Things To Do In Vietnam

Explore our favorite activities in Halong Bay and the vibrant cities of Hoi An, Hue, Ho Chi Minh City, and the rural north.

Light a lantern in Hoi An

The Lantern Festival is held every Tet, the Vietnamese New Year. Hoi An transforms into a kaleidoscope with color and light. The Lantern Festival lasts seven days. The road between Hoi An Bridge and the Hoai River Square is decorated with thousands of lanterns.

The event is attended by over 50 workshops, all of which are competing to produce the prettiest lantern. The designs and colors are traditional.

In the old town between the Japanese Covered Bridge () and the Cau An Hoi Bridge, the heart of the celebrations is located. The atmosphere is chaotic, crowded, and festive, with food stalls and spontaneous singing at every corner. Locals and visitors alike enjoy the festival.

Rent a sampan to see the lanterns up close. You can also buy a lantern for a few dollars and have it set afloat.

You don’t have to worry if you are unable to make it to Hoi An during the New Year. Smaller lantern festivals take place every full moon.

Halong Bay is not the only spectacular bay in Halong Bay

Halong Bay, with its 1,600 limestone towers that rise from the turquoise waters of the bay, is one of Vietnam’s best-known tourist attractions. It’s on everyone’s bucket list, and hundreds of cruise boats offer trips each day. Although the bay is large, it can feel crowded.

Bai Tu Long Bay is just a few kilometers away and offers the same breathtaking scenery but with a fraction of the visitors. You can enjoy the uncrowded beaches and caves, as well as a delicious seafood meal.

Bai Tu Long Bay boat trips leave the same crowded dock in Halong City as those to Halong Bay. You’ll then head in the opposite directions, where the islands will be a bit smaller, and more spread out but still look like the ones in Halong Bay.

Cat Ba Island Hike

Cat Ba Island is a must-see. Lan Ha Bay, a stunning bay nearby, is an excellent alternative to Halong.

It’s USP? The hiking, says Wanderlust’s Rosie Fitzgerald. The vast rainforest of the national park is a great place to trek. Lookout Tower Trail, a popular hike that is relatively easy, is one of the most popular. You can walk up for about an hour until you reach a rusted shelter. From there, you can see how untouched Cat Ba is.

You can go a bit higher to the Ngu Lam Peak. The jagged green mountains blur into the distance.

If you’re looking for a more challenging trail, hire a guide to take on the 18km Cang Viet Ha Trail. This undulating, 18km long course requires good fitness. Be prepared to scramble up steep, slippery paths as well as over thick knots that block the way.

Cruise the Mekong Delta

After traveling over 4,000km to the Tibetan Himalayas, the Mekong reaches Vietnam, where it slows down and takes on a more relaxed pace. The river is a lazy one, with islands, rice paddies sti, stilted villages, and a lifestyle that hasn’t altered in centuries.

You can achieve this by hopping on a cargo vessel. Find a shady place to hang your hammock, and watch as your boat plows through the brown river, loaded with rice and fruit sacks.

Take one of many commercial cruises that ply the river. A cruise along the river from Cai Be up to Can Tho offers a unique way to spend a night. The Mang Thit River, which connects the Tien Giang to Bassac systems in the south, becomes narrower as you move along. You can see the stilted houses on the riverbank.

Phong Nha National Park is home to the largest Cave in the world

Quang Binh is a region of dense jungle that’s hard to penetrate in the middle of Vietnam, near Laos. This area has hundreds of deep caverns, including the largest Cave in the world: Hang Son Doong. There is a cave so large that a skyscraper can fit in it.

Phong Nha, a small town in the region, is the epicenter of caving adventures. Its eponymous Cave is another UNESCO-listed wonder that’s well worth exploring. You can rent both the equipment and guides you need to explore the caves.

Trekking is another popular activity in the area if going underground is not for you. There are many waterfalls in the surrounding jungle, as well as a large population of flying foxes and monkeys.

Buon Ma Thuot is the heartland of coffee production

Buon Ma Thot is the capital of the central highlands in Vietnam. It’s a beautiful area with thundering waterfalls and traditional villages of local Ede. Watch out for the stilted buildings that are reached via a ladder and which have breast carvings. These structures are only for women to use in this fiercely patriarchal region.

Buon Ma Thuot, Vietnam’s coffee capital, is located in the city. Trung Nguyen is the biggest player in this area, and you can’t find their logo on any paddy field or industrial park.

There are many coffee-related attractions in the city. The World Coffee Museum is open all year round for visitors to learn more about the coffee industry in both the United States and around the globe. During the Coffee Festival in March 2023, various coffee shops will offer freebies as a way to celebrate local products.

While you’re in Indonesia, you’re likely to encounter ‘weasel coffee,’ also called kopi-luwak or civet, which some claim is the best coffee in the world. Even though many people love its taste, recent investigations found unethical practices in coffee farms throughout the region.

Top Tip: “If you are unable to visit the coffee heartland in Vietnam, make sure you try a Vietnamese Egg Coffee while you’re there,” says Wanderlust executive director Jackie Scully. I loved the Note Coffee House right next to the main lake of the capital. It was covered in inspirational post-its left by travelers around the world. This was more than a caffeine boost.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *