning tropical archipelago off the southern coast of Vietnam, Con Dao is Vietnam’s closest thing to a tropical paradise.
Despite its tranquil scenery Con Dao has a very turbulent past. During French rule, a political prison stood in operation for several decades. Thousands of Vietnamese lost their lives inside the prison. Today most visitors in Con Dao are locals who are often descendants of the prisoners who came here. They come here to pray for all of those who lost their lives. The prison remains intact and can be visited.
Con Dao has arguably the most beautiful 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. Guided hiking tours of the island are also available.
There are excellent options for resorts and hotels on the island that will ensure your stay here is as enjoyable as possible.
You can reach Con Dao by ferry departing from Soc Trang or fly directly from Ho Chi Minh City.
6. Sample the worlds best street food in Saigon
Vietnam is one of the most sought after food destinations in the world, and many consider the culinary capital to be Saigon.
- Book the most popular food tour in Saigon here
With thousands of food vendors selling an endless variety of tasty delicacies, your best option is to book a food tour with a local culinary expert that will take you directly to the good stuff.
The tours usually stop at around six food vendors giving you a sample at each stop, so make sure you spare your appetite for the tour.
- See the largest overview of food tours in Saigon here
Besides eating incredible food, you get terrific insight into the culture and history of Vietnam.
5. Sail on the Mekong Delta
The Mekong Delta is a world afloat. Boats, houses, and markets float upon the innumerable rivers, canals, and streams that crisscross the landscape like arteries.
Sail on a traditional wooden Sampan boat through the narrow maze of canals and explore the villages that have relied on the Mekong for centuries.
There is a wide selection of tours that take you to the Mekong from Ho Chi Minh City. If you have the time, book a two-day tour to make the most out of your stay.
- Book a luxury speed boat tour to the Mekong Delta here
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
Most people do not associates and dunes with Vietnam, but the beach resort town of Mui Ne has precisely that.
This desert oasis is a truly unique natural occurrence and has caught the eyes of Instagrammers from all over the world.
Activities such as sand boarding, ATVing, and simply rolling down the sand slopes is the sport of choice here.
Book a tour that will take you there early, so you catch the sun rising over the majestic sand dunes, and head to the beach afterwards to relax.
3. Go on a Motorcycle Adventure in Dalat
The French invaders first settled Dalat as a mountain retreat from the blistering heat of Saigon. Asides from the cooler climate, it is easy to understand why they decided to come here. Stunning mountain landscapes and serene lakes make it one of the most romantic places to visit in Vietnam.
The best way to explore Dalat is to get on a motorbike and drive into the nature. Stop on the way in one of the coffee plantations or strawberry farms.
- Book a motorcycle day tour of Dalat here
If you prefer not to drive by yourself there are several trusted operators that can take you on a day tour of the area.
The moderate climate has made Dalat the adventure-sports capital of southern Vietnam, with canyoning, mountain biking, white-water rafting and treks into the surrounding hills all available.
2. Explore the Worlds Largest Cave
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 hike to the cave takes some time as there are no roads that lead up to the cave. The tour will take three days all in all and will include camping overnight inside the cave itself.
1. Do the Ha Giang Loop
Considered by many to be the most exciting area in Vietnam to visit, Ha Giang is quickly gaining a reputation among travelers. The weaving mountain roads are jaw-dropping but certainly not for the faint-hearted.
- Book a five day tour of Ha Giang here
Ha Giang is the final frontier in northern Vietnam, an amazing landscape of limestone pinnacles and granite outcrops. The far north of the province has some of the most spectacular scenery in the country – if not the region – and the trip between Yen Minh and Dong Van, and then across the Mai Pi Leng Pass to Meo Vac, is mind-blowing.
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.