If you’re going to visit Vietnam, prepare for an overwhelming list of great things to do during your stay.
From its lively and bustling city streets to its picture-perfect beaches to everything in between, the southeast Asian country of Vietnam packs a tourist punch.
Here are the best things to do and see while you’re in Vietnam:
1. Hanoi Old Quarter Exploration
Hanoi is the capital city and this is where a lot of the action happens. In the past, each of the streets in the Old Quarter specialized in a specific trade. In present times, many modern businesses call the Old Quarter home. You can dodge traffic and explore the local bars and restaurants, or you can make your way to Hoan Kiem Lake to immerse yourself in an iconic nature spot – it’s placed among must-see Vietnamese sights.
2. Motorbiking on the “Banana Pancake Trail”
You can purchase a used motorbike in lots of cities, but most people purchase one from Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City and then resell it to somebody else when they’re done with it. If this doesn’t sound like something that you’d do, you can sign up for a motorbike tour with a group like Easy Riders. With these groups, you often have the option of riding your bike or riding on the back of a tour guide’s bike. You can also customize your motorbike trip to fit your needs and desires.
Fun Fact: According to Wikipedia, a “Banana Pancake Trail” is a “name given to growing routes around Southeast Asia traveled by backpackers and other tourists. The Trail has no clear geographical definition, but is used as a metaphor for places that are popular among Western tourists.”
3. Ha Long Bay Cruise
Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Ha Long Bay is a picturesque body of water with an interesting history. The legend says that the Jade Emperor sent dragons to this bay to help protect Vietnam from invaders. As the legend goes, the dragons spit emeralds into the bay, making it impossible for invading ships to pass through. As the years carried on, these emeralds are said to have become islands. Many visitors make a day trip to Ha Long Bay from Hanoi, where they cruise around on a traditional junk boat.
4. Enjoy Vietnamese Cuisine
What better way to immerse yourself in a foreign country’s culture than to enjoy their food? Vietnamese food features lots of fresh veggies. And, you don’t have to go to a Michelin-star restaurant to enjoy what the country has to offer. Your best bet for enjoying great food is to look for a local street vendor and order their specialty. Street food is really the best.
From enjoying a bowl of pho or a bahn mi, you will surely love the combination of spice, bitterness, sweetness, saltiness, and sourness of this cuisine. If you’re still thinking of what to do in Vietnam, a gastronomic tour is among the top activities here.
5. Take a Trip to Hội An
Many travelers make a point to visit Hội An as it’s one of the most popular places to see in Vietnam. This historical town has been well-preserved and is a place that travelers can’t get enough of. Moreover, it’s one of the free things to do in Vietnam as you can sign up for the free of charge tour of Hội An, which is run by local university students. Besides, you can purchase a sightseeing ticket to visit up to five attractions within the town. The money from these tickets goes towards the town’s preservation, so it’s for a good cause.
6. Check Out the Beach
For sunseekers, the best places to go in Vietnam are numerous beaches because of its hot and humid climate. For lovers of water sports, the Da Nang beach is a great option. There are so many picturesque beaches that you can visit, no matter which one you pick you can’t go wrong.
7. Visit the Floating Mekong Delta Markets
The Mekong Delta is where much of the country’s fish and rice are from. There is also an abundance of harvest that grows in this delta. That’s why it’s no surprise that people meet up to buy and sell their goods. However, it’s not like any other average land-based farmer’s market. The Mekong Delta is home to several different floating markets. It’s truly unlike anything you’ve ever experienced, and it’s something you should check out while traveling to Vietnam.
8. Visit the Mountains in Northern Vietnam
The two best areas for trekking in northern Vietnam are Sapa and Ha Giang. In the town of Sapa, you can tackle Vietnam’s highest peak, Fansipan. Because Sapa is where you can attempt to accomplish such a great feat, it’s often very busy with other tourists. If you’re looking for something a bit calmer – head to Ha Giang.
9. Sip Vietnamese Coffee
Many different cultures have their take on coffee, and the Vietnamese are no exception. While the coffee you get in Vietnam may be smaller than your average Starbucks latte, it packs a punch. One unique thing about Vietnamese coffee is that it’s traditionally mixed with condensed milk, or yogurt and egg. For coffee connoisseurs or those who need a pick-me-up, this is something you should try.
10. Ninh Binh Temples
In this majestic city, you can enjoy visiting Vietnam’s ancient capital, Hoa Lu. In this area, you can view historic temples and tombs, as well as jaw-dropping scenery. Here you are able to test your adrenaline by taking a bamboo raft down the river!
11. Ho Chi Minh City Sightseeing
Often referred to as HCMC by the locals, this city is Vietnam’s biggest metropolis. You can visit historical sites like the War Remnants Museum, the Notre Dame cathedral and a lotus flower-shaped skyscraper called Bitexco Financial Tower. The city is rich in history and sites to see, making it a great place to visit.
12. Exploring the Cu Chi Tunnels
Located just outside of HCMC, the Chu Chi tunnels are something unique to visit while you’re in Vietnam. You’ll be able to take a walk and find out how these tunnels were used in the war.
13. Visit the My Son Ruins
Still doubtful about where to go in Vietnam? A trip to the UNESCO World Heritage Site, My Son, is something that should be on your list of things you must do. There are more than 70 temples at this site, and a tour guide will help you visit the ones that are in the best condition.
14. Go Cave Exploring
Did you know that Vietnam is home to the world’s largest cave? That’s right! Hang Son Doong is so tall that it can fit a 40-floor skyscraper. Going cave exploring in this massive cave is quite expensive, but those who have done it say it’s worth every penny. If you don’t have a few thousand dollars to spend to explore this massive cave, don’t worry. Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park is home to many other incredible caves that you can visit for a fraction of the cost.
15. Try the Local Beer
If you are thinking of what to see in Vietnam – it has plenty of options to offer. However, it also has lots to taste. Vietnamese “bia hoi” or fresh beer is something you must try on your trip. This beer is made without any preservatives, and it must be enjoyed within one day otherwise it will go bad. It’s a light, refreshing lager beer with only 3.5% alcohol. It’s typically served alongside fermented pork sausage. It’s a unique and tasty experience.
16. Get Exploring!
The activities explained here are just a few things of what Vietnam has to offer. However, these ideas will hopefully help you get started planning your trip and ensure that you don’t miss out on enjoying some of the top activities in Vietnam.
Well, what did you think about this list of things to do in Vietnam? We hope you found it helpful and inspiring! Got any feedback, travel tips, questions, or other Vietnam things to do? Let us know in the comment area below, and thanks for reading!