Things you have to do in Vietnam if you are a first time visitor

Along with Thailand, Laos and Cambodia, Vietnam is one of the most popular tourist destinations for backpackers, travelers and expats. With a stunning landscape, beautiful beaches, big and bustling cities, small and charming towns and food that is known worldwide, you get one of the most interesting and unique countries.

If this is your first time visiting Vietnam, or even the 5th, there are some things you have to include in your itinerary. It’s easy to underestimate the size of Vietnam and how spread out it is, so make sure you have enough time so you can see all, or most, of these things:

1. Eat pho, eat lots and lots of pho

Enjoy your Pho (Vietnamese noodle)
Enjoy your Pho (Vietnamese noodle)

This is a must-do for everyone who is visiting Vietnam for the first time or is coming here again. Pho is a noodle soup dish which has taken the world with storm. You can choose between beef, shrimps, chicken or vegetarian. A really good pho is one which has been prepared the day before so all the delicious juices has had time to soak up. The food in Vietnam is delicious and there’s a lot of good dishes out there, but pho is simply a classic that is unbeatable.

2. Go on an overnight cruise in Halong Bay

Tourist junks in amazing Ha Long bay on a sunny day
tourist junks in amazing Ha Long bay on a sunny day, UNESCO world heritage sight, Vietnam

Halong Bay was declared in 1994 as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and it’s not hard to see why – the stunning landscapes surrounding Halong Bay is one-of-a-kind and here you have the chance to cruise around on a junk boat while looking at the thousands of limestone islands and islets that were formed millions of years ago. There’s the option of going on a day cruise but these usually only lasts about 4 hours so if you made it all the way to Halong Bay, try to spend a night or two on a boat. You won’t regret it.

3. Travel down the Mekong Delta

Cai Rang Floating Market, 6km from Can Tho city, Mekong Delta
Cai Rang Floating Market, 6km from Can Tho city, Mekong Delta

There might not be anything more classic to do in Vietnam than going to the Mekong Delta. It’s definitely one of the most popular things to do down south.

4. Cross the roads in the big cities

If you are planning on going to Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City, you’ve probably heard how busy traffic can be. Well, multiply that with 10. You’ll soon find yourself overwhelmed by the amount of motorbikes there are on the roads and when it’s time to cross the street, you just have to walk with confidence, don’t stop in the middle of the road and be aware.

5. Buy tailor made clothes in Hoi An

A clothes store in the UNESCO heritage twown of Hoi An, Vietnam.

First of all, just going to Hoi An is a must if you want the complete Vietnam experience. Secondly, Hoi An is famous for their tailor made clothes. Walk into the markets here amongst thousands of different fabrics, choose your tailor and show your design. If you have been craving for that specific dress, pants, t-shirt or whatever, you have a good chance at making an exact replica here. Or perhaps you have your own design in mind? Whichever it is, you’ll have a unique chance to get something tailor made for a very affordable price.

6. Enjoy the nightlife in the big cities

Three Female Friends Enjoying Drink In Cocktail Bar

Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City are both great places if you like good nightlife. Choose amongst many bars and clubs here, wander in Bui Vien in Ho Chi Minh City at night and grab a beer or two. The neon lights are turned on at night making the cities sparkle and come to life.

7. Visit Sapa

Young traveler standing and looking at view of nature in Sapa, Vietnam

The north of Vietnam is a true beauty and you shouldn’t miss out on this region if you are coming to the north. Wander around the rice terraces, stay with locals, learn more about the Hmong and marvel at the landscape surrounding you.

8. Lay on a beach

A tourist performing yoga exercises on the beach of Vietnam (Mui Ne Beach)
A tourist performing yoga exercises on the beach of Vietnam (Mui Ne Beach)

What better way to enjoy a vacation than to relax on a beach, read a book and eat something delicious? Luckily, Vietnam has a lot of beaches to choose from and if you feel like you want to be more active, you can always go kitesurfing for example in places like Mui Ne. The weather in Vietnam is usually mild all year long in the south as well so you can for sure go to the beach on your vacation. Vietnam is all about enjoying the best of life.

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