I’m going to honest, I really didn’t know what to expect from my two-and-a-half week trip to Vietnam. I had read over different itineraries, mapped out where I wanted to go, and even booked all my accommodation, but I still wasn’t entirely sure I was planning it correctly. Now that I’ve been and can look back on my trip fondly, I can reflect on everything. Here are eight incredible things to do Vietnam for the quintessential experience. If you only think you’ll be once in your lifetime, these experiences will give you a great sense of the country’s culture and beauty.
Don’t miss these 8 things to do in Vietnam:
1. Tour the Mekong Delta
Starting in the far south, the first thing you must do is tour the Mekong Delta region. It’s a huge region filled with rivers, nature, and wildlife. I remember a tour member kept commenting on how lush it was after traveling from wintry northern Europe. You’ll sample some honey, coconut candy, enjoy fresh fruit, and even ride along in one of the long-tail boats during your day trip.
2. Visit the War Remnants Museum in Ho Chi Minh City
This is going to be one of the more sobering things to do in Vietnam and I wish we had thought to give it more time when we went. The War Remnants Museum covers the events of the first Indochina War and the Vietnamese War from, of course, Vietnam’s perspective. They have a suggested route throughout the museum and there is tonnes of information about the atrocities suffered during both wars.
3. Get clothes tailor-made in Hoi An
Hoi An is known for its tailors. Even if you visit without knowing a single thing about this place, you’ll realize this fact within a few minutes of walking around the old town. There’s a tailor of some sort around every corner ready to make whatever your imagination desires. Do your research before you go as, with so many options, many of them sell shoddy products. I really enjoyed my experience at Yaly Couture, which is also a company I read about on another blog. They’re completely professional (no bargaining) and it feels a little more high-end.
4. Visit the My Son Sanctuary
While you’re in Hoi An, take the afternoon and go out to My Son Sanctuary. My Son is a cluster of Hindu temples dating back as far as the 4th century. It’s often grouped with other major temples in Southeast Asia, such as Angkor Wat, Borobudur, Bagan, and more.
5. Cruise around Halong Bay
This is perhaps the most obvious thing to do in Vietnam considering Halong Bay is one of the New Seven Natural Wonders. Trust me, it completely lives up to its reputation. The Bay is eerily stunning, with nearly 2,000 limestone islets. We stayed on Cat Ba Island and did a day tour from there, but you can also book tours from Hanoi, which is a lot easier logistically. It’s really quite a peaceful experience unless you want to do one of the party boats. We pretty much just sat on top of the deck and admired our surroundings all day!
6. Catch graduating students taking photos at the Temple of Literature in Hanoi
Whether you can catch students taking graduation photos or not, the Temple of Literature is a must-see in Hanoi. It’s a Confucian temple built in the 11th century and is home to Vietnam’s first national university. I happened to be wandering around during these festivities, so I got to see all the students dressed up in their uniforms and posing for pictures.
7. Eat ALL the Vietnamese food
This should be self-explanatory, but I understand if you, like me, didn’t even know what pho was until an embarrassingly late stage in life. From banh mi to bun bo nam bo to thit nuong and more, there are so many different dishes to choose from. Just know, you’ll be perfectly fine eating from street-side stalls all around the country, so try everything. Even if you have no idea what it is or what the name is, just try it! Also, Vietnamese iced coffee is incredibly addicting. You’ve been warned.
8. Go trekking through Sapa
While I personally did not do this, I highly recommend anyone who is travelling in the spring, summer or fall months to go to Sapa. I was there in the north at the end of winter, and when I talked to a friend who went at the same time a few years before me, she said it was a bit disappointing because everything was brown, dead, and cold. However, if you’re there when everything is gorgeous and green, then go! I have other friends who went recently this past summer, and they absolutely loved it despite the humidity.
And there you have it! Eight things to do in Vietnam that you do not want to miss.
Looking for more Southeast Asia travel posts? Read these next:
Like this post? Pin it for later!
Have you been? What would you add to this list of things to do in Vietnam?