Vietnam is increasingly gaining popularity as a destination for travellers looking for an exciting adventure that offers a little bit of everything. With a stunningly diverse landscape to explore, beaches to relax on, a fascinating history to learn about and a colourful culture to experience, it’s easy to see why Vietnam is often at the top of many travellers bucket lists.
To celebrate our competition to give away 2 X VIETNAM TRAVEL PASSES, Stray Asia have provided the below list of must do’s! So, whether you have two weeks or two months to explore here are 6 activities (or destinations) you absolutely must include for the ultimate Vietnam experience:
Take an overnight cruise in Halong Bay
If you know nothing else about Vietnam, the first thing you’ll probably see or hear about is cruising through the breathtaking Halong Bay, located in the north not far from capital city Hanoi. The stunning photos almost don’t do justice to the beautiful limestone islands rising out of the emerald green waters of the bay. An overnight cruise is by far the best way to get the full Halong Bay experience with kayaking in peaceful lagoons, discovering secret caves and even a chance to try squid fishing! There are many operators offering a full inclusion 1-2 night trip departing from Hanoi. Check out their reviews online to help pick the right one.
Experience the magic of Hoi An
Hoi An is another hot spot you should work into your itinerary. For many just strolling the enchanting cobblestone streets of Hoi An is an experience in itself, admiring the beautifully preserved French Colonial and Chinese architecture. This UNESCO World Heritage listed township is the epicentre of Vietnamese culture, renowned for its exciting cuisine, handmade artisan crafts and countless tailor shops. While you are here, take the opportunity to visit one of the many tailor shops to get a personalised article of clothing made as the ultimate souvenir of your time in Vietnam. Save some energy for an evening stroll, because when the sun goes down Hoi An really lights up, with hundreds of lanterns lighting the streets, which cast a of rainbow of colours along the riverfront.
Find floating temples and hidden caves in Ninh Binh
Often called the ‘Halong Bay of the land’, you may recognise the Trang An Grottoes from the recent Hollywood film ‘Kong: Skull Island’. Trang An certainly has a dramatic otherworldly feel about it, with the towering jagged mountains jutting out of verdant wetlands and sliced by stripes of blue-green water. You’ll definitely get caught up in the beauty of this place when your rowboat cruises through shallow caves in the mountains to reveal floating temples on the other side.
See the sights of Da Lat on a motorbike tour
With so much to see and do in this one charming city, Da Lat is the perfect place for a guided motorbike tour. Even if you prefer to hitch a ride as a passenger and leave the driving to a professional, travelling by motorbike will allow you to see the city’s highlights like the Hang Nha ‘Crazy House’, Paradise Lake and Datanla Waterfall, as well as tour the coffee farms just outside the city. It’s an exhilarating way to take in as much of this beautiful area as possible.
Learn to paddle a traditional round boat
Vietnam has some spectacular beaches and Bai Xep is truly paradise, home to white sandy beaches that stretch for miles. Bai Xep is well off the beaten track with few Westerners hanging around, so you get a real taste of authentic fishing village life, which includes using the iconic ‘round boats’ as part of their daily lives. Don’t miss your chance to try it for yourself – the laughs alone are worth it for this unforgettable experience!
Discover the ‘Dark Cave’ in Phong Nha
Your adventure is not complete without a spending some time in the magnificent nature reserve of Phong Nha National Park which is home to over 300 different grottoes and caves, some of which are thought to be 400 million years old! Within Phong Nha you have the option to sign up for the ‘Dark Cave Adventure’, considered by some as the best activity on offer in Vietnam. Imagine zip lining across a river (yes, a river!) so you can swim into the cave and exploring the darkness in waist-deep mud with a head torch to guide you. Maybe words don’t adequately capture the fun, but when you’re wiggling on your belly and slip sliding through what resembles melted caramel with your travel buddies, you won’t be able to contain your smile.
Wondering how you can cram all these adventures into one trip? Check out Stray Asia’s ‘Dong’ Travel Pass. Share your Vietnam experience with a fun local tour leader and a small group of sociable travellers on an adventure that will take you from Ho Chi Minh City up to Hanoi. Best of all, Stray gives you the flexibility to hop on and off the bus anywhere along the route so you spend time exploring the places you love. Check out Stray’s current specials