Vietnam Things to Do Tips by richiecdisc Top 5 Page for this destination
Vietnam Things to Do: 736 reviews and 1,104 photos
colorful Hoi An
Hoi An is one city in Vietnam that just about everyone agrees is the place to see. Funky enough for backpackers but so full of cultural attractions that even senior citizen buses have to make a stopover, Hoi An's entire Old Town has been declared a World Heritage Site. Its picturesque riverside location adds well to a town full of French colonial architecture interspersed with an array of temples to spin even the most jaded traveler’s head. Add to this, a colorful and friendly local population not quite yet spoiled by their growing popularity and a tasty range of food delicacies available only here, and one can easily see why everyone is rushing to Hoi An. You should too. Check my Hoi An page for more details.
Directions: Hoi An is just south of Hue and about in the middle of Vietnam's coast.
modern Ho Chi Minh city, look for Saigon beneath
Ho Chi Minh City or Saigon as it’s more affectionately referred to by locals is Vietnam’s premier city and most modern due to the mad influx of investment following the resolution of the conflict between the north and south. Though a big city with loads of tourists milling around in certain areas, it’s easy to get away from them by simply walking away from the sights on foot. Due to its size, many people use cyclos to get from one place to another and unfortunately everyone is going to the same places. But by just exploring on foot, you’ll quickly find yourself in the Vietnam you came looking for in the first place. With a largely modern skew in the architecture, I found its sights the least interesting in the country but it had so much soul and authentic flair that I fell in love with it. The people and local foods made such an impression that it quickly became my favorite Vietnamese city to just hang out in. Details on what to eat and drink coming soon on my upcoming Saigon page.
Directions: Saigon or Ho Chi Minh City is in the south of the country just above the Mekong Delta.
Hanoi can surprise you if you let it
Hanoi is perhaps Vietnam’s greatest city ready to happen. It was once neglected as early redevelopment concentrated on what was perceived as the more friendly south but with World Heritage Site Halong Bay close at hand, and space filling in the south, it was only a matter of time before investors turned their eyes in its direction. What the traveler today will find is a city torn between its Communist heritage and a mad rush towards westernization. Still, its colonial charm cannot be denied while walking its narrow streets strewn with decaying vestiges of French occupation. It is also a culinary delight for those looking for local treats and a visit to Vietnam without taking in Hanoi would be foolhardy for any but the most rushed tourist. Check out my Hanoi page for more details.
Directions: Hanoi is in the north of Vietnam.
life on the waters of the Mekong Delta
The Mekong Delta is the Vietnam that most people dream about. Lusciously green with water in all directions, people getting from one place to another in small boats and wearing the traditional conical hats, the Delta does not disappoint. It is a sizeable area that most do not give enough time to fully explore and most that I met were sorry they didn’t. It is a difficult place to explore on your own and most do one day tours from Saigon much to their later dismay. We opted for a three day tour that brought us from Saigon to Phnom Penh in Cambodia and we were glad we did as it was one of our most relaxing and enjoyable times in Vietnam. Details of that great trip are coming up in my Cantho page.
Directions: The Mekong Delta is the south of Vietnam.
what's not to like about Nha Trang
Though far from a tropical secluded paradise, Nha Trang is not exactly the purely western luxury town purported either. It is very modern and has all the amenities any beach town could ask for but away from the beach, you are very much still in Vietnam and even along the beach, most of the tourists you walk by are Vietnamese. Why not? The beaches are big and beautiful and the turquoise waters sparkling clean. There are lots of great places to eat and at prices that even locals can still afford. A noted location for premier scuba diving and snorkeling, the water enthusiast should head for Nha Trang with no questions asked. For those with no such inclinations, it is still a great place to relax for a few days on your way down the Vietnam coast.
Directions: Nha Trang is on the coast, about four hours from Saigon so warm year around.
Nguyen tombs around Hue are the big attraction
Hue offers a rare glimpse into what man’s motivations can do to what previous generations put on this earth of ours. Once one of Vietnam’s main cultural centers, it fell from grace in 1975 with the complete control finally enjoyed by the Communist party. The Nguyen emperors had erected spectacular tombs in the 1800s that were seen by the government as politically incorrect and were thus left to become nothing more than decrepit ruins until in 1990 they realized they could make some money off it. Though finally recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, restoration is only making slow progress. Though many of the sights of Hue were disappointing to me, the city is perched to flourish as one of the most visited cities in the country. There is already a pretty good infrastructure in the tourist sector and the varied if less than perfect sights along with an interesting cuisine make it one of the cities in Vietnam not to miss.
Directions: Hue is just about in the middle of the country and on the backpacker bus route as well as a require stop of the blue rinse tour set.
scenic Halong Bay
Halong Bay is justifiably a World Heritage Site. Set in the emerald waters of the Gulf of Tonkin, the stand out feature is a series of tiny islands with mountainous terrain. The scenery is storybook stuff and as an added interest, there are numerous illuminated caves you can explore as well. Though it can be visited as an independent traveler, it is much easier and perhaps even cheaper to do it on a group tour from Hanoi. Just remember it is a 3.5 hour trip one way so a day trip is not really worth it unless very pressed for time. You can arrange multi-day trips and we did one where you can stay right on the boat in the bay. It’s cheap and well worth it. And this comes from someone that had awful weather. Remember also that Halong Bay is famous for bad weather. The summers are stormy and the winters drizzly. Go in spring if you can arrange it and good luck.
Directions: Halong Bay is north of Hanoi.
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