Welcome to beautiful Vietnam, a country brimming with unique and unforgettable experiences! Whether you’re a nature lover, history enthusiast, or foodie, Vietnam has something to offer everyone. This is precisely what makes Vietnam tourism a year-round destination.
Get ready to embark on a remarkable journey as we explore the 22 best things to do in Vietnam.
Where to visit in Vietnam? What to see in Vietnam? From cruising through Halong Bay’s stunning limestone islands to immersing yourself in the vibrant markets of Hoi An, this list will guide you to the most incredible destinations and activities for a truly memorable vacation in Vietnam. Let’s begin this exciting adventure!
Explore the Spectacular Caves of Phong Nha
One of the most unique places to visit in Vietnam is Phong Nha, most famous for its system of caves and underground rivers, with some caves even including Cham altars originating from the 10th century! They are a part of Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, which is a Vietnamese UNESCO World Heritage Site in Quang Binh Province.
Phong Nha actually means “Wind and Teeth”. This is because of the stalagmites that stood at the cave’s entrance. Even though access to the larger caves is restricted, visitors can still explore a lot of the other caves ranging from tame to tremendous!
A famous Phong Nha cave is Son Doong, which is actually the world’s largest cave. Some of its stalagmites are around the same height as London’s Big Ben!
There’s also Tu Lan (where you can even swim), Hang Va and Nuoc Nut.
At Pygmy Cave, you can have fun abseiling and climbing.
Lastly, Phong Na Cave and Paradise Cave are both enjoyable half-day tours and those that are the most popular. Since these aren’t difficult to conquer, they are more than appropriate for children, too!
Take a Cruise in Halong Bay
Halong Bay (or Ha Long Bay) is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most popular Vietnamese tourist attractions, making it something that you absolutely must see in Vietnam.
What you’re going to want to do when you get there is take a cruise. There is no better way to enjoy the beauty of the Bay than taking a cruise trip. What this trip does is it even takes you to the most secluded parts of Halong Bay and provides you with everything you need to know about the local culture.
While you’re there, a nice Hạ Long Bay resort is Vinpearl Resort & Spa Ha Long.
While Halong Bay is beautiful year-round, the best time to visit is from October to April when the weather is cooler and more pleasant!
Experience the Mekong Delta
Sometimes referred to as the Western Region or Southwestern Region, the Mekong Delta is located in the Southwest of Vietnam. It is the area where the Mekong River comes close to the sea and spreads out into many smaller branches before finally reaching the ocean. It is a vast network of rivers, canals, and lush green fields. Here, you can witness the daily lives of the friendly locals, who rely on the delta for their livelihoods.
Take a boat tour along the Mekong River and cruise through the charming waterways. Ever heard of floating markets? Well, you can find them here! Buy fresh fruits, vegetables, and local handicrafts that vendors sell from their boats. Taste exotic fruits, savour traditional dishes, and indulge in the flavours of this fertile region.
Apart from the river, make sure to explore the villages on foot or by bicycle and interact with the warm-hearted locals. Visit coconut candy factories, rice paper workshops, and see how they make traditional products. Don’t miss the chance to listen to traditional folk music and witness captivating performances!
Discover the History of the Cu Chi Tunnels
Wondering where to go in Vietnam next? Welcome to the Cu Chi Tunnels, an incredible historical site that will take you back in time. Prepare to delve into the fascinating history of these underground passages!
Explore the tunnels and witness the ingenuity of the Vietnamese people. Crawl through the narrow passages and imagine what life was like for the brave soldiers who used them. Learn about their resilience, determination, and resourcefulness.
Experience the sights and sounds of war with the replica traps, weapons, and artefacts on display. Hear stories of survival and gain insights into the hardships faced during this tumultuous time.
A visit to the Cu Chi Tunnels is a powerful and educational journey that offers a glimpse into Vietnam’s history. Discover the resilience of the Vietnamese people and pay tribute to the past.
Wander the Ancient Streets of Hoi An
Step into the enchanting world of Hoi An, a captivating ancient town known for its well-preserved architecture and rich cultural heritage. Take a stroll through the narrow streets adorned with beautiful lanterns and traditional buildings. Admire the blend of Vietnamese, Chinese, and Japanese influences that make this town truly unique.
On your way through the town, discover the bustling local markets, where you can find handmade crafts, colourful textiles, and mouthwatering street food. Don’t miss the chance to try some delicious local specialities like Cao Lau and White Rose Dumplings!
There are also many ancient temples, pagodas, and historic houses to visit, and they all tell stories of Hoi An’s past. Immerse yourself in the local traditions and customs by joining a lantern-making workshop or even trying on traditional Vietnamese costumes, the ao dai! Out of all the things to see in Vietnam, Hoi An is one of travellers’ favourites!
Immerse Yourself in Vietnamese Culture
Vietnam is truly a country full of rich culture and its heritage. Therefore, if you’re a traveller, there’s a lot to explore and find out. This is especially true if you’re coming from a culture that differs greatly from the one prevalent in this country. That was the case for me, being a Croat and living in Croatia my whole life.
Obviously, you can immerse yourself in the culture of Vietnam by visiting various popular Vietnam sights and temples but I have a couple of other suggestions for you, too. Let me start by saying that a little Vietnamese goes a long way. Make an effort to learn a few basic phrases in the language and watch as smiles light up the locals’ faces.
Another thing I’d recommend you do is attend traditional music performances if there are any, or watch captivating folk dances! One of the classic Vietnam things to do is participate in the folk dances. Join in on the local festivals and celebrations to truly feel the heartbeat of Vietnam.
Embark on a Motorbike Adventure
If you’re of adventurous spirit, you’ll really like what I’m about to tell you next! Motorbikes are a popular mode of transportation in Vietnam, and also the mode many visitors opt for to enjoy and take in the breathtaking Vietnam scenery at their own pace.
Ride along winding coastal roads, passing by pristine beaches and charming fishing villages. Traverse the majestic Vietnam mountains of the north, where terraced rice fields and ethnic minority villages await. Cruise through bustling Vietnam cities and witness the vibrant energy of daily life.
Embarking on a motorbike adventure in Vietnam is a thrilling way to discover the country’s hidden gems and create unforgettable memories. So strap on your helmet and feel the wind in your hair as you explore the stunning landscapes of this captivating country!
Relax on Vietnam’s Stunning Beaches
In Vietnam, you can find some of the most stunning beaches of all Southeast Asia! Vietnam boasts a coastline dotted with pristine beaches and crystal-clear waters. Whether you’re seeking a tranquil escape or thrilling water sports, there’s a beach for everyone.
Sink your toes into the soft sands of Nha Trang, a popular coastal destination with its palm-fringed beaches and vibrant underwater world. Or go to Con Dao, an island paradise where you can also stay at Six Senses Con Dao, or Tan Son Nhat Con Dao Resort (if you want to opt for cheaper accommodation).
Or head to Phu Quoc, an idyllic island paradise, and bask in the sun while gazing at the turquoise sea. If you need a place to stay, you can do so at Long Beach Resort Phu Quoc.
Another island paradise, Cat Co, offers Flamingo Cat Ba Beach Resort, a Cat Ba resort that features accommodation with a terrace, restaurant, free private parking, and a fitness centre!
For a mix of relaxation and adventure, visit Da Nang’s renowned beaches like My Khe and Non Nuoc. Enjoy the gentle waves and indulge in thrilling water activities like surfing or jet skiing.
Keep in mind that tourism in Vietnam is at its peak from July to September so take that into account when planning your trip.
So grab your sunscreen, a good book, and get ready to unwind on Vietnam’s stunning beaches!
Trek through Sapa’s Scenic Landscapes
Wanna move from the beaches to the mountains? Welcome to Sapa, a picturesque mountain town in the group of Vietnamese landmarks. With breathtaking landscapes and incredible trekking adventures, another one of the activities in Vietnam is lacing up your hiking boots and getting ready for an unforgettable journey through nature!
Sapa is nestled in the Hoang Lien Son mountain range, known for its stunning rice terraces, lush valleys, and cascading waterfalls. Embark on a trekking expedition and be rewarded with panoramic views of the surrounding beauty.
Immerse yourself in the local culture by visiting ethnic minority villages, such as the Hmong or Dao communities. If you’d like to stop for a meal or drink, I’d suggest Aliana Sapa Restaurant & Bar.
Marvel at the vibrant green rice fields that blanket the hillsides and change with the seasons.
If you’re into photography, this is the perfect opportunity to capture the beauty of nature with your camera as you explore hidden trails and discover hidden gems along the way.
Soak in the fresh mountain air, embrace the serenity, and let the beauty of this region leave an indelible mark on your heart.
Visit Historic Pagodas and Temples
Vietnam is home to many temples and pagodas (or Chua) that dot the environment. Although both are Buddhist places of worship, pagodas aren’t meant strictly for people belonging to the religion.
From the iconic One Pillar Pagoda in Hanoi to the Tran Quoc Pagoda in Hanoi, immerse yourself in the gorgeous atmosphere and architecture.
You should keep in mind, though, to dress conservatively and to take your shoes off if it’s required. The best time to check out the pagodas is in the morning, as that’s when they’re not busy yet.
Discover the spiritual heritage of Vietnam as you check out its famous pagodas. These include the Perfume Pagoda near Hanoi or the Temple of Literature, dedicated to Confucius. Take a moment to admire the intricate carvings, vibrant colours, and ornate decorations that adorn these sacred Vietnam sites.
Engage with Buddhist monks and learn about their way of life by visiting Vietnamese pagodas!
Indulge in Vietnamese Street Food
Who doesn’t enjoy a bit of street food here and there? Well, in Vietnam, you can get all kinds of delicious local food while out strolling the streets.
You might have heard of their most iconic meal – Pho, which is a rice noodle soup. Other famous street foods include Banh mi (Vietnamese sandwich), Banh trang tron (rice paper salad), Cao lau (Hoi An noodles), Goi cuon and Cha gio (spring rolls).
Have you ever tried sea snails? If not, now you can! Oc is a popular snack in Vietnam that you can find in Ho Chi Minh City. Stroll along Dong Khoi Street and look around for exotic snacks!
If you’re looking for something sweet rather than salty, look no further than Che – a Vietnamese sweet dessert. They are found in different forms (pudding, drink, soup) and flavours (coconut milk, sweetened beans, fruits, etc.).
Follow your senses, get the true Vietnam experience, and let the flavours of Vietnamese street food leave you craving for more!
Explore the Imperial City of Hue
For another Vietnam sightseeing treat, visit the Imperial City of Hue. Also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Hue was once the capital of Vietnam. Its Imperial City showcases the grandeur of the famous Nguyen Dynasty.
Discover the ancient citadel, with its majestic gates, royal palaces, and ornate temples. Visit the Thien Mu Pagoda, an iconic symbol of Hue, and learn about its fascinating legends.
Vacations in Vietnam are also very popular here as there are also many luxurious resorts such as Vedana Lagoon Resort & Spa, or Pilgrimage Village Boutique Resort & Spa.
Explore the royal tombs scattered around the Vietnam city. Each has its unique architectural style and tranquil surroundings.
Take a cyclo ride through the streets of Hue and immerse yourself in the local culture.
Sample Hue’s renowned cuisine, known for its delicate flavours and royal influences.
Hue’s Imperial City offers a captivating glimpse into Vietnam’s royal past. Let the history come alive as you explore this treasure and create memories to keep forever.
Marvel at Da Nang’s Natural Wonders
Welcome to Da Nang (or Danang), a city that boasts breathtaking natural wonders. Get ready to be amazed by the beauty that surrounds you! Da Nang is blessed with stunning landscapes that will simply leave you in awe.
Visit the Marble Mountains, a cluster of limestone hills, and discover hidden caves and ancient pagodas nestled within them. Climb to the top for panoramic views of the city and the sparkling coastline.
I already mentioned My Khe and Non Nuoc, Da Nang’s pristine beaches!
Don’t miss the majestic Son Tra Peninsula, home to the famous Linh Ung Pagoda and the iconic Lady Buddha statue. Enjoy the cool mountain air and soak in the peaceful atmosphere as you gaze at the breathtaking views of the city and the sea.
As you explore Da Nang’s natural wonders, best believe they will leave you spellbound!
Stay in a Traditional Homestay
In Vietnam, you have the opportunity to stay in a traditional homestay. This allows you to experience the best of Vietnam – warm hospitality and local culture. It also allows you to immerse yourself in the everyday life of Vietnamese locals.
Stay in a traditional house, typically located in a rural village, and enjoy the simple comforts and charm of the countryside. You will have the opportunity to interact with your welcoming hosts and learn about their customs and traditions.
Share meals together, where you can taste homemade Vietnamese dishes bursting with flavours. Engage in cultural activities like cooking classes, traditional crafts, or even farming!
Wake up to the sounds of nature and take in the peaceful surroundings. Explore the surrounding areas, go on village walks, or join local festivities to truly connect with the community.
What I can tell you is that staying in a traditional homestay in Vietnam offers a unique opportunity to create meaningful connections and gain insights into the local way of life.
Learn about the Vietnam War History
The Vietnam War is only a part of the significant history of Vietnam. Nonetheless, it is something that should be learned about and that you can further explore if you decide to visit Vietnam.
The Vietnam War was a conflict that took place from 1955 to 1975. As you can probably only begin to imagine, it had a profound impact on the country and its people.
While there, you can explore various historical sites and museums to gain a deeper understanding of this period. I recommend visiting the War Remnants Museum, one of the most famous museums in Ho Chi Minh City. There, you can see exhibits showcasing the war’s effects on the Vietnamese people. Another popular activity is exploring the Cu Chi Tunnels that I already mentioned.
Learn about the historical significance of places like the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) in central Vietnam, which was a heavily contested area during the war.
You can even engage with locals who may share their personal stories and experiences from this time!
It’s all an opportunity to reflect on the past and really appreciate the resilience of the Vietnamese people.
Explore the Vibrant Markets of Vietnam
Vietnam’s markets really are a vibrant tapestry of colours, aromas, and lively activity. From the iconic floating markets of the Mekong Delta to the bustling street markets of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, there’s a market for everyone.
Wander through the narrow alleys and let your senses guide you. You’ll be mesmerised by the vibrant displays of fresh fruits, aromatic herbs, and exotic spices. Take your time bargaining with friendly vendors for unique souvenirs, traditional handicrafts, and stylish clothing.
Immerse yourself in the local culture as you witness the lively exchanges between vendors and shoppers. By doing so, you have the opportunity to observe the daily rhythm of Vietnamese life and embrace the vibrant energy of the markets.
Exploring the vibrant markets of Vietnam is an adventure in itself. So grab your shopping bag and get ready to haggle, taste, and immerse yourself in the lively atmosphere of these captivating marketplaces!
Try Exciting Watersports and Activities
If you’re wondering what to do in Vietnam next, try another one of the fun things to do in Vietnam – exploring the vibrant underwater world of Vietnam by snorkelling or scuba diving in its crystal-clear waters. You can discover colourful coral reefs and swim alongside tropical fish, immersing yourself in a mesmerizing marine paradise.
For an adrenaline rush, try jet skiing or banana boating! Surfing enthusiasts can catch some waves at popular surf spots along Vietnam’s coastline, and there are many. Mui Ne, Da Nang, and Nha Trang are only a few of them.
If you prefer a more relaxed experience, hop on a kayak or paddleboard and explore calm bays and scenic coastlines, taking in the breathtaking views as you paddle along.
For a unique adventure, go kiteboarding or windsurfing and harness the power of the wind as you glide across the water’s surface.
Take a Boat Trip in the Beautiful Ninh Binh
This UNESCO-protected site is an oasis for nature lovers. Ninh Binh, the perfect Vietnam vacation, is a city where Vietnam’s first capital was established and a destination known for its magical riverine landscape.
Since you can access some of the best Vietnamese scenery only by boat, your best bet is taking a sampan tour in Trang An or Tam Coc. In case you didn’t know, a sampan is a small, low-cost boat that is often used in Southeast Asia.
In Ninh Binh, you can have your own boatman or woman paddle you along Ninh Binh’s current. A great feature of the boat rides is that they also stop at temples and pass underneath grottoes that are along the way.
Each tour lasts anywhere from 2 to 3 hours, so make sure to pack water and some snacks for when you go.
Enjoy Rooftop Views in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City
Not afraid of heights? Me neither. That’s why, when I visited Hanoi, I had to check out its famous rooftop bars!
If you’d like to do the same, go check out Terraco Sky Bar. It’s a rooftop bar located above Hanoi’s Old Quarter (one of the most famous landmarks in Vietnam) and the one that I went to. It is a bit on the pricier side but it does offer gorgeous panoramic 360° views over the city. You can get anything in the range from cocktails inspired by Hanoi’s heritage to beers and something to bite. Honourable mentions include Lighthouse Sky Bar, Moonlight Sky Bar, and Top of Hanoi.
If you find yourself in Ho Chi Minh City, that means that you’re in another city famous for its rooftop views! I’d recommend trying out Le Café des Stagiaires – Saigon, Zion Sky Lounge & Dining or Social Club Rooftop Bar for unforgettable rooftop views.
Discover the Charm of Phu Quoc Island
It’s for a reason that Phu Quoc Island is also called “Pearl Island”. If you’re wondering why, it is because of its famous white sand beaches, making it one of the best places to visit in Vietnam.
What’s also remarkable about the island are the conservation efforts taking place there and also the fact that more than half of the island is protected by a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. If you’re wondering how to discover the charm of the island, here’s how.
Explore the island’s lush jungles and discover its diverse wildlife. Trek through national parks like Phu Quoc National Park or visit the Suoi Tranh Waterfall for a refreshing dip in its cool cascades.
Indulge your taste buds in the local delicacies, especially the famous Phu Quoc fish sauce. Visit the island’s night markets and savour fresh seafood dishes bursting with flavours.
Make sure to check out Grand World Phu Quoc which has gained a lot of popularity due to its unique architecture and a great number of activities available at any time of the day.
If you need a place to stay, I recommend Coral Bay Resort Phu Quoc which is very close to Long Beach!
At last, don’t miss the opportunity to experience a mesmerising sunset on the beach, painting the sky with vibrant hues!
Learn to Cook Authentic Vietnamese Cuisine
If simply enjoying Vietnamese food isn’t enough for you, let me suggest something that requires additional steps. In several locations in Vietnam, you have the opportunity to learn how to cook authentic Vietnamese cuisine by yourself!
Another thing I did while I was in Ho Chi Minh City is exactly that. I attended Saigon Cooking Classes, an amazing cooking class where you get to prepare and enjoy 3 dishes.
You also get all the recipes to bring back home! Let me tell you, I ate some good food there and learned something that I can now always replicate at home.
Some of the other options for cooking classes in Vietnam are Royal Cooking Class in Hue, Van’s Kitchen in Da Nang, and GIOAN Cookery in Hoi An.
Take a Scenic Train Ride through Vietnam
In Vietnam, you have the option to see and enjoy its beauty from the comfort of a scenic train ride. Hop aboard the train and relax as you traverse the countryside, passing by lush rice fields, rolling hills, and stunning coastlines.
As the train chugs along, you’ll have the opportunity to observe local life and witness the daily activities of Vietnamese communities.
Whether you’re travelling from north to south or vice versa, the train ride offers a unique perspective of Vietnam’s diverse regions. Sit back, unwind, and let the rhythmic motion of the train carry you through this fascinating country!
Remember to pack snacks, bring a book, or simply enjoy the company of fellow travellers during the journey.
The scenic train ride is not only a mode of transportation but an experience in itself, allowing you to connect with the beauty and authenticity of Vietnam’s landscapes.