1. Try Pho and Banh Mi.
Vietnamese cuisine is definitely one of the best ones out there. There’re countless amount of dishes to try but these two are a definition of Vietnamese flavours.
Famous Pho is made from clear, aromatic broth, thick rice noodles, herbs and meat. Usually it’s thin sliced beef (Pho Bo) or chicken (Pho Ga). You can get it in restaurants but I recommend to try it from street vendors, as originally Pho meant to be a street food.
Banh Mi is the Vietnamese word for bread. It also refers to a type of baguette. It’s split lengthwise and filled with savoury ingredients like fried egg, sliced meat, cucumber, pickled carrots, daikon, coriander leaf and variety of sauces. Very popular for breakfast or snack, can be found anywhere in street vendors.
If you decide to do a road trip by motorbike, these two will become your everyday meal! 😀
2. Go kayaking in Halong Bay.
Halong Bay is the natural wonder and UNESCO site filled with 1600 limestone islands. It’s one of the most popular spots in Vietnam and very often crowded with boats but this doesn’t take away it’s beauty. Most of boat tours are offering kayaking and that’s something I definitely recommend. You can explore and enjoy the breathtaking view on your own, far away from crowds. Just paddle away!
3. Explore Cat Ba Island.
Cat Ba is the largest island in Halong Bay. The beaches are stunning so it’s a great place to relax and have the time of your life. But the sand and the sea are not everything that’s beautiful in there. Incredible view is the best thing that Cat Ba has to offer. To see it for yourself, climb Ngu Lam Peak in National Park and admire green and untouched mountains. Looks pristine, doesn’t it?
4. Visit Mekong Delta.
One of the most beautiful places in Vietnam is being called “a rice bowl” of the country. More than half of Vietnam’s fish and rice comes from here and all the life revolves around water. You’ll get the best experience by taking the boat tour as you’ll be the part of the famous floating market. The boat will take you there through one of the many canals surrounded by palm trees, rice paddies and tall sugarcane. You’ll get to see floating villages, boats filled with fruits and flowers as well as cafes and take away restaurants. This is huge market in it’s pure form, filled with noisy boats and people balancing on them while exchanging goods. If that’s not what you imagine when you think of Vietnam, than I don’t know what is.
5. Visit Vinh Moc tunnels.
Vietnam’s war history is a major draw for many tourists. Vinh Moc Tunnels were built as semi-permanent shelter for people during the war. They go 30 meters deep and used to be fully equipped with essential things for surviving, like well, kitchens, maternity rooms and living areas. The tunnels were a complete success. It was a home for around 60 familes, 17 children were born here and no one was killed while the tunnels were in operation. There’s few entries, some of them still pretty well hidden. Visiting tunnels feels like going back in time. This experience is not be missed.
6. Get a motorbike and interact with locals in non touristy places.
I loved everything about Vietnam and every place we visited was incredible in it’s own special way. But I must admit, it’s the small towns in the middle of nowhere that stole my heart. The kind people who are interested in you and where you from, and who are always smiling when they haggle and you haggle back. The rural landscape filled with rice paddies and tops of conical hats. It was all worth the long hours on motorbike seat.
7. Ride through Hai Van Pass.
To see and feel the true beauty of Hai Van Pass, you’ll need a motorbike. Mountainside route with scenic view over East Sea and light traffic is every road-tripper’s favourite ride. The route is well known from Top Gear Vietnam Special. Presenters inspired a whole generation of travellers to take the road on two wheels. The route is linking the popular central Vietnamese destinations of Hoi An, Danang, and Hue.
8. Use bespoke tailoring in beautiful Hoi An.
If you’re in Vietnam right now or planning to visit in the future, I’m sure Hoi An is already on your list. This UNESCO listed Ancient Town is a beautiful architectural mixture of Vietnamese, Chinese, French and Japanese culture. While you’re enjoying this dreamy atmosphere and you’re taking one of your walks through streets lit by colourful lanterns, visit some of the bespoke tailoring shops. Hoi An is filled with them, which is a result of tradition from it’s past as a trading port on the silk route. You can do your research where to go, or visit few random ones and see what they have to offer. $100 fine suit? Perfect dress? Or maybe some traditional Vietnamese outfit? They will do everything for you for in very reasonable price and waiting time won’t be longer than a day. This is a great experience which will result in nice souvenir.
9. Explore the caves in Phong Nha.
Phong Nha is a home of the largest cave in the world. Unfortunately exploring it is available for only 300-500 people per year and it costs around $3000. But millions of years of flooding created many caves in Phong Nha. It is a paradise for those seeking a pristine landscape. Jungle-covered mountains, meandering rivers, homes stays and countryside make you feel like the time has slowed down. Take a few days for discovering the caves, jungle trails, rural lanes and kayaking. Phong Nha is one of the most popular Vietnam’s destinations but it’s still in early stage of development. You’ll feel like you have all of this to yourself.
10. Visit Cuc Phuong, the Vietnam’s first National Park.
Located around 100km south from Hanoi, it’s the country’s largest natural reserve. This is a tropical forest and also a huge botanical garden that is a home to many threatened species. You will discover plenty of trees and flowers with freaky and unique shapes, some originated from ten millions years ago. The Park is one of the most important sites for biodiversity in Vietnam. There’s also Endangered Primate Rescue Centre- a home to 89 kinds or animals, 307 types of birds, 110 kinds of reptiles, 65 types of fishes and 2000 kinds of insects.
Thanks for reading!