Vietnam has been at the top of the most-sought-after destinations in South-East Asia for a while now. Many people are dreaming about visiting Vietnam and many others that have already checked it off their bucket list, are waiting to go back there. Vietnam is one of those unique places that have something to offer every kind of traveler. For culture and photography lovers, history nerds, hikers or beach bums, not to mention foodies, Vietnam has it all! There are many reasons to visit Vietnam but we have put together a list of our most favorite things to inspire you to visit Vietnam and see for yourself what all the hype is about.
Our Favorite Things to See and Do in Vietnam
Admire the Stunning Landscapes
Travelling around Vietnam you are bound to discover some of the most gorgeous views you’ve ever seen. Imagine waking up in the morning and drinking your coffee amidst the huge cliffs of Ha Long Bay, not to mention kayaking around the bay in this dramatic scenery. The whole experience is wonderful as long as you know what to expect. You can read more about my Ha Long Bay adventure to find out more. Sapa is another unique destination with its great endless rice terraces and local ethnic tribes. I loved my time in Sapa, and the feel of the place is very different than other parts of Vietnam I got to experience. How about a taste of long stretches of beaches and crystal clear water? Vietnam, with its long coastline offers many beach opportunities for every taste. Hectic beaches with bars and water sports, secluded beaches with romantic vibes and you can even find here the perfect island getaway.
Spend Some Time with The Hill Tribes
In every country we visit we love to discover the smaller, less populated towns that usually have managed to preserve better old traditions and customs. We especially like to visit villages of local tribes who still wear their unique garments and maintain their old ways. The area of Sapa is a wonderful place to learn more about the hill tribes of Vietnam. You can spend a few days in the breath-taking scenery, trek your way from village to village and even arrange a home-stay. Nevertheless, you should be prepared to an endless hymn of money requests, constant nagging by the local tribe women and basically being followed wherever you go by 2-3 women in the hope of making some kind of profit. However, I still loved my time there, just take it all with a grain of salt and know what to expect. If you are still not sure what to do and looking for some tips or insight as to what to expect in Sapa, check my Sapa diary.
See For Yourself Why the Vietnamese Markets Are So Famous
If you’ve been following our adventures, then you already know we are avid market explorers. Just give us a colorful market full of flowers, fruits, veggies, local delicacies and unique sights and we are happy as an 8 year old in Disneyland. Pay a visit to the markets of Hanoi and Hoi An or Sapa. Try haggling with some of the sellers, have a laugh with others and taste some new flavors. Don’t forget to bring your camera!
Learn About Vietnam's History and Culture
For history lovers there are so many interesting attractions all over Vietnam. The museums and old quarter of Hanoi, the Imperial Citadel of the old capital Hue, the charming streets and old town of Hoi An, the many war-related attractions located in Ho Chi Minh City and many more. Vietnam’s history and culture are intertwined together and form a unique rich mixture of cultural habits. The cultures that have invaded Vietnam throughout the years have left their mark on its cuisine, architecture, linguistics and more. Therefore, you can detect some Chinese, French and American influences that have rooted themselves deep into the Vietnamese culture. Culture lovers would just have a blast here no matter where they choose to go.
Eat Your Weight in Food
Vietnam is a foodie heaven! There are so many dishes to try. You can start with the signature dish of Vietnam – the famous Pho soup, later try some fresh and fried Vietnamese rolls or the huge Banh Mi sandwiches (made with Baguette), then taste the Vietnamese savory pancakes Banh Xeo and my all-time favorite dishes: Nom Hua Chuoi (salad made from banana blossoms) and fish cooked in a banana leaf. These are just a few of the delicacies that are waiting for you in Vietnam. When you’re there, don’t forget to take a cooking class. You can read about my Hoi An cooking class if you want to have a laugh.
Find Your Inner Beach Bum
Unfortunately I haven’t made it to any beaches but I’ve heard so many great things about the beaches of Vietnam and for my next visit (and there will be one), I am planning on exploring more of the 3,260 km coastline and perhaps even visit the beautiful islands. In the meantime, here is a list of the best Vietnamese beaches to give you another reason to start planning your perfect Vietnam bucket list, and if you crave an island getaway check out this post about Phu Quoc.
Splurge on Some Photography Gear
Are you into photography? Well the good news is that you can find really good prices in Vietnam. There isn’t a real difference in the latest models but if you are looking for a lens or camera that have been around the market for 1-2 years, chances are you will get a good deal here. Find out more here.
Vietnam was wonderful and interesting, although challenging at times. Many people in the larger cities (especially Hanoi) have offered us some questionable deals and every time that happened, I ran over in my head all the scams I’d read about prior to my arrival. Some of the places we’ve been to felt much more touristy than we’d imagined but we still loved our time there and you should just know what to expect when you plan your visit. To start planning your visit you can have a look at our Vietnam bucket list or check out my travel stories if you want to learn more about how it really feels to travel Vietnam, the good, the bad and the ugly sides of this wonderful and fascinating country.