Things to Do In Vietnam

Experiences

When looking for things to do in Vietnam, you are bound to fall short of time. Plenty of natural and historical attractions will keep you engaged on your feet with thriving local markets selling excellent street food and brimming with souvenirs to check your bargaining skills. For adventure enthusiasts, activities such as kayaking, cycling, hiking, bungee jumping to name a few are quite popular. The caves in Vietnam are some of the most well known in the world and offer exuberant experiences for veterans and first-timers alike. For those looking for a more laid back experience, Vietnam also offers luxurious cruises and private resorts.

Here is the list of 10 Things to Do In Vietnam

1. Exploring Phong Nha Caves

Exploring Phong Nha Caves

This is a UNESCO World heritage site for nothing because it is the biggest cave in the world, so big that a whole jungle grows inside of it. The cave’s name meaning ‘Wind and Teeth’ is inspired from the stalagmites which guarded the entrance of this mighty cave. It also has an underground river, a lake and water grottos. The view is so spectacular that it would leave one in awe of the marvel that is nature!

Only one tour company Oxalis offers a four day getaway to explore this cave, they also have smaller trekking sessions to smaller caves in the same area. Their Son Doong expedition costs VND 69,800,000 per person.

2. Shopping in Hoi An

Shopping in Hoi An

Traditional apparel, jewellery, handicrafts, paintings, shoes - you name it and you can find it in Hoi An! All at a very affordable price without compromising on the quality of the product. Hoi An is also known for its quality tailoring services so you can have your clothes custom-made. The central market in Hoi An is the hub for buying and selling fresh produce and foodstuff. All the shops are pedestrian friendly, so you can spend your evening strolling and shopping for all the memorabilia you’ll need to treasure your Vietnam trip. One can also find charity organizations whose proceeds go to helping impoverished Vietnamese families.

When in Vietnam, do make it a point to buy a Non La (the conic hat unique to Vietnam) that costs as little as VND 25,000! Other accessories you buy cost anything between VND 80,000 to VND 68,00,000.

3. Cruising in Halong Bay

Cruising in Halong Bay

Yet another World Heritage site, Halong bay is a treat to the eyes! It has diverse landscapes ranging from picturesque sandy beaches, islands, ancient lime karsts and islets contrasting with the scenic emerald green waters. With too many tourists visiting, Halong bay, the Vietnamese government is taking strict measures to preserve its serenity.

Options to explore this north-eastern Vietnam’s marvel include cruises ranging from a few hours to 4 days and kayaking as well. The best time to visit Halong Bay is during the months of April, May, October and November. The cruises cost anywhere between VND 5,80,000 and 70,00,000.

4. Gorge on Vietnamese Street food

Gorge on Vietnamese Street food

The Vietnamese cuisine is famous in South east Asia and contrary to popular belief is distinct from other oriental cuisines. Vietnamese cuisine is filled with herbs such as coriander, spearmint, basil, betel leaf, etc. French influences on the cuisine are evident from the use of baguettes and pastries. Must try street food dishes include but are not limited to the famous Banh Mi, Nem Ran, Banh Bao banh Vac (aka white rose) and the Dalat Pizza.

There are curated street food tours in Hoi An city. Further, one can find small roadside restaurants and mobile stalls with people doling out delicacies on the streets of cities from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City. The food is light on the pocket as well as they range between VND 20,000 and 35,000.

5. Visit the War Remnants Museum

Visit the War Remnants Museum

Situated in District 3 of Ho Chi Minh City, the War Remnants Museum is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Vietnam. It has exhibits divided into numerous themed rooms. In its yard, one can see various helicopters, fighter flights, tanks and bombs. Unexploded bombs whose fuses have been removed are kept on display in one corner of the yard. Other exhibits in the museum include but are not limited to the tiger cages which were used by the South Vietnamese Government to imprison political prisoners, vivid photographs depicting the atrocities in the Vietnam War such as the effect of Agent Orange and the My Lai massacre and the French guillotine.

The Saigon War Remnants Museum is open on all days of the week 7:30 am to 12 pm and 1:30 pm to 5 pm. The entrance fee costs about VND 15,000. You can also stop by the souvenir shops to buy handmade souvenirs at reasonable prices.

6. Explore the Imperial City of Hue

Explore the Imperial City of Hue

The Hue Citadel was built by the founder of the Nyugen Dynasty, Gia Long. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Imperial City of Hue once consisted of 160 buildings, but only 10 major ones survived the test of time and the Vietnam War. One must visit this place for its magnificent architecture and beautiful gardens - for your instagramable pictures! The walled city houses temples, gardens, palaces, offices and residential buildings. In the middle of the citadel campus, is the Purple Forbidden City which was where the emperor and his confidantes lived and worked.

A full day guided tour of Hue City including the entrance fee and lunch costs about VND 23,00,000. One can also visit the tombs of the emperors by the Perfume River, the Thein Mu Pagoda or the Bunker Hill when visiting the Imperial City of Hue.

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7. Time travel through the Cu Chi tunnels

Time travel through the Cu Chi tunnels

A large intricate network of tunnels which is part of a much larger network of tunnels, the Cu Chi tunnels were the hiding spot and the operative location of the Viet Cong during the Vietnam War. It was also used to supply combatants with food, medicine and other supplies. The tunnels are now made safe for tourists by installing lights and they can enjoy a simple meal underground where the combatants must have had their meals long time ago. Above the ground, tourists can visit souvenir shops and a shooting range where you can use assault rifles like the AK-47 or the M16.

The entry fee to the Cu Chi Tunnels is VND 90,000. You will have to spend more if you wish to go to the shooting range.

8. Exploring the Mekong Delta

Exploring the Mekong Delta

The Mekong river gets its local name ‘The River of Nine Dragons’ because it is in this delta where the river branches into nine tributaries criss-crossing over low-lying lands before merging into the sea. Life revolves around the river here in the Delta. Neighbourhoods are connected more by streams than by roads. One can find fruit orchards, coconut candy factories on tiny islands, floating markets selling fresh produce and also a french colonial chapel amidst the floating market. The Delta also houses the Tram Chim National Park and the Tra Su Bird Sanctuary.

A guided tour of the Mekong Delta including a visit to the Vinh Trang Pagoda and lunch costs about VND 10,00,000.

9. Watch a Water Puppet Show

Watch a Water Puppet Show

A puppet show with the water as a stage, is something not everyone has heard of and it has rightly been recognized as an intangible cultural heritage by UNESCO. One can witness this rare art form only when in Vietnam. At the Golden Dragon Puppet Theatre in Ho Chi Minh City, dragons, fairies and other exotic characters come to life in a 4 square metre pool coupled with appropriate music and lighting effects. However, all spectators are left wondering the mystery behind the working of this exceptional art form.

Each puppet show lasts for about 50 minutes with three shows a day. While kids below the age of three are allowed free entry, adults must buy a ticket costing about VND 230,000 (VND 175,000 for the locals).

10. Ride the Reunification Express

Ride the Reunification Express

The phrase is used for any North-south Railway line connecting Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. It’s a 30-hour journey which gives a great view of the diverse landscapes of Vietnam, along with commemorating the reunification of North and South Vietnam. The train trip although time-consuming is still captivating as you travel through green paddy fields, small towns, the Train street in Hanoi and the Hai Van Pass, Danang. The train ride is sure to make you explore Vietnam more closely in addition to giving you a respite from the roads.

The ticket costs about VND 47,000 for the whole route. Kids below the age of 5 ride free, whereas tickets for kids between the age of 5 and 10 costs 75% of the adult ticket price.

So what is your favourite among the things to do in Vietnam? Let us know down in the comments below if we have missed out on any particular activity!!

This post was published by Ghanavi Umesh

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