Vietnam is a country in Southeast Asia where my partner and I spent a lot of time of. Despite extensively traveling the country for almost two months, with the number of things to do and see, we feel like we’ve barely scratched the surface. If you’re planning your trip to Vietnam, here are just a few of our tips on top things to do and what you shouldn’t miss.
One of the most popular reasons why so many people flock to Vietnam is for their incredible cuisine which is why cooking classes are always on the top of our list when looking for things to do.
When traveling around Vietnam, we recommend booking your buses ahead of time, especially if you are traveling during peak season.
Busy months like TET (the Vietnamese New Year) is a particularly hectic time where a lot of people get stranded so planning your travels during this period is essential. You can check your transport schedules ahead of time using sites like Bookaway or 12Go website.
Unless you hold a passport from an ASEAN nation or a select number of countries, you will most likely need to get a visa prior to your trip to Vietnam. Although you can still get a visa on arrival, the rules on this pretty much changes all the time which is why a lot of travelers opt to get an electronic Vietnam visa instead.
Like always though, we recommend that you check the government website to get exact information.
Editor’s Note: Check out our Vietnam Packing List for a full list of what to bring
What to Do in Ho Chi Minh
If you like cities, you will surely enjoy the hustle and bustle of Ho Chi Ming. Marvel at how many motorbikes there are and experience playing ‘chicken’ as you cross the streets. Visit the War Remnants Museum, Reunification Palace, and Notre Dame Cathedral.
Wander around and enjoy their version of Khao San Road, Pham Ngu Lao for some cheap street food and even cheaper beer! Day trips to the Cu Chi Tunnels and the river cruises through the Mekong River are also easily arranged from here.
What to Do in Mui Ne
Fall in love with a man rolling down the sand dunes! (True story- read more on how Tom and I met) Kidding aside, Mui Ne is an awesome place! Sand dunes, beaches, and great activities for nature tripping. Rent a motorbike and drive around town.
Arrange a tour to visit the White and Red sand dunes (you can even rent an ATV or go sand sledding for extra fun), hike through The Fairy Stream where you can marvel at the multi-colored limestone formations as you wade through the waters, enjoying the lush scenery.
If you want a different experience, go on an easy rider motorcycle tour to the next town and experience the best of Vietnam on a motorbike. This is exactly what I did and loved every minute of it.
What to Do in Dalat
A little bit of a fun fact, Dalat was a city originally developed by the French to be their little resort center get away due to its temperate climate. Explore the city and walk around the Xuan Huong Lake, pay a visit to the Crazy House (i.e. a house inspired by Gaudi, Dali, and a bit of Dr. Seuss), and finally, for the more adventurous, go canyoning!
Check out this link to see loads of suggested things to do in this town.
What to Do in Nha Trang
Enjoy this little seaside party town and either relax by the beach, go crazy in Vinapearl Waterpark, or go diving. Although very touristy, Nha Trang is quite popular for the party goers.
What to Do in Hoi An
My personal favorite in Vietnam! This quaint little town has it all. This UNESCO heritage town is the perfect mix of new and old architecture Rent a bicycle and bike around the old town and to the beach. Stop by and get some tailor-made clothes (if you have room in your backpack!) Try the best Bahn Mi sandwich in Vietnam!
As mentioned, the food here is incredible so cooking classes in Hoi An would be something worth doing. This was something Tom and I did there and absolutely loved it!
What to Do in Hue
This ancient Citadel used to be Vietnam’s Royal City and is full of beautiful buildings and structures. Great place for history buffs as a day in Hue would involve visiting pagodas, emperor’s tombs, and the citadel. Find a cyclo driver and ride around touring the Imperial City. Apart from that, as mentioned, cooking classes in Hue is also largely popular.
What to Do in Hanoi
If you thought the rest of Vietnam had cheap beer, wait until you get to Hanoi! My hostel even had free beers in the afternoon from 4-5. BEST HOSTEL EVER.
Apart from that, take a stroll down the Hoan Kiem Lake, Nha Tho Cathedral and the Old Quarter. Attend a cooking class in Hanoi or simply indulge in my favorite Bun Cha Hanoi. Bun Cha Hanoi is my favorite Vietnamese dish….EVER and was eaten by President Obama himself during his last visit to Vietnam. This is a must eat for foodies traveling to the country!
If you’re looking at exploring a more off-the-beaten path place, check out this great guide to Mai Chau which is only 3 hours away from Hanoi.
After touring the town, you can also arrange trips to Halong Bay and Sapa from here.
What to Do in Sapa
Sapa is one of the most scenic and beautiful places in Vietnam. Rolling hills and mountains, endless rice terraces with stunning views, this place is a cultural breath of fresh air. Although already becoming very touristic, you can still experience Sapa at its best by staying with locals in a homestay.
Trek through their many available trails and visit the many minority ethnic groups in Lao Cai. Check out the Bac Ha Market and Coc Ly Market for a unique and less commercialized shopping experience.
Trekking in Sapa is a must so we highly recommend checking out these tours. You can do a short day trek for a couple of hours or if you are feeling adventurous, go for a couple of days. Trust me- you won’t regret it!
Looking for an exciting adventure? Check out the articles below and get inspired
- Vietnam by Motorbike: The Best Six Weeks of my Life
- Reasons Why Not to Visit Vietnam
- Festivals and Celebrations You Need to Experience in Vietnam