22 amazing things to do in Vietnam

Vietnam is just 8 to 12 hours flying time from Australia and offers rich experiences you can’t get anywhere else. Here are 22 amazing things to do if you’re lucky enough to travel there.

By Citro

Australia is 23 times larger than Vietnam, but this south-east Asian country that borders Laos and Cambodia offers an abundance of great travel experiences.

1. For something different, try a traditional homestay in a rural village to connect with local cultures, food and ethnic traditions.

2. Cruise through the stunning limestone karsts and caves of Halong Bay.

Ha Long bay has an abundance of islands and islets and amazing limestone geography. Approximately 1600 people live in four floating fishing villages in the bay: Cua Van, Ba Hang, Cong Tau and Vung Vieng – this means that the majority of the 2000 islands that make up Halong Bay are uninhabited.

3. Discover the historic architecture and French colonial charm of Hanoi's Old French Quarter.

The French colonised Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos, creating distinctive architecture and sharing some of the culinary traditions (It’s why the banh mi and the baguette are so similar).

4. Take a leisurely cyclo ride through the bustling streets of Ho Chi Minh City.

Negotiate the price before you get in a cyclo to avoid any scams or misunderstandings - tips are not mandatory but always appreciated.

5. Visit the serene Perfume Pagoda complex near Hanoi, a sacred Buddhist site.

6. Relax and rejuvenate with a traditional Vietnamese massage or spa treatment.

7. Attend a traditional water puppet show in Hanoi for a unique cultural experience.

Water puppetry is a folk art that once celebrated the end of the rice harvest but has now been elevated to a cultural tradition/ The puppets float on water and are made from fig wood, with the puppeteers using the movement of the water to create drama and illusion. 

8. Sample authentic Vietnamese cuisine on a street food tour in Hoi An or any of Vietnam’s other foodie cities - everything is delicious.

9. Explore the Cu Chi Tunnels near Ho Chi Minh City, a fascinating relic of the Vietnam War.

The Cu Chi tunnels were dug by the Viet Cong soldiers to move undetected during the Vietnam war. A range of tours are on offer, so if you’re claustrophobic, you don’t have to venture in.   

10. Visit the UNESCO-listed streets of Hoi An to wander its lantern-lit streets.

11. Take a scenic boat ride along the Mekong Delta or be adventurous and try a cycling trip to experience local life along the river.

The Mekong River has different names and various meanings. The Vietnamese call it Vietnamese call it “Cuu Long” which means “new dragons”. It is the 7th longest river in Asia, with the Chinese calling it “Lancang Jiang” which means “turbulent river”. Thai and Lao people call it “Mae Nam Kong” which means “mother water”.

12. Join a cooking class or food tour to learn how to make traditional Vietnamese dishes.

13. Explore the vibrant local markets filled with fresh produce and local handicrafts.

Ho Chi Minh City Hall is worth a look.

14. Visit the Imperial City of Hue and marvel at its ancient temples and palaces.

15. Relax on the beautiful beaches of Nha Trang or Phu Quoc Island.

The coastal resorts of Nha Trang are modern and beautiful

16. Take a cycling tour through the picturesque rice paddies of the countryside.

17. Visit the War Remnants Museum in Ho Chi Minh City for a sobering look at Vietnam's history.

Vietnam has an abundance of museums, like the War Remnants Musem, which showcases the devastating impact of napalm, Agent Orange and the many conflicts the country has experienced.  

18. Explore the stunning terraced rice fields of Sapa and meet local ethnic minority tribes on tours that take the road less travelled.

Sapa is home to 5 ethnic minorities whose unique culture has been able to flourish in the idyllic, mountainous region, popular with trekkers. It’s an area full of secrets and traditions.

19. Enjoy a scenic train journey through the lush landscapes of Vietnam.

20. Visit the ancient Cham ruins of My Son near Hoi An for a glimpse into Vietnam's past.

Today, the Cham people are spread throughout Southeast Asia in Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, and Malaysia. Binh Dinh Province is home to the biggest and best preserved Cham towers in the region, and it still has 14 of the original towers built between the 11th and 15th century.

21. Take a hot air balloon ride to see the unique landscapes of Vietnam for a unique perspective.

22. Head to Mui Ne, another stunning coastal area where you can try sandboarding on the red or white dunes. You rent a plastic board while you are there and feel like you’re in the desert, even though you are right near the beach.

The sand dunes near Mui Ne are an out of this world experience that offer ‘dune bashing’ for people who want to slide around the sandhills, take photos or try sandboarding (like snowboarding, but less wet).
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