Top things to do in Vietnam

Last updated - January 27, 2024
Top things to do in Vietnam

Vietnam boasts a wealth of cultural and natural treasures, from the majestic northern mountains to the serene southern Mekong Delta and many pristine white sandy beaches. With such diverse landscapes, there are countless opportunities for visitors to indulge in a variety of activities. Whether you seek adventure, relaxation, or cultural immersion, they are available. Join us as we explore the top things to do in Vietnam.

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1. Overnight on Halong Bay cruise

Overnight on a Halong Bay cruise is the crowning jewel of any trip to Vietnam, and one that should not be missed. Immerse yourself in the stunning beauty of the area by spending at least one, or even two nights aboard a cruise ship. The bay, with its 1600 limestone islands rising majestically from the crystalline blue waters, and awe-inspiring caves, is a "must-see" destination for every tourist. The bay is replete with cruising options, ranging from day trips to 3-5 star overnight cruises. For those seeking a less touristy alternative, Bai Tu Long Bay and Lan Ha Bay are both situated in the Tonkin Gulf and offer the same breathtaking scenery. Whichever option you choose, overnight on a cruise will provide you with an unforgettable experience of relaxation and awe-inspiring landscapes.

Overnight on a cruise in Halong Bay

2. Explore the caves

Vietnam is famous not only for its stunning landscapes but also for its remarkable cave systems located in the north and center of the country. These caves are grand in size and leave an unforgettable impression on visitors. Inside, you'll discover a plethora of magnificent stalactites and stalagmites that boast peculiar shapes and sizes, numbering in the hundreds.
Some caves are recommended to explore that are one of the top things to do in Vietnam:
In Halong bay: Sung Sot cave, Thien Cung, Dau Go cave.
In Bai Tu Long: Thien Canh Son cave
In Cat Ba island: Trung Trang Cave, Military hospital cave
In Cao Bang: Nguom Ngao cave
In Ninh Binh: Thien Ha cave, Mua cave, Am Tien cave,
Quang Binh: This place is the home to caves: Son Doong cave ( limited to tourists and price is about 3000 USD), En cave, Paradise Cave, Tu Lan cave, Va cave, Dark Cave, Phong Nha cave…

Phong Nha cave in Quang Binh provice

3. Taste the traditional Vietnamese foods

Vietnam is truly a culinary paradise, and every traveler will attest to this fact. The country boasts a vast array of foods, ranging from delectable street-side bites to sumptuous delicacies served in upscale restaurants. The allure of Vietnamese cuisine is undoubtedly one of the reasons why tourists travel to Vietnam. Whether you're exploring the northern mountains, the central regions, or the southern parts of Vietnam, there's a plethora of local dishes that you must try. These dishes are not only delicious, but also a must-do activity during your trip to Vietnam. It is one of the top things to do in Vietnam.
Some dishes are recommended: Phở, Bun Cha, Cha Ca, Bun Bo, Hu Tieu, Banh Cuon, Banh Xeo, Hoi An chicken Rice..

A delicious Vietnamese food

4. Enjoy Vietnamese coffee at Hanoi train tracks

Vietnamese coffee is known for its rich and strong flavor. There are thousands of cafe shops in Hanoi where you can enjoy many types of coffee and one of the weird places to enjoy it is at the train tracks running through a narrow alleyway. As the old train slowly passes by, the locals quickly move their tables and chairs away from the tracks, only to set them back up again once the train has passed.
The weird coffee shops at  train tracks attract thousands of tourists to come to enjoy coffee and take photos, clips when the train comes.

Hanoi train track cafe

5. Trekking in the mountainous areas

This is really one of the top things to do in Vietnam.  If you're a nature lover and enjoy hiking, a delightful trek through the rice fields surrounded by mountains to admire their natural grandeur will be an enthralling experience. In the northern mountainous region of Vietnam, there are numerous picturesque trekking routes that are perfect for adventurers who want to uncover the hidden beauty of the local tribes. These routes offer an opportunity to immerse yourself in nature, discover stunning landscapes, and learn about the rich culture and traditions of the region.
Best places for trekking in Vietnam: Mu Cang Chai, Sapa, Ha Giang, Cao Bang, Mai Chau, Pu Luong.

On the trekking route in Ha Giang

6. Visit the traditional handicraft villages

Traveling and discovering how locals create their products is one of the most fascinating things to do in Vietnam. These activities are often included in tour packages, allowing you to visit stunning landscapes, explore the unique culture, and learn about the process of creating handicrafts.
These villages are recommended:
Vietnamese Conical hat making: Chuong Village in Hanoi
Pottery Making: Bat Trang Village in Hanoi, Thanh Ha Village in Hoi An
Lacquerware making: Ha Thai village in Hanoi
Hand Embroidery: Van Long village in Ninh Binh
Silk making: Van Phuc village - Hanoi
Lantern making: in Hoi An town
Paper flowers making: Thanh Tien villaeg in Hue
Coconut Candy: in Mekong Delta River
Blacksmith: Phuc Sen village in Cao Bang
Brocade weaving: Lung Tam Village in Ha Giang

These traditional handicrafts are also part of cultures in Vietnam. Tourists will understand more about Vietnamese culture when visiting these villages.

Conical hat making in Chuong village

7. Go to the hill tribe markets

The highland markets, where ethnic communities gather to trade their goods and enjoy themselves, are a major draw for both domestic and foreign tourists. These markets are held on a weekly basis, rather than daily, and are characterized by the vibrant traditional attire worn by attendees. Visitors will find a variety of local products, including food, clothing, and livestock such as buffalo, cows, dogs, goats, pigs, and chickens. In these markets, many special foods are available for a great breakfast or lunch. All contributing to the colorful and enticing atmosphere.
Some of hill tribe markets are really interesting:
Bac Ha market, Can Cau Market, Xin Chen Market, Coc Ly market in Lao Cai province
Dong Van market, Love market, Pho Cao market, Du Gia market in Ha Giang province
Bao Lac market, Tra Linh market, Trung Khanh market in Cao Bang province.

A hill trible market in mountainous area

8. Try the local vehicle - Cyclo

While historically used for transportation, this type of vehicle has found a new purpose in tourism. Today, tourists can relax and immerse themselves in local life while sitting on this unique mode of transportation. An exciting aspect of this experience is that tourists sit in front of the vehicle, providing an interesting perspective while navigating through the streets.
There are some big cities that are available for cyclo: Hanoi, Hue, Hoi An, Ho Chi Minh city.
But the most popular is in Hanoi city.

A foreign tourist leisurely enjoy cyclo in Hanoi

9. Motorbike in Ha Giang loop

For those who love adventure and can drive a motorbike then this activity in Ha Giang province could not be missed while traveling in Vietnam. This is one of the top things to do in Vietnam.
Tourists could choose to start from Ha Giang city, take a loop: Ha Giang - Yen Minh - Dong Van - Ma Pi Leng pass - Meo Vac - Du Gia  and end the trip in Ha Giang city. You will ride over high passes, enjoy landscapes with the most spectacular mountains of Southeast Asia and discover the unique cultures of the local minorities. That is a 4 day trip and is a real lifetime trip.

Motorbiking in middle of spectacualar Ha Giang

10. Discover the historic tunnel: Cu Chi and Vinh Moc tunnel

The Cu Chi tunnel is a historic attraction often mentioned to tourists. However, there is another one called Vinh Moc tunnel located in Quang Tri province. While Cu Chi is easily accessible from Ho Chi Minh city, visiting Vinh Moc requires a trip from Hue city. A DMZ tour or transfer from Hue to Phong Nha-Ke Bang also includes Vinh Moc tunnel. Both tunnels are remarkable, spanning hundreds of kilometers underground, serving as a shelter and a strategic infiltration point for the Vietcong during the Vietnam war.
These tunnels are amazing and recommended on the top things to visit in Vietnam.

Historic Vinh Moc tunnel

11. Biking in peaceful countryside

Vietnam's rural landscapes are renowned for their unparalleled beauty, making it an idyllic destination for immersive biking trips. The northern region of Vietnam offers breathtaking views of charming villages nestled amidst rolling rice fields and majestic mountain ranges. In central Vietnam, you can leisurely bike through tranquil garden houses, Vietnamese traditional villages or alongside the stunning coastline. Meanwhile, southern Vietnam provides an opportunity to pedal through the lush orchards and rural villages that dot the aits of rivers.

Recommended places for biking in Vietnam
Mai Chau, Ninh Binh, Nghia Lo Valley, Cat Ba island, Hue, Hoi An, Mekong delta river.

Biking in the countryside

12. Enjoy art shows

A country with a diverse and vibrant culture offers a plethora of experiences for international travelers to explore. Among these, traditional art performances featuring incredible music stand out as particularly intriguing. These shows provide tourists with a deeper understanding of our culture and way of life. This is also one of the top things to do in Vietnam.

Hoi An Memories show

In Hanoi, it is easy to buy a ticket to enjoy the Water puppet show, My Village show, and the Quintessence of Tonkin show.
In northern mountains: Thai traditional dancing, Thai bamboo dancing, Mua Khen - dance with traditional trumpet)
In Hoi An: Hoi An memory show
In Saigon: AO show
In Mekong delta river, enjoy  Don ca tai tu ( southern amateur folk songs)

Each show has different attractions but shows the culture and the beauty of the local Vietnamese people.

We hope that our list of the top 12 things to do in Vietnam has provided you with some inspiration for exploring the beauty of our country. If you have any additional suggestions or recommendations, we encourage you to leave them in the comments section below.

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