This article should be largely comprehensive in order to guide you directly to the key destinations to visit and the unique things that you absolutely must do in Vietnam.
Here are the 26 unique things to do in Vietnam:
1. Explore the train street in Hanoi
A residential alley less than 5 meters wide where you will find places for shopping and even cafes with small terraces. The breathtaking thing that makes this alley so unique is that it is crossed by a railway. At first glance, I think it’s too dangerous. Finally, I wouldn’t want to crash while I’m paying for my ice cream. However, the Vietnamese know their street well. The children play on the rails, the older ones sunbathe on them. And a few minutes before the arrival of the train, in a perfectly choreographed ballet, adults and children get back to their business and clear the way so that the train can pass on its tracks slowly, smoothly and quietly. The street of the train is a unique landscape which makes the happiness not only of the photographers but of all.
NB: if you plan to travel to Vietnam by train, you must book your ticket in advance. Trains arrive early so arrive 30 minutes before the train.
2. Learn to ride a buffalo
Personally, I still haven’t had the chance to ride a buffalo. I can ride a horse, but I never had the idea of riding a buffalo. Indeed, my Vietnamese friend informed me that there are many tours and excursions to teach you how to ride a buffalo in one day. Unfortunately, I was about to return to China. Today, I really regret it, but I plan to live this experience later, either in Vietnam or in another country, quite possibly in Asia… I think that learning to ride a buffalo is certainly a great skill. of life even if you have no fields to plow. On the other hand, if you are a farmer, you already have a horse or a tractor, I believe that learning to ride a buffalo is a good alternative. Learning a new skill is always an advantage. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg rode a buffalo in Vietnam. He sees the point!
You can ride a buffalo in Mai Chau, Sapa and Hoi An. Excursions organize short trips by basket boat and buffalo. I find it quite good to combine the boat ride and the buffalo climb.
3. Be disgusted in a rural food market
Rural food markets are unique too. The food, the smell of fresh and cooked is special. These markets are not for the faint of heart. I was surprised by the animal carcasses, the grilled dogs, the bowls of blood and the huge chunks of raw meat. Besides, I didn’t recognize half of what was offered for sale. I was really late and the dog meat barbecue smelled terrible. I think it’s due to a special sauce that Vietnamese like to use. That day, I lost my appetite! In my opinion, watch, explore, but don’t eat. Well, you won’t necessarily be intoxicated, but if your body is not used to a typical diet, your immune system may react in such a way as to ruin your day, if it is not your travel days: D
4. Treat yourself to a daily Pho
Pho is a favorite dish in Vietnam. To put it simply, I would say it’s a noodle, vegetable and herb soup, with beef, pork and chicken. It is served very hot. Take your time so you don’t burn your lips. Sometimes it is light in color, sometimes brown. The taste also changes from city to city. So I invite you to eat it wherever you go. It’s not expensive and it’s good for your health. Be careful with the sauces that we can put you in, there is a sauce that smells really bad! In the town of Phan Rang, I had the most delicious bowl of Pho in my life. Made with fish, the soup smelled perfectly good.
5. Go kayaking in the caves of Cat Ba National Park
As far as I am concerned, it was especially the caves that made me feel the uniqueness of this destination. Kayaking, I’ve had enough in the Philippines. Cat Ba National Park reminded me a lot of my experience at El Nido in the Philippines. Guided tours in Halong Bay offer kayaking trips around the islands and through cave formations. It’s a great experience as you will contemplate the scenery of the bay as you slowly advance on your Kayak. Bring a waterproof camera or a GoPro with you. And why not something to eat or drink …
6. Attend the Ho Chi Minh Opera House
I loved this city very much. The Ho Chi Minh Opera House was truly a relaxing trip. Finally, I was able to put on my cleanest clothes and have my shoes wiped off. The opera house was built in 1898. It is one of the most beautiful buildings in the city. It has 48 places. The exterior architecture and interior design are great. Visit the official opera website http://www.hbso.org.vn/default.aspx and learn about the programs before going there.
7. Motorcycle road trip to Hai Van Pass
The Hai Van Pass is a coastal road with 200 km of winding and mountainous roads. It is located in the center of Vietnam between Hue and Hoi An. At the top of the mountain, there is a gate (Hải Vân Quan) on which are engraved the words “the first gate of Vietnam”. Hai Van Pass rose to fame following its appearance on the UK-style Top Gear show.
It is also called the Cloud Pass because it is the highest pass in Vietnam. Geographically, the mountains separate the north from the south. It is also a kind of climatic boundary between North and South. I really advise you not to miss a motorcycle road trip. In my opinion, this is the perfect spectacular road trip.
If you can’t get on a motorcycle, you can still hire “Easy Riders”. These are motorcycle riders who will take you along the road. The climate changes as you move from north to south, bring a jacket or windbreaker with you. Go in the morning and enjoy it all day.
8. Drink snake blood
In Hanoi, we were offered snake blood and bile. I then took my camera for a souvenir. The problem is, these amazing juices were more for drinking and not for photographing.
Personally, I didn’t have the courage to savor it. The smell of blood disgusts me. My friend had been drinking a little. She felt a little bad afterwards. But, I think the effect was more psychological. I named her “the vampire friend” … According to her, the experience was incredible and she has no regrets. She also says it was very delicious.
9. Visit the Ho Chi Minh War Remnants Museum
At the entrance of the War Remnants Museum – Ho Chi Minh (Saigon) The tireless wars that have shaken Vietnam for many years are the main highlight of Vietnam. The Ho Chi Minh War Remnants Museum where I found myself wandering in spite of myself for long hours.
I was emotionally touched and I cried in silence. The Vietnam War, the resistance of the Vietnamese people, the terror of history, the suffering of women, children, war cripples, all these photos marked me, one after the other …
In fact, I have reserved an entire article to talk about the atrocity of the war in Vietnam.
After visiting this museum, I started to love history because honestly this museum is a haunting place that tells the story of war in detail and in photographs. Even if you don’t like museums, you don’t like history, believe me, in this museum you will not be bored.
10. Crawl through the Cu Chi Tunnels
The Cu Chi tunnels are located about 40 km from Ho Chi Minh. I got there on my own on a motorcycle. Once there, buy your ticket and wait for a group to meet, then you will be guided. Listen carefully to what the guide tells you. Make an effort even if her accent isn’t clear. These are not just tunnels, but rather an ingenious network where people survived underground in hiding for years. Cooking in hiding (cooking on foggy nights so as not to identify yourself), breathing in hiding (termite mounds), Short diameter of the tunnels (thin Vietnamese body against the body of American soldiers), preventing dogs from the enemy find you by smell (put the clothes of enemy soldiers killed on the entrances of the tunnels)… All this supposes intelligence!
When you enter the tunnels, you must be able to crawl in the dark. You will also meet bats. They will be very close to you. If you have claustrophobia, try the short tunnels or hardly fit!
Visiting this fascinating complex will also teach you about the capture methods used during the war and even give you the chance to shoot weapons such as AK47s. A pretty revealing experience.
11. Light a lantern in Hoi An
Hoi An remains one of the most beautiful cities in Vietnam. As you walk through the pedestrianized streets of Hoi An, you will smell the incense and fresh flowers growing next to the old buildings. At night, you will be moved by the multicolored beauty and splendid ambient lighting. Hard to believe that everything is for real.
This is a special place where you can buy paper lanterns. I bought my lantern near the main bridge but you will usually find them all along the river. Light your lantern and contemplate it above the river.
Note that many children were selling the lanterns. Buying from children is perhaps seen as a help but can also be an encouragement to child labor.
Along the river you will also find many fun bars and clubs that come alive after 10pm each evening.
12. Travel the Mekong Delta by traditional boat
The trip in the small canoe was truly extraordinary. The canoe is so tight to meander through the narrow canals and the vegetation that surrounds them. Sitting in this small canoe, the guide wore his traditional conical hat, rowing slowly through the narrow waterways. As for me, coi, dazzled, I contemplated …
13. Dinner by the street
Almost every night, I prefer to dine on the side of the street. I miss it so much!
Dining by the side of the street is not expensive, the prices are displayed and you will taste the popular Vietnamese cuisine freshly prepared like spring rolls, grilled chicken feet, sweet treat, Pho soup… But overcome your fear. , you will not be intoxicated!
To know the best street vendors who serve the best, high quality, best tasting food, I believe the way to do this is to make local friends. They will guide you directly to the best places.
14. Taste your first egg coffee
Vietnam is quite famous for its coffee and you will see cafes on every corner. What I really didn’t know is that there are a lot of specialty coffees too. I quote egg white coffee. This is a deliciously frothy coffee that you can buy at some cafes in Hanoi. At first I was hesitant but in the end I thought it was just coffee and egg white. Besides, the smell of coffee dominated. The mousse was a real treat, I highly recommend it!
15. Taste Banh Mi
Banh Mi (sandwich bread) is the Vietnamese sandwich with French colors. It is the dish most appreciated by tourists and more particularly the French. It is a must during your stay in Vietnam. It can include pork, raw vegetables, ham, cucumber, mayonnaise …
16. Watch a water puppet show
Either in Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh, the famous water puppet shows are one of the best things to see and do, according to TripAdvisor. The Thang Long Water Pupper Theater in Hanoi or the Golden Dragon Water Puppet Theater in Ho Chi Minh are truly one of a kind. A very simple concept for a really pleasant evening. Puppets sing, dance, express Vietnamese culture. It’s in the local language but a lot of learning …
17. Quad biking in Mui Ne
If quad biking is not unique to you, traveling from the lush green hills and rice paddies to the sand dunes of Mui Ne is unmistakably unique. This country offers a real natural contrast. When I showed my photos in the sand dunes, no one believed I was in Vietnam.
18. Slip into the natural pools of Elephant Springs
Elephant Springs Natural Pools are located approximately 50 km south of Hue. It is a difficult place to find because it is halfway between a mountain and a railway. I had to ask for help from several locals. Since I travel Vietnam on a motorbike, it was okay to stop there. This place is unique. It attracts locals more than tourists. During the weekends and holidays you will find several families coming together to eat, sing and enjoy life.
The water in these pools is from a natural source. In addition, you can slide on the rocks or jump. If you can’t swim, you can rent life jackets on site. Women sell prepackaged snacks and drinks, but preferably bring your food with you …
19. Visit of a traditional fishing village
Visiting a fishing village was a unique moment. There are several fishing villages all along the Vietnamese coast. I visited one just outside of Hoi An. I spent time contemplating the ambiance of the fishing world. Men and women all work hard. They catch, pull and dry the fish. You can also find a guided tour. At dawn, you will begin the fishing excursion. At sunrise, it’s a marvelous photographic tour. You will see small fishing villages and traditional wooden boats. Adapt your time to be there either at sunrise or sunset. Do not miss this excursion because you will see how a large part of the population makes a living in Vietnam.
20. Get tailor-made clothes suitable for Hoi An
According to reports, Hoi An is the best city in all of Southeast Asia to get a tailor-made dress or suit. You will find tailoring shops lining the streets, as you can walk straight to Hoi An Fabric Market. Turnaround times are blazingly fast. They vary between 2 and 3 days. We will take your measurements immediately. But beware, we can call you to take more action. Don’t stray too far from the city. You will have a unique costume, dress, skirt or swimsuit….
I have asked many vendors for prices for several fabrics. Remember, this is a market and you should definitely negotiate the price.
Either way, here are the approximate prices for cotton, silk, linen and cashmere wool:
- Cotton: from 60,000 VND (3-4 USD) per meter
- Chiffon and Polyester: From 115,000 VND (5 USD) per meter
- Linen: from 140,000 VND (6 USD) per meter
- Cashmere wool: from 180,000 VND (8 USD) per meter
- Silk: from 230,000 VND (10 USD) per meter
21. Abseiling a waterfall in Da Lat
On a rental motorbike, I set off from Phan Rang to Dalat. An 80 km course. Dalat is about 5000 feet above sea level. I hit the road after sunset. The fog was intense, I saw absolutely nothing and it was very cold. It was my most dangerous motorcycle ride in Vietnam. The road was almost deserted and full of bends, mountains and woods. Fortunately, I followed a vehicle to enlighten the road. If you go on a motorcycle, absolutely do not go at night. But if you ride a motorbike in Da Lat, you will enjoy the beauty of Da Lat, if not the whole country.
Da Lat is famous for its breathtaking nature. The pine forests are gigantic and the waterfalls are amazing. In fact, it’s always cool in Dalat. Don’t hesitate to buy fruits and vegetables at the Dalat food market. The taste was wonderful!
Do not miss to visit the waterfalls as part of a guided tour. If you are brave, abseil. Take care because there have been a lot of accidents in the past. I think a guide would be needed.
22. Explore the largest caves in the world at Phong Nha
Phong Nha National Park is located in central Vietnam. It is classified as a world site by UNESCO. This site is home to the largest caves in the world. A true paradise for cave explorers. Phong Nha is also home to the oldest karst mountain in Asia, which is thought to have formed over 400 million years ago. There is also Son Doong, the largest cave in the world that was only recently rediscovered by a team of explorers.
Besides, Phong Nha is a great place for mountain biking, listening to birdsong and hiking.
23. Cross the Lake Lak by canoe
Lak Lake is the largest natural lake in the central highlands. Nationally, it is the second after Ba Be Lake. Lak Lake is formed by the streams that flow from Chu Yang Mountain and the Krong Ana River.
A canoe trip on this immense and peaceful water will allow you to relax while admiring the landscape. But, for a more moving experience, crossing the lake on the back of an elephant is a unique ride.
24. The rice terraces of Sapa
Sapa, located in the north of Vietnam and not far from the Chinese border. Here it can even snow in winter. On the other hand, in summer, after the rice harvest, everything is green!
It is captivating to watch the farmers climb the steep mountains to harvest the rice.
25. Become a Vietnamese farmer for a day
It’s a tiring experience, but full of learning. Many rural towns offer tourists the opportunity to apprentice to a local farmer. The latter will teach you to plant rice, to fertilize the fields, to ride and to lead a buffalo …. If your endurance is not at the top, go there for half a day and do not forget to bring your Vietnamese hat.
The work is really difficult. A full day has made me very tired. After seeing how difficult the cultivation and harvesting of rice is, now I very much appreciate the bowl of rice that is presented to me at the table.
26. Visit Tam Coc or Halong Bay land
Between river and rice fields, Tam Coc is a site of hidden fairies. Tam Coc will make you feel like you’ve disappeared from the real world. It’s an ecosystem that sums up Vietnam. Take a bike ride through the beautiful countryside and don’t miss the boat ride to admire the grandiose scenery and caves.