Considered one of the main attractions in Southeast Asia. Vietnam offers an incredible variety of natural beauty, cultural gems, and historical significance (and it doesn’t hurt that it’s kind of a South African wallet). It’s easy to see why anyone would fall in love with Vietnam.
While there are plenty of reasons to visit this tropical heaven, we’ve spotlighted a few of our favorites below:
If food is your thing then you can’t go wrong with Vietnam. Often thought to have the best food of all the Southeast Asian countries (no offense, Thai food), Vietnam has everything, from fine dining restaurants to delicious and ridiculously affordable street food. The latter is also an incredible cultural experience in the country. You do need to be smart (you don’t want to spend your trip looking green), there are some real treats.
Delicacies include Pho, a staple consisting of a salty broth, rice noodles, herbs, and chicken or beef; Banh Xeo, giant savory pancakes that literally translate to ‘sizzling cake’ because of the way they are cooked; and Chè Chuối, banana with sago and coconut milk sweet soup.
Coffee lovers won’t be disappointed either – Vietnamese coffee is widely regarded as some of the best in the world and is often served with condensed milk – yum!
Traditional Vietnamese water puppet shows
These shows are among the most popular cultural experiences in Vietnam. Originating in the rice paddies of the Red River Delta in North Vietnam, the shows celebrate the culture, traditions, and folklore of Vietnam. Spectators will see puppets acting on a ‘stage’ of water, accompanied by live music played on authentic instruments.
Catch a tan and show off that summer body by visiting some of the extremely popular and beautiful local beaches. Vietnam has over 3000 km of stunning coastline, with white, powdery sand, tropical islands, and countless coves and lagoons.
A few favorites include Nha Trang Beach, Mui Ne Beach, and Doc Let Beach, but you’ll need to do some research depending on where you are traveling. Swimming and tanning are the obvious favorites, but you can also look forward to kayaking, snorkeling, scuba diving, and gorgeous sunset cruises.
Beloved for its emerald waters and towering limestone islands, Halong Bay is one of the premier tourist locations in Vietnam. Located in the northeast, the region is a World Heritage Site. Boat tours and kayak expeditions are popular ways to explore, and the area is perfect for scuba diving, rock climbing, and hiking.
While there are thousands of gorgeous and cavernous caves to visit on tours, The Tu Lan cave system is one of the ultimate caving destinations in Vietnam and globally.
Made up of twenty caves, the Tu Lan cave system spans 20 km, and exploring them involves swimming through subterranean river caves, so it’s not for the faint-hearted. Tu Lan has been used as the film set for the Hollywood film Kong – Skull Island (2017), and tours can last up to a few days if you like.
Other options include Dau Go cave on Driftwood Island in Halong Bay, Thien Cung cave in Ha Long-Quang Ninh, and Huong Tich cave in Perfume pagoda-Ha Noi.
See something beautiful and learn about culture and religion by visiting Vietnam’s many temples, some of them ancient. Options include The Temple of Literature built in 1070, later becoming Vietnam’s first university; Tran Quoc Pagoda, one of the oldest pagodas in the whole of Vietnam and a favorite among kings and royal families for festivals and full moons; and Ngoc Son Temple, built on Ngoc Son Islet, located in the Hoan Kiem Lake.
Exploring Vietnam on a scooter
If you want to explore the country like a local, rent a scooter. Vietnam is known for its hundreds of scooters zooming around the cities and the countryside (though driving in the more urban areas is not for the faint-hearted or those with slow reaction times).
Have something tailor-made in Hoi An
Hoi An is essentially the tailoring capital of not just Vietnam, but Southeast Asia in general. Don’t spend money on another novelty fridge magnet, treat yourself to a gorgeous custom outfit that you can cherish forever. Suits, dresses, t-shirts, shoes, you can have it all! There are literally hundreds of shops to choose from.
First time traveling to Vietnam? Here are our travel tips:
1. Be prepared for crazy weather
Vietnam can have some pretty unpredictable weather, so if it’s chilly in Ha Noi, it might be boiling hot in Ho Chi Minh City. While this is all very season-dependent, you should pack some warmer clothes along with your shorts for the more humid days. Also, pack a rain jacket or two; a sudden downpour can ruin your day (and your shoes).
2. Get ready to haggle
Haggling is extremely common in Vietnam and will probably be one of the more memorable parts of your trip. While you shouldn’t be afraid to engage, there are some rules. Not every price is negotiable. Most legitimate taxi companies and restaurants won’t be friends if you try to haggle with them. Generally speaking, you should save your haggling for market scenarios and items without price tags.
3. Dress appropriately
While you don’t have to dress too conservatively in Vietnam, remember that some situations require more modesty than others. i.e. don’t wear your bikini to a religious temple.
4. Avoid tap water!
Generally speaking, it’s probably best to avoid drinking the local tap water. Stick to bottled water for drinking, brushing teeth, and rinsing fresh food. If you run out of bottled water, you can boil the tap water with an electric kettle.
Please note: that all the above deals were available and accurate at the time of publication.