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Top 15 Things Must Do in Vietnam

1. Experience the Mesmerizing Rice Terraces of Northern Vietnam

Mu Cang Chai Rice Terraces

Embark on a journey to the stunning northern highlands of Vietnam, where the allure of terraced fields has fascinated travelers and photographers worldwide. These captivating landscapes showcase the art of rice cultivation on mountainous terrain, boasting intricate irrigation systems that sustain the growth of rice plants. Don't miss the chance to explore the three most renowned places with terraced fields in North Vietnam: Mu Cang Chai (Yen Bai), Y Ty (Sapa), and Hoang Su Phi (Ha Giang).

During the water pouring season starting in mid-May, you'll be enchanted by the sight of flooded fields, layer upon layer, reflecting nature's vibrant colors. As the harvest season approaches in August and September, the winding golden terraces hidden amidst pure clouds will leave you in awe. Beyond the breathtaking scenery, immerse yourself in the lives of friendly ethnic minorities, experiencing their traditional farming activities in the lofty mountains.

For an even more exhilarating adventure, indulge in paragliding over these picturesque rice-field scenes. Each September, Mu Cang Chai hosts a thrilling paragliding festival—a truly unforgettable bucket-list experience, just 300 km from Hanoi.

Embrace the splendor of Vietnam's rice terraces and create cherished memories that will endure a lifetime.

2. Be Awed by the Spectacular Ban Gioc Waterfall in Cao Bang

Ban Gioc Waterfall

Prepare to be amazed by Ban Gioc, a magnificent pair of waterfalls where the Quay Son River converges, serving as a remarkable natural boundary between Vietnam and China. Located in the Trung Khanh District of Cao Bang on Vietnam's side and Daxin County, Guangxi in China, this captivating destination will leave you breathless.

Ban Gioc Waterfall is a true gem of Southeast Asia, boasting impressive dimensions of 70 meters in height and 208 meters in width. Its cascading waters gracefully descend a rocky limestone facade, creating a truly mesmerizing spectacle. If you're feeling adventurous, you can even embark on a trek to reach the highest points of the falls, provided you have the appropriate hiking gear.

Once you've immersed yourself in the awe-inspiring views, the Cao Bang region awaits with a wealth of attractions. Explore captivating caves, indulge in the local hospitality by staying in charming homestays, and discover more majestic waterfalls that beckon to be explored.

Experience the wonder of Ban Gioc Waterfall and unlock the treasures of the mountainous northeast region of Vietnam.

3. Discover the Finest Pho in Hanoi's Old Quarter

Hanoi Pho (Noodle Soup)

Pho, the beloved Vietnamese dish, is a delightful and satisfying meal made from a simple blend of four ingredients: clear broth, tender boiled beef, rice noodles, and fragrant herbs or green onions. Whether it's found on street corners, upscale restaurants, or in the comfort of family homes, Pho is a culinary staple in Vietnam.

Hanoi, known as the pho capital of Vietnam, is a haven for Pho enthusiasts. Each restaurant in the city boasts its own secret recipe, making the search for the best bowl of Pho an enjoyable adventure. However, if you're seeking our recommendation, make your way to the Old Quarter and settle yourself at Pho Gia Truyen on Bat Dan Street, Pho Thin on Lo Duc Street, or Pho Ly Quoc Su on Ly Quoc Su Street. These establishments are revered by locals as the top three Pho destinations in town. Prepare for crowds, as these places are always bustling, but rest assured, the wait will be well worth it.

4. Exploring Traditional Craft Villages Near Hanoi

Pottery factory in Bat Trang ceramic village

 In the past, Vietnamese people would engage in handicraft work after the harvest season to fulfill their own needs. Despite being farmers without specialized training, their handicraft products showcased remarkable skill and intricacy. These techniques were often kept as closely guarded secrets, only passed down to relatives or fellow villagers. As a result, the village itself became a significant hub for the handicraft industry. There are numerous traditional handicraft villages located just outside Hanoi, including Bat Trang ceramics village, Van Phuc silk weaving village, Ha Thai lacquer village, and Phu Vinh bamboo & rattan village. Most of these villages are situated within a 50km radius of Hanoi's center, making them easily accessible. Visitors can conveniently arrange day tours to these craft villages, where they can immerse themselves in the local culture, witness artisans demonstrating their craft, participate in various stages of the crafting process, and even shop for unique village products and gifts. Alternatively, utilizing Google Maps to navigate and explore these villages firsthand can also add a memorable touch to the journey.

5. Cruise Away to Halong Bay

Halong Bay

Halong Bay, adorned with 1,600 limestone towers emerging from its mesmerizing turquoise waters, holds the well-deserved reputation of being one of Vietnam's most breathtaking destinations. It is an essential inclusion on every visitor's itinerary, and a myriad of boats offer daily cruise trips to cater to every traveler's preferences. Whether you seek a small or large vessel, luxury or budget-friendly, day or multi-day excursion, Halong Bay has the perfect cruise for you. The bay's tranquil waters ensure a serene sailing experience without the worry of waves or seasickness. Moreover, the boat trip offers a plethora of activities to keep you engaged and captivated. Delight in kayaking, swimming during the appropriate season, exploring caves, visiting floating villages, and taking leisurely walks on the expansive islands. Should you desire a more laid-back conclusion to your Vietnam adventure, simply unwind on the cruise and relish in the awe-inspiring vista of uninhabited islands and majestic karst formations rising from the water's embrace. Apart from the cruise itself, there are numerous other unforgettable activities to enhance your trip, including seaplane tours, kayaking adventures, and visits to limestone caves.

6. Row past the Tranquil Tam Coc Rice Fields in Ninh Binh

Tam Coc Rice Field

Immerse yourself in the captivating beauty of the Trang An Scenic Landscape Complex, a UNESCO World Heritage Site nestled in Vietnam's enchanting Ninh Binh province. Witness the awe-inspiring limestone karsts and verdant valleys that adorn the landscape, while graceful boats glide along the picturesque Red River Delta.

Within this complex lies the charming village of Tam Cốc-Bích Động, lovingly known as 'Tam Coc', where the UNESCO-listed rice paddies offer a mesmerizing spectacle. Indulge in a leisurely boat ride along the serene Ngo Dong River, as the ethereal scenery unfolds before your eyes.

Getting to Tam Coc has never been easier, with convenient buses and trains from Hanoi whisking you away in just three hours. Organized day tours and two-day trips are also available for a well-planned excursion.

Spend at least a day, if not more, in this captivating destination. Don't miss the opportunity to climb the 486 stone steps of Hang Mua, where a breathtaking panoramic viewpoint awaits. Plan your visit early to avoid the heat and revel in the unforgettable sights that await you in Ninh Binh's Tam Coc.

7. Unleash Your Adventurous Spirit in Quang Binh's Caves

Phong Nha cave

Phong Nha in Quang Binh is a destination like no other in Vietnam. This remarkable place offers breathtaking beauty, thrilling adventures, and some of the world's largest caves. Located within the Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, these caves are an absolute marvel that will leave you in awe.

Whether you have a generous budget or limited funds, there's a cave experience for everyone. From the epic 4-day expedition through Hang Son Doong, the world's largest cave, to a budget-friendly overnight camping in Hang En, the third-largest cave, you'll be captivated by the wonders within.

If time is limited, explore the other fascinating caves, including Tu Lan, Paradise, Phong Nha, Over, and Dark Caves. Each offers its own enchanting features and can be explored in various durations.

Prepare for an adventure as you traverse rivers, hike through jungles, and immerse yourself in local culture. Guided tours are available, providing insightful experiences and ensuring you don't miss the highlights.

Phong Nha's caves are an essential part of any Vietnam journey. So unleash your adventurous spirit and embark on an unforgettable exploration of these natural wonders. Don't miss the remarkable Hang Son Doong if you can only visit one cave—it's an experience beyond compare.

8. Track back to the Last Emperor's Life in Hue

Hue Imperial Citadel

Hue, the former imperial city of Vietnam, beckons history enthusiasts with its rich cultural heritage. This captivating destination, celebrated for its traditions and historic significance, is home to the renowned Imperial Hue Citadel.

Established in 1805 by Emperor Gia Long, founder of the Nguyen dynasty, the citadel stands as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Its elegant complex, designed with the principles of Chinese geomancy, features three concentric enclosures. Allocate ample time to explore the citadel and delve into its intriguing history.

Immerse yourself further by visiting the emperors' tombs and the serene Thien Mu Pagoda. For an unforgettable experience, hop on a motorbike and witness the breathtaking sunset over Tam Giang Lagoon.

Hue offers a remarkable glimpse into the last emperor's life and is an ideal destination for those seeking a cultural and historical immersion. Explore Hue's treasures and unravel the legacy of Vietnam's imperial past.

9. Marvel at the Majestic Golden Hands Bridge in Da Nang

Golden Hands Bridge

The Golden Hands Bridge in Da Nang province is truly a sight to behold. This unique and mesmerizing bridge stands out with its extraordinary design and breathtaking surroundings.

As you stroll along the 150-meter pathway suspended above the lush greenery of the Ba Na Hills, you'll feel a sense of wonder as if being cradled in the sky by two enormous stone hands. While these hands may not be supported by divine intervention, they are securely held by a sturdy steel frame and fiberglass.

The creation of this awe-inspiring structure was intended to draw more visitors to the Da Nang region, and it has undeniably achieved tremendous success on social media. With over 124,000 images under the #GoldenBridge hashtag alone, it has become an iconic symbol worth capturing.

A trip to Vietnam would be incomplete without capturing a picture of the Golden Hands Bridge for your Instagram page. Join countless others in experiencing the sheer beauty and magic of this architectural marvel.

10. Enroll in a Cooking Class in Hoi An

Cooking Class in Hoi An

Hoi An, a charming destination renowned for its stunning beaches and rich cultural heritage, offers a vibrant tapestry of diverse influences. In addition to its captivating Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site adorned with inviting roadside cafes, Hoi An presents an exciting opportunity to participate in immersive cooking classes.

Begin your culinary journey with a leisurely stroll through a local market, guided by an expert. Together, you'll select the finest ingredients, including fragrant herbs, shrimp paste, and quality meats. Upon reaching the cooking school, explore its herb garden and discover the key herbs that lend Vietnamese cuisine its distinctive flavors.

Under the guidance of a skilled chef, unlock the secrets of Vietnamese gastronomy. Learn to prepare 3 to 5 authentic delicacies like spring rolls, Hoi An pancakes, and seafood salad. Unleash your creativity through vegetable carving, crafting exquisite Vietnamese-style plate decorations.

Lastly, gather around the table with fellow classmates and savor the fruits of your labor, delighting in the flavors and camaraderie that make this culinary experience truly unforgettable.

11. Delving into History in Ho Chi Minh City

War Remnants Museum in HCM city

Exploring the rich history of Vietnam is an essential experience, especially delving into the war with America that concluded in 1973. The profound impact of the conflict left the country devastated, with both sides involved in tragic acts and the haunting aftermath of napalm bombings. Despite the scars of war, Vietnam's natural beauty remains intact, with lush green forests stretching endlessly as you journey through the country. However, one place where the enduring effects of war can be witnessed is the War Remnants Museum in Ho Chi Minh City. At this museum, remnants of the war, including tanks and military vehicles, stand as poignant reminders just outside the entrance. Inside, compelling exhibits tell stories and showcase images of those affected by the war, painting a chilling picture of the events that unfolded. While the museum exhibits a noticeable Vietnamese perspective (which is understandable), it remains a profoundly shocking experience to witness the lengths both sides went to in their pursuit of victory.

12. Go deep into the Cu Chi tunnels

Cu Chi Tunnels

Discovering the remnants of Vietnam's war history from the perspective of its resilient people is a compelling reason for travelers from around the world to visit. Among the significant sites that reflect this history, the Cu Chi Tunnels stand out, representing an intricate network constructed during the war against the United States.

The Cu Chi Tunnels encompass two distinct tunnel systems: one located at Ben Dinh village, extensively used by the Viet Cong during the conflict, and the other at Ben Duoc, offering enhanced facilities for tourists. Immerse yourself in history as you embark on a guided tour, accompanied by an insightful audio-visual presentation that brings the past to life. Witness the ingenuity of the Vietnamese people as you observe the preserved booby traps meticulously crafted within the tunnels.

13. Explore the Vibrant Mekong Delta Floating Markets

Cai Rang floating market

The Mekong River, spanning across six countries, captivates travelers with its unparalleled allure. In Vietnam's part of the Mekong Delta, immersing yourself in the vibrant floating markets and embarking on a boat tour is the ultimate way to experience the local treasures. Among the notable options, both Cai Rang and Cai Be floating markets offer unique delights.

Begin your day by rising early to witness the bustling floating market in action, where time-honored trading practices continue to thrive. Witness skilled boat rowers maneuvering through the market's vibrant scene. Afterward, embark on a sampan boat journey along tree-lined canals, exploring the charming islets and indulging in the intoxicating fragrances of the orchards. For a more immersive adventure, hop on a bike to explore the surrounding orchards at your leisure. With a two-day trip and a stay in the captivating Can Tho area, you can fully immerse yourself in this remarkable region.

14. Embrace Serenity on Phu Quoc Island

Phu Quoc Island

Nestled off the coast of Cambodia, Phu Quoc Island in Vietnam offers a tranquil escape for travelers seeking respite from the bustling cities. With a plethora of attractions and activities, the island promises a delightful experience. The highlight of Phu Quoc is undoubtedly its pristine beaches, renowned for their natural beauty and breathtaking sunset views. Sao Beach and Long Beach are widely acclaimed as the most stunning stretches of sand in Vietnam, inviting you to unwind on lounge chairs while enjoying the tranquil waters. Additionally, embark on a boat trip to explore the smaller islands surrounding the main island, which boast even more captivating beaches. When it comes to accommodation, selecting the perfect retreat is essential. Phu Quoc Island offers a diverse range of options to suit every preference, including homestays, motels, hostels, 5-star hotels, and resorts. Highly recommended establishments include Island Life Hostel, Lahana Resort Phu Quoc, Intercontinental Resort Phu Quoc, and JW Marriott. Indulge in the serene beauty of Phu Quoc Island, where tranquility and relaxation await at every turn.

May 24, 2023

By Custom Asia Travel


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