The country of abundant emerald coastlines, pho soup and new discoveries to be made on every street, Vietnam has abundant opportunities for fun and adventure. But how can you make your trip even more memorable. Here are our insider tips of 10 of the best ways to have an original experience in Vietnam.
1. Become immersed in nature in Vietnam with a trip to one of the country’s national parks. Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park is home to one of the oldest karst mountains in the whole of Asia, approximately 400 million years old. It’s also possible to go zip lining in a cave and wading around in a natural mud bath.
2. Combine a visit to Ho Chi Minh City with a visit to Mui Ne on the coast, where it’s possible to go sandboarding in the dunes!
3. Forget organised group tours in Vietnam’s cities. Jump aboard a cyclo – the popular Vietnamese cycle taxis – to get involved in a typically Vietnamese pastime. Ask the driver to take you past some of their favourite places in the city – you’ll be sure to make discoveries other international visitors would never find.
4. Get out of the city when visiting Hoi An by visiting Bay Mau Coconut Village. With coconut forests bisected by waterways, go and explore in a traditional circular Vietnamese basket boat.
5. Vietnam is full of mountain passes that offer some of the most stunning views in the country. Spend some time travelling by road to soak this up. The Hai Van Pass is a particular favourite – hire a motorcycle to travel it to make the most of the experience.
6. When visiting Ninh Binh, take a meander out of town to visit Tam Coc, called ‘Halong Bay on land’ by some. A series of three caves or ‘grottoes’, visit them by traditional Vietnamese canoe.
7. Get stuck into local life and do as the Vietnamese do by travelling by long-distance train. Getting from A to B by night train is also a great way to maximise your time in each destination you visit, but the adventure is in the journey itself too.
8. Vietnamese culture celebrates many gods and local traditions in festivals, some of which you don’t hear about outside of the country. The Elephant Racing Festival in Dak Lak and the Le Mat Snake Festival make for two unforgettable experiences in Vietnam.
9. You’ll hear the name Ho Chi Minh in Vietnam a lot, but don’t let your experience of Vietnam’s former Prime Minister be in Ho Chi Minh City alone. While in Hanoi, visit Uncle Ho himself at the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum.
10. Don’t spend all your time in hotels when visiting Vietnam. The ultimate experience in Vietnam comes from homestays, where you can live with a local family and learn about their way of life.
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