The country’s long history and diverse range of ethnic minorities makes up the cultural heartbeat of vibrant Vietnam. French, Chinese and American cultural influences are still present following Vietnam’s emergence to a free and independent nation in the 1970’s, making for an incredibly tourist friendly place to visit. Stunning natural wonders of peaked mountains, turquoise bays of water and lush jungle oozing illuminate greenery will give you plenty to admire whilst travelling in Vietnam.
Places to Visit in Vietnam
Vietnam is actually quite a large country and taking an internal flight to many of the locations is recommended.
Ho Chi Minh City
A buzzing site of motorbikes zipping past and the epicentre of cosmopolitan shopping. Easy to navigate on foot with a competitive café and restaurant scene, we would recommend experiencing the city by night. With copious amounts of rooftop terrace bars and restaurants, find one that suits your style and budget and watch the city come to life with lights.
Things to do in Ho Chi Minh
Check out the Architecture
Striking architecture can been seen showcasing the rich culture of Ho Chi Minh City (previously known as Saigon) with the original French colonial style still present in buildings like Saigon Central Post Office and French built statue Notre-Dame Basilica. Most eye catching by night is the Bitexco Financial Towers, we recommend soaking in the view of the whole city and enjoying a refreshment at their sky deck – Alto
Before you leave, pay a visit to Chinatown to treat yourself to some market shopping. Bartering is encouraged, remember to be polite and only spend what you are willing to. Try your luck and see how skilled you can be to snatch a bargain.
Suoi Tien Cultural Theme Park
A solely Buddhist themed water park with rides featuring important animals like the dragon, unicorn and tortoise, replace the typical children’s characters. In reference to Buddha there is a 12-story high statue with water slides weaving throughout the face. If you are looking for something different in this already unique playground, there is a pond with over 1,500 crocodiles waiting for you to feed them raw meat on fishing rods. Located just a short 20-minute drive from the centre of the Ho Chi Minh City, this is a sure hit for the family.
Image Credit: Suoi Tien Cultural Theme Park | Vietnam
Cu Chi Tunnels Minh City
If you’re familiar with the Vietnam war, you might be tempted to experience the claustrophobic feeling of the infamous underground Cu Chi Tunnels. During the Vietnam War, the tunnels were used as a communication line to plan attacks, fight off enemy troops and live within the city during the war. Guides will take you on a fascinating tour of the tunnels with entry points at Ben Duoc Village and Ben Dinh Village.
Visit the Cai Rang floating markets (literally floating shops, only accessible by boat) in the Mekong Delta region. A wholesale market selling local produce where you will be able to try local cuisine and see the locals do their daily shopping. For the best prices and first pickings of the fresh produce we recommend going early morning and finding a guide to drive you on a small boat.
Things to do in Nha Trang
If by the ocean is more your style, then Nha Trang is for you. Known for their seafood cuisine, beaches and nightlife along the coastline, Nha Trang is a popular watersports hub in Vietnam.
Long Sơn Pagoda
Take a step back off the coast and you will find a towering Buddha sitting on a lotus blossom. A staggering 14-metres in height and over 150 steps leading up to the statue. With those stats, it is understandable that it can be seen from many parts of the city.
Things to do in Hoi An
Walking the streets of Hoi An will have you marvelling at the small, well-preserved, Japanese and Chinese merchants houses that are now open for the public. Walk through to see how this vibrant town was influenced by the influx of immigrants wanting to acquire the local silks. Along the river you will find locals and expats alike drinking beer and watching the boats pass them by.
Get Clothing Made
Whilst the French reign is now over, their culinary influence is still strong in the local cafes where you can purchase a croissant and cappuccino true to the original French recipes. If you haven’t yet heard, some of Vietnam’s most skilled tailors can be found in Hoi An. All you need to do is provide them with a picture of the design you are wanting, and they can tailor a garment to fit you like a glove.
Exploring Hue’s Four Cities
Hue is known for being packed to the brim with history and ancient relics from the Nguyen emperors and located along the banks of the Perfume River. There are four citadels that complete Hue as a city; Hoang Thanh (Imperial City), Tu Cam Thanh (Forbidden Purple City), Dai Noi (Inner City), and Tran Binh Dai (ancient city). All should be on your historic bucket list, however if you are rushed for time, we suggest the best vantage point is by riverboat cruise along the Perfume River.
Sapa Countryside Trekking
Looking to get away from the hustle and bustle and experience the rolling countryside of lush green rice fields? We suggest a visit to Fansipan Mountain, located in the Sapa Countryside. Excellent for hiking and trekking trails that will take you through local villages and stunning hilltop mountain views. Hire a local guide who will be able to help plan a route that suits your interests.
Walking Hanoi’s Railway Tracks
If you want to feel a part of the heart of the action, this is the place for you. Walking through the town you will feel the pull of street sellers trying to entice you to buy from their stalls. Also the buzz of motorbikes passing you by, whilst trains weave through the century old buildings.
Wrapped in ageing architecture and the countries depth of history from the French and Imperial influence you won’t have to look too hard to find the centuries of relics that have been uncovered here. At night we suggest visiting the Water Puppet Theatre to watch a puppet show performed over a liquid stage. Using strategic lighting, the reflections from the water make for a memorable and unique show like no other.
Up and Coming Da Nang
An up and coming major port city of Vietnam is Da Nang. Evolving as a must visit in 2019 for its modern range of accommodation, large shopping malls and vast coastline stretching the Han River. Most well-known for the Dragon Bridge that spits fire, located over the Han River with yellow framing twisting throughout the structure replicating that of a dragon. We encourage you to try local Vietnamese food from street vendors.
See a Javan Rhino in the Cat Tien National Park
A naturists dream, offering bird watching, hiking and mountain bike riding only available to a limited number of people at any one time. Home to the Javan rhinoceros it has now become a reserve to protect the large population located on the 72,000-hectares of tropical forests. For a selective experience only available to few, we would recommend reserving your place in advance to ensure there is no disappointment on arrival if capacity in the park has been reached.
We recommend opting to appreciate the mammoth bay on an overnight tour as just one day spent here is simply not enough time to grasp the magnificence seen on a boat tour. There are many smaller bays that can be explored such as Lan Ha Bay – know for 100s of different ocean species. A great location for snorkelling with crystal clear waters and both hard and soft colourful coral with sea life swimming between.