Much has changed in Vietnam in the past few decades and it has become a tourist-friendly destination with huge droves of visitors coming here to enjoy the pristine beaches, the warm hospitality of the locals, the many interesting architectural wonders, verdant rice terraces and of course, the delicious Vietnamese food. There are plenty of things to do in Vietnam, so chances of getting bored are minimal. From sightseeing to visiting museums and soaking up the culture; despite its small size, Vietnam tourism has so much to offer and there’s quite a bit of ground to cover here.
Vietnam sightseeing takes you to the capital Hanoi and of course, the cultural capital – Ho Chi Minh City but there are plenty of other places to see and visit too. Nevertheless, it all depends on the time of the year you’re visiting as weather does tend to make a difference in certain areas. Before you book your holiday to Vietnam, check the SOTC website for offers and recommendations on Vietnam packages.
Here’s a list of some of the top things to do in Vietnam.
In the middle of the bustling capital city of Hanoi is the Old Quarter. One of the best things to do in Vietnam is to head here to see the narrow winding streets for yourself. This historic city is more than a thousand years old and today, it’s certainly a cultural hub of sorts, where artisans and craftsmen have set up their shops. The lanes are named after the different crafts that are sold there. You will be charmed by the barely-controlled chaos of the streets amidst the yellow buildings and the jostling crowds on the streets.
The caves in Phong Nha Ke Bang are one of the top Vietnam sightseeing spots. There’s a huge national park here and some of the world’s largest caves! These caverns stretch out for hundreds of kilometres and are fascinating to explore. The world’s largest cave Son Doong has sections that go up to 200 metres in height. It is also the home of the Paradise Cave which has some brilliant stalactites and stalagmites. Tour operators in Vietnam regularly organise hiking, mountain biking and various other expeditions.
This one’s a no-brainer. One of the best things to do in Vietnam is to enjoy the delicious food everywhere. Go crazy with the flavours and eat like a local. Grab a plastic stool and plonk it in front of the many street side stalls and give everything a go. Eat Pho, Banh Mi, Banh Xeo and of course the famed Bun Cha! The delicious flavours will stay with you for a long time. The best part of Vietnamese food is that it doesn’t make you feel stuffed. Ho Chi Minh City is considered to be the cultural culinary capital of Vietnam, so explore away and enjoy the many delights.
This traditional beverage is a favourite among the locals who find it to be refreshing and delicious. Called café da, it is made by using medium to coarse ground Vietnamese coffee beans in a special metal filter. When the filter releases the hot coffee fully into a cup which has condensed milk in it, it is poured into a glass full of ice quickly. Make sure you try it once and then you’ll want to try it every single day of your trip there!
The human spirit never ceases to amaze. One of the top Vietnam sightseeing places are the Cu Chi tunnels near Ho Chi Minh City where you can see the underground life of the Viet Cong soldiers. The tunnels are spread over 120 kms and it’s considered to be an iconic attraction. Visitors can follow the routes that the underground army followed although if you suffer from claustrophobia, you should definitely avoid taking the tour.
For an immersive cultural experience, visit the Hue Imperial City which has as many has hundreds of monuments from the 19th century. There’s the Forbidden Purple City, royal tombs, temples, museums, pagodas and so much more to see and experience. This is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and it hosts daily cultural performances spread across the day. If you are visiting Central Vietnam, you must visit Hue Imperial City.
The fishing village of Mui Ne in south Vietnam has two huge sand dunes which are a great attraction. The red and white sand dunes draw several visitors who come here to enjoy various sand activities like sledding or zooming on a quad bike. If you’re interested, there are also hot air balloon tours that go over the dunes.
Visiting Hoi An is certainly one of the best things to do in Vietnam. Often referred to as the Venice of Vietnam, this gorgeous city has an Ancient Town with canals that is really famous. The architecture here combines styles from different eras and there are numerous interesting places to see here. This historical town has wooden Chinese shophouses to beautiful Vietnamese tube houses. The Japanese covered bridge with the pagoda is one of the best things to see here. If you want to enjoy some seaside fun, head to An Bang, just outside the town which is serene and tranquil and offers a delightful break from the overwhelming tourists flocking in Hoi An.