Vietnam is a remarkable country with a captivating landscape, a rich history, an exciting culture, beautiful historical monuments, charming people, breathtaking natural beauty, and cuisine which gets considered as one of the healthiest and yummiest in the world.
Whatever you are looking for gets delivered effortlessly, making you fall in love with the country. You might have read about Vietnam, or even seen a bit of Vietnamese stuff in an urban center near you. But you can only have the real experience if you get your travel documents ready, hop in a plane and explore Vietnam. Here are the fantastic experiences you will only encounter in Vietnam.
1. The egg yolk coffee
Vietnam is the world’s second largest producer of coffee, and the Vietnamese are crazy about coffee. You will notice the locals sitting on short plastic stools sipping their drinks as they chat happily. Ca Phe Trung, ‘egg coffee’ is a must try whenever you are in Vietnam. The coffee gets made using egg yolk, condensed milk, sugar, and Robusta coffee. You can have it hot or cold, it tastes like a flavored coffee ice-cream, and you will like it.
2. Exploring the Hang Son Doong Cave
Located in the UNESCO recognized Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park, Quang Binh province Vietnam, Hang Son Doong is the world’s largest cave. If you love adventure and can tackle any challenge thrown at you, you will live to remember the incredible experience you will encounter in this cave.
To reach the entrance, you will need to trek in the jungle for two days and cross rivers. As if that is not enough, you will have to crawl, climb, and swim through underground rivers to get to the exit. However, there are local guides, rangers, chefs, and porters who will join you and the cave gets well looked after, so you can rest assured of safety.
3. The Cai Rang Floating Markets
Located in Cai Rang River, a few kilometers away from Cai Tho (Mekong Delta capital), the market has existed for over 100 years. You will get to experience the lifestyle of the countryside locals and enjoy watching the trading activities. Boats filled with flowers, fruits, and other commodities float on water. You will get amazed by the way the traders toss items from one vessel to the other.
Go as early as 7 am and witness the beginning of the trade, still the sun is not yet hot. Opt for a pineapple boat, (you will notice that boats have poles on their front showcasing samples of what they sell), as they have a rooftop where you can climb to take a picture of the whole market. Apart from the fruits, coconut candy, and other commodities sold, you will see floating restaurants which sell cheap, delicious meals.
4. A Cruise along the Awe-inspiring Halong-Bay
Your trip to Vietnam can never get complete without visiting the breathtaking Halong-Bay. Located in northern Vietnam, Halong Bay gets famous for its thousands of limestone islands topped by thick rainforests, lush mountains, and emerald waters. A day can never be enough for exploring this natural wonderland, take a 2 or 3-day cruise, and you will have endless memories of this mesmerizing scene.
Activities you can undertake in Halong Bay
Halong Bay has so much to offer apart from the general scene of the site. Once you arrive in this beautiful bay, you will find it difficult settling for your favorite activities because it gets filled with lots of adventures. Here are some of the things you can do.
- Cycling on Cat Ba Island
It is the largest island on Halong Bay, blessed with natural beauty and it is also home to some rare species of animals. Rent a bicycle and cycle around, and you will discover caves and lakes, waterfalls, limestone hills and even see the Cat Ba Langur (a medium-sized leaf-eating monkey which drinks salty water) found only in this island.
- Water sports like swimming, kayaking, and diving, you will get the right gears for rent for these sports.
- Learning Tai Chi onboard a boat to improve your mental and physical health, the serene environment of the Halong Bay makes the learning process easier.
- Hiking on the little paradise of Ban Sen Island, a peaceful, thick-forested inhabited island which gives you a chance to meet locals for a chat during your hike.
5. Tailor-made items in Hoi An
Whether you want shoes, suits, dresses, laptop sleeves, backpacks, wallets, or fancy handbags, there are lots of skilled tailors in Hoi An, a UNESCO recognized heritage, who will do it for you. Ask for recommendations from people around you, but go to different shops comparing their prices (you should always bargain) and also the quality of their materials.
Once you settle for your preferred tailor, go and show them your desired design and have your measurements taken (that is if you need a suit or dress). However, ensure that you explain to them exactly how you want the fitting to sit.
Hoi An tailors can make items for you as you wait right in their shop, and they can also arrange for shipping to your country if you don’t have enough time to wait. But, it is advisable to give your tailor adequate time to work on your items to ensure good quality. A day or two is reasonable, and you can then return for fitting and also see if there are any adjustments needed.
6. The Cu Chi Tunnels
Located in the Cu Chi District, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, these tunnels got used by the guerilla fighters during the Vietnam War. Once you arrive, you will watch a short film about the channels to get an idea and a feeling about the war.
The tunnels got a bit widened to enable easy crawling by tourists. However, you should not go if you have breathing problems. But if you decide to go anyway, you will get amazed by the underground networks, and the complexity of the defense tactics used by the fighters. Such methods included; hiding smoke from the kitchen burners, and using double-sided slippers to confuse the Americans on which way the peasants went.
How they managed to survive underground all day only to come out when the sun goes down is also fascinating. Also, you will get a chance to shoot a live M-60 machine gun at a range and which is not costly.
7. The Water Puppet Show
Water exhibition dates back to the 11th century which started in the Red River Delta. The show is an excellent opportunity to master some of the Vietnamese cultures. When the rice fields got flooded, the farmers would stand in the waters which almost reached their waist and entertain themselves with puppets.
Unlike an ordinary water show, the puppets get set on water, and there is accompanying music, and playing of instruments as the puppets tell stories based on the harvesting season, dances of mythical creatures, and the ancient countryside lifestyle. Even though the show gets carried out in many stages around the world, there is no better feeling like seeing it on a stage at its source. The Than Long Water Puppet Theatre in Hanoi, northern Vietnam, is the ideal place to see this entertaining show.
8. Staying at a homestay in Sapa
Staying at a homestay in Sapa Vietnam is the best way to learn the village life of the locals. Eating what they cook, helping them in their farms, and taking pictures of the beautiful landscape as your host shows you around is so fulfilling. However, it is advisable to carry warm clothes as Sapa can get so cold at night.
9. The War Remnant Museum in Ho Chi Minh City
Vietnam is at a better place now, but it took a lot of bloodsheds to get to where it is today. Outside the main building of the War Remnant Museum, you will see the remains of the military aircraft, helicopters, and tanks. But inside the museum is the most emotional place, full of photographs (which are very real) of bodies blown up to pieces, parents weeping over the dead bodies of their kids, photos of people with extreme injuries, and pictures of tiger cages which got used by the French to torture war prisoners. You will also see images of the children born after the war suffering from the effects of Agent Orange. The museum stores haunting images and the disturbing photographs will remind you why peace is essential.
10. The Vietnamese cuisine
Vietnamese meals get considered as one of the healthiest and delicious around the world. The meals vary regionally, and they get prepared by keenly balancing the five essential flavors which include; sour, sweet, salty, bitter, and hot. In a typical Vietnamese meal, you will find fresh herbs and vegetables, fish sauce, a bowl of rice, noodles, seafood, and meat.
Eat like a local by grabbing those small plastic stools and munch on food served in the street stalls or buy from the street vendors. Register in a cooking class in any of the major cities and towns, but go early in the morning, and you will get a chance to go to the market and help get the fresh ingredients, then learn how to prepare a meal (it is so fun) and you can eat whatever you will cook.
The famous Vietnamese Pho and spring rolls are a must have, Cha, Ca La Vong is Hanoi’s delicacy, Hue has Cao Lau, the Mekong Delta has Banh Xeo, while Hoi An’s Banh bao vac and Da Nang’s Mi Quang are also a must-try.
Vietnam is indeed a unique tourism destination with everything for everyone. To witness these and more adventures, indicate Vietnam travel as one of your priorities, and you will live to cherish the memories.